restricted access L'Envoi (1998)
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L'Envoi There is a fire in the brain, in the mind that comes from the universal fire that makes solar systems and galaxies, asteroid belts and comets, huge orbiting spirals , circles, loops that bend back on themselves in giant symmetries and stream out across millions of miles in giant asymmetries. What we humans call music is an expression--conscious or not-f an imperfectly glimpsed microcosmic reflection of this utterly fantastic image. Music issues from the mental fire that drives our passions and produces our tensions. It shapes these into the polar opposites of symmetry and asymmetry. This fire in the mind translates into a living imagination that, as William Butler Yeats says, "divides us from mortality by the immortality of beauty.... Passions, because most living, are most holy...." What is beautiful knows no temporal boundaries, recognizes no cultural moment as more special than any other. In much the same spirit we can now think of the past as present, tonal music having no more special rights than atonal music-so long as both attain the condition of the beautiful. It is the beautiful that is immortal, not ourselves. This epoch ending now is circling back on itself musically, building a new and different tension out of the tonal/atonal polarity whose energies will eventually release themselves in new streams of the unpredictable and the beautiful-so long as the fire in the mind does not rage out of control or burn out. This pattern of circling back imaginatively, storing up all the energy possible in order to release it in some future time when conditions are ripe again and the pressure of expressive need is great enough again, this is the symmetry our passions take on to make of our internal fire what we need to translate our mortality into the immortality of the beautiful. There's no reason beyond that-no utility, no social or political or psychological purpose. Making the world a better place is not a project for the artist. His project is to express the fire in the mind, to make, as Robert Browning said, beautiful things that "have lain burningly on the Divine Hand." George Rochberg January 11, 1998 Dunwoody Village 253 ...