My eyes are bigger than my stomach

I have reading to do.

Do you ever go to a bookstore and get carried away with what you see? Of course with a bookstore there’s no time-limit. You can buy books that you read this week, or this year, or: much later.  I find that money is what stops me: that is, running out of money.

If you take books from a library, there’s no monetary concern –so long as you return the books and avoid the fines– bur there’s some expectation that you’ll read them, because they have to be returned.  It’s anti-social to take out too many books, and makes no sense when one can only do so many things at once. One can only read so many books at a time. Indeed, some would say you can’t read more than one book at a time. I’m funny, I usually have a few going at a time, but books of different sorts.

But right now, I am in the literary equivalent to that place where someone might say “your eyes are bigger than your stomach!” Too ambitious, too hungry. I’ve taken out more than I can possibly read.

I am going to take a bit of a break from the blog world.  This will be the last thing i post here for a few days.

Is this similar to what they do on a farm? You can’t just keep harvesting crops from the ground without exhausting the nourishment in the soil. Sometimes you have to give it a break. I believe it’s called leaving the land “fallow”.

But it’s probably a bad analogy. If I were to leave my mind to go fallow I’d be hanging out, window-shopping. staring at the garden, playing the piano, walking around enjoying the summer. I wouldn’t worry about my brain, but, oh well, I have this hunger for books, and am intent on reading. I can’t possibly read them all, at least not this week. But they’re inspiring just to look at.

What books are inspiring me?

1) Wagner Kino: Spuren und Wirkungen Richard Wagners in der Filmkunst by Kristina Jaspers, Steffen Vogt and Jan Drehmel, is eye candy that seduced me today in the library. As with Martin Geck’s Wagner book, this one exhibits structural features that could in some ways be influenced by Wagner’s operas. Where Geck had digressive episodes examining other figures from Wagner’s life, this book features a back and forth between essays and interviews, including Werner Herzog and Hans Jürgen Syberberg. But I’m not going to read these essays in German, not this week anyway, as I don’t have the patience it would take, although when motivated I’ve done this before with the help of a dictionary. This week I’m more interested in mining the book for its images.

What a beautiful book!

2) Richard Wagner: New Light on a Musical Life by Lohn Louis Digaetani looks promising, with a flamboyant cover illustration. The author says we might wonder “why another biography”, but explains that there’s new correspondence & new documents that make a new book potentially interesting.

Hm… I’ll look at this eventually. This won’t be the first thing I read.

3) Forbidden Music: The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis by Michael Haas is a book I’m intrigued by, having seen a review (NY Times I think). The topic is endlessly fascinating to me, layers of pain & angst that reveal themselves wonderfully both in the histories and in the musical texts. It’s been over a year since I’ve mentioned Kaiser von Atlantis, a work that changes how you listen to “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” forever. We’ll be hearing Gerald Finley here in Toronto soon, so why not this clip again: that puts the music into its context…? Finley’s singing of these chromatic passages is some of the most impressive singing i have ever encountered.  
4) Lady Gaga and Popular Music: Performing Gender, Fashion, and Culture (a collection of essays by several authors) is another book with a few exotic visuals, although this one doesn’t require a dictionary. I picked it up because I like Lady Gaga and wanted to see what contemporary academics are writing about her. Given the reception of her latest album (unfriendly and hostile as I recall) I’m worried that her career may be in its twilight. I think of her as a very talented artist, not least because she’s funny… 
5) The premise for the novel Orfeo by Richard Powers is so intriguing, I have to check it out. Is this a spoiler? I encountered this, and it enticed me to take out the book. When you start inter-connecting music and microbiology, writing music in microbes, with a thriller subtext, the inter-disciplinary challenge grabs me on principle. I want to see if he can do it (or if i mis-read what i thought i saw in the review). The reviews I have seen suggest that the writing is virtuosic, but I want to see if it moves me, or merely impresses me.  As with the composition of music, sometimes we’re overly pre-occupied with questions of competence & showing that you actually belong, rather than composing something (music or text) that’s enjoyable or beautiful or in some sense meaningful. I suppose I am not interested in writing that’s meant to impress others who can follow your complex games, rather than a genuine expression of something. But now I am curious, and must see for myself.

And so it’s not totally crazy, as they’re from different food-groups. I have 1-a picture book, 2-a biography, 3-history, 4-contemporary culture and 5-a novel, hmm yet all very narrow in their focus on music.

Or will I simply stare at the sky?

This entry was posted in Books & Literature, Cinema, video & DVDs, Music and musicology, Opera, Popular music & culture, Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to My eyes are bigger than my stomach

  1. Pingback: Forbidden Music | barczablog

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