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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First encounter: Elizabeth Bishop*

It was an exercise we practiced over and over again during my senior year in high school in preparation for taking the AP exam in English. We were handed a short passage of prose or a poem, and given 45 minutes to analyze the hell out of it. I hated it, like I hated just about everything that added any further pressure to an environment already so pressurized that I walked around with a chronic case of the emotional bends. But even I had to admit that I was pretty good at those 45-minute exercises. I had a peculiar talent for quickly and concisely bullshitting my way through a text, and that sort of talent was richly rewarded by English teachers and examiners. That I was good at it didn’t make me less anxious, of course — I never got that far from my fear of failure. But still and all, it would have seemed… unlikely that any major disaster would befall me when I sat down to yet another in-class practice exam in what must have been the fall of 1987 or the winter of 1988.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” We’d been tested on other texts that had moved me or struck me or made me smile to myself — but the opening sentence of this one rocked me so that I thought I’d fall out of my chair from vertigo. I read the words over and over again, ever more conscious of my failure to be scribbling out a response (like my peers were all around me), but I couldn’t muster even a single dutiful answering sentence. I couldn’t summon language; I couldn’t summon anything at all to hold against the void that had just opened before me. All I could do was hold on to the chair while the words of the poem repeated themselves like church-bell notes, echoing deafening truths. I couldn’t have told you the first reason why these sentences reverberated until they threatened to shatter me like a lucky glass. I was 17 years old. What did I possibly know about losing? (An awful lot, in fact — but it would be years before I could read and recognize the losses of my childhood. Some kinds of literacy we are very slow to acquire.)

The page upon which I was supposed to be writing remained pitilessly blank. I gripped the bottom of the chair and tried not to cry. In the last five minutes of the class period, I wrote something — anything. I don’t remember what. I do remember the teacher’s disappointed look when she handed back my graded paper later. It was the worst I ever would do on a written exam. But of course it wasn’t a disaster. I wasn’t cast out of society of humankind; I didn’t even fail the class. I aced the AP exam and got into my first-choice college, where the following fall I took English 10 (Major British Writers) in the company of a couple hundred of my (ahem) closest friends. My program of study was heavy on British poets and American novelists, so I would have said that I wasn’t influenced by Bishop again until the fall of my senior year in college, when she was the sole woman whose collected poems appeared on the syllabus of a class I was taking on modern American poets (Frost, Stevens, Williams, Bishop — if there was anyone else we studied, he didn’t make much of an impression). My copy of The Complete Poems 1927-1979 was the eleventh printing (1991). I was on the cusp of an annus horribilis, losing farther and faster than I thought I could bear, and soon to lose the friend of whom I thought immediately when first I read the words,
We can sit down and weep; we can go shopping,
or play at a game of constantly being wrong
with a priceless set of vocabularies,
or we can bravely deplore, but please
please come flying.


My friend’s copy of The Complete Poems was older than mine, and I think she already owned The Collected Prose, maybe even The Diary of "Helena Morley", which I bought a few years later, after college, when a new edition arrived at the bookstore where I then worked. I devoured it immediately — personal narratives, accounts of childhood, and descriptions of places unknown to me being three of my very favorite reading pastimes. I suppose that as I read I thought occasionally of Bishop as translator and mediating presence, but mostly I thought of my own childhood and my own losses, putting my own self in the blank spaces between the words, as readers do. I bought One Art: Letters around that time, too, though it was 10 years before I started reading it, and 15 years before I finished it. In my early 20s, I wasn’t ready to follow someone else’s passage through an entire life; my own halting progress required too much close attention. There were things I had to sort through, and winding paths that needed taking.

