Thursday, December 20, 2012

Apocalypse: When?

William Kurelek's rendition of the Apocalypse,
as experienced in Hamilton, Ontario.

For those of us who don't have to take it seriously, this “Mayan” business is perhaps worthy material for mild amusement, but living Mayans are understandably pissed-off. Mind you, most of them are Christian, and it's not like ours is a religion innocent of fomenting public distress over The End of Days — a term we'd like to think we invented.

We didn't, of course. The human species seems genetically tuned in to the possibility — the certainty — of its final demise, and most religions wax rhapsodic about humanity's concluding episode, intimating there may be room for a sequel of sorts. We know we matter to ourselves, but what do we matter to the cosmos? The question launches us into the realm of speculation, dreams and nightmares, occasionally (rarely) wisdom. Poets assure us only that this is a world without happy endings. Your own personal apocalypse is unavoidable.

No surprise, then, that we turn for solace to music, the most ethereal and mathematical of expressions. I've recently been introduced — via this interview with Elaine Pagels, and the sublime writing of Alex Ross — to Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps, The Quartet for the End of Time. I'll be giving that a spin as I tidy the house today. Ross recommends the Tashi Quartet, but I'll be playing the Gryphon Trio's recent recording.

And, as ever, I'll be playing Fagen and Becker's ironic (natch) paean to the end of time: “Everything Must Go.”

Indeed it must. But odds are I'll be back tomorrow, with further thoughts on All Those Angry Mennonites.

Howard Finster's rendition, as experienced 
just about anywhere.

No comments: