The instant that can’t be proof-read

–There’s that short-circuiting of having to 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.

Immediacy matters in ways I can’t explain. This is immediacy as distinct from the kind of explanation where one reason leads to another in an infinite regress. It’s like 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 “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.” It’s just that I like the adverbial property of that action, “automatically.”

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