by Michael Maxwell Steer
An exploration of Music & Mysticism in three sections
1 Silence & Musicianship
2 Knowledge & Individuation
3 Migrating to the Source
plus two graphic scores:
In his memoir introducing Tolstóy's Essays on Art Aylmer Maude recalls the great man once remarking in conversation
that the sign of any great philosophy is that it generalizes a wide range of important ideas so that it can be explained to an intelligent twelve year old in a quarter of an hour.1
I have endeavoured to meet that challenge - but have my doubts about the fifteen minute requirement!
Anyone wanting to understand the Arts at their profoundest will learn much from The Unknown Craftsman by Sóetsu Yanagi. Of attempts to understand any artform other than by total immersion he says
The process of intellectual evaluation of beauty may be likened to a man trying to catch the running water of a river: once caught it is no longer running. The reason many art collections are of uneven quality -perfection standing side by side with mediocrity- is often due to the collector's intuition having become stunted by his very success. The moment he begins to boast of the quantity, variety, or rarity of his collection, or to bow to others' opinion, he has subjected himself to bonds that deprive intuition of its freedom to operate.2
As a matter of fact, to borrow lines from James Agee,
nothing I write could make any difference whatever. Wiser and more capable men than I shall ever be have put their findings before you, findings so rich and so full of anger, serenity, murder, healing, truth, and love that it seems incredible the world were not destroyed and fulfilled in an instant ...3
Nevertheless if some of the ideas in this piece hold water I hope they may be a source for people to refresh themselves, in the certainty that the wellspring is inexhaustible and that they have only to tap into it personally to relish the freshness and eternal purity of the flow.
The index is intended to provide cross-referencing for subjects that recur at various points in the essay. This may enable readers to draw together themes which it has proved impossible to group more succinctly. Unusually for an index, it is principally concerned with words refering to emotions rather than facts. If the system works you should also be able to clarify concepts which may not be immediately obvious be examining appearances of the word elsewhere. The number of entries defines the relative importance of the topic.
Some people may have a little initial difficulty with s/he and hir. But I believe a genuine, thoughtful synthesis of male and female perspectives to be of primary importance at this stage in history.
Thanks to my spirit helpers, whose names I've never felt it relevant to enquire but whose wings I hear from time to time. To Sai Baba who has opened to me the immense treasure-chest of Vedantic philosophy. To all my other teachers, intentional or otherwise. To Jim Murrell whose gracious and painstaking assistance with my research is a bright light in a murky world. To my dear wife, without whose support I couldnt've ... &c &c
1 Intro by Aylmer Maude to Tolstoy's Essays on Art OUP 1930
2 Sóetsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman(1881-1972) (c)1953, Kodansha Int UK 1972.
3 James Agee Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1909-1955) (c)1939. various editions in print. The passage immediately following these words is of searing intensity, slashing at the very eye-sockets of bourgeois myopia.