My lost friend had also owned everything Annie Dillard had published, so I tackled all of those books, one at a time. For awhile I took as my personal emblem the Annie Dillard passage about the inchworm writhing at the edge of the limitless void with every step. But it was more than 15 years after I first read that passage before I realized that Dillard must have been inspired by the image of the inchworm in Robert Lowell's “For Elizabeth Bishop 4.” (The day I made that connection was in the middle of spring, and for weeks afterward I’d come home from walks to find a small green inchworm or two making its frantic way across my hat or sleeve. I picked each one off carefully and put it back outside, thinking to myself how much the universe likes a good joke.) Likewise, it was only while finally getting through the last few hundred pages of Bishop’s selected letters — marveling at how, all unawares, I seemed to have read every British poet she ever recommended and taken every piece of advice she ever had to offer about how to approach poetry — that I discovered that I had taken English 10 from a woman who had known Bishop personally, who was expecting Bishop over for dinner on the day Bishop died. There is something almost comically soothing in discovering that the apparently random wandering you’ve been doing has, in fact, been closely directed by forces you never knew.

It was another friend, the sort of friend who heals losses, who sent me Edgar Allen Poe & The Juke-Box a year or two ago. (From her remainder shelf, I’m sorry to say, though I’ve found it’s surpassingly rare to run into any of Bishop’s published works used. She’s not the sort of writer one discards when the book is done.) I’m taking my time over it, as I always do with Bishop — I’m trying to make it last, and there’s that vertigo to consider. (I’ve learned to always read Bishop while sitting down.) On the back cover is a quote from a review by David Orr that ran in the New York Times. I looked up the full review; I looked up a lot of things. I wrangled my way into JSTOR, one of the major online humanities journal archives, and downloaded pages’ worth of search results: articles, anecdotes, translations, interview fragments. And there in the results was my lost friend, who apparently went on to publish scholarly articles about Bishop. Some echoes go on reverberating long after the sound that produced them has ceased.

But that book review. Orr started off thundering, “You are living in a world created by Elizabeth Bishop.” I only nodded. That would explain it. Of course I am.



*I’m hijacking, er, liberating this meme from this lovely site, which is such an endearing mix of scholarship and pure, unadulterated fan-clubbishness that I can hardly stand it. Thanks to them, I heard about this event, which I am SO TOTALLY attending, though it takes me a committee of 140 babysitters (a.k.a. the number of students in MB’s Thursday-night lecture class) to get there. I might even live-blog it, but if I do, it will probably be here. I feel very you-kids-get-offa-my-lawn about Tumblr, but it has an effortless mobile blogging app, much easier than anything I could manage at this passé old-skool location.




Audience participation! Tell me (here or wherever you’re conversing, these days) what artists in any medium knocked you over on your first encounter with them. I’m curious to know.

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37 Comments:

Anonymous Jenny said...

The poetry of Stephen Crane knocked me out when I read him in high school. It so appealed to my angsty teen self (as opposed to my current, angsty mid-life self). All my friends were oohing and ahhing over ee cummings, but Stephen Crane seemed to understand the cruelty of the world. When I was in college, so many friends had ee cummings tattooed around their ankles (if I saw one more "nobody, not even the rain, had such little hands" i'd scream); I wanted to tattoo, "Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart."

Ok, so I still kind of want to tattoo that. Hmmm....

4:41 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Seriously, Jenny, I double-dare you to bake your own whoopie pies while sporting a tattoo that says "Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart." Bonus points if the tattoo is in a place that is visible during PTO meetings.

See, though, I'm already learning something. I should look up his poetry. All I read of Stephen Crane was The Red Badge of Courage, which made me want to poke my own eyes out in despair.

The only other artist I ever had so strong a first reaction to (and it must have been the same year, so maybe I was just a wee bit susceptible that year) was hearing Björk sing "Birthday" in Icelandic on the little college radio station that single-handedly got me through high school. I was sitting on my bed doing homework when the song started, and I almost fell off the bed.

Yes, I do understand that having that profound a response to Björk makes me The Whitest Woman in America. You guys don't have to rub it in.

5:06 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Tall Kate said...

