On the homepage today, I have an essay that may interest you: “Fight for Music.” I’ll paste the first paragraph:
Almost like a pandemic, “wokeness” has attacked academia and spilled out into the wider world: business, media, etc. Classical music is not immune. Every day, there is another horror story coming out of some university or presenting organization. Every day, alarm becomes more justified.
Anyway, see what you think.
Yesterday’s Impromptus occasioned a fair amount of mail. Some on the left were none too pleased with what I said about wokeness; some on the right were equally displeased with what I said about the GOP. C’est la vie, I suppose.
My item yesterday was really about the word “woke,” as much as the phenomenon of wokeness. After my column appeared, a colleague and I were recalling that “woke” began as a word used by the woke themselves. Then their critics took it up. And now some wokistas are saying, “Don’t use that word. No fair.”
Look, I remember when “politically correct” was used unironically. When it was used earnestly and sincerely. “You shouldn’t do that,” people would say. “It’s not politically correct.”
That was a long time ago. The term, at some point, got stigmatized. And people wore “politically incorrect” as a badge of honor.
Here is a note from an intellectual friend of mine, Bill Walsh:
Now, I’m a highly eccentric reader of the signs of the times, but “woke” has always struck me as a vernacular version of “illuminated” or “enlightened,” and, like those who used those terms, the self-identified “woke” actually seem to be claiming that they’ve got some sort of gnosis that unlocks true sight. That this gnosis is as pedestrian as “America bad” is kind of disappointing. I prefer my esotericism more along the lines of the Key of Solomon, the Nizari Isma‘ilis, or even, in a sleazy register, an Aleister Crowley.
O tempora, o mores!
One of my topics in yesterday’s Impromptus was anger — especially anger of a political or social kind. Another intellectual friend, Albert Alioto, sends me a passage from The Decameron:
And among these vices, I believe that the one which leads us straight into danger is the vice of anger, which is nothing other than a sudden and thoughtless impulse, which, incited by some unhappiness we feel, drives all reason from us, blinds the eyes of the mind with darkness, and consumes our souls with burning rage.
Albert adds, “When I read that, I was sure Boccaccio had been in the house I grew up in.”
Incidentally, Mr. Alioto also quotes Grady, from Sanford and Son. About anger? No. About certainty, and uncertainty, concerning a child’s parentage. This came up in a Corner post of mine. Anyway, Grady said, “Momma’s baby, Poppa’s maybe.”
Pithy, and poetic.
Another reader writes,
Loved your column today. I made the mistake of dipping into the comments, which leads me to despair for my country.
But I must say, your recommendation of “Shake it Off” has shaken my confidence in your musical judgment to its foundation.
Yes, I had an item on Taylor Swift, who made an appearance in my neighborhood last week. I inserted the opinion that “Shake It Off” is a “terrific” song (which it is).
Another reader sends this news article, headed “Former Trump aide said she was told not to play Taylor Swift at the White House: ‘Are you trying to get fired?’”
Sometimes, you just gotta shake it off. Have a good day, and talk to you soon.