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Archive for February 15th, 2010

(This story follows The Pirate’s Story-1. b.)

Elixir Of Life ©

The night still hung over the Atlantic. Open End suddenly shot up in his bed and eyes snapped open. If there was a scream it just trailed away in a whimper. It was a bad dream all right and Snake-Eyes his valet was at hand to get him come out of it. Snake-Eyes, the man from Memphis, was also the bo’s’n, his physician and spirit counselor all rolled in one. “ Is the ship on course?” Open End asked. Snake-Eyes nodded and said he would fix him a jug of toddy. Open End drank. It tasted unlike anything he had ever tasted which went under the heading of toddy. Sheepishly the man from Memphis said it was a new concoction. In the end he volunteered to explain it was the food of the gods.
After a pause he asked, “You don’t like it Cap’n?” The pirate said it was indeed the food of the gods and he had nothing against the drink. “Only that S.E, I just dreamt a dream, a terrible one at that.” Open End moped his forehead and his bewilderment was still obvious. “In my dream I was the food for the gods.”
Before Snake-Eyes could digest this he asked in a puzzle,” What is a pulque?” No man came more superstitious than the man from Memphis and he
knew the matter was serious. He explained, ”It is a beverage made from the sap of Maguey or century plant.” Next moment he wondered loud, ”Those plants are only found in Mexico!”
“Why on earth would I want to think of pulque?” Open End still remained amazed. He had never for once tasted the fermented drink or heard the name mentioned; and yet he was speaking of matters real. “But it is a dream. What has it got to do with the real?” Open End considered his ship as real as his treasure chests that he had buried in places Snake-Eyes would have never dreamed of.
Had the man from Memphis said the drink was the favorite drink of a Huastec god it would have made the pirate nervous; and the thought it was what a sacrificial victim got to drink before being dispatched to the underworld would certainly have made him squirm. Snake-Eyes said instead,” Pulque is grown in Mexico and it is very much part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain; and we are in that world which explains your dream however fanciful…” Open End waved him away unable to stand some abstruse nonsense that did not peel an onion, as far as he was concerned. However. He was still shaking. Only the thought his dream was vivid and he was in a fancy dress playing some game in order to please some god was revolting enough….

 

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The first time I visited the British Museum in 89 one item that captivated me was the autograph of Beethoven. Alongside was that of Mozart. The tidiness of the latter was totally missing in the work of Beethoven. Comparing these is easier than analyzing why one is distinct from the other.
Yet both have been essential to me. Though I have no musical training to appreciate the merits of a composer from his style, in the manner one uses melodic, rhythmic or textural elements, my responses to both composers have been varied. Whereas one has smoothed my troubled spirit by life’s inconsequential hammerings, as an infant satiated by it mother’s milk, Beethoven has supplied more than ample muscle to keep me going through day’s chore. I require both. Even as I get on with tasks on hand, snatches of his themes are ever in my mind. I can smooth day to my liking. 
Is there anything that I may pick out from works of Beethoven as infinitely of high order than others? Given the temperament and cast of my mind second movement in symphonies, the slow movements touch me deeper than others.  Whatever I may be doing while the music goes on the background I pause in order to take the delicious passages: Seventh symphony, the third piano concerto are cases in point.
After becoming acquainted with his music for years my ear can note development of a theme, tonic major and minor relationships how bits and pieces of it are scattered throughout the work. Such juxtapositions of key and dynamics give the piece its variety; themes when restated are like memory playing tricks, a sunny brisk passage when restated is in minor key nevertheless balance is achieved.  His music almost mirrors life in that that sunny outlook of a child derived from its influences may be transformed by tragic aspects of life. But such major minor relationships do not make life seen separately; overall unity of a Beethoven symphony is in its variety despite the motive force of life merely lets each of us to touch highs and lows of joy and sorrow. If the music has its structure and unity is neither of joy nor of sorrow of life can be isolated. They are part of a design. As long man is subject to such tempests of life music of Beethoven must be relevant to him.
As long as my ears can note the difference between a violin and drum I shall listen to Beethoven. If totally deaf with age I hope my memory shall continue to give my ruined state some semblance of sparkle. I shall end with a quotation of Lenin, ‘I know nothing which is greater than the Appassionato…It is marvelous, superhuman music. I always think with pride –perhaps it is naïve of me-what marvelous things human beings can do. (Maxim Gorky-Days with Lenin)’

benny

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