One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Julian Barnes' "The Noise of Time"

Enjoying Barnes' new book on Shostakovich. Am I enjoying Barnes' storytelling or the story of Shostakovich (which I knew next to nothing about) more? Hard to say. I did download some of Shostakovich's music though (listening to his string quartets now). And am inspired to reread Leskov's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (after reading Shakespeare's Macbeth) this summer -- and then perhaps get a copy of Shosti's operatic version (based on Leskov's work) that so irked Stalin.

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Excerpt from Barnes' Noise:

Art belongs to everybody and nobody. Art belongs to all time and no time. Art belongs to those who create it and those who savour it. Art no more belongs to the People and the Party than it once belonged to the aristocracy and the patron. Art is the whisper of history, heard above the noise of time. Art does not exist for art's sake. But which people, and who defines them? He always thought of his own art as anti-aristocratic. Did he write, as his detractors maintained, for a bourgeois cosmopolitan elite? No. Did he write, as his detractors wanted him to, for the Donbass miner weary from his shift and in need of a soothing pick-me-up? No. He wrote music for everyone and no one. He wrote music for those who best appreciated the music he wrote, regardless of social origin. He wrote music for the ears that could hear. And he knew, therefore, that all true definitions of art are circular, and all untrue definitions of art ascribe to it a specific function.
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