Saturday, November 19, 2005

New Music in Orchestral Concerts

I don't think programming more new music will make sense until the new music is better: engaging the world rather than retreating into these near-static marathon evocations of nothing or directionless explorations of timbre or the straggling serial compositions (the amazing musical technique almost nobody can hear!).

Phillip Bush - November 17, 2005

One of the comments on Greg Sandow's book in progress: The Future of Classical Music?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Wretched Treaty (of Waitangi)?

Maoris are assumed to be different - at least by the treatyist brigade and their hangers-on.

Maori are a sequestered, self-interested group driven by a never-ending sense of entitlement at the rest of society’s expense. Maori have more rights than other people, but no responsibilities to anyone other than themselves.

It is time this nonsense was ended and the abolition of Maori seats would be a fine first step. Not, as the professors would caution, when Maori themselves in the fullness of time conclude they are tired of unfair advantage, but as soon as it can be arranged. Apartheid, by whatever smokescreen we care disguise it, is not acceptable anymore.

That done, we could commence a real debate on the wretched treaty, which has long outlived its relevance and which, mutating like a toxic virus and sprouting principles ad nauseum, serves purely as an instrument of division. It is a zombified relic of a time long gone, and a sure sign that, as a nation, our condition is schizophrenic.

Apartheid Unacceptable (Time for Real Debate on ‘wretched treaty’) Dave Witherow – Otago Daily Times columnist, 28th Oct, 2005.
Dave in full flight, and surprisingly getting away with this without a screed of follow-up letters to the Editor.

UPDATE, 27.11.17
The piece above was written in 2005, and in 2017 Dave is still at it. His latest rant about things Maori - this time the 'overuse' of Maori language in the media - did get some angry letters to the Editor, but not so many as you'd expect perhaps.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

44 Scotland St - and a Funeral

It’s a curious thing that McCall Smith seems to enjoy the random adventures of the people at 44 Scotland St and environs more than those in the Philosophy Club. The latter are a bit drear, a bit earnest, a bit too precious even, with the middle-aged main character and her concerns for the young men of Edinburgh (who all seem a bit fey).

The people in Scotland St are more robust, even though one of the main male characters is narcissistic – at least he’s energetically so, and provides some of the high comedy moments in the first novel in the series.

It would be interesting to write a novel in this way, revealing a section a day, no going back, no ability to repair mistakes, no way of getting a character out of a difficult spot by rewriting (Smith’s usual method is just to forget the character!). And the pressure of having to keep up. If I thought a weekly column was an achievement, what about a daily chapter!

Lindsay Crooks
My wife and I went to Lindsay Crooks’ funeral yesterday, a jam-packed affair that almost filled First Church to overflowing. It was a disappointment somehow, if one can say that about a funeral. It Lindsay’s art, which surely, in the end, will be what people remember him for (the photo on the cover of the hymn-sheet of him with one of his cut-out works is delightful, but it’s matched by three of him on the back on the beach). His art and his warmth and ability to make friends wherever he went. Good, solid friends, by the look of it – even those who only had a small acquaintance with him (like us) were struck by his easy and always genuine friendliness. Certainly the friendship angle came out solidly: people who’d known him for years, as friends, were much to the fore. I was surprised that out of that huge crowd no one took the opportunity to speak up in regard to his art – his brother mentioned it in passing, while giving a eulogy (he couldn’t have avoided it) but always, always it came back to the surfing. And it was the surfies who were giving the ‘wake’ rather than the arts community.
seemed almost as if the surfies had taken over (the aging surfies, for the most part – surfing is obviously a sport a man can carry on in through his mature years). There was little about

But the other thing that was disappointing was that there was no preaching, even speaking, from the minister. Yes, he prayed, effectively and sincerely, and we sang a hymn, and Lindsay’s stepson or godson, (I’m not quite sure who he was) sang a very definite praise song, but what a lost opportunity for the minister to speak. I can only wonder if he was cautioned off it – by the surfing community, perhaps (‘they won’t want any preaching; they’re just ordinary blokes, you know?’). Of course I’m bound to be wrong in that. Whoever made the decision, however, it was the wrong one. People’s hearts are seldom more open to listening to words about eternity than when they’re in the middle of a funeral – even I am, and I’ve been listening to eternal words for decades, and hearing them too. It’s a time when the bubble of life is easily burst, and we know – we really, really know – that our time on this earth isn’t eternal, it’s severely limited. In some cases, as in Lindsay’s, far more limited than it ‘should’ be; and in Rod Donald’s – in his case the fact of his dying so suddenly and without apparent cause is even more of a message to semi-deaf ears).

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


What we suffer today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert – himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt – the Divine Reason. The truth is that there is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it is practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic.

Orthodoxy - G K Chesterton

Monday, November 07, 2005

Chesterton and Polkinghorne

Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy. It is when for some reason or other the good things in a society no longer work that the society beings to decline; when it food does not feed, when its cures do not cure, when its blessings refuse to bless.

The Everlasting Man – G K Chesterton – chapter 8

The analogy between scientific and theological enquiry is not complete. Theology does not enjoy the luxury that experiment grants to science, of being able to deal with essentially controllable and repeatable experience. It has to look to the given and unrepeatable revelatory events in which God has chosen to make the divine nature known. The closest scientific analogues are cosmology’s reconstruction of the unique history immediately following the big band and biology’s reading from the fossil record the story of the unique evolutionary development of life. Theological enquiry is also not simply concerned with quenching the intellectual thirst for understanding. Its insights demand response and carry implications for human conduct.

Belief in God in an Age of Science – John Polkinghorne – chapter 2

I find it interesting that Polkinghorne uses these two 'analogues' to explain the problems of theology, even though in some circles both analogues are classed more highly than as revelatory events.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Ahead of the Class

When the first draft [of the Action Plan] is completed it all sounds wonderful but next morning I feel I’m receiving a message from Above when I open my paper and read some words by Ferdinand Mount, the political historian, who has studied why some government regimes last longer than others. He calls the long-lasting ones ‘survivor regimes’ and argues that they ‘do not usually arrive in office with any detailed set of plans stretching over years or, if they do, the plans have speedily to be rewritten under the pressure of events.’ The first need of survivor regimes, he believes, is ‘to communicate a sense of confidence and to establish stability. ‘Characteristically, they will then develop a rolling agenda.’

I stick the cutting on the noticeboard in my office. Action Plans are all very fine I know, but it’s how we respond to day-to-day events that will really matter. The Action Plan can’t possibly encapsulate everything we plan to do.

Ahead of the Class by Marie Stubbs – chapter 2