The First & Second Kirk Elbod Interviews:


ON THE PRESENT STATE OF ART - PARTS 1 & 2






||       INTERVIEW #1: ON THE PRESENT STATE OF ART, PART 1
C|  
O|  
P|       KIRK ELBOD: I'm tired of right angles and major 
Y|  chords. There must be more than this to make art out of. 
R|  And stories which have a beginning, middle, and an end; a 
I|  conflict, climax and resolution. Music which is 
G|  exposition, development and recapitulation. Long 
H|  rectangles to frame our pictures, plays, TV screens, and 
T|  visions with. People in the west even dream in 
||  rectangles. They report that they watch their dreams as 
1|  though projected on a movie screen.
9|       There must be much more and yet we've painted 
8|  ourselves into this corner where we seem compelled to do 
9|  these things over and over with little variation.
||       There are times when I wonder if I'm the only one 
B|  who hears the constant cackle of "muzak" in the stores, 
Y|  the malls, the elevators, the telephones on hold. 
||  Homogenized music dripping with major chords, all 
R|  sounding the same. As though I could be lulled by such a 
I|  thing. This muzak is everywhere. It's hard to go to any 
C|  public place and not have it. 
H|       It's getting hard to find silence, anymore.
A|       And what's worse, it's music which is designed not 
R|  to be heard; it's "background music", just as TV is 
D|  sometimes called movable wall paper. I've decided it is 
||  being used as a mask to hide the noise of the city. Or 
d|  perhaps we tolerate it, because it gives us a sense of 
e|  being hooked into a public address system in case of 
G|  nuclear attack.
A|       We are being deadened to art. Yet, at the same time 
R|  it may be the only form which can give us meaning; tell 
I|  us who we are.
S|       (He put his boots on the rickety table, almost 
||  knocking over my cup of coffee. He acted as though he did 
D|  not notice. He stared out at the brilliant sun flickering 
O|  on the water .)
B|       But I don't mean to be overly negative. I sense that 
L|  things are about to change.
E|       Take music for example. Now, I do not want to dwell 
||  on music exclusively, but it provides a clear example of 
A|  the dynamics of art in the recent past and also may 
L|  provide an insight into art's future.
L|       Music moves in hundred year cycles. It's called "the 
||  grandfather relationship" of alternating classical then 
R|  romantic periods. We are at the end of a long classical 
I|  period which has reached a dead end, and we are about to 
G|  break open into a new Romantic period which will have 
H|  plenty of pit falls and dangers, but which will not be a 
T|  dead end.
S|       I can see by your expression that you do not believe 
||  me. But listen. Stravinsky started out as a romantic and 
R|  ended up a classicist. Schoenberg the same.
E|       They became overly concerned with form which 
S|  classicists do. So they experimented with dissonance, the 
E|  twelve tone scale, and so on. What had started out as 
R|  primitive expression, such as the Rites of Spring, became 
V|  erudite experiments in sound and noise. And they lost 
E|  their audience in the process.
D|       It seems that there may be an intrinsic grammar of 
||  sound that each of us carries with us, a basic grammar 
||  which imposes limits on what we perceive as noise and 
C|  what we perceive as music. Just as Norm Chomsky, the 
O|  linguist, has suggested there is an implicit fundamental 
P|  grammar underlying all languages, that each of us is born 
Y|  with. And these modern artists violated that grammar.
R|       So classical music, in effect, gave up its 
I|  expressive potential to popular music which has 
G|  flourished in this century.
H|       But artists like Phillip Glass point the way to a 
T|  new music which both sounds good, yet has popular appeal 
||  and at the same time is contained by a new form, a 
1|  repetitious form.
9|       (I felt the need to interrupt him at this point, 
8|  especially since he had paused and was not giving me one 
9|  of his dirty looks, which had prevented me from breaking 
||  in earlier.)
B|       TALBOT: I believe you are contradicting what you 
Y|  said before about being tired of major chords and right 
||  angles. The experiments of the moderns was an attempt to 
R|  get away from major chords...
