Thursday, December 28, 2017

stuff that, perhaps, we can get to in 2018

It's the end of a long year here at Wenatchee The Hatchet.  The incentive to blog is low ... for me.  I don't really want to get into all the reasons for that but I suppose what probably needs to be said is that low-volume blogging for Wenatchee the Hatchet probably has to be graded on some kind of curve.  Low volume blogging year for me in the history of the blog was still 71 posts. 

This is kind of an early New Year's resolution of stuff I hope, Lord willing that I have both the time and willpower to do the stuff, to blog about in 2018.

1. Discuss Nikita Koshkin's 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar, published by Edition Margaux.

2. Discuss German Dzhaparidze's 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar, recorded by Esteban Colucci

3.  Discuss three of the four numbered published guitar sonatas of Dusan Bogdanovic, because they're all fantastic

4. Discuss the Matiegka complete edition after I spend some time going through it

5. Discuss at least some of the solo guitar sonatas of Angelo Gilardino, probably will only manage the three that can be ordered online these days

That's the musical stuff.  For animation I'd like to see if I can tackle writing about the following:

6. finally finish the Justice League essays, though I confess this probably won't happen quickly

Then there's more bookish stuff

7. discuss the new bad Ghost in the Shell remake with the old overhyped Ghost in the Shell. Those who venerate the old Oshii film will ... probably not like what I have to say about it.

I want to review John Borstlap's The Classical Revolution but though the book is very short the recommended secondary reading is pretty big.  In fairness to the fact that I think several of the books in Borstlap's recommended reading list at the end of his book look fantastic I want to also read those, too. I have my differences with Borstlap about a few topics but I think what he's trying to do deserves an informed and considered review. I won't get into that stuff for now but if you read my references to Elements of Sonata Theory, the writing of George Rochberg, etc then you might have a guess what one of my concerns about the 2nd edition is.

Of course this blog being what it is I want to tackle a book or two as the basis for blogging and reviewing here.

7.  I do want to write something about Justin Dean's book PR Matters.  What I hope to do is to situate the book and Dean's career at Mars Hill in the context of the maelstrom of public relations issues that were already emerging as he took the reins.  That takes some time, and more motivation than I have at the end of the year so, here's hoping for 2018.

Also ...
8. Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll's Evangelical Empire
Jessica Johnson's monograph comes out in May of 2018. 
https://www.dukeupress.edu/biblical-porn

I do plan to get a copy of the book and review it.  Being the sort of moderately conservative semi-stick in the mud Presbyterian I am I don't doubt that Johnson and I differ on a few topics.  But this blog has been committed to maintaining as ecumenical and scholarly approach as possible.  I don't doubt that Johnson's book is going to be a more interesting read on the subject of Mars Hill than Dale Soden's mentions of Mars Hill in Outsiders in a Promised Land, which I discussed a while back.

I have had friends suggest that yours truly write a book about Mars Hill but I would need to recharge some batteries for a while before doing such a thing.  I also regard popular Christian publishing to be one of the bad guys in the twenty year history of Mars Hill.  If someone were to gift me a Thomas Nelson book these days my first temptation would be to burn the thing on general principle.  But I am willing to consider discussing things with scholars if they get in touch at this point.  Which is to say there's a decent possibility some of my blogging will get referenced in Johnson's book.  The work of scholarly investigation into the history and dynamics of Mars Hill could and should in some sense only be just getting started but I have a feeling that what the Christian industrial complex would like to do is "move on" and proceed as though whatever happened at Mars Hill was just some aberration that couldn't tell us something about the very nature of the industries. Not sure I will write such a book because I don't feel like a writer of books so much as a writer of essays, but I won't rule it out altogether.  It's also getting to the point where if a scholar or two wanted to get in touch I'd be open to being a resource for scholarly work on the topic of MHC.  To the point, I'm okay with being quoted in a certain forthcoming monograph. 

One of the biggest projects I hope to tackle, however, is addressing the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Francis Schaeffer's The God Who is There and Escape From Reason as the first two parts of his trilogy. I think it would be impossible to overstate the influence Schaeffer has had on conservative American evangelicals and that Schaeffer can be thought of as a kind of American evangelical equivalent of Theodor Adorno.  That comparison is intended to be provocative because both men wrote sweeping accounts of Western art that can be read as a legend of WASP decline and white flight; both men wrote in the later 1960s and had connections to respectively right and left political movements. 

