Thursday, September 22, 2011

Of executions, Dvorak, and language

Hey Comrades,

Well, it's been quite a week since we've talked last.

With a name and news that requires no introduction, Troy Davis was executed late last night. I don't even know what to say.

Which brings me to the next topic.

I had the privilege of attending a concert of Dvorak's 9th symphony last weekend. If you haven't heard it, check out the first movement here:

I went with my dad and 85 year old grandma, and it was a superb show. The music literally moved me to tears.

It reached inside me and talked to me. The neat thing was - concrete ideas or words weren't expressed, just the feelings.

It seems as if, in the face of tremendous injustice or great pain, this wordless, abstract communication is what's needed to heal. I wonder if it's sort of like our bodies. We don't go to our cells and say "Hey! Start healing!" They operate on their own, and while ideas and concepts certainly make a difference, it's of a different plane.

With Troy, there's much to be done. After all, it appears that our justice system is broken - and I don't just mean about this particular case. Moreover, the need for mechanized killing is indicative of a larger problem with society as a whole. So while there's the tangible issues to be addressed, there's also the sadness of injustice, and loss for both families. Maybe it's time to sit quietly for a minute, and play and listen.

The symphony was held in the National Museum of the American Indian. It's a beautiful building, and actually very quite fitting for the piece of music. Dvorak was inspired by many native American elements.

However, the building is a sad place, too. Looking out the front doors, you stare at the United States Capitol building - the very same institution that created the need for a museum. I find it more of a memorial.

As I listened to conductor Murray Sidlin explain the Indian influences in the piece, I looked around, and wondered what it would be like if the tables were turned, and another culture obliterated us rock musicians. Would they write a symphony, and say "Now listen to the third part in the second movement, where you can clearly hear a tribute to "Back in Black" and an overriding sense of aggression conveyed through fifth chords."

Then, the music started speaking, and I listened as I looked around at the ghosts of the cultures.

It was a lot to take in. This whole week has been a lot to take in. Strike that, the whole world is a lot to take in.

I think I'll go do some listening and see what the music has to say.

- Josh

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