I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Gluck said it better*

Tone Deaf has been extravagantly praised (qv) and must adopt a higher tone. Today's text is: What is life?

Amazing how careless we are with life. No sense of nurture. We drink ardent spirits, over-eat, read trash, loll mindlessly, pursue ignoble aims, revel in materialism. ignore what little talent we have, misuse our sex drive, sneer, cavil, avoid intellectual difficulty, dress badly and pay no attention to our posture.

Only the possibility of losing our life urges an improvement. Satan beckons: "There's more of all that down below," he says. Or rather we receive the invitation from his modern-day prophet: cross-dressing, epicene George Osborne, smirkingly.

I've swum against the tide: jogged before work, eschewed chips, tried Joseph Conrad, dropped a pound into a beggar's hand, listened (briefly) to Messiaen's Les Oiseaux. But never simultaneously.

I arrived with the moral equivalent of a million pounds. Not only has this benison not earned any interest, the capital sum has been eroded. I am down to my last ten-thousand pounds of good-will and a chill wind threatens my loins.

What is life? It's an opportunity to make the best of it and I cannot pretend I've come close. Worse still, I might have used up what I inherited in a spectacular and memorable gesture of evil. Instead I've allowed it to dribble away. Wasted it. Born in the West Riding of Yorkshire and imbued with all the mean-spirited parsimony that such a birth entails, I have nevertheless been profligate. To the point where even Tykes would disdain me.

And there’s one other thing. What is life? Was I ever equipped to answer that question? Doubt it. Better luck to the rest of you.

* How did Gluck do it better? Click here.


  1. "Benison" ... a new word for me. I often glean a new word from your posts, dear Robbie.

    I'll go forth today with the intention of finding a benison or two. Can a benison be constructed and shared?

    Thank you for Gluck and Baker! Wow!

  2. Have faith and you will end your story as well as Gluck ended
    Age 14 we were asked to do an essay about a composer. I was assigned to write about Gluck. Mozard yes, Beethoven, Wagner yes, Rudi Schurike YES, Gluck no. I had never heard of him.

  3. Well, okay! Then I had to go and click on Baker's "When I Am Laid in Earth," after weeping through her giving life to Gluck's aria.

    Who snatched my tissues?!

  4. No, no, no, not that earworm!

    I cuddle leopards. So there.

  5. Since the day you posted this, thoughts of What is Life have filled every untethered moment. This morning, in a mild panic, I thought that if I didn't get something together soon, you'd all be off tilting at another windmill and there'd I'd be left, mumbling over here, alone, about fate, opportunity, lack of opportunity, why do we dust the furniture when we could be down at the pub, and how something that crawled out of the sea evolved into such a glorious mess. But now I see that wasn't really the assignment.

  6. RW (zS): A benison is an abstraction. Thus, in philosophical terms (and that's the line I've taken for this post; hoping to be paid back in kind but it's been thin gruel) it is both possible and impossible to construct and share a benison. If you get my meaning. If you don't, may I recommend the Mr and Mrs Peg Reader with which, aged seven, I took my first steps towards an understanding of philosophy. A journey that still has some way to go.

    Ellena: Being ignorant of Gluck is hardly worth mentioning; it puts you in a worldwide majority. Whereas I am in a even bigger majority not knowing Rudi Schurike. But if this was a prank to get me to Google this chap it is doomed to failure.

    The Crow: Very mawkish, Crow, very mawkish. Yet you were the one who set this particular fur-ball in motion.

    Lucy: Yes, yes, that earworm. But it's your fault. You've effectively driven me off the premises at Box Elder since I've used up every scrap of knowledge on knitting I possess and am no longer able to contribute anything that would pass as sentient. I never realised a knitariat existed but it does and you are its Grand Purl.

    Leopards... Spots.... Not even I dare launch that particular insult.

    Stella: Or should I stay "stellar" since that is the adjective appropriate to your comment. You alone have realised what I was after with this post. New to our circle you have wiped the faces of all our regulars. I particularly like "untethered" which hints that you may have access to Roget and I forgive you if it's the only copy in Eastern Canada and it's kept in your local library. If it's any comfort I can't believe your ancestors crawled out of the sea, rather they were delivered to the lower slopes of Mt Sinai, nestling between the wings of an archangel. Thank you for upping the tone.

  7. It's an even worse earworm than 'Did you not hear my lady', which I have been consciously trying to cultivate by way of a counter-irritant. In fact both of them are lovely but less so three months later when still alive and wriggling. In fact I started trying to infect myself with DYNHML some days ago after somehow stumbling on Elvis Costello's 'I want you' on Youtube, a song I'd not heard for a very long time, but which took up unwanted residence in whichever part of whichever cortex plays host to earworms. A not very pleasant experience, at least if you're someone, as I am, who hears words with music rather than music with words, but one which served to make me very glad and grateful to be at a point in life where if not all passion is spent that particular type is finished and done with, it was like looking back on the dark ages.

    Misusing one's sex drive might well be many people's idea of a life well spent, depending... no, best not go there.

