Mental Health Break

I’ve spent the morning looking at what the rightwing noise machine has to say about the Obergefell decision. It’s not the usual thing where I feel the need to shower; there’s a complete absence of gay slurs, and one of the Red Staters goes as far as saying Good result, bad process. It’s the overwhelmingly apocalyptic tone that got me down: it seems that the downfall of the Republic is playing out before our eyes, but most Americans are too short-sighted and apathetic to see it. (I did interrupt this study to watch part of the Giants game: 7-5 over the Rockies! OK, it’s possible they have a point.) We might have made it through the Civil War and Pearl Harbor all right, but this time it’s serious!

It did bemuse me that First Things, which I’ve seen described by people I respect as a serious journal of religion (rather than the loony bin its content often suggests), appears to take Ted Cruz’s proposed constitutional amendment seriously (in a piece written by a professor of jurisprudence at Amherst, no less.) Can they really not see when they’re being patronized and pandered to by a shameless self-promoter with no legislative or political accomplishments of any kind? But then I realized this is a symptom of the end-of-the-world blues: you grab any extinguisher in a holocaust. (Not The Holocaust, of course. Which does not stop RedState from describing the decision with pogrom-like imagery.)

Anyway, what saved me from having a genuinely rotten day was discovering the video below: Glenn Gould playing Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. And that’s immensely reassuring: No matter how many idiots there are in the world, we are capable of things like this. It’s a lovely chain that speaks through the centuries Ludwig to Franz to Glenn to us.

And here it is. If you can’t find time for the whole thing, you should seriously reconsider your priorities, but at least listen to the last movement, which starts at 44:43. Bliss.

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6 thoughts on “Mental Health Break

  1. Re: First Things – I think those of us who do have some esteem for that site are mostly projecting desperate hope for the existence of a reasonable religious conservatism in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    Re: Ludwig van – Nice choice! As I age, I’m finding the pastoral symphony to be my favorite. Or the Ninth.


    • Right there with both of you on the Sixth. Pure joy.

      And the Ninth. And the Fifth, which is incredibly compelling music if you can forget its totemic, sometimes tired status in the broader culture and find an interpreter approaching it as actual… music. Seek out Harnoncourt’s Chamber Orchestra of Europe performance on Youtube.

      When I was younger I loved the Eroica, and I still do, but those above really have special places for me. Also: very few single movements of classical music move me like the slow movement of the Seventh. Actually, the whole Seventh is pretty ecstatic as well (except that slow movement).

      Hard to choose from among the Master’s Pieces, innit?


  2. Don’t you mean it brought you Bach from the precipice? I thought of a few other puns but this one was first on my Liszt.


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