31 dic. 2005

I went to the MLA without really going to the MLA. I didn't go to any panels or even register for the convention. I saw very few people. Mostly, I went to the zoo and several museums / monuments with my daughter while my wife did the MLA thing. I realized I had never been in the I.M. Pei East wing of the National Gallery. Basically I hadn't been there as an adult.

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My favorite Beckett text, "neither," was set to music by my favorite 20th century composer, Morton Feldman. The entire "opera" lasts close to an hour, and not one of the words is sung comprehensibly, in the one recording I have downloaded. I can't discern a single syllable. I guess I like the "fact" that this work, which I like quite a bit, bears a relation to this other text, which I also love--even though the relationship is invisible (inaudible.)

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I found a quote by Ned Rorem about about Beckett, in which he says the best thing about Beckett is not his own work but his influence on Albee, Ionesco, Pinter, etc... And I thought to myself: "I wouldn't trade a page of Beckett for the entire complete works of all the playwrights Beckett has influenced." It's not that I disdain Albee & Co. It just seems a little perverse to denigrate the great original and praise those who learned from him.

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I heard both Albee and Ionesco speak as an undergraduate. They both gave the exact same talk: the superiority of true, truth-telling theater to commercial Broadway / Boulevard theater. Albee complained for an hour how Neil Simon made more money than Samuel Beckett.

Although both Albee and Ionesco were entirely correct, from my perspective then and now, they both gave pretty much vacuous talks. There wasn't a single insight beyond the declaration of allegiance. Or is my memory reducing it now? No, because I remember others complaining too at the time. The University had paid Albee 10 thousand or so to complain about how playwrights like him didn't earn enough money.

2 comentarios:

Tim Peterson dijo...

Sorry to miss you, Jonathan...I should have read your blog before leaving for DC.

I think it's really wonderful that you spent the conf at the zoo -- seriously, that's great.

Vance Maverick dijo...

I believe Beckett wrote the text at Feldman's request, so there's a genealogical relationship.

I've found that if I look at the text while listening, I can follow the sound as words. That's not much less intelligible than English opera in general....