I|       ELBOD: (He broke in). Yes, true; but they went about 
C|  it the wrong way. They created noise. They had all the 
H|  world's music to work from, much of which had not been 
A|  explored at the time. Yet many of them chose to create an 
R|  artificial music which most people, even those who love 
D|  music, heard as noise.
||       Now some of the world's music -folk, formal etc.- is 
d|  seen by our culture as dissonant but it has the 
e|  underlying grammar of music within it. These experiments 
G|  did not. Painting at the beginning of the century drew on 
A|  primitive and African art for much of its inspiration. 
R|  Yet music chose to go down an almost exclusively cerebral 
I|  path, forgetting its primitive, fundamental roots.
S|       Bela Bartok,on the other hand, was perhaps, the most 
||  important musician who did not forget. He made extensive 
D|  recordings of peasant music in Hungary which inspired 
O|  much of his work. Consequently, I feel that Bartok was 
B|  the most successful of the moderns.
L|       I have talked with Phillip Glass. He confirmed that 
E|  he draws on a variety of the world's folk music for some 
||  of his creations. And he agreed that other modern 
A|  musicians do the same. So a change is in the air.
L|       Music is perhaps the clearest example. Yet painting, 
L|  poetry, architecture, all went down the same road. That's 
||  why poetry which used to be popular isn't any longer.
R|       But all this may change.
I|       What these modern art forms forgot was the human 
G|  scale.
H|       Modern buildings, for example, are dehumanizing. 
T|  They are huge, overpowering, impersonal. Contemporary 
S|  poetry and painting appeal to the intellect but not the 
||  heart. 
R|       As my friend Krista says, modern art is afraid to be 
E|  beautiful. In fact, it has shunned beauty for much of the 
S|  last hundred years; it has even been afraid to admit it 
E|  was trying to be beautiful, as though beauty were 
R|  sentimental, maudlin, or crass. Poetry, today, is even 
V|  afraid to rhyme.
E|       But all this will change. And with it, the forms of 
D|  art will change as well.
||       (Again he paused and I sensed that he had some 
||  ideas, but also an unease.)
C|       TALBOT: Can you predict what the new forms might 
O|  look like?
P|       ELBOD: (Silence, then a long drink of coffee, then a 
Y|  buttoning of his coat as clouds covered the sun, bringing 
R|  a cold breeze that we felt even inside the travel 
I|  trailer.)
G|       First of all I am not talking about New Age hoopla. 
H|  New Age music, for example, just seems to be a mellower 
T|  muzak.
||       Nor am I talking about millennium hysteria, the fear 
1|  that people have we the world goes into a new millennium, 
9|  the fear of an apocalypse.
8|       Now to get back to our discussion. I can see 
9|  outlines of possibilities. 
||       First, form is important. The traditional form of 
B|  the story which is conflict, climax, resolution leads to 
Y|  us thinking that our lives will be like these stories. 
||  Imbedded in such structures is the idea of progress, or 
R|  progression. I don't know that I believe in progress or 
I|  at least that it should be given as much press as it's 
C|  given. There may be progress from century to century. But 
H|  it may be more important on the human level to live day 
A|  to day, without the denial of the present which progress 
R|  implies.
D|       Women writers have already suggested this. They 
||  claim that the forms we have used up to now are masculine 
d|  molds. But it is worse than that; they were created by or 
e|  for wealthy, upper class men of power.
G|       The forms I envision will be structures which 
A|  emphasize "being" more than "becoming." Time's cycle more 
R|  than times arrow to borrow a phrase from Stephen Jay 
I|  Gould.
S|       I can imagine a literary form, for example in which 
||  the story is about the way people live from day to day, 
D|  season to season, not about the dramatic obstacles they 
O|  overcome. A story in which there is no one hero, but a 
B|  group of people which concern us. Much more like life. 