I have a recent one that immediately comes to mind: Neil Gaiman (as I may have mentioned once or twice before). I read The Graveyard Book on a whim a few months ago, and it felt like the top of my head had been taken off. I wanted to buy extra copies and hand them out to strangers on the street corner. Also, again fairly recently, Miyazaki's films.

5:15 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Janice said...

Amy Lowell: I first encountered her in "Patterns" and then in some of her other imagist work. Then, in reading about Keats, I came across her there (as a major figure in Keats scholarship). It was rather neat to learn more about her as a person as I moved along. Even though I'm not a literary scholar, she still crops up on occasion in relation to themes I read about in history.

5:15 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Oh, Kate, Miyazaki! We have discussed, yes, how Turnip-Head makes me cry? I mean, there are so many images in Miyazaki that are so stunning, but something about Turnip-Head just destroys me. And I still haven't read Gaiman. Which reduces my Whitest Woman in America cred, doesn't it?

I've read some Robert Lowell, Janice (because if you read enough Bishop, eventually you have to read some Robert Lowell), but never Amy, which is Yet Another Example of the myriad! and copious! failures of my undergraduate education. But now I shall have to look her up. I love you guys; you're going to provide me with a lovely list of things to read when I finally run out of Bishop.

5:25 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger elswhere said...

Never Amy? Not even "Patterns"? or the short one about the world beating dead like a slackened drum? That one's so short you can read it online without even scrolling down; here:
http://womenshistory.about.com/library/etext/poem1/blp_lowell_amy_taxi.htm

I've got thoughts brewing now about my first encounter with Sylvia Plath, which definitely took the top of my head right off. But now must rescue brownies.

5:43 PM, January 28, 2011  
Anonymous rachel said...

I am knocked over far more easily and thoroughly by music than by words. I started writing a whole list, but honestly, the first one I remember was Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, 3rd movement.

Now it wasn't the first Bach I'd ever heard. Presumably, I'd sat through all of the Brandenburg Concertos to get to that point, since it's the last movement of the last one. But when I was 11 years old, were driving though Iowa, which I found insanely boring, and my dad put on a tape of the Brandenburg Concertos. The tape wasn't wound all the way to the end, or something, because 6,iii was the very first thing that started playing.

It jolted me out of my torpor and I had this almost religious experience, looking out over the rolling corn fields. Suddenly Iowa was FUCKING BEAUTIFUL, and I realized that the entire world MADE SENSE, and it was in part BECAUSE OF IOWA.

Pardon the all-caps, but it was an all-caps experience. That particular piece of music still gives me insane uncontrollable chills. Oh, look, here it is!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmIHESHE3EM&feature=related

I feel reasonable certain it won't give anyone else the wild willies, but who knows?

5:51 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Songbird said...

I love music and words, too. My hugest response to music, ever, was hearing the opening measures of "Cantique de Jean Racine" for the first time. It was in a choir room, the director playing the piano, and the music moved through me. Still does, every time I hear it. At the time I was in a very sad place, and the music seemed to be saying that I was not alone. The words are lovely, too, but it wasn't about that. It was about a perfect synchronicity between my state and the music. So really, it's Faure, and how do I put the accent mark on his name in a comment box? Really, I ought to choose someone whose name is in English. ;-)

7:50 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Tall Kate said...

Music: Darius Milhaud's "Suite Provencal"; Respighi's "Ancient Dances and Airs." So, so lovely.

8:18 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Paige said...

Wagner. Die Walküre. (I know. How pretentious can I get?) But what I knew of opera, and Wagner, came mostly from growing up listening to Professor Henry Higgins singing about a "large Wagnerian mother with a voice that shatters glass." And I'd had a brief fling with a guy who loved opera and had given me a CD of Italian opera, and parts of it I liked. Parts.

I was very ambivalent about being offered a ticket to the Ring Cycle dress rehearsal. And oh, god, then they played the first chords, and the lights came up on the forest on the stage, and it was kind of like watching the first three days of creation happen right there in front of me. Or that's one way of capturing how it felt.