Schaeffer's arts history is particularly bad, especially on the subject of music, which is a topic dear to my heart.  For the fiftieth anniversary what I'm hoping to write isn't exactly going to be as harsh as a take-down but, though I was a fan of Schaeffer's work in my teens and early twenties, I now believe that if Anglo-American evangelicalism is going to make anything interesting in the arts that dismantling Schaeffer's master narrative of WASP decline is obligatory.  Schaeffer, I intend to argue, had the same problem Adorno had but from a different direction.  Both men venerated earlier bourgeois Western European art.  When they perceived a radical break in history they reacted differently. Adorno wanted the break to be total and forward-moving (thus Schoenberg and Beckett), but did not altogether grasp how he was trapped ideologically within the Romantic era.  There's three books by David P Roberts that unpack that a bit I might reference there.  Schaeffer was a nostalgic who lamented the loss of Western culture without grasping that his narrative of decline couldn't even be squared with some basic points about Western history.  Around the same time he was writing Leonard Meyer came up with a more interesting counterproposal about the eruption of progress and the avant garde.  So ... stuff like that.  I am glad Schaeffer didn't attempt to survey Western music history because it would have been a trainwreck.  But in a way I almost have to discuss the 20th century musical changes in order to show how wildly wrong Francis Schaeffer was about stuff.

But ... this gets me to what I think is confining about the likes of Roger Scruton and John Borstlap, there's a sense in older guys, regardless of their place in the spectrum, that the high arts culture of Western Europe is on a decline.  Well, yeah, of course, because the empires are fading away and why shouldn't they?   My difference of conviction from people like Scruton or Borstlap has nothing to do with a lack of love for classical music.  I adore the music of Haydn. But the collapse of the long 19th century's ars perfecta isn't a bad thing, it's just a thing that happened.  We don't need some "renaissance" of a late Romantic idiom that has survived by way of the American song book and popular music and film scores just fine.  The Renaissance itself was a culmination of centuries of experimentation throughout the medieval period and its renaissance (because what we were taught was the Renaissance was just the big R renaissance not unlike the Romantic era was a big R stand in for that movement).  If we're in some kind of rhyming cycle of epochs of history we're not in a Renaissance, we're in a kind of new early or middle Baroque era, in which a panoply of forms and styles erupted with idioms based on improvisation over established formulas and tons of strophic structures.  But I'm rambling again. 

As usual, probably, what I hope to write about will probably be more than I manage to write about.  They say it's good to set goals, so here are some goals. 

1 comment:

Eric Love said...

I've been involved in organising an annual multi-site Christian youth event for many years. Most of our leaders are young adults so I'm one of the few leaders who were involved a decade ago. Couple this with my excellent memory and I find myself regularly telling stories about what happened where and when. A year ago I decided it was worth trying to write this history of this little movement within Christ's big movement in Adelaide.

When I started to write things I hit upon a common problem for historians. Do you recount episodes in chronological order or follow a topic or arena of action for a while? I decided what I wanted was a web document made up of pages and a 'map' of pages. So the reader might read what happened in all regions in 2007, or in one region over a number of years. And because there is a complete map, someone could read the whole thing (in whatever order) and know they hadn't missed anything.

I haven't yet found software that will let me write this painlessly to produce something to my satisfaction. Mostly because there always more urgent things to do. I hope to get to it in 2018. (Just as I hoped to last year, as well as attempt a recording of one of my songs)

I have been consistently impressed with your history of Mars Hill. I think it would be worth compiling what you have already written. On this site there's a lot, there are tags and occasional pages that list a number of other related pages, but something like the document I've wanted to write would be valuable. Sometimes two or more of your posts have referenced the same sermon; this would only need to appear once, but there could be different threads that connects them to other pages.

In my case, the whole story will be easy enough to put pages on a 2D 'map' - with time going perhaps down the page (pages would mostly fit into distinct 1-year rows) and different regions forming columns (they divide and merge but wouldn't break topology). But your records would have more trouble because of the many threads. It would be harder to organise, but hopefully worth it. Someone else could read the whole lot (and know they've done so); follow certain threads; see where different things fitted on the timeline, relative to when they were at Mars Hill.

Full disclosure demands I admit my fondness for maps.