Bach and the national depression

I recently read a psychologist's observation that the nation of Iraq is suffering from PTSD. I agree, except for one thing--no "post" about it, it's still in a survival state.

I do believe, however, that America is sliding into PTSD from the last 8 years, the economy, the sinking ship of health care, and murder by proxy. Last weekend I felt a distinct shift in the O Fortuna. Velut luna. Status variabilis. It felt a lot like grief, loss. The old American dream lies in little plasticky pieces, shiny but devoid of any humanity. The almighty dollar sucked us all down the toilet. We forgot how to live in harmony with the earth and each other.

We are all going to have to learn to get in touch with our selves again, ask some hard questions, before we can reach each other. We have to put people first again. We've become so cocooned in stuff, stuff made up of the earth's dwindling resources. We don't have to live as voracious consumers. Geez, I'm beginning to repeat my old rhetoric from the 60's and 70's.

Actually, there are solid analogies. Regardless of whether one equates the Iraq and Viet Nam wars, the effects on America have been even more devastating. The attitudes are the same from some of the military--not all, thank goodness. Arrogant slaughter for financial gain. Purely and simply.

I wish everyone in this country could see what life is like outside the borders of the USA. There's no excuse for not, really, if the media would practice real journalism.

I heard Molly Ivins speak not long before she died, and she talked about the death of real American journalism, especially the print variety, newspapers, specifically. One of her points described how today's newspapers have lost touch with the local, the community. The reporting is superficial, and narrows rather than expands knowledge. Not to say there aren't brilliant writers out there, but what is thoughtful and rational and workable is overlooked for the sensational, the froth.

On the other hand, I had a fabulous conversation with a friend about Bach and his music. My friend attended the Bach Cantata Project at the Blanton, and commented on the use of biblical text throughout. It gave me an opportunity to describe the cantata as a form, which is easily translatable to a computer geek. It was mind-blowing to think of it in that context, after a lifetime of relating to Bach in a distinctly non-technological way, not counting the early synthesizered "Switched On Bach" of the 60's. Sensual to the core, at the same time appreciating the beauty of the exquisite interface between sound and mathematics.

It is only fitting that I was able to visit his last musical posting and gravesite--St. Thomaskirche in Leipzig--in my own elderhood. Looking back for decades of being completely surrounded by Bach, something for all of my musical capabilities. Keyboard, vocal, instrumental, monumental, playful, serious, solo, full orchestra and chorus and everything in between--he wrote something for every facet, every mood. Even though they were different periods, I think of Bach as an extension, an evolution of Shakespeare.

For words are music, too. Human sound lifted up. Music, particularly Bach's, physically resonates with the human body, making it an instrument. Which reminds me. AVAE's first concert is November 13 in Austin, November 15 at Round Top.

I had a teacher when I was in my 30's who said music was mathematics in technicolor. Now that I'm in my 60's, I have a deeper understanding of what she meant.