Friday, May 11, 2007

Sunday 8 April 2007


Sunny. Almost warm. I approached the lake hefting my desk. A strong music greets me. I straighten a bit. The bells are a serious affair today and play, for some duration, Schiller's "Ode to Joy." Beethoven's Ninth, inspired by Friedrich Schiller's poem, an ode, from 1785. This piece of music took Beethoven ten years and over 200 versions to complete, which is why every note sounds as it does. Which is why we straighten to hear it.

Beethoven's Ninth was first conducted on Friday, May 7, 1824. Here it is again, nearly 200 years later, to greet me. What about Schiller inspired Beethoven to spend a decade creating it? Was it the belief that we humans are bound to one another, for better or worse, in humility? Was it that we humans will all one day prostrate before the higher good, will all one day march to another place? Was it the need to impress this upon people, that our destiny is a common one? Schiller writes, "We approach fire-drunk/Heavenly One, your shrine/ Your magic reunites/What custom strictly parts;/"

The Joy theme has been adopted as the anthem of the European Union, as a symbol of togetherness. It has been taken as a universal human anthem. Leonard Bernstein conducted it at the international celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Whatever cultural differences remained between East and West Germany have been described as "Mauer im Kopf" ("The wall in the head"). The sort of wall Beethoven can overcome?

Circlers, we must form bonds. Communication and mutual understanding, our destiny. "Yes, whoever calls even one soul/His own on the earth's globe! And who never has; let him steal,/Weeping, away from this group." "And for the lonely soul, lonely no more, you are part of this mass, you are part of the final marching parade." "Be embraced, you millions!/This kiss for the whole world!" ["To Joy," Schiller] We must grow not only as individuals but as a community. And what is to be the method of our communal growth?" Commerce? Logic? Sport? No, probably something more along the lines of poetry and play. "Aesthetic education is necessary," Schiller argued, "not only for the proper balance of the individual soul, but for the harmonious development of society" [Books and Writers]. And so we have poetry. We have theatre. Music. And the heavenly bodies in the sky.


All day I work, constructing a nest in the grass, using the pliable yellow branches the black willow threw at me last year. The Circlers come to see, "How beautiful! Who taught you how to make that?" I am just now learning. I have all day to learn and perfect it. It's nothing really. If you had eight hours you could make a nest too, perhaps a more beautiful nest than this. Time looks like skill to you becuase you have no time. Time looks like skill in a time-drained society. Time at a task, any task, is capable of becoming an object, a long arranged object. Anything, anything other than nothing, becomes a focus. And anything other than nothing is admirable.

If you were a bird or a beaver, this would be neccessary. A survival skill. But you are human and this nest is not necessary. It is, therfore, art. Craft.

In my nest, I place one small stone, wrapped in four magenta camilla petals. When I leave my meadow, at the end of the day, I carry my nest, it is now a foot long and 4" deep, to the water's edge where I place it under a tree, near a thicket of rushes.


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