Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What is it about Bach?

I haven't mentioned The Book on this page so far, although I've been working on it for three months now. Maybe it's because I've been living the process that I haven't been able to write about it. (I don't want to think about what the implications of my finally writing about it may be.) My first contributor sent me his piece on September 12th. Actually, it was September 12th where I was and September 11th where he was. And at the time, I did feel that that was significant, because I had been thinking about anniversaries. And I did write a piece on it, but that may still go into the book so I'm not at liberty to post it here. I'm not even sure who my 'first contributor' is, anyway. Should I bestow that desperately sought-after title on the first person who agreed to contribute to The Book, or the second person to agree, since he sent in his chapter first? (Yes, such inane debates fill my mind completely from time to time.)

I wanted to tell my first contributor (submitter?) that it was utterly unfair that he should be known for his considerable talent in another profession, when he is so clearly a writer. I wanted to tell him to keep writing, but the penchant for self-deprecation that he seems to have, and which I absolutely share (with good reason, on my part, and none at all on his) kept me from doing that. In his -- well, primary -- profession, the veneer of beauty is something that is highly prized, and although no one would disagree that he has an abundance of it, it's an indescribable shame that he is not a primarily a writer by profession.

This week I got my second contribution. Again, we were on different dates, and my subject was no less than a... well, a very important person. In his field, which I suppose I have idealised for a long time. (This is rapidly turning into the vaguest and most pointless post I think I've ever made, but this is important, so I'll plod on womanfully. Er, androgynfully.) And I was touched by him. Not in an emotional sort of way, really, but in a way that made me see a glimmer of something absolutely purist in his thinking, in his honesty, and in his tenacious regard for his way of viewing the world, his world.

It was music that was common to both of them, both my contributors. Well, not mine exactly, since their stories belong to The Book, and most importantly, to the person who inspired The Book. But music, a focus that I'm increasingly thinking is going to be the most vital empirical correlative of the words on paper that I'm trying to compile; music is absolutely integral to what my -- The Book's -- first two contributors have said. (The phrase 'fire away' is also, for some strange reason, common to both of them. That probably has some abstruse significance that escapes me entirely.)

And in some ways I think it all comes down to this question: what is it about Bach? I'm discovering the St Matthew Passion bit by bit, day by day. Yesterday it was Mache dich, mein Herze, rein; today it's Konnen Tranen Meiner Wangen. I don't know what it is about Bach, and don't know if I want to know. I do know that Vivaldi has at last found a contender for whatever music makes up my heart.


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