This evening I spent some time in a university library leafing through newspapers, the bitter smell and black ink leaving its mark. And in the main, it was an ennobling experience. Musicians who once stared into boxes of kitty litter in attempts to make jingles rip themselves out of depression and mediocrity by writing Halo scores, and now live in comfort on the shores of a giant leviathan-lake. An opera company in New York begins its season, dislodging certain thoughts from the mind of one conductor and would-be destroyer of all high schools Leon Botstein. Conductor Paavo Jarvi tells Die Zeit his American orchestra is a perfect and impersonal “locomotive” which “always needs programming [Anweisungen]”, while Cold War authors pace Virginia suburbs at 4 a.m. to upend all the heaviness and weave didactic background into effortless gossamer. Lovers of local Marines cry and raise up their tattoos in a great “Kyrie Eleison” for the war in Afghanistan. It is all here. Everything one needs to be sustained. Even Chinese characters, tales of a border now distant, and fresh thoughts on the Hatoyama cabinet from a fresh crew of students who are already launched into the future.
Then, the pages fold to a foray online….Fingers tap like the spider feet in “Minority Report.” Dialogues with professorial colleagues continue (“Online education will make us all obsolete! our discipline is atomizing! drinks at the faculty club on Friday!”), messages from students bring beautiful, obstreperous queries (“What would Sun Tzu say about ‘One Country, Two Systems’?”), and blog comments draw the eye and the mind.
And then there is this fabulous paragraph in the New York Times Magazine in an article on Carl Jung:
A big man with wire-rimmed glasses, a booming laugh and a penchant for the experimental, Jung was interested in the psychological aspects of séances, of astrology, of witchcraft. He could be jocular and also impatient. He was a dynamic speaker, an empathic listener. He had a famously magnetic appeal with women. Working at Zurich’s Burghölzli psychiatric hospital, Jung listened intently to the ravings of schizophrenics, believing they held clues to both personal and universal truths. At home, in his spare time, he pored over Dante, Goethe, Swedenborg and Nietzsche. He began to study mythology and world cultures, applying what he learned to the live feed from the unconscious — claiming that dreams offered a rich and symbolic narrative coming from the depths of the psyche.
And you see that there are another six online pages to it, and you see it was “published on September 16”, and you think “hell yes!” and you forget that anything else exists and you run over to the newspaper stacks and rifle rifle rifle and come up empty. But yet you sit there, marveling at the man — finally, here, online, there is something magnificent. Something worth some actual thought. Carl Jung and his ilk. And somewhere it is in print. It can be touched, held, folded, sensed. The stream of clicks has ended.
And then you scroll up and suddenly there is this little light blue icon — and you almost gasp in horror and amusement. Yes, the New York Times now begs you to “Twitter” the story. Jung is dead, and his collected oevrage has become fodder for a damned “tweet.” I’m not one to excessively long for the satisfying thump of a Smith Corona, yet here a brook gushes, a divide yawns. There is a line which should not be crossed.
And so finally I who have blindly worshiped innovation at the expense of content understand what this means, this light blue thing. I understand what Twitter is, this little beast, this trend, this vehicle, this chider of souls, this critic, this server of carbon wit, this tiny mirror for the offspring of Narcissus and Hydra, this little bundle of rope, this betrayer of industrial strength, this tweet — Twitter, gehen sie weg! Raus mit dir! Doch! Ja du! Raus! 滾!
Because Jung’s Gesaemtlische Werke, because German psychology, is bigger than you, and it resists you, forever. Teutonic sentences are not constructed by thumbs alone, they unfurl, and 140 words is like building an ark out of styrofoam. Moreover, Jung is bigger than the sum of “WordPress,” he is bigger than Batman, perhaps even bigger and more consequential (dare I declare myself obselete?) than Kim Jong Il. Or, to view things conversely, perhaps it is only through German psychoanalysis that Kim Jong Il could really be understood.
Blog/nein/Tweet/nein/update your status, Carl/I am dead and remain the greatest psychoanalytical mind and dream-master of the modern era
In any case, to pile it on, I add a nice dollop of French Romanticism, which is pedagogical in the first instance, but certainly influenced by Wagner, and flawed, and possible to capture and watch on the subway in Seoul or Brooklyn, but not possible to Twitter. Yes, have a cello lesson. No, it isn’t on Twitter. Yes, it is free. No, it is not in French. Have a nice day, like when people say “Passe une bonne journée” as if to say “go away.”
I tweet, therefore I am? No, I load up my bridge with kilo after kilo of pressure and shank fly balls of bow speed and then crank out oscillating warbles with my tricep which results in expressive vibrato and Saint-Saens Concerto therefore I am:
and for the real, orchestral-accompanied and apparently effortless yet nevertheless technically immersed and yet transcendent Saint-Saens concerto, see Slava, a real force of nature RIP:
Hello to the era of going to the store to buy more ice
because we are running out.
Hello to feelings that arrive unintroduced.
Hello to the nonfunctional sprig of parsley
And the game of finding meaning in coincidence.
Thanks for the poetry, RJR. It meanders to the last line!