    Do you really think that your store of good-will, either to give or receive (the two accounts in most cases, I imagine, being fairly commensurate) is less now than in your early life? As an interested party, I'd ask you to reconsider that.

    You were the one brought up the leopard a few posts ago; it wasn't meant as an insult.

  8. The thesaurus is in the basement (see previous reference) so i can't check to see if "untethered" is actually a word. I used it because lately all my thoughts have been reigned in and purposeful......no time for pondering

    When I have lately heard they are thinking about growing a Wooly Mammoth from the found DNA, and now a dentist in possession of John Leoon's tooth wants to make a baby John, I am forced to think Life is just mathematics and skin. How it got so complicated is the real dilemma.

    Gee, I wish you knew something about knitting. This pattern I'm trying to read now seems to require a knowledge of algorithms and most of my tethered thoughts of late have involved dissecting it.

  9. That's.......LENNON' s tooth.

  10. Lucy: "Like looking back on the dark ages." I think not but even if it's true you may compliment yourself that you never went to bed sniffling with the onset of bubonic plague. You survived and you did it without being smug.

    "All passion spent" - sure and it's a lovely quote. This time I agree but again if it did happen I was present and the Hotel Mercure can bear witness. I wonder if I've finally found an occasion when I can use "cathartic" with complete confidence. Were the tears and the curious knock-kneed tripod the three of us formed cathartic? Certainly we lacked grace but perhaps that's not a necessary ingredient.

    The sex drive interpolation was there for one reason only. I felt that anyone reading that far would have felt it necessary - like Scott of the Antarctic - to have planted a flag. Proof, at least, I had been half-read. Only one did. And with it a thousand flowers burst into bloom. Isn't "Depending..." a wonderful title for a short story?

    Store of good-will? The situation is blurred by the passage of time. With most of my fires damped down, if not out, I am less likely to turn out to be pyromaniac. Most people are glad about that. This form of good-will comes in one of those anodised flasks used to contain the ashes of a crematee.

    Leopard. I had to Google myself. And there it was. "Remember the leopard," I said. An incomplete sentence which I will now complete: "... and then forget it - not only its meaning but also its provenance." I am as good as my (unspoken) word.

  11. Oh, gawd...call me anything but mawkish, please.

    Am feeling rather sentimental about living at the moment, which no doubt stirred my response. I just don't want to end up like the corpse in Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying," which is what WIALIE reminded me of, a bit.

    Sorry to offend your sensibilities, dearheart.

  12. Stella (Second go): How long ago was it you timorously admitted (curled up in your snow house; speaking only to yourself it seemed) that you were too shy to come and play with the cleverclogs who disport themselves in Tone Deaf's comment column? One week? Two weeks?

    And now? There's a thirties song (beautifully rendered by Frank Sinatra) that best describes your changed state:

    So I'm the guy who turned out a lover
    Yes I'm the guy who laughed at those blue diamond rings
    One of those things
    Oh, look at me now!

    Indeed! Look at you now. Recognising the allusions, speculating about cloning, tossing in "algorithm,". Under plain cover a piece of jewellery will be arriving at your snow burrow - mainly emeralds, picking out the letters: USOAC (Universal Society Of Avowed Cleverclogs). Wear it with pride. Effortlessly you've earned it.

    Crow (second go): You, of course, are a long-time wearer of the USOAC brooch (see above response to Stella). You're streetwise and savvy. Accused of mawkishness you immediately go on to the offensive with a literary reference, one with a sting in the tail. Pretending to believe I won't know who wrote As I Lay Dying, you kindly add the author's name. Just in case... dumbo, you are saying. But then we're all equals down here. I myself have been equally kind to you. Yes it's a jungle but the teeth are rubber and our wounds emit stuffing not blood.

    And, hey, something new to end with. A sort of Jane Austen-ish valediction. Bet you wouldn't utter that as you trip down Main Street in Hannibal, Missouri. I trust you get that literary reference.

  13. Would Sam chide you for it, or laugh all the way down the Mississippi?

    Probably laugh, then take it even further and become famous for it. What say?

    And I thank you for your gentle compliment.

    I knew you knew, y'know?

  14. Crow: I'm told they can't do his best-known books in schools, because of the n-word. He'd see the funny side of that.

  15. Singing while sitting and embracing a body must be quite a challenge, and what an experience for the embracee! One hopes Ms. Baker's breath was quite fresh!

  16. MikeM: Despite the sublimeness of the music those wayward thoughts have also passed through my mind. I have also worried about Eurydice's hearing. I can't pretend that even at its best opera is a perfect art form and the more effort that goes into making it look "real", the more it tends to look artificial. On the other hand there are occasions when orchestra, singers, acting and the sentiments of the libretto fuse into an experience (especially in the case of duets, trios, and other multi-voice passages) that is not duplicated elsewhere. Nor is there any reason, other than stubborn snobbism, why opera should not co-exist with a liking for Rogers and Hart or Simon and Garfunkel.