Month: September 2017

Mahler’s 6th Symphony: The Catastrophe of Civilisation

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This is the greatest piece of music ever composed. That is a sweeping statement, I know. But I have believed this ever since I first heard it more than thirty years ago. There are a few other contenders for me (e.g. Bach’s Mass in B minor, Mozart’s Symphony #41, Schubert’s String Quintet, Brahms’ Piano Quintet, Bruckner’s Symphony #8, Shostakovich’s Symphony #11, etc.). But I always come back to Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony; for at the end of it, when the final pizzicato notes have died away, I think to myself “How on earth did any human being ever conceive of that, let alone write it?”

This is a symphony which has you sitting on the edge of your seat in rapt wonder. To listen to a Mahler symphony is to go on a journey, and his Sixth is one hell of a journey! To put it in modern terms, it is like watching a film which has every emotion one can experience within it. (John Williams, the composer of film scores for movies such as Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, E.T., the Indiana Jones series, the first two Home Alone films, the first two Jurassic Park films, Schindler’s List, and the first three Harry Potter films, has always said that one of his key influences is Mahler). There are highs and lows, glory and damnation, angels and demons, death and life, destruction and renewal. Way ahead of its time in terms of structure, orchestration and instrumentation, this is an innovative and involving work which still operates within the confines of classical tonality, though one is aware of being in the presence of a genius who stretches the boundaries.

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A Flag is just a Rag [poem]

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flag

Phonetically speaking…
it’s not too far to go from flag to rag.
But also in reality; for flags are rags
indeed, and only used to generate
the seed for war in this poor world’s
conditioned young, whose heroes true
and few and sane go every day unsung.

For rags is all these emblems are —
just signals from a dying age
upon a piece of colo(u)red cloth
about the way that countries
plunder one another’s goods,
behaving like no human being ever should.
Parading them in front of mindless armies
marching to their wasted deaths, just so
the ones who sent them reap their gold
disguising their exuberance behind
a mask of fulsome grieving so the parents
of the ones they sent unto their deaths
won’t lose their comfort (falsely bought)
from thinking that they didn’t die in vain.
(They did — but if those mums and dads
would understand that stark and icy fact
they could not tolerate the thought of such
futility & hopelessness in their parental pain).

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Since when was Music an “Industry”? [poem]

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since_when_was_music_an_industry

Since when was music an “industry”?
Yes — oil, steel or pharmaceutery,
ship-building, hotels, textiles or military.
But music, as the food of love,
(the source of which is from above)
is not a money-grubbing tool
to line the dirty inside pockets
of those greedy 10%ing fools.
Music as an “industry” is so uncool!

The very term “to have a hit”
[or should I put an “s” in front of
that to make it what it really is?]
means dollar signs in greedy eyes
& ego-boosting of attention-whores
who masquerade as singers, artists,
f(art)ing out their billboard lies
while screwing influential folks who’ll
open all their once-were-bolted doors.

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If you want to hang around with me [song lyrics]

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if_wou_want_to

If you want to hang around with me,
don’t take yourself so seriously.
Hang loose to what you think you own
and don’t regard this earth as home.

If you want to hang around with me,
Ensure your mind is honed and free.
Then be prepared to dance and sing
and don’t be triggered by a thing!

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The Prosperity Trap

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Adversity

WHEN WE LEARN TO TREAD ONLY THOSE TRACKS WHICH ARE UNBEATEN, then life becomes a chain of fulfilling adventures rather than an inadequate series of accidents. When every road sign which says, “Obstruction ahead!”, makes you press your foot harder on the accelerator with anticipatory exhilaration, then an explosion of entropic ecstasy will scatter the colours of your soul across every flickering trace of darkness. Don’t take my word for it (or for anything). Try it yourself. It can only bring you good (which can come in many disguises, including those which look “bad” 😊). If you follow the untrodden road, epiphany after epiphany will spark in your mind until you almost want to beg for mercy from the avalanche of insights received and experiences gained! Hope and faith will grow within you like a snowball rolling parallel down a hill. Then you will begin to see everything as a gift, whether seemingly “good” or apparently “bad”. You will even see that your times of despair in the past were a gift too. For despair is a gift to keep us humble — to enable us more to appreciate the fullness of joy — for it brings a challenge from the Universe to change our ways and deepen.

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Love vs Romance

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love_vs_romance

I USED TO THINK IT WAS REALLY COOL TO BE ROMANTIC — or, should I say, “A Romantic”. After all, isn’t that what poets, or artists of any kind, are supposed to be? However, the older I’ve become and, maybe, also the wiser I’ve become, I’ve realised just how superficial all that romantic stuff really is. In fact, I came to realise that it is actually a cheap counterfeit of something which goes infinitely deeper — namely, Love. Romance has come to play such a huge part in affairs of the human heart for a number of reasons: Inadequate parenting or abuse as a child; inability to face up to the harsh reality of life in this dimension on earth; a failure to transition healthily from child to adult; superficiality and narcissism; and plain old wishful thinking. All of these aspects have — during the last century or so — been avidly exploited by Hollywood movies and Mills and Boon novels (currently 18,000 of them!).

So here are my reasons for abandoning romance in favour of what it counterfeits so insidiously:

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There is no Autumn [sonnet]

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there_is_no_autumn

There is no Autumn in my fertile heart,
where nothing falls but must ascend like heat.
My greensome coloured leaves do not depart
from twigs and branches. Summer’s not complete.

No frost can come my way to freeze the dew.
The crops sown in my fields no harvest need.
For melancholy moments now are few
and flowers in my soul won’t “go to seed”.

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