Some More Excuses for Not Blogging

It would be silly of me, I suppose, not to link to today’s New York Times Sunday Book Review

On top of the terror of becoming a “reviewer,” it was scary and depressing to see the little bio saying “Jeremy Denk is the author of Think Denk.” The word “author” threw me, I guess, like the the word “adult”—when does a blogger become an author? (A pointless question for our time!) Second of all, if an author, I’ve been such a neglectful, slothful one.

But for a sloth, I’ve been slightly busy behind the scenes.

In case you haven’t seen them, I wrote three pieces for NPR Music on the Goldberg Variations:

Why I Hate the Goldbergs
Hannibal Lecter’s Lessons on Bach
This is Your Brain on the Goldbergs

… they were very naughty, especially the first one. Some people in the comments didn’t seem to notice that I really do like the Goldbergs, very much. There is a projected fourth essay which NPR is still waiting for (heh), in which I sum up Bach’s relationship to time, the way variations as a genre are a machine or medium for the understanding of time, the way Beethoven understood this and how he co-opted the Goldberg paradigm in his final triumvirate of Sonatas, how the infinite is always weirdly a theme in pieces about time, with commentary interspersed on why I feel like such a poser shopping at Whole Foods.

This essay has not been completed, may never be completed, due to the dastardly arrival of spring. Spring! Working on Brahms, Ligeti, Liszt, whatever, I just don’t know what to do with my happiness, and I’m composing passionate to do lists that will crumble into dust, and I began a bizarre, rambling piece in my pre-blog Moleskine (a desperate hideout for yearning clauses), a piece about three instances where I met wonderful people and talked with them for hours and then ended up somehow without anything to say but somehow it seemed something burningly had to be said and as a last recourse we ended up listening to recordings, or yelling books at each other at 3 am. This is another Ridiculous Piece I would love to write, now that I’m an “author,” about these three fateful meetings, and in true spring fashion it would mostly be about death, and hopeless incurable things, and things that really cannot be published, not on a family blog.

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  1. jean
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Mr. Denk! Wow, this is wild in every way. I will definitely check out the book. Also hope that when I attend a symphony concert I won’t have the animals on my mind….

    Next time if you don’t know what to do with your happiness, go get an ice cream; that will make you happier.

  2. David Lobron
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I loved the video on NPR’s site! I wonder if the guy walking by your piano in the park was a slumming music critic. “Play some #$%#ing real music – Ligeti or Bartok!” I also loved that they had a “strong language” disclaimer on a classical music video. Street cred!

    That moment reminded me of the scene in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” where they kidnap Beethoven and put him in a time machine. The bring him to a mall in California, and the clerk in the music store sniffs, “Ahem…are you a musician?”

  3. anna martina sodari
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    hola, jeremy, methinks that those humans that aren’t in tune with the nature sounds are going in another direction, a different place, in the world of nature sounds, they will have become ‘extinct’. carl sagan mentions the gibbons songs in his book, ‘shadows of forgotten ancestors’. now there was a man who heard on so many different levels!!! i live in a little trailer that i bought from the fachetti’s, at the time i bought it, their daughter was a lt. col. in the air force and was the post commander of kuwait. i’m sure the people of that part of the world would love to have back all of the animals that used to roam that land when they had measureable rains. it IS spring, it is nice to open my front door, most trailers don’t have screen doors, and just prop it open and leave it that way during the sunlight hours. that becomes my great outdoor room:-) in the backyard is the little shinto altar, shinto believers know that everything has spirit. even the pebbles and little pieces of twig. i planted the length of my backyard, which is supposed to be part car parking and sometimes, when the wind swishes through the peach trees and the liriope groundcover, it almost sounds like a stream is back there. it is very interesting:-) about two weeks before the quake in japan, i sat up two concrete blocks on their short end and put a large black tamale pot (or canning pot) on top of them and filled it with water. when japan happened and they showed the cooling water container with the nuclear rods, darn if it didn’t look like the concrete blocks underneath the cooling waters of the black tamale pot. there are all kinds of ways to ‘listen’! some of us are ultra-sensitive. i am bi-polar, i can feel when the earth’s axis shifts. that’s really extreme. thank goodness for meds! i am a finance degree, the analysis of ’cause and effect’ can be truly overwhelming. but i much prefer the natural world to number crunching:-) so, i am not unhappy that i was early retired. i flipped when i was going to take a trip to machu pichu in peru and visit the galapagos islands. these days i’m happy to have a wee bit of energy to putter in the garden, the japanese honeysuckle is getting ready to bloom, the hummingbirds will be happy:-) soon the honey bees will be coming to the little fountain for a sip of water. i like the mental zone that i am in these days:-) take good care, best, anna martina

  4. Paul
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I also feel like a poser shopping at Whole Foods!

  5. Paul
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I also feel like poser when shopping at Whole Foods!

  6. JS
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Having seen your performance of Ligeti, Ives last night for the SPCO–completely thrilling and engrossing–I personally don’t mind waiting for the next essay if this is what is eating up your time instead. Thanks very much.

