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Today’s contest for your listening ear

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — sensing the sense of the season, musically, with JS Bach, GF Handel, and a special appearance by Dean Swift ]
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Today’s contest is between Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Christmas Oratorio, here performed by Michel Corboz:

and Georg Friedrich Händel‘s Messiah, here under the baton of Sir Colin Davis at the Barbican, with the marvelous Sara Mingardo in the alto role..

Cast your ballots, faites vos jeux — this is a win-win game.

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You knew, perhaps — I didn’t — that Dublin, the place of the first performance of Messiah, was at the time spiritually dominated by Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s cathedral, and thus the commander-in-chief under God of that cathedral’s choristers? —

Jonathan Swift of the Modest Proposal “that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled” —

and that the said Dean Swift was at first unwilling to let his choristers sing in what seemed uneasily like an Opera, but later relented?

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The child promised, delivered — despised, rejected — crucified and finally arisen in Handel‘s magnificent music himself became, it would seem, bread broken and shared, thus to be digested spiritually by his followers.

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Dean Swift, Handel (Händel was quite British by now) — the two of them crossed staves (a pun, that, ahem) in Dublin that year, 1742 of the Common Era or Anno Domini, 16th in the reign of George II. The King’s Viceroy for Ireland at that date would have been William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, who was a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital in London, an establishment instituted for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children” — note the echo of Dean Swift‘s concerns, a DoubleQuote in history if you will.

George Frederick Handel conducted Messiah to great acclaim in the chapel of Foundling Hospital in 1750, and was elected a Governor the next day.

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Swift‘s children get roasted, God‘s child narrowly escapes death at the hands of Herod the Great, but the children of the Foundling Hospital not only get saved from starvation and the gutter, but are exposed to some of the European world’s most magnificent choral music.

Hallelujah! — if you don’t mind me saying so.
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Wishing ZP readers a Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — with a poem by Richard Wilbur ]
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TWO VOICES IN A MEADOW
by Richard Wilbur

A Milkweed

Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod.
What power had I
Before I learned to yield?
Shatter me, great wind:
I shall possess the field.

A Stone

As casual as cow-dung
Under the crib of God,
I lie where chance would have me,
Up to the ears in sod.
Why should I move? To move
Befits a light desire.
The sill of Heaven would founder,
Did such as I aspire.

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I was listening to a podcast with Stephen Mitchell discussing this poem, and then his own translation of the Odyssey, and was struck by these two comments on the music of poetry — echoing my love of Bach and my interest in counterpoint and stereophony:

You can read a translation by somebody who’s really good and say, Ah, that’s got to be done by so and so, in the same way that you hear a bit of Goldberg Variations and you know that’s Glenn Gould or Murray Perahia..

The poet of the original poem, whether or not anonymous, is listening to something, and the listening eventually becomes the words, so it’s not something, if a poem is really good, it’s not something in a sense he’s creating, it is creating through him, or her, and that’s what becomes the poem. So in the same way, a really good translator is listening, but it’s stereophonic, so in one ear he has the original poem in the original language, and in the other ear, there’s pure, you could say pure longing, or pure silence, where nothing is happening and he cannot force it and will not force it, and then at a certain point, the English words form by themselves, as that counterpoint to the original language, and then it’s done.

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BTW:

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With this simple, humble poem set in a field — not in a manger, mind you, but in a field, any field pretty much, though there are crib-nativity echoes in each stanza — we at Zenpundit wish all our readers the happiest of holiday seasons, in whatever tradition you each may follow..

Start of the Christian Church Year

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — the chief benefit of observing a liturgical calendar is found in the subtle modulations in rhythm across the year it affords the observant faithful ]
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In terms of the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches — but not yet, I think, the Orthodox — this is the first Sunday in the season of Advent, a period of expectation of the coming of the Christ Child, and of his Second Coming at the end of days, and marks the start of the liturgical Year in their calendars.

Here’s JS Bach, bringing us a Cantata for the First Sunday in Advent, and thus a fitting opening to the season:

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Zenpundit wishes its Christian readers a Happy New Year!

