The proximal over the distal

–There is feeling’s immediacy, a short-circuiting of having to describe and explain. It’s like a shattering: Judith’s high C in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, the Baroness’s “Lulu” at the end of Berg’s opera, the sound of the guillotine slices at the end of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites.

It matters in ways I can’t explain–explanation as when one reason leads to another in an infinite regress–that the music of Orff’s Antigonae captures more in and of the moment than Honegger’s Antigone. Such moments can’t be proof-read.

–So what? Maybe I’m being too hard on the distancing “explanation.” Virgil Thomson, the composer, put it that “a good critic does not voice opinions, he describes; if his description is succinct, accurate and imaginative, the opinion will automatically shine through.” I like that adverbial property of “automatically.”

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