I didn’t even look for Jim Morrison’s grave– I didn’t give a shit. When I read Patti Smith’s book, and she described how much she loved the Doors, how deeply moved she was by them, I felt sad. Rimbaud, whom she also loves, induces some eye-rolling in me, too. Death! Love! Whatever. But we both cut our own hair, at least. Patti Smith and I. I liked her, and I wanted to think she would like me. In that cemetery, I went to Chopin’s grave, and Modigliani’s.
References may be different now. Now that you can look everything up, wearing things into your body might not be understood. In a church or an art museum, there are so many things I know, just at an amateurish level. When I went into the Louvre, my first day in Europe, in Paris, completely alone, I felt like I was dreaming, or that I had died. I had dreamed of Paris, and the afterlife, so many times. But inside the museum, I went to the Egyptian art first. Osiris, Anubis. The cats and the hieroglyph for bread, a half moon. Water, a rickrack line. I was at home. It’s luxurious to look things up, in the second you want them. It’s not the same as recognizing St. John’s snake in a cup in a stained glass window, or Anubis’ pointy head. The difference between investigation and recognition is huge. Regardless of its utility in an age of portable databases, I’ve considered it my personal schooling to know enough to recognize well.
I loved Chopin because I loved someone who loved Chopin. My piano teacher, Cy, called that prelude the “Miss America” prelude because it had the same tumbling opening notes, “There she is.”
You hold onto these dead artists, and living works, and especially now, when online you list what you like, and it makes you. What you like is most important in communities where money is frowned at. The less money you have, the better your taste needs to be. You need to have quality loves. However your people define quality. The scariest is to tell what music you like. Isn’t it scary to let your music go random out the speakers, wondering what oddity will pop up next? Even stranger is that I know I possess and store songs I don’t like. I am listening to the Lionel Richie station. It gives me a good elementary school feeling. Elementary school hits, Mozart. That’s what I listen to if the world was ending, to be honest. Mozart solidly hitting it, crummy Air Supply songs. Not Chopin.
One thought on “Recognition”
When cars got better milage, we drove more. We didn’t save the gas and save the planet. I suspect that as information gets easier to access, we just burn through it faster and less carefully. Less thoughtfully. I can google chopin, but I still don’t get it. But when Jim Morison sings about eat’n more chicken any man ever saw…I get it.