L|       Oddly enough, in pop culture, we are already seeing 
E|  something like this in a number of TV series.
||       In recent years we have had programs like Mash, Hill 
A|  Street Blues, and many of the family shows, in which no 
L|  one person is the out and out hero, although certain ones 
L|  stand out a bit. The story is really about the group. And 
||  nothing is basically resolved. The story is more about 
R|  coping within a certain environment instead of conquering 
I|  the environment.
G|       In Hill Street Blues, for example, you never 
H|  believed that the cops will clean up the city, the way we 
T|  believed in the cop movies of the forties. In fact part 
S|  of the appeal and the pathos is that we knew that they 
||  will always go on struggling.
R|       These stories are on the human scale. And they have 
E|  been popular. Some people would simply call them prime 
S|  time soap operas, but soap operas are on the human scale. 
E|  And there is no reason why such a form cannot be 
R|  profound.
V|       In fact in this century the three longest lasting 
E|  programs on radio and TV have been the Metropolitan 
D|  Opera, The Grand Old Opry, and the soap operas. All 
||  opera. Why? Because they fit the human scale.
||       In the visual form I can see a move away from the 
C|  rectangle which is also a structure that implies movement 
O|  and progress. Frank Stella's paintings, for example, seem 
P|  to be trying to bust out of the confining rectangular 
Y|  frame. Forms might be more evenly balanced.: squares or 
R|  circles. Symmetrical forms imply stasis, being, not 
I|  dynamic movement the way the rectangle does. Perhaps a 
G|  return to what I call "primitive symmetries."
H|       In serious music the forms will be less dissonant, 
T|  closer to the human voice. My late friend Bruce used to 
||  say that music could never stray to far from the human 
1|  voice and still work. I believe that. Again the human 
9|  scale.
8|       And buildings. Architects must first of all ask the 
9|  people who will live in and use the buildings what they 
||  want which they rarely do; then design a plan so that 
B|  people feel at home in the building, not threatened by 
Y|  the building. Architects know how to do this if they will 
||  only direct their attention to it. And they need to get 
R|  away from the right angle box design. Break it up, make 
I|  it more livable.
C|       The human scale is what's been missing. This will be 
H|  revived in the near future. Meaningful art, beautiful art 
A|  for people who will like it and understand it without 
R|  having to work incredibly hard to appreciate it.
D|       That's all I have to say.
||       (With a brush of his hand he dismissed me, and even 
d|  though I protested, he would not say anything further. He 
e|  grabbed my unfinished cup of coffee, removed the table 
G|  cloth, and folded the table against the wall of the 
A|  travel trailer. Without a word, he guided me to the door. 
R|  Then with the faintest of good-bye waves, I found myself 
I|  outside, in the cold wind, listening to him start the 
S|  engine. Abruptly I was watching the rear of his ancient 
||  travel trailer head down the road. I turned away from the 
D|  wind and headed for my car.)
O|  
B|  
L|  
E|  
||       INTERVIEW #2: ON THE PRESENT STATE OF ART, PART 2
A|  
L|  
L|       (It was some months later in the dead of winter, 
||  that I heard from Mr. Elbod again. He invited me to an 
R|  address in Durham. 
I|       On a cold, sunny morning about ten o'clock in late 
G|  January, I found myself wandering around a section of 
H|  town on the wrong side of the tracks, looking for a house 
T|  with a closed in front porch. When I finally located it, 
S|  I knocked on the glass door. To my surprise Kirk slowly, 
||  graciously opened the door and admitted me into what I 
R|  discovered was a sun room. He was dressed in a Japanese 
E|  robe, and this time his hair was brushed. His manner was 
S|  calm, quiet, almost formal. I had trouble believing that 
E|  this was the same person I had meet before.