The music was a lot of it. Later I'd refer to it as aural sex. I still do. But the sets: a forest, right there in the middle of a theatre in Seattle -- were also amazing.

8:22 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Paige said...

Oh, Tall Kate, the Suite Provencal is lovely. And underplayed on radio stations.

I need to think about this question more in terms of poetry.

8:25 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Songbird, I forget if you're on a Mac. If so, alt-e, and then type the vowel underneath it!

Oh, Robert J. Lurtsema (who hosted Morning Pro Musica on public radio when I was a child) used to play an excerpt from the Respighi one morning every week, Tuesday or Wednesday, I can't remember which, but it was my favorite day of the week because of it. Rachel, I had a similar Bach moment, not a first encounter but an oh-my-god-the-world-makes-sense moment. It was at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, where Walter/Wendy Carlos' Switched-On Bach was background music to the planetarium show. If I had more vertigo, I probably attributed it to the planetarium. But it was like Bach was IN THE STARS asserting the existence of order in the universe. Blew my mind, and was also incredibly comforting. My music collection is probably 40% Bach. (And, you know, Björk. Maybe it's the letter B I have a thing about?)

elswhere, nope, not a one until I clicked your link, and thank you. Like I said, British poets, American novelists. Which is why I never read Amy Lowell, but I did have to read The Rape of the Lock in two different classes. For my American History and Literature major. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

8:42 PM, January 28, 2011  
OpenID parodie said...

I picked up Jan Zwicky's Songs For Relinquishing the Earth one day as a teenager, because the (very plain) cover caught my eye, and I bought it on a whim. The poems which mixed metaphors and music worked for me in a way I can still barely explain.

8:50 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger S. said...

I want to talk about being laid open by Iowa, can I do that? Because I knew "Iowa," when I was growing up, as the place that my father's small-town-high-school-sweetheart parents left when they escaped to the comparative sophistication of Omaha, and my father in turn escaped Omaha for the liberal enclaves of the East. The one summer pilgrimage we made to that small town, to visit second cousins, it was a dusty, hot, slow-paced, and just the kind of place you leave behind.

So the first time I crossed the whole of Iowa and saw how rolling and green and hilly and beautiful it was, I was profoundly shocked. It was the sense that this wasn't only a place my people had fled from, but at one point a few generations earlier it was the place they'd fled to, and seen as a place to come to rest, and called home.

There have been other places that struck me like that, too. The first time I saw Edinburgh castle. The landscapes of the far West. Flying over the Wissahickon Valley, and flying into National Airport, seeing the fragmented spaces I move through on the ground coming together in interlocking wholes.

I'm not as sure about when words have struck me open. There are poems I return to over and over, and lines that have lodged deep inside me, especially in my late teens when I was coming out (Adrienne Rich, Judy Grahn), but that sense of being struck dumb has come from spaces and landscapes.

8:59 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Ianqui said...

I didn't expect this thread to veer into classical music, but here it has. Every once in a while when discussions turn to classical music, I remember that once I was a classical musician, sort of (in good high school, state, and college orchestras). Pieces I have always loved: Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture, Beethoven's 4th Symphony, New World Symphony.

Now I barely listen to classical music. I live in NYC and I never go to the symphony. Criminal.

By far the most affecting play I have ever seen was called "Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom". When it was over, I came out of the theater in tears, literally unable to stop crying about the injustice we were carrying out in Guantanamo. I must have cried into Super G's shoulder for 10 or 15 minutes.

Hmm, is it ok if we are naming individual works instead of artists?

As for books, I tend to be most affected by environmental and political non-fiction. Bill McKibben solidified my decision to stop at Yo with his book "Maybe One". Jared Diamond's "Collapse"--despite its detractors--is a convincing account of why we must avoid resource depletion at all costs. I had already been sold on the environmental impact of meat production/consumption, but Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" made me realize that there is a significant human cost as well.

