Monday, June 18, 2007

The Lattice of Coincidence

I posted my item last night, about teachers and grandteachers (and Doktorväter and oedipal conflict), only to realize this morning that yesterday was Father's Day in the US, giving the post an unplanned and unexpected relevance. (In Germany, Father's day is on Ascension Thursday).

I will now admit that some of my most relevant words or actions have been unplanned and unexpected. Once, in one of those college parties that no one really wanted to be at but no one really wanted to leave, I was asked to make a toast. Aside from too much gin, I was unaccompanied that evening and single in a room full of couples. Struggling for meaningful words, I noticed the record player in the corner and my mind raced from the concept of HiFi to the word "fidelity", to which I then made an innocent and idealistic toast. Which was received with stunned faces. But for the gin, I should have realized sooner that the set of couples in the room actually consisted of a combinatorial repairing of an older set of couples, and any semblance of new love was a thin cover for older injuries. My toast was both innocent and cruel. Lorenzo da Ponte, that great moral dramatist, could not have chosen a more and less appropriate word than "fidelity", and it had simply sprung into my head.

When composing, even when deciding to use chance operations in the process, I can generally explain how each note got to be here or there, but there are always surprises, moments where despite all habit, calculation, or cunning, something appears that is both inexplicable and inexplicably right. And despite my inability to explain these moments away, they are usually the ones I most loathe to lose, the moments that turn patient labors into something more, well, musical.


the improvising guitarist said...

I posted my item… about teachers and grandteachers… only to realize… that yesterday was Father's Day….

Does that mean you have no techer-mothers (‘Doktormutter’)?

S, tig

Chris said...

Hey Deej,

I got a chuckle out of your recount of the 'fidelity toast' story. it gave me a new insight into how you came up with it. i remember you indirectly expressing chagrin afterward, but I didn't understand how free-associative it was. It was brilliant in any case. It's great to see that incident provide a lesson so many years later.

I stumbled on to your blog along a winding path of music related links, and have been reading it for a couple of months now (I subscribed to the feed). I apologize for not showing myself sooner. Now as then, your musings are enjoyable, edifying, and challenging. I see you've picked up the pace this year with your posts. Now I'll have to do the same.

Happy belated Father's Day.


Daniel Wolf said...

Improvising guitarist -- The Doktorparent title is reserved for the advisor on a doctoral dissertation, so you only get one of them, and mine was Lucier. I will admit that among my teachers, women were a minority, but Shirley Robbins, who taught me all about Early Music in High School was one of the best.

Chris --

Good to hear from you & Happy Fathers' Day back to ya'. Please let me know more about your workd nowadays.