Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare 1994
A play rushing towards ist end. In action as well as language. And any little moment of hesitation could have ended the catastrophe, but not being able to wait killst them.

 “Sampson: Gregory, o’ my word, we’ll not carry coals.
Gregory: No, for then we should be colliers.
Sampson: I mean, an we be in choler, we’ll draw.
Gregory: Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o’ th’ collar.
Sampson: I strike quickly, being moved.
Gregory: But thou art not quickly moved to strike.
Sampson: A dog of the house of Montague moves me.
Gregory: To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand:
Therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn’st away.
Sampson: A dog of that house shall move me to stand.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.245).

“Benvolio: Be ruled by me, forget to think of her.
Romeo: O, teach me how I should forget to think.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.248).

“Romeo: I fear, too early: for my mind misgives
Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars,
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night’s revels; and expire the term
Of a despised life, closed in my breast,
By some vile forfeit of untimely death:
But He, that hath the steerage of my course,
Direct my sail! – On, lusty gentlemen!” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.251).

“Juliet: … Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
Romeo:              I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I’ll be baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.254).

“Romeo: My dear?
Juliet:                    At what o’clock to-morrow
Shall I send to thee?
Romeo                                 At the hour of nine.
Juliet: I will not fail: ‘tis twenty years till then.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.255).

“Friar Laurence:
For this alliance may so happy prove,
To turn your households’ rancour to pure love.
Romeo: O, let us hence; I stand on sudden haste.
Friar: Wisely, and slow; they stumble that run fast.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.257).

“Juliet: O, she is lame! Love’s heralds should be thoughts,
Which ten times faster glide than the sun beams,
Driving back shadows over louring hills.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.259).

“Nurse: I am a-weary, give me leave awhile: -
Fie, how my bones ache” what a jaunt have I had!
Juliet: I would thou hadst my bones and I thy news:
Nay, come, I pray thee, speak; - good, good nurse, speak.
Nurse: Jesu, what haste? Can you not stay awhile?
Do you not see that I am out of breath?
Juliet: How art thou out of breath when thou hast breath
To say to me that thou art out of breath?
The excuse that thou dost makein this delay
Is longer than the tale thou dost excuse.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.259).

Juliet: Come, night; come, Romeo; come thou day in night;
For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow on a raven’s back. –
Come, gentle night, - come, loving, black-brow’d night;
For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow on a raven’s back. –
Come gentle night, - come, loving, black-brow’d night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut out in little stars,
And he will male the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sin. –“ (Shapespeare, 1994, p.263).

When Juliet hears the news that Romeo survived but has slain her cousin Tybalt another theme emerges: that of love turning the world upside down:
“Juliet: O serpent heart, hid with a flow’ring face!
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical!
Dove-feather’d raven! Wolfish-ravening lamb!
Despised substance of divinest show!
Just opposite to what thou justly seem’st,
A damned saint, an honourable villain!
Was ever book containing such a vile matter
So fairly bound?” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.263).

When the morning rises and Romeo has to leave Juleit:
“More light and light, - more dark and dark our woes!” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.267).

“Juliet: Is there no pity sitting in the clouds,
That sees into the bottom of my grief.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.269).

“Balthasar: I do beseech you, sir, have patience:
Your looks are pale and wild, and do import
Some misadventure.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.274).

“Montague: O thou untaught! What manners is in this,
To press before thy father to a grave.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.277).

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Shakespeare – Love’s Labour’s Lost 1994

At the heart of the book are promises and how easily they are given and broken.

So in the beginning promises of study and learning are given by the king and his men.
“King: Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live register’d upon our brazen tombs,
And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
Th’endeavour of this present breath may buy
The honor which shall bate his scythe’s keen edge
And make us heirs of all eternity.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.213).

But even at this first promise, language trickery is used to break it:
“King: How well he’s read, to reason against reading.
Dumaine: Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!
Longaville: He weeds the corn, and still let’s grow the weeding.
Berowne: The spring is near, when green geese are a-breeding.
Dumaine: How follows that?
Berowne:                                Fit in his place and time.
Dumaine: In reason nothing.
Berowne:                                Something, then, in rime.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.214).

Within the same act, these promises are broken fort he prospect of love.
“Longaville: If by me broke, what fool is not so wise
To lose an oath to win a paradise?” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.228).

And very plainly one of the men, is asked to make an argument to justify this.
“King: But what of this? Are we not all in love?
Berowne: Nothing so sure; and thereby all forsworn.
King: Then leave this chat; and, good Berowne, now prove
Our loving lawful, and our faith not torn.
Dumaine: Ay, marry, there; some flattery for this evil.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.230).

“Berowne: O, we have made a vow to study, lords,
And in that vow we have forsworn our books.
For when would you, my liege, or you, or you,
In leaden contemplation have found out
Such fiery numbers as the prompting eyes
Of beauty’s tutors have enrich you with?
But love, first learned in a lady’s eyes,
Lives not alone immured in the brain;
But, with the motion of all the elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
Let us once lose our oaths to find ourselves,
Or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.231).