9:02 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger S. said...

Oh, and Phantom, that collection wasn't remaindered! I just moved it to the sale shelf because it was a slow seller.

9:27 PM, January 28, 2011  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Oh, hi friend who I took English 10a with! I'm a little embarrassed that this isn't Literature, but when I first heard Box Full of Letters by Wilco on the radio in 1995 I had to pull my car over. The line that got me was "I can't find the time to write my mind the way I want it to read." It was like getting hit over the head. I think part of it was the sheer surprise of it -- when I read a good book I'm anxiously waiting to be impressed. But I didn't expect to find personal insight on AAA radio in Boise, Idaho. I still have no idea how in the hell that Wilco made it on the air then and there. Barely anyone bought that record. But I drove straight to the record store and was a ridiculous obsessive Wilco fan for many years. It's calmed down a bit now, but Jeff Tweedy is still one of those artists who has my number.

10:10 PM, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Val said...

I love "Patterns." And Sharon Olds is the one who does this for me.

'Glad to see you back, Phantom. :)

12:25 AM, January 29, 2011  
Blogger Jody said...

Hmmm. I stole Sara Teasdale's poetry from my high-school library and still have the blue-covered book. But when I got to college, I realized that made me hopelessly twee and hid the fact.

Before Teasdale, I'd spent a year in Australia, where they set poetry for the leaving exam, and fell in love with Gwen Harwood. I wrote about that ages ago, here
http://bit.ly/hWbllt

I'd say that Harwood shaped my self-image more than any other poet, but maybe just because it was the first time I studied poetry and understood the language? I don't know.

I'm being haunted a little in my response here by the specter of a fellow alumnus of yours whose newly-optioned collection of essays about modern American poets opens with an introductory essay in which I play the role of the philistine in the Tate Museum. Did I not have a transformative response to art, or have I buried my memories because they are Teh Lame?

Actually, although I can't remember the specifics, I participated in a bunch of awe-inspiring sacred choral concerts in junior high and high school. Although ... sigh ... it was probably Britten and Rutter who moved me most.

6:45 AM, January 29, 2011  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Oh, Jody. Tell us who the little twerp is, and we shall dispatch a million pixies to whisper uncomplimentary things about him in Michiko Kakutani's ears as she sleeps.

For everyone who fears that their transformative moment was too pedestrian, I present the following, which is (for OBVIOUS reasons) my very favorite Bishop quote EVER. (Noting first that she was born in 1911 and had no children, grandchildren, etc.)

"Oh! 10a.m. -- time for Sesame Street, my favorite TV show. Yesterday's was especially good. I get a bit tired of learning my alphabet, but I adore Bert & Ernie & the Cookie Monster & recommend them highly." [One Art, p. 550]

So. If Elizabeth Bishop could adore "the Cookie Monster," then the rest of are certainly allowed to adore whatever it is we like best.

Rebecca, I am not even ADMITTING how late I was to the Jeff Tweedy appreciation party, so far from being embarrassed, I think you should be terribly proud of yourself. (Rebecca was sitting next to me during another one of my Transformative Moments, which involved Helen Vendler reading aloud from Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days," which was an experience somewhere between Sesame Street and "Life of Brian," and still makes me giggle more than 20 years later.)

[Waving] Hi Val! Amy Lowell and Sharon Olds duly added to the reading list.

9:44 AM, January 29, 2011  
Anonymous Jackie said...

Rebecca, I had a similar experience with the same song! I was on a cross-country road trip with my best girlfriend and we stopped for new music in Seattle, and bought "AM" at a used record store and listened to it all across the Northwest. That line is still one of the best expressions of a certain indefinable feeling I've ever read/heard.

And yes on Sharon Olds. Is it too cliche of me to say that the sheer exuberance of Walt Whitman takes my head off every time?

I love this thread!

10:07 AM, January 29, 2011  
Blogger Arwen said...

