To be conservative … is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.
I have to make it clear that not even for a moment is there doubt that it is not a technical but a philosophical question. So that the tonal system in question, through researches, has led us inevitably to a test of faith, in which we ask: on what do we base our belief that this harmony, the core of every masterpiece, referring to its own irrevocability, actually exists or not. From this it follows that we should speak of, not research into music, but a unique realization of non-music which for centuries has been covered up and a dreadful scandal which we should disclose. Hence the shameful situation that all the intervals in the masterpieces of many centuries are false. Which means that music and its harmony and echo, its unsurpassable enchantment is entirely based on a false foundation. Yes, we have to speak of an indisputable deception, even if those who are less sure, a little moderate, babble on about compromise. But what kind of compromise, when for the majority pure musical tonality is simply illusion, and truly pure musical intervals do not exist? Here we have to acknowledge the fact that there were ages more fortunate than ours, those of Pythagoras and Aristoxenes, when our forefathers were satisfied with the fact that their purely tuned instruments were played only in some tones, because they were not troubled by doubts, for they knew that heavenly harmonies were the province of the gods. Later, all this was not enough, unhinged arrogance wished to take possession of all the harmonies of the gods. And it was done in its own way, technicians were charged with the solution, a Praetorius, a Salinas, and finally an Andreas Werckmeister, who resolved the difficulty by dividing the octave of the harmony of the gods, the twelve half-tones, into twelve equal parts. Of two semi-tones he falsified one, instead of ten black keys, five were used and that sealed the position. We have to turn our backs on this development of tuning instruments, the so-called constant-tempered, and its sad history and bring back the naturally tuned instrument. Carefully, we have to correct Werckmeister’s mistakes. We have to concern ourselves with these seven notes of the scale, but not as of the octave, but seven distinct and independent qualities like seven fraternal stars in the heavens. What we have to do then, if we are aware, is that this natural tuning has its limits and it is a somewhat worrisome limit that definitely excludes the use of certain higher signatures.
Value is the outcome of limitation. The definite finite entity is the selected mode which is the shaping of attainment; apart from such shaping into individual matter of fact there is no attainment. The mere fusion of all that there is would be the nonentity of indefiniteness. The salvation of reality is its obstinate, irreducible, matter of fact entities, which are limited to be no other than themselves. Neither science, nor art, nor creative action can tear itself away from obstinate, irreducible, limited facts. The endurance of things has its significance in the self-retention of that which imposes itself as a definite attainment for its own sake. That which endures is limited, obstructive, intolerant, infecting its environment with its own aspects. But it is not self-sufficient. It is only itself as drawing together into its own limitation the larger whole in which it finds itself. Conversely it is only itself by lending its aspects to this same environment in which it finds itself.
—Alfred North Whitehead.
I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a church concerned with being at the center and then ends up by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures…More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us, “Give them something to eat.”
Milton made a sad blunder when he put mountains in hell. Mountains postulate faith and aspiration. All mountain peoples are religious. It was the cities of the plains that, because of their utter lack of spirituality and the mad caprice of their vice, were cursed of God.
We continued riding for some hours. For the few last miles the road was intricate, and it passed through a desert waste of marshes and lagoons. The scene by the dimmed light of the moon was most desolate. A few fireflies flitted by us; and the solitary snipe, as it rose, uttered its plaintive cry. The distant and sullen roar of the sea scarcely broke the stillness of the night.
Somewhere in the vicinity, he had once been told, covered over by time and concrete, lay the founding patch of human business in this corner of the world. Miwok Indians dreaming the dream, living fat as bears, piling up their oyster shells, oblivious to history with its oncoming parade of motherfuckers. “What happened?”
Nothing was to be seen ahead but the avalanche of shaggy life, driven by compulsions no man understood.