Areas of vast silence

One of the functions of art is to give people the words to know their own experience. There are always areas of vast silence in any culture, and part of an artist’s job is to go into those areas and come back from the silence with something to say. It’s one reason why we read poetry, because poets can give us the words we need. When we read good poetry, we often say, ‘Yeah, that’s it. That’s how I feel.’

~ Ursula K. Le Guin

In the beginning, I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey — no, I’m not old enough to have seen it in the theater, thank you — and, in all honesty, I did not understand most of it. Later, I learned about the story, read the related books, etc.. I rewatched the movie and began a long period of wielding my understanding as a badge of pride. (“I understand 2001! Here, let me show it to you. Let me explain it to you.”) I eventually went on to learn to play the Blue Danube on the piano because the piece is so prominent and moving in the film.

… cross-fade …

Very recently, I saw a solar eclipse and I wished someone had queued up Also sprach Zarathustra — whose introduction, by the way, still gives me shivers. It would have been sublime to have had totality begin just as the creshendo strikes in the opening . . .

I digress.

Also sprach Zarathustra is a tone poem and after the eclipse — perhaps in search of that sublime moment missed — I took the time to listen to it in its entirety.

…and that led me to adjust my living room for optimal viewing
…to crank up the volume
…and to cue up 2001.

It was just as awe-inspiring as I recalled. Just as awe-inspiring as I’d hoped.

…and then I read this piece — from the perennianlly stellar Brain Pickings — about le Guin’s conception of art.

Something clicked and I gained a new appreciation for the film: “Yeah, that’s it. That’s how I feel.”