Monday, February 1, 2010

Postmodern Mushrooms

I am teaching a course called "Post Modernism in Music of the last 30 years" (or something to that effect)
When I mention this to people they often ask me flat out,
"What is it?"
"Well, I don't rightly know for sure," is what I usually mumble.
"I think the idea of the class is to find out."
PM, whatever it is, seems to be a necessity, a way of getting out from under the suffocating blanket of Modernism, or at least the "high" kind with all its ideological trappings and high falutin language.Modernism in music seems to me to have been just plain wrong, a seriously wrong direction.
BUT, there are some excellent composers in the early experimental days of Modernism--early Schoenberg, Webern Varese, Cowell, Ives, Ruggles et al. With them the idea was to "sound "modern" at any cost, structure and formality being relatively less important. Of course, with later Modernism, structure, process and form became all important.

Just as Modernism is not a "style" but more of an aesthetic inclination, a cultural context, so it is with PM, which will, I think, be remembered as a general cultural trend, a "correction," if you will.

The more obtuse and serious purveyors of "theory" see PM in a much broader way--it is a "condition." And we are all living in it, so in a way all music, all art for that matter, being practiced now is, by default, PM

So, mushrooms themselves cannot be PM, but one's attitude towards them, use of them, general relationship to them, could be PM where the grand narrative of fungi, the scientific taxonmomic ordering of species is no longer relevant.But in this context,let the consumer beware!

But what would John Cage think about that, and it reminds me that no one seems to know if Cage himself was a Modernist or Post Modernist. I think He was very PM, but his music (whatever that is) is not--it is in fact quite Modernist.

But why, you may ask, is the mushroom illustrated above "postmodern? It might be because it's called, in the vernacular, "Old Man of the Woods," and I can relate to that. BTW, Strobilomyces floccopus is edible, and I have tried it, but I don't recommend it; its rather insipid as I recall.

No comments:

Post a Comment