The women are not impressed though:
“King: We came to visit you, and purpose now
To lead you to our court; vouchsafe it then.
Princess: This field shall hold me; and to hold your vow:
Nor God, nor I, delights in perjured men.
King: Rebuke me not for that which you provoke.
The virtue of your eye must break my oath.
Princess: You nickname virtue; vice you should have spoke;
For virtue’s office never breaks men’s troth.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.237).

Thus the men promise to abstain from using flowery language – in the most flowery words:
Thus pour the stars down plagues for perjury
Can any face of brass hold longer out?
Here stand I, lady: dart thy skill at me;
Bruise me with scorn, confound me with a flout;
Thrust thy sharp wit quite through my ignorance;
Cut me to pieces with thy keen conceit;
And I will wish thee never more to dance,
Nor never more in Russian habit wait.
O, never will I trust to speeches penn’d
Nor to the motion of a schoolboy’s tongue,
Nor never come in visard to my friend,
Nor woo in rime, like a blind harper’s song!
Taffeta phrases, silkern terms precise,
Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical, these summer flies
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation:
I do forswear them; and I here protest,
By this white glovw,- how white the hand, God knows!-
Henceforth my wooing mind shall be exprest
In russet yeas and honest kersey noes:
And to begin, wench, - so God help me, la!-
My love to thee is sound, sns crack or flaw.
Rosaline: Sans sans, I pray you.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.238).

But at the end, the women whose love the men want to win, put a stop to all this.
They make the story go back tot he beginning and tell the men, they won’t believe in any of their promises unless they abstain from courtly life for a year.
Only if then they are still in love, will they marry.
So only if they put action behind their words, their words will be trusted.

And time, me thinks, too short
To make a world-without-end bargain in.
No, no, my lord, your grace is perjured much,
Full of dear guiltiness; and therefore this: --
If for my love, as there is no such cause,
You will do aught, this shall you do for me:
Your oath I will not trust; but go with speed
To some forlorn and naked hermitage,
Remove from all the pleasures of the world;
There stay until twelve celestial signs
Have brought about their annual reckoning.
If this austere insociable life
Change not your offer made in heat of blood;
If frosts and fasts, hard lodging and thin weeds
Nip not the gaudy blossoms of your love,
But that it bearthis trial and last love;
Then, at the expiration of the year,
Come challenge me, challenge by these deserts,
And, by this virgin palm now kissing thine,
I will be thine.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.243).

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Boulez – On Conducting 2002

A book full of interesting insights into conducting and with many – and not the obvious ones – parallels to my day to day job as a strategic planners.

“And so I found myself in front of the orchestra, who were, it must be said, very kind.” (Boulez, 2002, p.5).

“Firstly, today’s conductors lack culture. They are not familiar with the whole range of music, and they restrict themselves to a limited repertoire. Secondly, they lack flair. They only rarely seem to have a sense of discovery, only rarely have an intuition of what might become really valuable. Thirdly, they do not know how to run an institution in an artistic way.” (Boulez, 2002, p.16).

“He also gave advice to young conductors, fairly sarcastic advice, saying, for instance, that it was not the conductor who should sweat but the audience.” (Boulez, 2002, p.53).

“Personally, I tend to prefer a player who has more potential to one who has already fulfilled that potential.” (Boulez, 2002, p.74).

“I’ve noticed that it’s much more difficult than I thought for musicians and scientists to rub shoulders with one another. I’ve even fewer illusions on this subject than I had twenty-five years ago.” (Boulez, 2002, p.83). “Peppino di Giugno, who created the 4X processor, told me this about certain composers: ‘They are not satisfied, because they are not really aware of the possibilities of the computer; it’s as if one were asking a violinist to have a hand with six or seven fingers …’ It’s true that one often comes across this attitude with musicians: they demand more, because they do not know how to use what exists.” (Boulez, 2002, p.84).

“I know that the instrumental logic and the interpretation of the performer differ from that of the computer, which in itself has no capacity for interpretation.” (Boulez, 2002, p.87). “The interpretation, the essential quality of the performer, the ability to make choices, can only exist in the computer in a kind of phantom state.” (Boulez, 2002, p.89).

“Almost always when a difficulty in the score proves itself to be insurmountable, it’s because there is an error both in its conception and its notation. You cannot always blame the inadequacy of the players. So you have to correct the score, not to make it easier, but more effective – I repeat, effective.” (Boulez, 2002, p.115).

“The first fault you notice is that the conductor is so preoccupied with himself that he doesn’t hear what is happening – conducting is not just a question of giving initiatives but also of being receptive to what the orchestra does. If there is not this reciprocity, a conductor will fail.” (Boulez, 2002, p.127).

