Dear readers, on 1 January, the blog will celebrate its second birthday and enter its third wordy year! I appreciate your devoted, attentive reading! By way of acknowledging that, I am housecleaning today, presenting a few odds and ends of ideas that may find their way into fuller articles later . . .
I have been thinking a lot about people with bipolar disorder and other mood disorders. We now have a number of drug treatments available that were not even dreamt of thirty years ago, but they are not cures. Read the landmark book that brought the subject to wider attention: “An Unquiet Mind” (1995) by Kay Redfield Jamison. She is a brilliant doctor, researcher, and bipolar patient herself. Her earlier fascinating book is “Touched with Fire: Manic –depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament” (1993).
Gerard Manley Hopkins: “and each day dies with sleep.”
William Butler Yeats: “He that sings a lasting song/Thinks in a marrow bone.”
I just finished another fascinating book “Pox: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis” (2004) by Deborah Hayden. Did you know that in turn-of-the-century (1900) Paris, fifteen percent of the entire population had it?! A short list of French creators who did: Baudelaire, Maupassant, Flaubert, Jules de Goncourt, Alphonse Daudet, Gauguin. It was rarely, if ever, spoken about, due to shame and stigma, but “coded” references and euphemisms abound. There was no cure until 1943! Baudelaire called it “the wind of the wing of madness.”
Reflections on reflections. I have been ruminating on the French musical fondness for reflections, such as Debussy’s “Reflets dans l’eau” from Images, I livre. Ravel wrote a five-movement piano work called “Miroirs.” What, or “who” is being looked at? Are mirrors intrinsically narcissistic? Are we looking into a solid (glass) mirror, or a watery (moving) one? Is there distortion of color, light, shape? Romantic poets (Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, et al) tended to view reflections not as inferior but superior to the objects they reflect.
Hmm, maybe I myself have an “unquiet” mind!
© 2010 by Frank Daykin, for Innovative Music Programs