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Musings of an Obscure Composer

The Nagual Composer's periodic musings on the milieu of "New Music," and other topics that cross his mind.

Friday, February 26, 2010

THE AGONY OF OVER-SPECIALIZATION

 It must be painfully difficult to be a composer in academia.  Composition isn’t physics. One does not compose according clear unvaried eternal rules.  Music is a cultural artifact. Teaching composition is, however, a practical, not a theoretical endeavor. The pudding is tasty or it is not.  I’ve recently read some articles in academic “humanities journals.”  Some of the dreadful doctrinaire nonsense that I have read in various journals for the humanities is frightening. If reading is the stuff is painful, I can only imagine the agony of writing it.  In American universities, the proof of mastery is not in the pudding but in a certificate that entitles one to theorize interminably about pudding.  So, in honor of academia I present lectures on pudding.
 
American Music Theory Professor:  “It is clear that Beethoven's pudding was entirely derived from the essentially gelatinous Ursatz.  We can only speculate as to the bone-like source of the Master’s gelatinous core motive from which the entire structure flows inevitably and logically.  Schenkerian analysis reveals the formal shaking rhythm as the bowl was brought to the table.”
 
American Political Science Professor (liberal branch):  “What after all is a “pudding” but a term created by the European aristocratic and managerial classes to apply to an essentially peasant concoction, in order to apply a glamorous sounding term to some often gelatinous gloop, and thereby keep the lower classes happy with their lot.  Indeed in Britain, this “pudding” was even sometimes a chunky concoction created by the bourgeoisie in imitation of what they thought the aristocracy ate, and which with their increasing economic power, the bourgeoisie demanded as a sign of their new-found authority over the laboring masses.”
 
American Professor (Neoconservative variety): ”Pudding, students, is not something you know.  It is something of your great-great-grandparents generation. It is something that was known before the Roosevelt Administration began 80 years of relentless liberal regulation.  If the economic system were to be freed from the burdens of regulation, True Pudding could make its return.  If it were freed from liberal orthodoxy, entrepreneurs might create new concepts in pudding.  However, as long the oppressive FDA regulation and the capital gains tax continue to disincentivize pudding innovation, you young people shall not know real pudding.  It is liberal orthodoxy that people need Big Government to protect them from the “dangers” of pudding.  Liberalism teaches that liberals know what is best for people and that people need to be “protected” from additives to pudding like strychnine and plaster of Paris.  If the experience and teaching of Friedrich von Hayek teach you nothing else, let it teach you that man is an economic animal and the market will cure the what ails economic man – so long as the pudding or market discipline don’t kill them first.”
 
American Philosophy Professor:  “What then does Neoplatonism tell us about pudding.  Not just that stuff that Bill Cosby advertises, which is a mere, corrupted shadow that has emanated from true pudding, but true pudding, the quintessential pudding, that lies at the core of reality?  You may think that this issue is best left in the past, back in the middle ages.  But, I suggest that the battles of Logical Positivism. Structuralism and Phenomenology are the same effort as the ancient search for the true pudding.  They are in their essential form the arguments of Aristotelian-.Abelardian Realism and Plotinian Nominalism.  Merleau-Ponty brought us the realization that Cartesian dualism could not explain the concept and perception of pudding.  Levi-Strauss teaches that pudding is not a thing but a cultural construct by which man relates the myth of creation to refrigeration.  The very concept of pudding is an effort to explain how refrigeration came into being.”

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