DAY 132: Schooling

May 28th, 2015 § 0 comments

Changing tack yet again, I was one of the fortunate ones who heard Mr Barenboim’s talk at the South Bank last week (I’d booked ages in advance). Let’s hear the maestro do what he does best (prelude 9 in E major from book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier), while we’re about it. His theme

150526_edward_w_said_daniel-barenboim_lectre_credit_sheila_rock_web was a) that there isn’t basically any music education in schools, and there’s getting to be even less; and b) that this is totally wrong as music should be part of anyone’s education, on a level with (say) maths, history or needlework. I completely agree of course, but I think he’s wrong in constructing a history of some golden age in which we all used to have a musical education – I certainly didn’t, and my education wasn’t particularly deprived. Same for anyone else I’ve consulted. It may have been better in Argentina, and it looks as though it’s worse in Hebron if you’re a Palestinian kid being ac52fd25-5403-4c04-af56-0799e5e32bc8escorted to school by ChristianPeacemaker Teams under the watchful eye of settlers and soldiers.

['In December, 231 tear gas canisters were fired by Israeli forces on 16 days as Palestinian children journeyed to and from school. Along with 34 stun grenades, these 231 teargas canisters were fired at two checkpoints which permit access to 7 schools within approximately a .3 square mile radius. This constant oppression rarely reaches international news.']

So let’s hear it for musical education everywhere, choirs and orchestras, keys, scales and chords! And (though this didn’t come into the lecture, why not?), the music of Africa, India, China; the ragas and the maqamat. The point – another interesting one raised by the well-known pianist – being that with recent advances in digital technology, you don’t need twenty violins, or a ragbag collection of lutes, clarinets, triangles, trombones, tubas etc for a class of twenty – they or the teacher can find suitable apps which will teach them all how to play their parts in (say) ‘Swan Lake‘  on their phones, keeping time and concentrating. Learning music, I don’t need to remind you, is learning a language of rhythm, feeling, discipline and emotion,… I could go on like this for some time, but you get the idea.

Better still, besides creating a more spiritually mature graduating class, this scheme will provide employment for accordion_girl_lecce_01the vast numbers of music graduates who are currently swelling the ranks of the benefit scroungers. And, as Barenboim points out, with all these cultured people around there will be no need for subsidies to opera houses and concert halls – the masses will flock to them as they used to in the Soviet Union. Will this government provide the needed funds? Don’t hold the proverbial breath.

Bad News

I’ve been stressing my frail brain trying to understand the point of economics with the help of various trendy thinkers; and I think I’ve finally grasped the point of an argument due to Ms Naomi Klein.klein If I’ve got it wrong, it’s my fault not hers. The basic principles are:



A crude version of this theory, which only the paranoid believe, is that it’s the people who profit who caused the bad stuff in the first place (9/11, the earthquakes in Nepal,earthquake the civil wars here and there, the extinction of the dinosaurs). This looks a bit dubious. And yet, the balance sheet of 9/11 has got to show that someone made shedloads of money at someone else’s expense – that’s what insurance is about, if I understand it. All this elementary stuff I am only just beginning to grasp at this late stage in my life – just as that if someone offers me credit or a loan or an easy way out of debt it’s only in order to enslave me and lure me into peonagepeonage (don’t you just love that word?). I’m now toiling on in the hope of grasping Susanne Soederberg’s concept of ‘debtfare’, and similar hard stuff.

Arising out of this (gosh, this item should have come at the top of the page) I’ve just done – as you probably already have, hypocrite lecteur – what I should have done ages ago and updated my LinkedIn profile, with the usual huge amount of exaggeration about my achievements and capabilities. Something tells me that I’m still not practised enough in this art, as the expected emails offering me consultancies or internships in applications of mathematics to human rights law have not been, as I expected, flooding my inbox.

Poetry: English Rose by Mina Loy. I can’t think why I’ve joined in the general academic neglect of this terrific poet, and in particular her brutal poem about her Jewish father and English mother, circa 1920. I implore you to read it all the way through.