R|       He guided me to a sofa where he offered me a cup of 
V|  tea. Leaning back into the soft couch, I felt I had been 
E|  transported to another sphere. I was surrounded by lush 
D|  plants. The sun, filtering through the fiberglass panels, 
||  warmed the room and my body as though I were in the 
||  tropics. Although I could not see through the translucent 
C|  fiberglass, I could hear people coughing in the cold 
O|  winter air, as they hurried along the sidewalk, just a 
P|  few feet outside the door. I looked up and realized Kirk 
Y|  had said nothing. He sat back quietly, sipping on his 
R|  tea, as though waiting for me to speak.
I|       I was so taken back by this difference in his manner 
G|  and the unexpected surroundings that I could not think of 
H|  what to say. But eventually a question came to mind, and 
T|  the interview began.)
||       TALBOT: I have gone over the notes of our last 
1|  conversation and wondered about several things. (Kirk 
9|  motioned for me to go on.) It seems to me that there have 
8|  been a number of romantic periods in the 20th century 
9|  even though you call it a classical period. The revolt in 
||  the sixties, for example, and the abstract expressionist 
B|  paintings in the fifties.
Y|       ELBOD: Very perceptive of you. I believe that both 
||  are true. No period is purely classical or romantic. 
R|  These are two themes which are always playing off each 
I|  other. When one is dominant, then the other is less 
C|  obvious but still around. The paintings of Jackson 
H|  Pollack, for example, were very romantic although he was 
A|  also intensely concerned with the formal demands of 
R|  painting. But once he had mastered these formal aspects, 
D|  he was able to express himself freely through his new 
||  form. In fact, the delicate balance he had to walk 
d|  between form and expression, which would not have been so 
e|  great in a romantic age, may have added to his anguish.
G|       TALBOT: Also you seem very concerned about new forms 
A|  in a new romantic age. Since form is a classical concern 
R|  why is form so important to the romantics?
I|       ELBOD: (His eyes brightened and I felt that he was 
S|  warming a bit to me as a person.) Romantics need an 
||  appropriate form too. But form is not their primary 
D|  concern. Expression is their primary concern and the form 
O|  should allow that expression as much full rein as 
B|  possible. The message, or the expression is communicated 
L|  in part by the form itself. The medium may be the message 
E|  to borrow from McCluhan. So the forms they use are 
||  important. But form is not their forte. Also they have 
A|  the benefit of a hundred years of classical experiments 
L|  in form that they can draw on.
L|       TALBOT: A ha! (I said rather boldly) so the 
||  classicists are not all bad. They can be useful even to 
R|  the romantics.
I|       ELBOD: (A little taken back by my manner) I do not 
G|  want to side with either end of the spectrum - classical 
H|  or romantic. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. 
T|  It's just now, at the end of the 20th century, that this 
S|  leg of classicism has run its course. I am personally 
||  tired of it since I have had to live within it all my 
R|  life. But I am sure I would be yearning for a classical 
E|  period if I had been forced to live in a purely romantic 
S|  era. These two cultural forces have gone and will go back 
E|  and forth for hundreds of years. Nietzsche called the two 
R|  basic forces the Apollonian -order, classicism- and the 
V|  Dionysian -expression, romanticism. 
E|       TALBOT: So is it good we are entering a new romantic 
D|  era?
||       ELBOD: Perhaps. It will be nice for a change. But 
||  every period has extreme dangers and it's important to 
C|  always keep this in mind.
O|       Remember that the last romantic era was ushered in 
P|  by the French Revolution with all its grand ideas, which 
Y|  turned into a dictatorial "Reign of Terror" and 
R|  eventually a war in Europe. Yet it was the excesses of 
I|  the classical era, the age of reason, which lead to the 
G|  revolution. So one leads to the other, both can be 
H|  disastrous, and we must not let ourselves get carried 
T|  away, carried to extremes, which people usually do in an 
||  era of expression.
1|       The extreme control of feeling, the sterility of the 
9|  last fifty years or so may have been a reaction to the 
8|  passions of Hitler and the Nazis. We learned to be afraid 
9|  of emotion. But in fact the opposite may be true. As Carl 
||  Jung points out, if emotions and feelings are not given 
B|  expression, this repressed side of ourselves will 
Y|  eventually express itself in some manner, perhaps in 
||  horrible ways.
