9 mar. 2008

The qualitative defines personal experience, its distinctness. One reason that I know that I am still I is that I can listen to Art Tatum play "Nice Work if You Can Get It" and recognize my previous experience in it. It's almost like opening a door to the self and seeing that the self is still there. (I listened to this maybe 400 times when I was 14.) I cannot get that qualitative experience out of something I listened to for the first time at 30, with the same intensity at least. The qualitative (timbre) is what makes things recognizable as themselves.

I feel especially drawn to things that were happening around the time I was born, or just before or after. Everything I end up being interested in falls into that 1947-1967 window. Which means in practical terms that the writers and musicians I most love were born between 1920 and 1940, or might as well have been born then. (Shapiro the child prodigy is younger but already writing poems when I was born, so he qualifies.) I wrote my first book on a Spanish poet born in '34, and have been mostly interested in that group of poets. It's the generation of yr parents, sd the Freudian.

Just to give 1926 as an example, we have Miles, Coltrane, Ginsberg, O'Hara, and Creeley who are born that year. Not to mention my favorite modern composer Morton Feldman.

I was never as fascinated by the generation born in the 40s or 50s. I came of age when the good stuff was disappearing from the culture in favor of a cruder aesthetic. I'll give some of it my grudging admiration, but really I don't have the same personal investment in it.

Going back to generation born in the 1880s: that's another source of fascination for me, but it is not as immediate. I could be Creeley, in some sense, but not Wallace Stevens.

Timbres are auditory odors.

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