  7. Posted April 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I read the Goldberg Variations blog posts and used them as an aid to my own presentation at my school. My professor did not appreciate them as much. But I think what I most liked about your approach to writing about them was your ability to balance snark with a true undercurrent of reverence for these masterpieces. I mean… let’s admit it. The Goldbergs are so frustratingly happy. And they’re 80 minutes long with repeats. I can’t listen to them through in a concert but I’m perfectly happy puttering around with them, or putting them on when I’m listening to music. I’m not afraid to admit that. The Martha Stewart metaphor was hilarious and very fitting.

    However, there was so much that rang true and ultimately it underscored the Goldbergs’ continuing relevance while presenting them in a way that they were recreated anew for me. That’s what I loved about your take on the Variations. Well done.

  8. anna martina sodari
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    hola, jeremy, read the first post about the goldbergs. thank god for bach, i asked my son to buy me some yo-yo-ma playing bach several mother’s days ago when i read lewis thomas’ biology treatise ‘the snail and the medusa’ about symbiosis and lewis recommended bach for everyone with rat race fried brain. my son bought me bach’s unaccompanied cello suites and that kept me out of the luny bin hospital:-) i even called the raymond w. bliss psych unit up on ft. huachuca and told them ‘bach! bach! bach!’for our returning vets with post traumatic stress syndrome. as you age, manic becomes secondary to depression so hospitalization really isn’t an issue anymore, thank goodness. rhodiola rosea extract, a siberian herb, helps with that fried brain feeling, too, sloan kettering has done tests with military cadets, it helps normalize the neurotransmitters in the brain. interesting about the 4 sets of 8, there are 32 paths in the tree of life, jewish cabbalah. it is the way to manifest from divine inspiration down through the nodes to physical reality. the goldbergs must be so happy because they are very busy ‘creating’:-) now i will read ‘your brain on the goldbergs’. my poor little brain can only take so much ‘input’ at a time, i’ve finally learned how to say ‘stop!’ hope you have had an excellent week, blessings, anna martina

  9. Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Great Stuff, Mr. Denk! Check out my piano blog!

  10. anna martina sodari
    Posted May 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    i finally had to give up on the scratch feed on the top of the shed for the doves and the small birds, too close to the cats, dropped it on the ground in front of the empty trailer next to me and it took about 10 days for them to find it,now it gets daily visitors and i am enjoying the twittering sounds:-) today a dove swooped in to the top of the shed and looked at the water fountain and changed it’s mind, obviously the fountain is even that much closer to the cats, so i put a bowl of water out over the trailer hitch of the mobile home next to me, it takes them awhile to find such things, silly birds. i remember back when i was emailing susan brew, the nasa science grant manager at the lunar and planetary lab of the university of arizona, if i moved the bird food, it would take the birds 10 days or so to find it, a small squirrel that was in the park found it first, silly birds. she gave me some interesting books by her favorite author, alfredo vea, about the supernatural, of all things, in the world of the migrant workers. alfredo vea is a defense attorney in san francisco. he grew up in buckeye, arizona, the location of the book ‘la maravilla’. the second book, ‘the silver cloud cafe’ has a very happy juke box in the bar that plays whether it’s plugged in or not:-) we lose alot when we go through the american education system . . . . . . we lose the magic of our aboriginal roots. education is priceless, wish there was a way to keep the magic. music is magic, that’s one way to keep it:-) i think it’s time to drive down the block to the safeway market parking lot and drop about 4 cups of chicken scratch feed for the pigeons again:-) i stay for a few minutes in the hot sun to watch them. so, ligeti controls chaos with his compositions. being uneducated in music, i feed the animals and water the garden and the animals:-) and go to the little sierra vista symphony when my good friend gives me a ticket:-) i may have to get the ligeti album and play it a little louder so that the birds can listen in, oh, and the cats. one of the outdoor cats looks like ‘aslan’, c.s. lewis’ lion god from the ‘chronicles of narnia’. my indoor cat, ‘bubalou’ loves listening to ‘music through the night’ on the radio as i wind down my day. bubalou totally chills, then, and so do i. best, anna martina

  11. anna martina sodari
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    the radio guy here in sierra vista had an encounter with a hawk at the cemetery when he went to visit his mom on ft. huachuca. we had lots of smoke from the fires in new mexico and southeast of nogales in mexico. apparently, the hawk was fleeing from a mass of small birds in the heavy smoke when he flew smack into the head of our radio guy and knocked him over. he bled and had a resulting bruise. a couple of nights later, i read about the saxons on wikipedia. the saxon chieftains had helmets with BIG birds on wing on them, methinks our radio guy has a powerful saxon root! maybe one of the saxon pagan religion tree columns showed up in the huachucas where a saxon chieftain is buried, the land before time. garden canyon on ft. huachuca is where i ‘saw’ a large viking longboat buried in the hill during one manic, just a month or so after i painted a big sky with a tiny indian pueblo village and a woman’s face in the clouds, i thought she was native american, but she insisted on being blonde with green eyes! months later, looking at the painting, it looked like vincent van gogh’s ‘starry, starry night’ sky. dutch? those dutch trading companies DID sail everywhere in the name of commerce. never a dull moment if you’re paying attention or if you’re bi-polar like me and poor vincent van gogh . . . . . i imagine that those little birds and that hawk made quite a raucous chorus after the hawk ran into the human! best, anna martina

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