I grew up without much exposure to classical music and no exposure to hymns of any sort; closest I got to choral music was Peter, Paul & Mary. Then, in Grade 7, I tried out for choir and was made alto. My school was singing non-secular pieces for a Christmas concert, and I was whisked off with other wee altos on Thursdays so we might learn our parts in seclusion. I thought the hymns rather dull, really, given what the alto parts sounded like.

And then there was the day we all came together.

We started with Oh Holy Night, and when the chorus rose around me I staggered and almost did fall on my knees, because I'd never even considered you could live right in the centre of a chord like that. I was made slightly queasy by the overwhelm of it. I still love singing with a choir... but I have no real interest in listening to them. It's the experience of being inside the chord that gets me. The problem is, I often will tear up, and then I can't sing.

2:38 PM, January 29, 2011  
Blogger Jody said...

Oh, WELL, if you'd asked about TV moments, then I'd put my transformative experiences right up there with the most refined of them. Sonny & Cher singing "I've got you, babe" (those PANTS she was wearing!); Bob Barker during any NUMBER of different showcase showdowns; and Sesame Streets by the score. The creepy clock-guy asking the lost kid what she'd seen, so she could find her way home? Blew my mind. I still see certain street scapes through the lens that cartoon gave me.

Arwen, I know exactly what you mean. "Living inside a chord" is a perfect expression of that moment.

4:45 PM, January 29, 2011  
Anonymous Amanda said...

I adore Bishop's enthusiastic recommendation of Bert & Ernie & the Cookie Monster. (Bert and Ernie were my favorites when I was of an age to watch Sesame Street.) And I think I may have to propagate this meme over at my own blog.

I'm yet another person whose transformative responses are as often to music as to literature; the two that jump to mind immediately both involve Handel. In grad school I went to a student production of Handel's opera Serse (Xerxes). I almost didn't go, because I'd just had my heart broken, and I wasn't sure I could enjoy anything. But I did go. And in Act 1 Xerxes has an aria about how the more he thinks about being in love, the more in love he feels, and I suddenly *got* why Baroque arias are constructed the way they are, because the structure of that aria mirrored the character's mental state so perfectly. And that epiphany somehow banished the immediate worst of the heartbreak. I felt like a different person by the time the opera ended, or at least a less miserable one.

On another occasion I went to a concert that included Handel's Concerto Grosso in G Major and burst into tears when they played the Adagio. It seemed to speak so directly and so clearly of loss and mortality and, at the same time, the kind of resilience one needs to bear up under the burden of loss and mortality. (Here it is on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4TKNXmNwoo It still makes me weep.)

4:49 PM, January 29, 2011  
Blogger Tall Kate said...

"Right in the centre of a chord" has been reverberating around my mind all day. I was in choir in college, and I LOVED it, for exactly that reason. Close harmonies make me swoon, and being part of it? Wow. We sang a lot of contemporary Christian anthems (shudder) but also Bach, Handel, Vivaldi ... and who mentioned Rutter (Jody?) Still love some of his stuff.

8:49 PM, January 29, 2011  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Jackie, I've often thought about making a list of the Tweedy lines that all touch on this feeling. Like in Handshake Drugs: "If I ever was myself, I wasn't that night." But now I think I'm too old to engage in such fandom without feeling, well, like I'm too old to engage in such fandom. But I thought about another crazy-making fandom moment, and Phantom was there: Twin Peaks! A classmate had the first season on videotape, and he'd scheduled out showings in the TV lounge (called "Explosives B" for some reason lost to time). I hadn't been exposed to David Lynch before, and didn't really know what I was getting into. When we got through the scheduled three or so episodes, Keith said he'd continue it the next night, but the crowd overruled him, and we watched the whole thing until the wee small hours. I still dream about Season 1 of Twin Peaks. "Sometimes, my arms bend back." ieeeeeee!

