Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Criticism vs. Divinity

"Critical clarity is bullshit," someone recently said to me, and it has been much on my mind, as I think about ways of seeing and experiencing music, books, and art that don't involve dissecting them on a slab, laying out their parts in an orderly fashion and in the process excising the divinity right out of them. But I don't know how to get around it within the current music crit paradigm, where divinity is poo-pooed and everything is a surface to be buffed or gridded. I think that clarity is a very poor way to experience a piece of art, when a sort of befogged wonder is perhaps more in order, although this is perhaps my poetics creeping into my criticism. I've been thinking about divinity a lot - by now I'm very deep inside the F7 process, using it much more organically, and in these states of deep interface with the texts, the air becomes radiant with the stuff (divinity, that is) - especially since I read about the suppressed gospel of Thomas, which excised all the miracles and biographical details from the New Testament in favor of simply listing Jesus' parables, unbowdlerized (i.e. without the pithy morals the apostles were wont to attach to them in transcription), which wind up reading a lot more like Zen koans than parables - they don't instruct, they raise questions for contemplation. What emerges is a teaching that's not terribly concerned with sin and redemption, or the promise of an afterlife - the upshot is that the 'kingdom of heaven' isn't something you suffer through this life to achieve, it's here on earth, waiting for humankind to claim it by renouncing binaries and embracing their unified being, that spark of divinity in us all. This makes so much more sense than, and is so very diametrically opposed to, modern mainstream xtianity, where the focus is all sin and redemption, moral imperatives, and a blind faith in miracles and received wisdom that Jesus surely would have despised. What could be more detrimental to divinity and pure, unmediated experience than the rigid binaries of modern music crit? And how could something so personally be translated into text, anyway?

Note to the friend to whom I sent this in an email - I wrote it for you, I only posted it here after the fact. I'm not just emailing you my blogposts now, honest.