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Ryszard Kapuściński

Lapidarium III

(A Selection)

The Second Symphony of Mahler in the National Theater. Jerzy Semkow conducted. A striking work, dazzling. It took Mahler more than six years to write it. When he finished, he was thirty-five.

The most striking is the towering mass of the  material. The mass of music, but also of its forms, styles, variations of tempo, fluctuations of feelings, the impact of the drama. Richness. Richness, greatness and diversity.

Mahler does not hesitate. He uses everything. He fills the space, you can’t see the world from behind that monumental mountain. He mixes styles, types, means of expression. One is reminded of the words of Jules Renard in his Journal: “Talent is a question of quantity. Talent means writing not a page but three hundred pages.”

Hybridism of Mahler’s music.

In music, as in painting, the problem of combining, mixing styles, the problem of fusion, of hybrids, of miscellanea was resolved a hundred years ago. The resolution was positive, accepting. In literature, on the other hand, the issue still raises doubt, hesitation, dispute.

There’s no doubt that the language of painting or music gives the creator more freedom, offers a broader field to experiment, to invent. The spoken or written language, on the other hand, limits and restricts if only through its literalness, through its immediate and simple verifiability. Hence in the world of the form, music and painting usually are ahead of literature.

The period of 1960s: an important tuning point, a break-through in the arts. Reality and ordinariness enter the kingdom of art. The borderline between the two worlds disappears. (Critics reach for the theories of Duchamp, for his thoughts about rejection of values, about randomness of the world.)  [354-55]

On the plane from Vienna to Warsaw. My neighbor is paging through a stack of newspapers the way one skips channels, programs and TV images pushing buttons on the remote control: on each page he looks at the photographs, reads the titles, sometimes a fragment of an  article. The TV custom has permeated our behavior. The rule of the remote control creeps in everywhere. We will skip, turn over, fly over the pages we encounter, the images, the sights, the experiences, the people. I see my other neighbors, also in a hurry, superficially paging through their newspapers. In the cabin, instead of attentive, monasterial reading—there is a great rustling of paper.  [359]


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