7:32 PM, January 30, 2011  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Oh my god, Rebecca. I have no memory at all of vast swathes of my college experience, but I knew that I'd somehow seen Twin Peaks and been completely creeped out by it. Now I know! (Much clearer memories of watching thirtysomething with you on my roommate's little black and white TV. And that moment in a rental car on our way out to Cape Cod in January when we realized that every single one of us in the car knew every single word to Cat Stevens' Greatest Hits, even though none of us could remember having listened to that album often enough to commit it to memory. Oh, children of the '70s...)

Amanda, one of my clearest memories of the friendship I mention in the post is going to see a performance of St. Matthew's Passion with her, and knowing that she completely sympathized when I started crying at the opening bars of "Mache dich, mein Herze rein" and just kept on crying until the whole thing was over.

9:07 PM, January 30, 2011  
Blogger S. said...

Oh, my gosh. I watched part of Twin Peaks in Explosives B, too. But I know I didn't watch the whole season then (eventually I bought the whole series myself during a bad slump in grad school). Maybe I slipped in for part of that night and slipped out again for some other meeting, or maybe I was there another night? Oh, memory! Rebecca, do you remember if Keiko and Gwen were there that night?

10:21 PM, January 30, 2011  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Hey, all you inside-the-chord people! Here's a link for you! This is your Brain on Music.

9:11 AM, January 31, 2011  
Blogger liz said...

Alfred Hitchcock. Wham! Right on my ass!

3:07 PM, January 31, 2011  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Isn't memory funny? I barely remember that Cape Code trip, and I can't recall the 30 Something viewing at all. But Twin Peaks? I'll never forget that. And yes, S, there were many showings of Twin Peaks that weekend. Keith -- at least I think his name was Keith, I had no idea anyone else would be here to call me on it -- showed the whole series several times due to popular demand, despite his original well scheduled plan. I can't remember if Keiko and Gwen were there the night Phantom and I were, but they could well have been! And actually, S., who are you? The initial isn't ringing a bell :) You can email me if you don't want to out yourself: rebecca at thoroughly dot org.

1:10 AM, February 01, 2011  
Blogger Arwen said...

Your link to Brain on Music suggests that I'm getting high. Which is only reinforced by the fact that mostly, when listening to music, I prefer to be exercising in some capacity. I think the combo of sweat and music is maybe the best drug ever invented for my physiology.

3:27 PM, February 01, 2011  
Blogger Magpie said...

I quite love this post, and all of the comments. Twin Peaks = swoon. k.d. lang = swoon. The Mozart requiem = swoon.

4:01 PM, February 01, 2011  
Blogger S. said...

Rebecca, email sent!

8:54 PM, February 01, 2011  
Blogger Val said...

I love "Twin Peaks." 'Rarely see it mentioned anywhere, so finding it in this thread is a nice surprise. :)

10:56 PM, February 01, 2011  
Anonymous Genevieve said...

Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia," particularly the last scene, in a version that had a light snow falling in the theater (in the round). Knocked me onto my ass, completely, with the beauty and the deep sadness and the transcendence of the moment.

Singing the Mozart Requiem, on Mozart's birthday, in a gorgeous theater. And singing Beethoven's Ninth. Yes, Arwen, with the being inside the chord.

4:50 PM, February 23, 2011  
Anonymous niobe said...

“The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” We’d been tested on other texts that had moved me or struck me or made me smile to myself — but the opening sentence of this one rocked me so that I thought I’d fall out of my chair from vertigo. "

This is, um, eerie. It's like you've reached inside my head and fished out one of my memories.

Senior year of high school, 17, One Art, and something exploding in my head. I would say fireworks, but that sounds too festive. I once read a book about someone killed by bells ringing and that's more like it.

I think (though I could be wrong) that it was one of the questions on what they now call the SAT IIs, which would explain why they'd be using it as an AP practice essay a few years later.

But anyway.

8:44 PM, February 26, 2012  

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