Post by Dicerous
I noticed in your bio that you studied at Ithaca with Ed Flower. Did
you happen to know another student of his named Bob McWilliams? This
would have been back in the late 70's.
NO! I studied with Ed while I was at Williams, not at Ithaca. And
btw none of my fabulous teachers had this incessant obsession with
minutae. Is that something you guys pick up when you want to sound
credible? Because that may be what you achieve, but you can only see
the leaves rather than the tree or the forest (as do your students ad
infinitum). All are important of course, but I prefer to save the
literary-credibility-game for other more important venues.
Wow. It was just a simple question because I'm interested in trying
to find someone. As for minutiae, concern for which you characterize
as obsession, "as ye are in small things, so are ye in great."
Metaphor, metonymy, simile, periphrais, suspension, lilotes,
hypostasis--all great to understand poetry. The beauty of Beethoven
may be his use of a modulation to the bVI or maybe Schubert! But *a
modulation to the bVI may or may not be beautiful. There's not a
transitive property between the part to the sums of the parts. The
two *parts* are different, altered. Does this make sense? There's no
sense in describing the beautiful use of the modulation to the bVI in
a Schubert symphony without it's context of that symphony. And in
conveying the beauty of that symphony to someone else, u don't
amalgamate a bunch of parts and stitch them together. OK?
So what's your point? Your illustration is not at all antithetical to
the principle of the quote I paraphrased (the source of which I don't
know- it's of interest more for what it says rather than for whoever
may have said it) .
So, a modulation to bVI may be a simple thing in and of itself. But
as you say yourself, of the beauty of Beethoven, or Schubert, is in
"his (their) use" of the modulation. Their usage of such a small
thing is characterized by care, discretion, aesthetic proportion, etc.
that is to say, all the qualities of a greatness of mind that is able
to produce works of art that seem more than the sum of their parts.
Genius is like fractal geometry; it is not reserved only for when
things get big. You zero in on details and it's still there.
By comparison, there is your sudden modulation from having received a
benign inquiry as whether you happened ever to know someone, to your
unwarranted and disconnected hostility in response. How beautiful was
that? Certainly in the distillation whereby music has relevance to
life one does encounter abrupt modulations in compositions, but there
is no precedent for this conversational one here, no over arching
dynamic within which it has context, because as far as I know, there
has not been any sort of exchange at all between us, neutral or
Yet somehow in having the effrontery to ask you a question, I seem to
have lanced some pustule of seething resentment that was awaiting the
merest opportunity to be popped. I don't know what "minutae"-al
obsession you think I, as one of some class of "guys" to which I am
apparently relegated, may have which you so highly resent- an approach
to fingering, or a tendency to look for more in a piece than the
obvious, perhaps. But the dismissive attitude you seem to vaunt in
regard to "minutae" , you over indulge in to the point of being
slovenly. You omit the "minutum" of offering the slightest clue as to
what the hell this is supposed to about, let alone what it has to do
with whether you may have met someone.
effect. Be well jon lor pro! Be well, my sheath is neither vengeful