Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Past, present, future
Tonight, (PBS again!) listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony, I was reminded of Lewis Thomas's famous essay. Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony. Simon Rattle, he of the funny name and the ethereal, pained conducting expressions, led the Berlin Philharmonic in this very long Symphony, which gets quieter and quieter at the end. The emotional depth of this music was supposed to have come from Mahler's sorrow at Alma Mahler's behavior. But once it made Thomas think of nuclear winter and it made it impossible for him to listen to the music in a pre-atomic bomb way.
In our poetry seminar, Robert Hass once said that any poem written after Hiroshima has the bomb in it, whether or not it was specifically referred to. So here we are, on the evening of the New Hampshire primary, with nuclear weapons, clearcutting, global warming, $100 a barrel oil, shooting of the wolves and drowning of the polar bears, and all the rest of it. Why do I still feel hopeful???? Go, Obama,