Saturday, August 17, 2013


In the center of the idea of civilization, is the sanctuary of the imagination and what it makes.
Perhaps there really is no sanctuary, but a place for the making, the practice and its pain.
Nothing safe in art, but without it we are nothing. Not human anymore. The truth of the brain and it's non-stop question-thirst, formula-finding, math-mechanism is coincident with the boiling point of creativity. After twisting wires, cranking tight the circuitry, there is a point at which we flip the switch and come alive.
I'm not arguing that a creative life is as important as a career in designing and problem-solving, because that argument is a waste of time. Civilization is here to make sure the people are fed, the worst of our fears are held back by the dam of our best efforts, and that we have a critical mass of intelligence to produce the best things we cannot yet see. What we make, and make of this, is our only measure.
It's summer still, though barely.
We planned the trip to Tanglewood, weighing it against the trip to the latest country fair, because if we don't go now, we will have missed it.
The fairs pile on quick, weekend after weekend. Barn yards, beloved food, prize-winning rabbits and elaborately frocked chickens. The cows, brushed and bathed, stand in their stalls waiting for a pat. The colossal horses pull stone boats. We will get to one of the fairs.
I look into the kaleidoscope of the near future.
My Twitter feed flashes with lightning messages from Egypt, rolling in faster than I can read. It looks to me as though the army is prompting chaos to capitalize on it. The attack on the Morsi supporters was calculated, but toward what end, other than the Joker's love of busting apart civilization?
It was the ringing bell that quieted me.
We had gotten out of bed early and made it to the point where we were standing in line for cheap tickets for a rehearsal, less than a movie would cost us.
At Tanglewood, the ringing bell means the concert will begin in a few minutes. The musicians have been warming up; it is time to take your seats.
The day is sunny, the lawn green, the sky blue. The old trees are so, so tall. 
Do these trees grow more or better because of the music? 
This natural laboratory of notes, the breeze coming up the hill, the brains at work all day to find the right time, the right frequency, the vibration that somehow turns the language of sound into a new water we can breathe: how do we make something explosive and beautiful out of silence?
We reached the lawn and found a spot.
"This place was a good idea," I said to myself, thanking Koussevitzky and his co-conspirators.
It was my last thought as the relief of the quiet of my own mind came on strong.
Then they began to play.

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