Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Cabbages and Music

In the last post a phrase struck me - 'the  mystery of music.'  As someone for whom music is vital, who listens to CDs (on my old Walkman) before going to sleep, these words provoke. Written by a Christian lawyer at the beginning of the twentieth century, Arthur Clutton-Buck. 

If we grow cabbages, we are necessarily in a relation of use to them.  But there are other things that we cannot understand at all if we see them only in the relation of use. If I listen to a symphony by Beethoven expecting it to give me some information of use to myself, information that will help me to increase my income or cure my indigestion, I shall not hear the music at all, and it will be to me a mere chaos of sounds. The music does not exist to give me useful information...True, to perceive it will profit me; I shall have the delight of experiencing beauty. But the paradox of the process is this, that I shall not experience the beauty if I try to experience it with an eye to my own profit....If I am to experience the music as it is, I must forget about myself and all my demands and expectations, and allow myself to fall in love with it, if I can; I must allow that relation, which is the music to happen to me.

Now according to Christ, the universe  in its nature, is not like cabbages that we grow for our own kitchens; it is like music. Its reality consists in a relation that is not a relation of use to us at all, and we must get ourselves and our own wants and demands and expectations out of the way....But, further, to be aware of that reality of the music of universe is the highest good, the highest happiness.  Then we ourselves become part of the music; we are by hearing the music constrained to make ourselves part of it; for it is a real music, irresistible in its beauty, and we cannot but dance to it when we hear it. He himself heard it and danced to it; and the beauty of his dance, of his life, of his whole state of being, has for two thousand years allured the world, even while the world would not understand the meaning of it. .


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