Music, purely music

Girolamo Frescobaldi-1583-1643

Girolamo Frescobaldi-1583-1643

Being (nearly) overwhelmed by mass e-mailings from organizations I checked out once and left a cookie (or whatever they call those footprints a computer leaves on websites these days) is, as everyone knows, one of the hazards of living in cyberspace (or whatever they call the clouds of electronic reality these days). The emails from Democratic political organizations alone are enough to wear out the delete key.

However, this morning I turned on my computer after its usual 6- or 7-hour rest, and my email contained only one message. Incredible!

“I can’t even begin to imagine…” That from one of the two friends from college I keep in regular contact with. His response to my sending him a link to the news story about the reelection of Khaled Mishal as head of Hamas. I simply asked if he knows how I know that Mishal looks like his brother. It’s a not-very-private story. Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller would recognize the resemblance. And all the trendy Dallasites who frequent the Bishop Arts District ought to recognize the resemblance. Mufid Abdulqader was the city engineer  responsible for its development.

I’m pretty sure anyone from Dallas who knows about him will tell you that Mufid deserves the life sentence he received for being “Hamas’s Rock Star.” That is, of course, a bogus belief. Mufid is not and never was a terrorist. We have our fair share of political prisoners. Mufid and the other leaders of the Holy Land Foundation are among them.

Revisiting that horrendous miscarriage of “justice” is not my intent. It would get my poor old brain and my prone-to-defib-heart too riled up. The blog I published while that Kangaroo Court Trial was in progress is available online.

I mention the travesty because it’s in the category MY UNFINISHED BUSINESS, activities and projects I have begun in the last 68 years that are incomplete, forgotten, abandoned. I hardly know where to begin tying up the loose ends of my life. The Holy Land Foundation trial is unfinished business because I was determined to find a way to keep the miscarriage of justice alive in the minds of people who care about equal protection under the law.

Not allowing this mockery of Constitutional rights to disappear into oblivion is one of the unfinished projects of my life, but I have no idea how to finish the project. I am too old and tired.



Other somewhat “impersonal” projects remain unfinished.

I want to help insure the Voice of Hope Ministry in West Dallas has a secure financial base.

I want to teach for a year at the Lutheran Dar al Kalima College in Bethlehem.

There are more. And  I have personal unfinished business.

I want to finish learning to play all of the great chorale preludes from the Bach Clavierübung, Part III. And those from the Leipzig Eighteen. I began the former when I was a senior in college and the latter when I was in graduate school.

I want to read the complete works of Dickens—but I gave my set to the Dallas Independent School District for a high school library.

I want to finish writing one of my novels.

I want to write a biography of the American composer David Diamond.

I want to see Easter Island, Tibet, Antarctica, a volcano in full eruption, the Vienna State Opera, the headwaters of one of the tributaries of the Amazon.

I can go on and on. Unfinished business.  I could be overwhelmed thinking about these things.

Now I will share a great mystery. When I begin to be overwhelmed by “so much to do and so little time and energy to do it,” these days I have a sure way to slow down my mind, to find peace with myself and with the reality that I will never complete most of these projects. And I find peace from many of the other distractions and befuddlements of my mind.

Absolute music. Music that does nothing but exist. Music that has no discernible “purpose,” that makes no attempt to be popular, that—by most people’s measure, I should think—is hardly worth listening to.

Music that exists for the simple wonder of the infinity of possible combinations of sounds.

From Girolamo Frescobaldi’s Fiori Musicali (“Musical Flowers”), first published in 1635.

Music. Only music. Nothing else. A refuge from both unfinished business and business one must finish.

If one had been a genius taking Advanced Counterpoint, one might have written such pieces without so much as a thought they would ever be performed. Frescobaldi intended his music for performance, for which I am grateful.

Two Kyries from Fiori Musicali

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