loyMina Loy

Early English everlasting

quadrate Rose


trimmed with some travestied flesh

tinted with bloodless duties dewed

with Lipton’s teas

and grimed with crack-packed



the prim gilt


of a luster-scioned



Rose of arrested impulses


of the primordial attributes

a tepid heart inhibiting

with tactful terrorism

the Blossom Populous

to mystic incest with its ancestry


by the divine right of self-assertion

the post-conceptual

virginity of Nature



its pink paralysis

A World-Blush

glowing from

a never-setting-sun

Conservative Rose


of British Empire-made pot-pourri

of dry dead men making a sweetened smell

among a shrivelled collectivity


Which august dust

stirred by

the trouser-striped prongs of statesmanship

(whenever politic)

rises upon the puff of press alarum

and whirling itself

deliriously around the unseen

Bolshevik subsides

in ashy circularity

“a wreath” upon the unknown

soldier’s grave


And Jehovah strikes –

through the fetish

of the island hedged –


who on his holiday


by the insidious pink

of Albion’s ideal)

is looking for a rose


And the rose


from the green

of a green lane


and robustly round


Under a pink print


the village maid

scowls at the heathen



in female form

salutes the alien Exodus


staring so hard –

warms his nostalgia

on her belligerent innocence


The maidenhead

drooping her lid

and pouting her breast



his amity


Amorphous meeting

in the month of May


This Hebrew

culled by Cupid on a thorn

of the rose

lays siege

to the thick hedgerows

where she blows

on Christian Sundays



simpering in her

ideological pink


loaded with Mosaic

passions that amass

like money


implores her to take pity upon him

and come and be a “Lady in the City”


Maiden emotions


on leaves of novels

where anatomical man

has no notion

of offering other than the bended knee

to femininity


and purity

passes in pleasant ways

as the cows graze


For in those days

when Exodus courted the rose

literature was supposed to elevate us


So the maid with puffy

bosom where Jerusalem

dreams to ease

his head of calculations

in the Zero of ecstasy

and a little huffy

bristles with chastity


For this is the last Judgment

when Jehovah

roars “Open your mouth!

and I will tell you what you have been reading”


Exodus had been reading


making sharp distinction

between the harlot

and the Hausfrau arraying

her offspring in scarlet


such as garner good advice like grain

and such as know enough

to come in from the rain


The would-be

secessionist from Israel’s etiquette

(shielding pliant Jewesses from shame

less glances

and the giving

of just percentages

to matrimonial intermediaries)

is spiritually intrigued

by the Anglo-Saxon phenomenon

of Virginity


on its own defensive!


This pouting

pearl beyond price


the male pretentions

to its impervious surface


Alice the gentile

Exodus the Jew

after a few

feverish tiffs

and reparations

chiefly conveyed in exclamations –

a means of expression

modified by lack of experience –

unite their variance

in marriage




mad to melt

with something softer than himself

clasps with soothing pledges

his wild rose of the hedges


While she


the presented knee

of chivalry


the sub-umbilical mystery

of his husbandry



His passionate-anticipation

of warming in his arms

his rose to a maturer coloration

which was all of aspiration

the grating upon civilization

of his sensitive organism

had left him


splinters upon an adamsite


of nerves like stalactites


This dying chastity

had rendered up no soul yet they pursued their conjugal

dilemmas as is usual

with people

who know not what they do

but know that what they do

is not illegal


Deep in the névrose

night he

peruses his body

divested of its upholstery

firmly insensitive

in mimicry

of its hypothetical model –

a petal

of the English rose

an abstracted Ada

in myopic contemplation

of the incontemplatable

compound rosette

of peerless negations


That like other Gods

has never appeared

leaving itself to be inferred


it is not seemly

that the one petal

shall apprehend

of the other petals

their conformity


For of this Rose

wherever it blows

it is certain that an impenetrable pink curtain

hangs between it and itself

and in metaphysical vagrance

it passes beyond the ken

of men unless


of exorbitant incomes

And Then –

merely indicating its presence

by an exotic fragrance


A rose –

that like religions


becoming amateur –

enwraps itself

in esoteric

and exoteric


the official

and inofficial

social morale

The outer


accepting the official

of the inner

as a plausible


for disciplining the inofficial

“flesh and devil”

to the ap parent impecca bility

of the English


And for the Empire

what form could be superior

to the superimposed


of the rose?


The best

is this compressed

all round-and-about

itself conformation

never letting out

subliminal infection

from hiatuses

in its sub-roseal skeleton


Its petals hung

with tongues that under the supervision

of the Board of Education

may never sing in concert –

for some

singing h

flat and some

h sharp ‘The Arch

angels sing H’


There reigns a disproportionate


in the English Hanthem

And for further information

re the Rose –

and what it does to the nose

while smelling it


While, in the music department, here is a birthday present for a friend who is celebrating at Newmarket: the classic ‘Fugue for Tinhorns‘ (Frank Loesser, from Guys and Dolls)


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