R|       So the point is that we need to change as a culture, 
I|  in fact we must change or face serious consequences, as I 
C|  will explain another time. But we need to be aware that 
H|  change unleashes forces of its own which must be kept at 
A|  bay.
R|       (A cloud briefly covered the sun and I suddenly felt 
D|  cold. It seemed strange to me that a cloud could have 
||  such an immediate effect, within this artificial 
d|  environment. But then the sun returned, and I was again 
e|  cozy in this solar environment.)
G|       TALBOT: You talked last time about a new imagery and 
A|  sources for this new art that you foresee, could you 
R|  elaborate?
I|       ELBOD: We need to go into the past and into the 
S|  future. In the past I think that the Middle Ages was very 
||  rich in terms of imagery for the visual arts, a period 
D|  ignored since the Renaissance because of prejudice and 
O|  ideas of progress. Even the name for this period, given 
B|  to it by the Renaissance, was biased and condescending. 
L|  There was a sense of symmetry and perspective, however 
E|  naive, which I find powerful and charming. And a sense of 
||  unity.
||       For abstract art and modern iconography, there are 
C|  new and beautiful forms such as satellite views of the 
O|  world which are, by now, very extensive. The space 
P|  explorations which have taken place in the last twenty 
Y|  years have provided incredible photographs of the other 
R|  planets and their moons. In addition to this there are 
I|  photos from electron microscopes, images of extremely 
G|  small things. There are also moments frozen in tiny 
H|  slices of time in fast action photography. And slow 
T|  movements speeded up to reveal unseen patterns in time 
||  lapse photography. And then there are computer generated 
1|  images such as fractals which are crystalline like 
9|  structures, and cellular automata which look like life 
8|  forms. And a host of other unique computer imagery.
9|       In music, I have already said that the world's folk 
||  music should be a source, but also the medieval period 
B|  and the renaissance as well. In addition the new 
Y|  electronic instruments are capable of making unique tones 
||  which can imitate and revive much of the lost "sounds" of 
R|  these periods. Not to mention the unusual quality of many 
I|  of the world's non-western musical instruments.
C|       In literature, I think I would mine the world's folk 
H|  stories. There are a wealth of fairy tales, folk epics, 
A|  myth, etc. which have not been touched.
R|       Essays might be more conversational, more like life. 
D|  For example, a series of essays could be constructed 
||  around the conversations of two fictitious characters and 
d|  the situations that they found themselves in.
e|       But all art should spring from a real heart felt 
G|  need, not merely a desire to be fashionable. For example, 
A|  Hip Hop Art, which came out of the desperate situation in 
R|  the Bronx in the late seventies, was a spontaneous 
I|  flowering of music, painting and dance. Now you may or 
S|  may not like all of it; I personally didn't like most of 
||  the rap music, although I thought the break dancing was 
D|  very exciting, and the graffiti a fresh approach to 
O|  panting. But in any case, it was a response to a real 
B|  need, and this art meet that need in creative and life 
L|  affirming ways.
E|       I think art needs to be a way to understand the 
||  world we live in. A form which gives meaning to things we 
A|  cannot understand. Paul Klee, the painter, said "Just as 
L|  a child imitates us in his playing, we [ the artists ] in 
L|  our playing imitate the forces which created and create 
||  the world."
R|       So there are some of my ideas.
I|       TALBOT: Whew! That was some list. But let me turn to 
G|  another item we discussed last time. It seemed to me that 
H|  much of what you were criticizing such as the heroes of 
T|  the past were romantic heroes. The cops who cleaned up 
S|  the city were romantic ideals.
||       ELBOD: Yes, they were. They were a carry-over form 
R|  the romantic era. But with a classical twist. They were 
E|  unfeeling, poker faced, and we knew very little about 
S|  them personally, such as Eliot Ness of the Untouchables. 
