From heaven to hell,
damnation to dalmatians and on
the dumbing down of classical music,
with Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH
Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) is known to have said that:
There is no such thing as bad weather. All weather is good because it is God's.
So of course I'm wondering if this principle can be applied to debt, politics, religion, timing, jokes, luck, health, breath, taste, driving, sandwiches, tennis, goldfish, poetry, agony aunt columns, and, of course, music?
What if, by some gracious and miraculous warping of God's holy space time continuum, Saint Teresa, and not Dame Alice McPossibly-Goodly-Godly, had reviewed Joshua Pierce's recent recording?
Praise God, in troth, thy plainchant was musicke of the spheres and only in part gargoylic. Withstanding five score of heavenly moments in virginals and winds (the crumhorns were sublime) they were in every way up to God's holy standard, and that of the under-mentioned Pierce, whose singing was beautifully balanced between the graces and the demons. The cornetts were felicitous, the principal piper, whom I am too saintly to name, hardly mediocre, and the principal lutenist so outstandingly in tune that one could sense, when he was playing, sighs of angelic pleasure from singers and players (sighs reflected in any sensitive and Godly Christian).
Do you think Saint Teresa was sadly deluded? Does God exist? Is dumbing down a necessary milestone on the path to salvation? Or damnation? Dalmatians? Exasperation? Redemption? Help, Alice, Help!
Dear Slime (has to be Abysmal Slime, Keith!!!)
You are on outstanding form -- indeed, yours is my fav letter of the year!!!!!!!!! -- though I think you might have JUST had a weensy cocktail (or two even) towards the end, right?
(By the way, did you know that the 'under-mentioned' Pierce, far from being annoyed, actually quotes my review on his publicity?)
Never mind!!!!!! Didn't get any other letters this week. So ... let's take your questions in order.
Was St Teresa sadly deluded? Far be it for me, in these religiously-insane times, to suggest such a thing, lest murder-maddened Catholics from Petts Wood beat down my door and decapitate my dachshunds. (Nota bene: Has anyone besides me noticed that Christians, Hindus, Buddhists etc can be ridiculed as much as anyone chooses but that Muslims have to be treated with the kiddest of kid gloves???)
Does God exist? Yes indeedy. The evidence surrounds you. Do you exist, or are you Abysmal Slime, also known as Gloria Stoatgobbler, in disguise? That is the question ...
Is dumbing down a necessary milestone on the path to salvation? This is a two-pronged question, as it is unclear to me whether you are referring to the salvation of classical music or to spiritual salvation. There is no question that dumbing down will prove/is proving the death of classical music. Private Eye magazine reported this week on National Music Week: 'an initiative to widen the musical horizons of children in some 2,000 schools, with classroom projects that introduced them to different kinds of performers. A laudable idea. But what categories of music did these "different" perfomers represent? Answer: goth-pop, afro-pop, pop-rock and indie-pop.' When bearded on the subject by the reporter, the organizer defended the sponsors, by noting that two of the acts counted as 'cross-over'.
That in a nutshell, is why dumbing down is not so much wrecking classical music as contributing to its erasing out of our culture. Where 'cross-over' (or some bizarre mixing of classical with pop) is as close as National Music Week gets to exposing children to different kinds of music, we've basically had it.
With regard to your second dumbing-down question, Jesus is on record (there were witnesses) as saying that one had to become 'like a child' in order to get within shouting distance of the Kingdom of Heaven. No, Slime, this doesn't mean pretending to be dumb enough to believe it, but opening your mind again to some of that wonder and belief that comes much more easily to kiddies. Think about it.
Where were we? Dalmatians. This is where I decided you'd gone one over the eight. Are dalmatians necessary to salvation? No, though dogs in general are deeply Christian, being loyal, faithful, honest, etc etc (until you get to the greed bit!!!!!!!!!!)
Reminds me of a joke I once heard about a man and a dog who perished in a car crash, and were plodding along the golden path to heaven ... They reach pearly gates, angels at the entrances etc where the man is welcomed. Yet as he turns to go in, his path is blocked.
'You're allowed, but not your dog.'
Sadly, the man refuses to come in, and trudges onward. Just over the hill he sees pearly gates, angels etc that take his breath away. The angel greets him and welcomes him.
'I'm not going anywhere without my dog,' says the man firmly.
The angel laughs.
'Great. Bring your dog.'
'Hang on,' says the man. 'The other angel wouldn't let him in!'
The angel shakes his head.
'That was hell, and it wasn't an angel. How could this be heaven for dog-lovers without their dogs?'
Copyright © 27 October 2006
Alice McVeigh, Kent UK