Sunday surprise, two meanings of play in 3 dimensions

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — I’d infinitely rather play Bach than chess.. ]
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Above, a three-dimensional chess set. When I was up at Oxford, I had a three dimensional tic-tac-toe board, four sheets of plastic stacked vertically, each one drilled four by four, with yellow and red golf pegs to mark moves — it was quite a thrill, especially as an escape from Old Testament studies, but I wouldn’t play it now to save my, well, soul.

Below, Jonathan Scott performs his arrangement of the Finale from Saint-Saens “Organ” Symphony (No. 3) on the 1895 T.C. Lewis organ of Albion Church, Ashton-under-Lyne, UK.

I would, OTOH, give my soul to be able to play the organ — a privilege denied me until I reached Grade 5 in the British system — a grade I gave up on in despair after too mant teachers forcced me to play the detested Alec Rowley‘s exercises — with different fingerings.. Piano, feh, It took me half a lifetimes to realize there is some merit to be found therein.

On Mapping the Varieties of Risk

Monday, August 6th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a theoretical question or suggestion, with serious or curious personal implications ]
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This will get personal, but I’m aiming for a question or suggestion regarding the mapping of risks, in terms both of human life expectancy and of any and all other forms of risk assessment.

moments to flatline — but enough of that

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Well, well, I guess some predictive nethods may be better than others. Prophecy has the divine seal of approval, so there’s really no contest except When Prophecy Fails, as Festinger had the audacity to suggest.

Fallback methods, in that event, include prediction, medical prognosis or actuarial life expectancy, mortality or maybe just morbidity, fortune-telling of various sorts — cookie, cookies, tellers, aura readings, tarot..

And for myself, personally, there are various levels of risk that if mapped together would provide a graph with several nodes — to name the obvious, geopolitical risk, life expectancy, expectancy without dialysis, and bleed out.

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Let’s takee a stab.

By geopolitical risk I mean roughly what the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists implies — not the time in minutes to Doomsday, but the risk that we’ll be fried in the next year or eight, three, fifteen.. forty-eight.

The year just past proved perilous and chaotic, a year in which many of the risks foreshadowed in our last Clock statement came into full relief. In 2017, we saw reckless language in the nuclear realm heat up already dangerous situations and re-learned that minimizing evidence-based assessments regarding climate and other global challenges does not lead to better public policies.

Eight years or forty-eight?

Let’s hope Doomsday’s a long time coming, or indefinitely postponed.

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Life expectancy:

actuarial life table simplified, simplified

Zeroing in, there’s my life expectancy / prognosis. A couple of years ago, a physician friend gave me (informally) fifty-fifty odds of living the year out, and revised his guesstimate upwards as the year inproved my condition. Okay, five years would get me to eighty, which considering my state of health (morbidity) may be a bit optimistic (mortality). I’ve heard of people on dialysis for sixteen years, and then there are those who get transplants..

But if for some reason, my access to dialysis was cut off, I’m told I’d have eight to maybe twelve days — and Russians toppling the grid, or the President and Congress pulling appropriate insurance might switch me from optimist to Soli Deo Gloria

— in double quick time.

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And then there’s arterial bleed out, against which precautions are believe me taken. A minute? four? The equivalent, perhaps, of stepping on a jumping jack in Afghanistan? Kiss your Self goodbye.

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So a number, a length of time, can be assessed for any one of these, and when people who study in the assessment of risk can give that number, backing it up with whatever persuasions they find appropriate. A number. 50-50. Three years. By my calculation, the Book of Revelation. By their calculation, the Doomsday Clock of the Atomic Scientists. What, as the younglings say, ev. But a single number, or more expansively, range.

But here’s my question: does anyone have a graphical method for mapping all the variants of risk, say the ones I listed for my personal case?

It feels a bit like a ratcheted system – failing death by nuclear annihilation or Yosemite blowing, there’s my prognosis, hopefully a matter of years. That can jum suddenly to days in the grid goes don (think Puerto Rico) — and leap toi a handful of minutes if, Black Swan forbid, a procedure fails and I’m unexpectedly bleeding out.

So does anyonbe make ratcheted graps of how one risk slips to another?
soli
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>And my suggestion, if nobody has such a mapping scheme that I could give a look-see to, is that we should think about how to make such a mapping systen=m available.

Thank you for reading, considering, responding to question or suggestion.


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