E|       And the message that they had for us is wrong. For 
R|  example, I was watching the Lone Ranger, the other night, 
V|  on CBN cable channel, and got to wondering about him as a 
E|  hero. Now mind you, I was brought up with the Lone Ranger 
D|  as an ideal when I was a kid. These pop images are 
||  important to us, especially children, because they give 
||  us a role model.
C|       The Lone Ranger is not part of any community, has no 
O|  mother, father, brothers, sisters, wife, or children. He 
P|  is completely alone except for his faithful Indian 
Y|  companion Tonto and his horse, Silver. Moreover he has no 
R|  visible means of support. In short this guy is about as 
I|  far from the real world as you can get. Then to top it 
G|  all off he rides into town, straightens everything up, 
H|  completely, and then rides out. What an image to teach to 
T|  our children! No wonder they are frustrated in their 
||  lives if this is the hero they want to be like.
1|       In addition, we do not know much about the Lone 
9|  Ranger's feelings, except for a very limited range of 
8|  expression. Of course the mask doesn't help. (Kirk 
9|  laughs.)
||       To highlight the difference between the Lone Ranger 
B|  and a contemporary drama, consider this: We can imagine 
Y|  Hawkeye, of Mash, turning to one of this friends and 
||  saying "I'm depressed" and the friend replying "Do you 
R|  want to talk about it?" and they do. But can you imagine 
I|  the Lone Ranger turning to Tonto and saying "I'm 
C|  depressed" and Tonto replying "Do you want to talk about 
H|  it, Kimosabe?" Its inconceivable.
A|       TALBOT: I must say you strain my mind by jumping 
R|  from Nietzsche to the Lone Ranger but ...
D|       ELBOD: I think most people make a big mistake to 
||  think that culture operates in two different worlds, the 
d|  serious and the popular. I may get tired of the popular 
e|  much sooner than the serious, although not always, but 
G|  the appeal of the popular, its message, is important to 
A|  an understanding the world.
R|       TALBOT: But what I really don't understand about you 
I|  is "where you are coming from" as they say. What is you 
S|  frame of mind?
||       ELBOD: Well! This will be hard for you to understand 
D|  I can tell, but I'll do my best.
O|       I am not "coming from" one discipline, one point of 
B|  view, one perspective. I am coming from a number of 
L|  places, and sometimes all at the same time. I attempt to 
E|  see the world as a set of interrelated and interdependent 
||  ways of looking. My task for years has been to join 
A|  together as many of these as I can, into my world view.
L|       I have avoided getting stuck in one perspective. For 
L|  example, I make an effort to get my news from a diverse 
||  number of sources. I find that shortwave radio, for 
R|  example, lets me get a sense of the day's news from a 
I|  world perspective. And I might add, the cost of a small 
G|  short wave radio is very cheap right now.
H|       I am also a good listener. I have a number of 
T|  friends, who are experienced in quite different 
S|  disciplines, and I listen to what each of them has to 
||  say.
R|       And then I have run my own business. Business can 
E|  encourage directness, honesty, clear evaluation of a 
S|  situation, realistic understanding of costs, problems and 
E|  objectives. In our future discussions, for example, I 
R|  will talk about environmental problems. And one of my 
V|  main concerns is that the society has not taken into 
E|  account the full cost of the different technologies.
D|       By having a diverse number of disciplines and 
||  sources to draw on, I have a large repertoire of 
||  experiences, of metaphors and models which help me to 
C|  understand of the world.
O|       Let me give you an example. When computer 
P|  programmers started putting together what are called 
Y|  "expert systems" they asked a number of experts in 
R|  different of fields to describe how they thought, how 
I|  they made decisions, solved problems etc. The goal of the 
G|  programmers was to create a computerized system which 
H|  could imitate an expert's thinking. To the programmer's 
T|  surprise they found that many experts used models, 
||  images, and metaphors from areas outside their own 
1|  discipline. And these other ways of approaching a 
9|  situation were part of their repertoire of problem 
8|  solving procedures. 