“I think that composition per se cannot be taught. (…) Two or three days a year of short, intense work (of teaching) are enough for me, because I think that the students should be given shock treatment in respect of high standards. Those students who are at this standard will be on a high, those who are not will very probably go under. It’s really like playing double or quits! Fom this point of view, I am very ‘Darwinian’. I think it is utterly useless dragging a weight behind you which you know perfectly well will not reach the top of the hill.” (Boulez, 2002, p.130).

“Education is no panacea, either. I mean that it never supplies talent to those who have none; it can simply nourish talent.” (Boulez, 2002, p134). “Teaching is only a beginning; it is teaching yourself that is important. I have often said it and I still think it: I much prefer those who chose to teach themselves to those who ended up teaching themselves by chance. You can develop this wish with someone who, later, might ‘hit you in the face’. That is perfect. He must also kill the father.” (Boulez, 2002, p.135).

“I say: ‘This is what I have done, this is what I have done, this is what others have done: find your way through that.’ I ask for neither support nor a purely positive reaction. Reaction is what is required. So much the better if the reaction is positive; likewise if it is negative. I am a bad father. I am like Jean-Jacques Rousseau: if I had had children, I would have put them in care, so that they might grow up by themselves.” (Boulez, 2002, p.135).

“It made me more critical vis-à-vis the connection between theoretical speculation and practical realization. I have always been in favour of theoretical speculation, for it is that which carries you forward. If you remain restricted by performance, you will never achieve anything. (…) Invention is the wellspring, all the gestures and processes are a consequence of it.” (Boulez, 2002, p.138).

“Whenever I played my own works on the piano, and even more so when I conducted them, I thought fairly early on about the sort of ‘result’ that would be effective. For when one composes in too complex a manner, the performer inevitably simplifies.” (Boulez, 2002, p.139). “the more complex the structure, the more you must link it to a simple parameter. It is one of the permanent features with Wagner; if the leitmotifs recur in a very obvious form, it is to put you back on track when you have lost your way in the structure. The structure if Wagner’s operas is at times excessively complex, and it is thanks to the leitmotivs that one can get one’s bearings in an act that lasts two hours.” (Boulez, 2002, p.140).

“a work is not pure invention, it require to be performed. Otherwise it is incomplete.” (Boulez, 2002, p.140).

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Odyssey - Homer 2009

The Odyssey – Homer 2009

“The most significant characteristic of the two, as of all the suitors, is that they constantly thinl one thing and say another. Such duplicity is unitypical of Homeric characters- In the Iliad, heroic thought and action are all of a piece: once a hero thinks of something, he does it.” (EV Rieu in Homer, 2009, p.xxiv).

“(I)n Homer the gods only help those who are worthy of it.” (EV Rieu in Homer, 2009, p.xxxvii).

“The ‘No one’ trick in the Cyclops cave (the Greek for ‘No one’, me tis, when run together, makes metis, Greek for ‘resourcefulness, cunning’, one of Odysseus’ most common epithets.” (EV Rieu in Homer, 2009, p.xxxvii).

“Take, for example, the scar episode. At 19.392, Eurycleia ‘recognized the scar, the one Odysseus had received years before’. The story of the scar is told, and it ends (467): ‘it was this scar that the old woman felt and recognized’. It is an extremely common controlling device in Homer.” (EV Rieu in Homer, 2009, p.xxxix).

“Life in its sweetness was ebbing away in the tears he shed for his lost home.” (Homer, 2009, p.66).

“And now Athene filled his eyes with sleep and sealed their lids – sleep to soothe his pain and utter weariness.” (Homer, 2009, p.75).

“For nothing in the world is so shamelessly demanding as a man’s confounded stomach.” (Homer, 2009, p.90).

“”Odysseus, why are you sitting like this as though you were dumb, and feeding on your own thoughts instead of helping yourself to meat and wine?” (Homer, 2009, p.134).

“they thought of their beds and accepted the gift of sleep.” (Homer, 2009, p.222).

“All-seeing Zeus takes half the good out of a man on the day he becomes a slave.” (Homer, 2009, p.231).

“’Of all the creatures that breathe and creep about on Mother Earth there is none so helpless as man. As long as the gods grant him prosperity and health he imagines he will never suffer misfortune in the future. Yet when the blessed gods bring him troubles he has no choice but to endure them with a patient heart. The reason is that the view we mortals take of this earthly life depends on what Zeus, the Father of gods and men, sends us day by day.” (Homer, 2009, p.242).

“But you’re just a braggart with the heart of a bully, who take yourself for a big man and a hero only because the people you meet are so few, and so undistinguished.” (Homer, 2009, p.248).

“there’s a force in iron that lures men on.” (Homer, 2009, p.250).

“’I keep no man idle who has eaten my bread, however far he may have journeyed.” (Homer, 2009, p.250).

“Father Zeus, you are the cruellest of gods. You have no compunction about dealing out misfortunes, misery and suffering to us men; yet it was you who caused us to be born.” (Homer, 2009, p.271).