Crystal ball

for St. Antonym

Global warming has penetrated the snow globe. Turn it over and you get freezing rain, drip drip drip drip. Set it down and the sun comes out, drop drop drop. An occasional clatter when some branch lets go. The snowman in the front yard of the psychiatric hospital loses his carrot and his sticks and shrinks into an icy lingam. In place of a carol, the music box plays Mozart under Glass: incessant tinkling. Hammers wielded by a sweatshop full of elves.

14 Replies to “Crystal ball”

  1. (for the Abdominal Snowman)

    When a good restaurant
    opens in this neighborhood,
    I keep going back until
    I’ve ordered everything
    on the menu: one fillet

    of glass, twenty-five apples,
    a pair of pears, side order of lawns,
    one diabolical snow-globe,
    and a dessert of flame-broiled
    laughter in the church.

    It’s closing time and I eat
    too slow. The staff wear cowls,
    their eyebrows twitch impatiently.
    What I cannot eat I take away
    in a box marked “thorough.�

  2. (For those who might be wondering what this is all about, St. Antonym and I have a slight difference of opinion about the lasting value of the music of Philip Glass (not to mention the abominable Mozart). As frequent Via Negativa commenter Bill once sagely observed, the best arguments are always over matters of taste.)

  3. Oh yes, I was channelling Adam Gopnik who was channelling Rome

    De gustibus solum est disputandum (Only matters of taste are worth arguing over) which is, I suppose, a witty retort to “de gustibus non est disputandum (there is no point in argueing over matters of taste); the latter phrase suggesting an unbridgeable chasm, a shared intensity of love of quite similar, comparable things the import of the former. Pulling in tandem, I would call it. Obviously either of you would sorely miss Mr. Glass were his music to vanish, the tether of your contention gone without trace. Ha!

  4. Wonderful poem of tribute, St. A., and truly aimed.
    Thank you for giving voice to my contented gut as well.
    What a richly diverse fortnight of banquets it has been here at chez Negativa. Urp!

  5. Hi Bill – Thanks for the exact wording and geneology of that saying.

    As for missing Mr. Glass, I will feel sorry when he’s gone, first because it will make folks like St. Antonym sad, and second because I don’t think his work has been a total loss. I’ve seen two movies with Glass scores, both treating very depressing subjects, and in both cases I thought his music provided the perfect, Chinese-water-torturous ambience.

  6. Chinese-water-torturous–thats one fine adjective.
    I didn’t have the sense to object to Mr. Glass. I didn’t know there were other composers, certainly none that you could see out on a Saturday night performing with their combo, if you happened to live in NYC in the early 1980s as I did. I saw him more recently, alone, not nearly so loud, nor electric. I found great color, ineffable yet durable of form. I have always felt Mr. Glass to be quite necessary, indispensible, a physician for the noise, homeopath to Cage’s allopathy–this from someone who doesn’t know a Serialist from a Twelve-toner– just as I feel the need for any manner of authoritative, ordered scheme, or white-man’s-take, whereby the purpose of the world is for us to have an idea of it.

    I would, though, like to instigate charges against my powers of musical comprehension as broadly as possible. I have never heard a work of La Monte Young, yet having come across an account of his activities in print I find the idea of him sublime. The same goes for any other composer I have happened to read about in the Times or New Yorker. I am a great sucker for any claim to musical, or mathematic intelligence. The less exposure I have to any actual artifact of that touted intelligence, the wider (though emptier) the berth of my regard. That said, I did have direct exposure to the work of Mr. Glass, and in my disorderly, chaotic beyond recognition, experience of Lower Manhattan I found form. Or should I say I recognized the presumption that was required of Mr. Glass to make his seemingly endless demonstration and I respected it? I’m not sure which is true.

  7. Bill – I guess I can say I respect Mr. Glass too. I just don’t happen to like his music! I like your description of it as homeopathic, though.

    I appreciate your honesty in admitting the influence that opinion makers have over you. I can’t claim to be completely immune to their influence myself, but in general I simply don’t pay much attention to them. Life is short, my attention span is limited, and therefore I much prefer primary texts/artworks/performances to the vast middens of secondary literature. And I am arrogant enough to have no qualms about deciding on my own whether I like something, and — critically, perhaps — finding the language to articulate my reactions to myself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.