Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Enlightenments Work

In Amadeus

Where Emperor J's bureaucrats

Insist opera can show no ballet,

This being The Marriage of F,

Mozart has them dance to no sound

(Choreographed by Twyla Tharp),

Their steps go thunk to a musicless beat --

So irrational (They're like waxworks)! --

And the E must rescind his own law.

Artists must always work in the cracks

For the greatness of art to proceed.



  1. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all ridiculous laws were ditched upon proven ridiculous? But then again, define ridiculous... Had the silent ballet in M of F gone ahead, who's to say that sooner or later it wouldn't have been deemed as pleasantly revolutionary by art critics?

  2. Claudia,

    You're right. Only in my more hubristic moments so I feel that I can 'legislate for mankind', but step back quite soon after realizing all that mankind comprises.

    In the Milos Forman movie of the play, I was delighted to watch the dancers move to no music -- not like waxworks, perhaps like ingenious watchworks.

    But that was the early 1980s, not the 1780s. Our gens are used to disorder, even revel in it, at least have to face it. Back yonder, the artistic ideal seemed to want concord and proportion. Operas that didn't string out endlessly because an audience or composer wanted to indulge an intrusive dance.

    Sentiment worked. Light satire might pass. What we dish up today routinely would cause exile or worse.

    Thank goodness for the anonymity of my 'name'.