Friday, July 11, 2014

Snippets - on music, my racism, learning quantum, and what I'm blogging next

1. I finally bought a harmonica last week.  The first thing I played on it, beyond just blowing in and hearing what happened or trying to blow from left to right was 3-3-2-1 to try to sort of mimic the guitar opening in The Search, like one of the loveliest songs in my life right now.  Cos the internet how-to guide said blowing is one skill, then said something about sucking too so I tried that and got my mi-re-do to work.  Meanwhile, Jesse Jagz is in concert in a few weeks - August 2nd at the MUSON Center in Lagos.  I hope the audio equipment isn't weird this time, cos there was some lack of definition/fidelity/power in the speakers at the Shrine concert last year.  I know it will be an amazing evening for me :)

2. Listening to classical nowadays - just downloaded some of the top 50, top 100, classical music for beginners things you can find online.  That's what happens when too much of the current music is not awesome enough lol.  It occurred to me that I can tell my Mozart from my Bach.  I know way too much about Western civilization. Found that I even know a little of the music from The Valkyrie and from Aida even though I've never watched them.

An aside on racism, judging the beauty of languages, and being labeled a 'machine': 
Germany flogged Brazil at the World Cup semifinal match on Tuesday, bringing some of my anti-German sentiment to the surface.  I listened to Jessye Norman (beautiful big black woman) singing Wagner thinking "so terrifying", such un-pretty and martial music, and anyway wouldn't Puccini, Verdi, and Italy have been a better match for this black girl; forgetting that my attempt at categorizing German as cold and terrible makes no sense, when even Beethoven was German.  Anyhow you don't need to be German to do what the Nazi party did.  And nobody perpetrates such without the support or assent of others, or at least I wish that with the UN nowadays that would be the case and the world would gang up against any such oppression.  
Maybe I need to learn a little German.  And Dutch.  Somehow my familiarity with the Romance languages - Spanish, French - reinforces the warmth I feel towards the people and maybe if I stop avoiding the German language, I would become more able to appreciate the so-called German machine, the beautiful football that scored 5 goals in the first half against Brazil on Tuesday.  I'm going to let myself learn a little German.  I'll stop thinking that Persian/Farsi sounds like a slice of heaven even though it rooshes and shooshes too but somehow German just, the closest it comes to romance is like violent porn.  Speaking of violence, I've read Jelinek too.  But she's Austrian.  Now it gets confusing because classics-wise Vienna/Austria is pretty (think Strauss, the waltz, ballgowns with fitted bodices and parties featuring violins and sheer delight! Away with the music of Broadway, be off with your Irving Berlin, ..., when I want a melody lilting through the house, then I want a melody by Strauss: it laughs, it sings, the world is in rhyme, swinging to three-quarter time  - that's By Strauss, in Ella Fitzgerald's voice, another beautiful black Taurus woman).  Language-wise, I hear Austria is German, and that WW2-wise, it was Nazi, and now there is the guilt and even the cold darkness, the unfriendliness and terror of which Jelinek wrote, and for which her work is so hated and so important and to me inspiring.  
What do you think should be done about victor's guilt, post-violence?  The former Nazi lands must keep acting contrite in part because the world is still afraid of them, post-trauma.  Similarly in Japan which once became so capable that it terrorized China (Nanjing tales) and taunted America (Pearl Harbour), they do not have the same militarization rights as the average country.  And to some extent for white South Africa, which succeeded in its apartheid policies for decades, there needs to be an active anti-apartheid raft of good deeds and of penance for a collective sin?  
What should be done preemptively about the fear of getting too big, too good, the fear of making the weaker one cry?  One school of thought is just be great; winning is good, it's the whole point.  A more modern way is to embrace holism, be great for as large a set as possible, not just self, but self and neighbours, not just nation, but all nations, not just humanity, but all earth, not just this earth, but the future and space and outer space.  This is one simple idea that I keep trying to articulate, the benefits and methods of holistic thinking.  
If you hear the other thing I'm saying here, it's that I'm a little bit racist - at least in football, but it goes a little beyond football - and that as usual I'm going to combat my ignorance with a little learning. 

3. I really want to know what quantum science is about.  Maybe I already sort of do.  One thing that helped: Week Five of Physical Chemistry on Coursera.  I just finished weeks one, two, three, and five this week.  Off to do weeks four and six.  This is why I get Coursera fatigue.  But it's so great to have such awesome education available for free, that I can't resist.

4. Yes, I'm definitely bingeing, overdoing it, because I'm also reading some good plays because somebody recommended Chekhov, and about to start two Coursera courses (hopefully one of them is unamazing enough that I'll drop it) on The French Revolution and on Managing Risk for Development.  I bought the book of plays, and bought the harmonica, in Barcelona shops, on my first trip outside of Nigeria in many years.  Thanks to my lovely sister for getting married in Spain, and thanks to the embassies for not rejecting our visa applications a third time.  Is this racism too?  From what I could see, not all the prostitutes in the tourist section of Barcelona were African :)

5. As usual I have thoughts on education - good thing I work in education - and now I'm thinking I'll write some of them here in a series called "homework for victims of the ASUU, SSANU, ASUP, NASU and other miscellaneous strikes in tertiary education."  I do a lot of what the kids stuck at home should be doing with their time - study online, read what you like, do a lot of what you love even if it's watching Korean drama series or playing football or teaching something or selling something, maybe get a job or a traineeship, learn French, write about your life, ... 


t said...

1. It's just a harmonica, don't blush :) Actually the how-to guide mostly referred to "inhaling" and "exhaling" but I didn't want to miss out on the chance to throw some sex in my prose.
2. My sister didn't like Hamburg, she wrote in her latest Yonderland magazine. This is serious, Germany needs some PR help. It would be nice if we all had a better perception of Germany, it may be dangerous the way we're going on.

3. I dropped both Coursera courses just now after finishing Physical Chemistry. Amazing, great course. I'm crazy for loving Chem and Quantum. I'm exhausted. Football time.

4. Just finished "Ivanov" and "Three Sisters" by Chekov too. I see no reason why my first novel can't be titled Three Sisters like I've been considering. I need to get to that final edit - but will it be the final edit? The play is not a bad model to keep in mind while editing. It's rather ... nice. Intelligent. Related in theme (women and marriage and ideas and identity and politics) and setting (semi-rural, perennially bored) and style (rather slow and nuanced, no big shows of death or event, bigger shows of relationship and silences and dialogue and thought.)

5. Homework for victims - start with :) It's excellent.

t said...

If the bit about Germany's burden and associated stereotypes interests you, you'll love this article in Der Spiegel, translated into English,
The Bearable Lightness of Being: How Germans Are Learning to Like Themselves
Part 1: How Germans Are Learning to Like Themselves
Part 2: Will Hitler Ever Leave?

Next up, Israel.