I've been tagged with the latest in cyber games, 'the nearest book meme'. This was done by toomanytribbles, who currently resides in Beijing.
The rules are to:
1. reach for the nearest book
2. turn to page 123
3. skip the first 5 sentences
4. post the next 3 sentences
5. tag 5 more victims highly respected bloggers.
Now this requires an explanation. I work, and oftentimes read passages from books, at my computer desk. It is ample, but not nearly large enough for all the books that find their way to its surface, and spill over onto nearby surfaces as well. So reaching for the nearest book is a bit tricky since most are equidistant from my chair. My books normally live upstairs but make frequent journeys to the nether reaches of the computer desk for a few days, or weeks, at a time. Which to choose.....
Last night I needed a passage from a small tome of which I am inordinately fond, so it was on the top of one nearby stack, "Free Play, Improvisation in Life and Art" by Stephen Nachmanovitch. [After I discovered this jewel some 15 years ago, it was always on the suggested reading list for my university students.]
PARTS 2, 3 & 4
Page 123 is from an ominous sounding Chapter entitled 'Childhood's End'. It begins with a passage about the American composer Aaron Copland who is remarking that for many people the only composer worth his salt is one who has already been dead for a number of years....
1 - "But instead of complaining, he tells us ,"The fun of the fight against the musical Philistines, the sorties and strategies, the converts won, and the hot arguments with dull-witted critics partly explain the particular excitements of that period."
2 - That attitude takes all the crassness and stupidity of the world and makes it the occasion for a game - this is pearl making at its best.
3 - Copland's remark indicates that whatever he may find in the world, if a creative person has a sense of humor, a sense of style, and a certain amount of subbornness, he finds a way to do what he needs to in spite of the obstacles.
Emails have been sent to five blogger friends in order to tag them, but as to whether they are 'highly respected' or not. . .
The reason this book was on my desk was so that I could copy out the following passage:
An empirical fact about our lives is that we do not and cannot know that will happen a day or a moment in advance. The unexpected awaits us at every turn and every breath. The future is a vast, perpetually regenerated mystery, and the more we live and know, the greater the mystery. When we drop the blinders of our preconceptions, we are virtually propelled by every circumstance into the present time and the present mind: the moment, the whole moment, and nothing but the moment. This is the state of mind taught and strengthened by improvisation, a state of mind in which the here and now is not some trendy idea, but a matter of life and death, upon which we can learn to reliably depend. We can depend on the world being a perpetual surprise in perpetual motion. And a perpetual invitation to create.
[Stephen Nachmanovitch is a musician, plays the violin and viola, and enjoys giving improvised solo concerts.]