Psalm and Dissertation

As usual, I am sandwiched between summer and reality. I am a slice of bologna squished between the flatbread of summer and the heartier rye of fall, spread heavily with the mustard of sloth. I am sentient bologna. I wish to squeeze free of my bread parentheses and flop out, out, onto the table, and inch myself greasily towards the great deli counter in the sky. I want to be served with Dr. Pepper. I want you to yearn for fries but order the salad. I want to be sliced freshly from a giant slab; I want to fall gracefully from the mandoline, in meaty balletic dollops, to be picked up by gloved loving hands and hygienically transferred to truth. I want to be the only piece of bologna ever to play the Goldberg Variations. Amen.

I would like someday to write the definitive monograph on the post-concert reception. Working titles:

1. The Bland and the Restless: A Morphology of Clustering in Green Rooms

abstract: Between the desire to reach the front of the line and deliver one’s encomium and the desire to escape the line altogether, the green room well-wisher is caught in a complex mechanism of conflicting interest: a crossfire of kindness, social urges, promotional self-interest, and what some have claimed is the only happiness—the absence of suffering. Networking between various attendees is a crucial but unpredictable part of the equation, making the entire mechanism similar in mathematical complexity, say, to the formation of tropical storms in the Atlantic. To address this issue, we intend to evaluate a sample of backstage clusterings at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, as well as the more cramped and topologically complex Zankel Hall, and to feed this information into the new supercomputer at the University of Maryland, to figure out how everyone can get the hell out of there quicker.

2. Buffet or Not Buffet: Flow Patterns in Condominiums and their Relation to Hungry Performers

abstract: The relative placement of wine, salad, plates and main course has long vexed the post-concert planner, especially in light of the rabid hunger and thirst that musicians transplant into the peaceful environment of the condominium, home, or other random board-approved location. Of crucial interest for the general good is how to avoid conversations in the middle of the buffet line, which prevent flow and food obtainment and generate unwanted resentment. Whether beverages and food should be separated is another burning question. We attempt to exploit a combination of the Fibonacci series and Bach ritornello forms to posit the paradigmatic party layout, and to explode preconceptions of grilled salmon and couscous.

3. Far From the Nodding Crowd: The Tragedy of Dislocation in Reception Discourse

abstract: This paper takes its departure from anecdotal propositions, with wide metaphorical resonances. Suppose (hypothetically) you are a pianist who just spent a great deal of time contemplating and rehearsing a rarely heard Schubert masterwork, the 45 minute, 4-hands “Divertissement on a French Motive.” You are in the flush of post-performance euphoria and you make the mistake of walking around, dazed, in the lobby. A man comes up to you (hypothetically) and says, with jolly intensity, “how ever do you fellas get yer fingers to play together?” From the “high” philosophical realms in which the pianist’s mind is revolving to these more prosaic “low” concerns yawns a great semiotic abyss, difficult to cross without some access to concepts most familiar from Epictetus and the other stoic philosophers. Or suppose, in another entirely hypothetical instance, that you are in Santacafe Restaurant having a lovely dinner with family and friends after playing the Brahms C minor Piano Quartet, and you walk over to the bar and some fellow recognizes you and says “you know, I really wish they would shut the lid on the piano sometimes!” Another semiotic abyss opens; how is one to solve it, other than dumping one’s Tanqueray-and-tonic on the man’s head? These issues can only be addressed, this paper purports, through access to the binaries of Foucault, Derrida, and Barthes, and the understanding of play-of-opposites, in this case axes of profundity/triviality, smile/fake-smile, politeness/annoyance, and to that end we will examine the complex, dialectical meanings and ramifications of the phrase “pissed off.”

Other monograph suggestions are, as always, heartily welcomed.

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 5, 2007 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Hello there. Great post. When there is time to pull the thinking cap out of storage, Miss Mussel will have a go at an abstract or two. In the meantime, here’s her version of your MadLib post.

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