Sunday 25 September 2022

The Muse

Glenn Gould


Two months ago a problem I had all my adult life - a feeling of meaninglessness of art and a regret of being an artist, came to a crisis.  Despite of having a lot of orders I couldn't make myself work.  

Luckily at the same time I was exploring the oeuvre of a favourite pianist, Glenn Gould, who I listened to on and off most of my life, and only knew for his Bach. This time I heard his Beethoven, his moving and wise "contrapuntal radio" - modernist operas about the meaning of life, read many of his articles and interviews, and carefully watched his performances.

The unexpected result was the discovery of myself, a flinging open of inner doors to the source of art, that were shut since my teens, and an avalanche of inspiration that swept all the crises away as I welcomed my new muse.

Today on September 25, 2022 Glenn Gould would have turned 90, and I wanted to celebrate the great musician-thinker with some art and thoughts in this post and possibly some future ones

Gould playing Beethoven
 Glenn Gould was a utopian – to him art was a moral undertaking, and he spoke against such evils as professional sport, music competitions, applause, live concerts, and even professional art as a whole, as in his utopian future every human would become a non-competitive, nonviolent artist. His alternative to the sin of competition was the virtue of communication. I believe these ideas created the magic effects of his music-making. The sublime talking piano, the gestures and groans of a religious trance, the creaking chair, the stomping feet communicate the creative experience to your own mind and body, and convert you into art by revealing your own often long-forgotten path to artistic ecstasy, if you only care to follow.

 Glenn Gould - a 17mm blue chalcedony intaglio carving

 Here is Gould's own writing on the purpose of art, from the article "Let's Ban Applause":
"…the justification of art is in the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity. Through the ministrations of radio and the phonograph, we are rapidly and quite properly learning to appreciate the elements of aesthetic narcissism - and I use that word in its best sense - and are awakening to the challenge that each man contemplatively create his own divinity."


A compilation of my drawings and carvings dancing to the Goldberg Variations for Glenn Gould's birthday