Counting the Vagaries

Dan Albertson

[May 2023.]

[A deliberate torso, shared as-is, maybe a one-off, maybe not. May the waves, literal or metaphorical, be gentle upon your shore, Jeffery Kwok Ka Yong.]

Currents headed eastward. The Mare Marginis mentioned last time went ahead, in its reduced version, sans the presence intended, partial or otherwise. Were a Doppelgänger truly available.

Instead, Barbara Monk Feldman’s A Moment, Pines Rustle grabbed the attention in Tokyo. In essence the work is neither a piano solo nor a piece of theatre, but rather both in alternation, musically if not visually. It follows the path of November Steps in allowing no overlap of occident and orient. The spectacle is stark, severe, a trough of melancholy at the service of enchantment. No need to translate the Japanese here. Let it be, let the world it inhabits be its own. Two noh actors speak, each one twice, but only when the pianist, Aki Takahashi, stops. The actors otherwise stand, gaze, stare, project, imagine, dare, endure. The novice eye may detect Beckettian elements here. Forget not that long before the Irishman arrived, Japanese court theatre relished the failures, frustrations, futilities of this subtle life. Consonance met indifference, chords rolled and lolled, all was hinted at, nil was revealed. Divine.

* * *

An email from a librarian brought forth unexpected sparks. Archivists are out there, plying the trade, preserving for their own purposes some small part of the creative world in which too many now swim. The composer in question died in 2015, news of which had passed unnoticed. Not for the first time, either. What to do, what could have been done when it mattered more? Collections pile up, takers nowhere to be found, yet the ants toil on. One life fades, another rises only to fade itself. Articles and fellowships and prizes and recordings cannot stave off the end of this sidewalk, in an industry endless in its lust for the newest of the new and with the attention span of a gnat. Worst of all, he went back to where he started, giving up his city life, his city colleagues, his city friends, to die, not from boredom and a lack of understanding among kindred spirits, but nearly so, in a small town. Too close to home, tears aplenty, it must not be.

* * *

Beloved Walt died almost three years ago. Scarcely a new film or performance can be tallied without considering how he would have seen it, felt it, delighted in it, spat upon it. The venom, or praise, of someone so truly knowledgeable remains priceless. The ultimate tribute to be paid to such a person is this ineluctable conjecture, this curiosity left unassuaged.

* * *

Written with the durability of this morning’s dew, and the morrow’s sunset, soon may it fade.


[The image at top is the stage of the National Noh Theatre, Japan. From]

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