Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Song of the Day #274 - Arvo Pärt - My Heart's in the Highlands

Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe...


A bit ago I made a reference to Fellini's 8 1/2 and maybe when you read that you thought "oh wow, hip hop and anime and now Italian art film too??? Is there anything this guy doesn't know??" okay well there in fact is many things I don't know, and many of them are types of film. I really want to get more into films, but I have a hard time with them. See like, an episode of anime or something, that's whatever, that's like 20 minutes. I'm OK with discarding 20 minutes. But like... 2 hours or something? I think that, and look at the clock, and look at where 2 hours will bring me, and I think, geez, hopefully by that time I would have done something. Like worked on some blog post or story or whatever. But of course when that hour ends up arriving I'll have just sat there looking at 4chan or something ha ha haaaaaa.

And I mean, are the films I'm choosing not actually worth the commitment? Honestly, they're often too good. Recently I watched The Grand Beauty, which I'd really recommend, and beyond being thought provoking and melancholy and wondrous and grandly beautiful, it's burdened me with a sort of "aesthetic resonance" to this song that's been nearly crippling ever since. Seriously, even into this post-Painting With, post-TLOP era, the song continues to haunt me. Such is the strength of this association.

Oh, and the strength of the song itself! We talked about Pärt before, when I had heard "Spiegel im Spiegel" in a documentary (lol all my actual culture is soundtrack-based). There, I talked about it embodying a sort of "outwardly depressed, inwardly content" feeling, a sort of "draw your smile inside" feeling... here, I think it's something like the opposite. The lyrics, by the timeless Scottish poet Robert Burns, speak to a feeling that would be completely heart-rending, the feeling of picturing your majestic homeland so vividly at the moment of having to say goodbye to it. But you can't let it out raw, you can't scream, you can't cry... to do so would be to do disservice to the highlands! You have to let out something that represents not your feelings of loss, but the glory that you have lost.

And yet it is certainly a song of absence. It is a song that represents the memory of the highlands, and not the highlands themselves. The slow, plodding organ has a solemn, funerary feeling to it... I've just finished reading book one of Knaausgard's My Struggle, and it reminds me of how, even after all the animosity they'd had with their father, and all the degeneration he'd been through, they still believed they had to give him a proper church burial, something with dignity. It's that sort of dignity, almost a utilitarian dignity, one that speaks to a certain quality of "rightness", omnipresent in every decision. The organ providing this sort of "proper" accompaniment, the conveyance of the emotions in the "correct" manner, etc.

This creation is thus one of "order", I'd say. The original emotion - longing for the highlands - has been composed into order so that it can be conveyed sensibly. There are, of course, alternative ways to express yourself, but we will save those for later.

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