9|       Let me ask you, have you ever done any sailing?
||       TALBOT: What? (Taken a back.) No. Yes. Well once or 
B|  twice.
Y|       ELBOD: If you have you may have realized that in 
||  sailing you don't just aim the boat and go straight from 
R|  point A to point B, the way you do in a motor boat. You 
I|  often tack, which means you go back and forth several 
C|  times. To a person who is not experienced in sailing, it 
H|  might even look as if you are going backwards. People who 
A|  sail may say to each other that it will take three tacks 
R|  to get from point A to point B, for example.
D|       Now I find this image of tacking very useful when 
||  I'm solving problems. Because maybe I can't solve a 
d|  problem in a straight line. Maybe I'll have to go one 
e|  step back, two steps forward several times to get where 
G|  I'm trying to go. And my experience with sailing in 
A|  useful in this regard.
R|       So the tacking metaphor is just one of a number of 
I|  images from numerous disciplines that I use to understand 
S|  the world.
||       TALBOT: Well, I'll have to mull all that over, but 
D|  to get back to our discussion ...
O|       ELBOD: Yes, I was about to make another point 
B|  related to what I just said. We may be going through a 
L|  sea change, in which there will be a new romantic era, 
E|  but something else as well. Hopefully a new 
||  sophistication, an understanding of how we are all linked 
A|  together. How we are all in the same boat. Computers and 
L|  technology will play a major part in this change. In fact 
L|  computers will probably be as earth shaking as the 
||  invention of the printing press, but that is another 
R|  interview.
I|       The point I am making is this: our role as 
G|  individuals is not to prevail over the world at any 
H|  expense, or to be immortal, a false hope if there ever 
T|  was one. 
S|       The point is to be a link in the chain of existence. 
||  To carry the legacy of our parents into the world and 
R|  make a difference to those who will come after us and 
E|  look to us for sustenance. 
S|       A new art form should reflect this. Show how each of 
E|  us is an individual and yet imbedded in our community, 
R|  family, work, period of history. We must no longer be 
V|  seen as lone separate individuals against a barren 
E|  background, but as individuals who are inextricably 
D|  immeshed with the world.
||       A cyclic art, a symmetrical art, which is well done 
||  and not boring, may be the beginnings of such an era. An 
C|  art which stresses being instead than striving.
O|       I think the art of J.S. Bach comes the closest. The 
P|  music is more a state of mind that a movement toward a 
Y|  conclusion, the way the music of Beethoven is, for 
R|  example, even though I love his work. When you hear 
I|  Bach's exquisite sounds it doesn't really matter where 
G|  the music is going. He has created a state that you live 
H|  within, until it is over. Yet the music moves forward, 
T|  toward an end, but that does not take away from the notes 
||  of the moment. Bach's music is an easy balance between 
1|  movement toward a conclusion and the enjoyment of it, in 
9|  the present.
8|       Perhaps this is the model we should look to. Lewis 
9|  Thomas has suggested in "Lives of a Cell" that a Bach 
||  fugue would be the ideal piece to send to aliens to tell 
B|  them about us. It is obviously created by an intelligent 
Y|  mind, and it does not require any language or other 
||  skills to appreciate. 
R|       The other day I was at a Wendy's. Out of the PA 
I|  system I heard a Bach chorale arranged for Muzak. I was 
C|  amazed. It still sounded good. Even distorted by the 
H|  Muzak I hate, it survived. Now that's a good piece of art 
A|  that can suffer that kind of transformation and still 
R|  work.
D|       (With that he began to put the tea cups on a tray, 
||  and I realized the interview was over. I started to speak 
d|  but could see the return of the look I had seen in the 
e|  interview before, which prevented me from continuing. He 
G|  graciously ushered me out the door with no indication 
A|  whether we would meet again. But I realized he had 
R|  mentioned the possibility of another interview, so I was 
I|  hopeful.)
S|  




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