6 October 2014

"The birds are the opposite of time"

The lecture ends, the musicians raise their instruments, and the crystal liturgy begins. Two birds start a predawn song they’ve sung since long before human time. The clarinet channels a blackbird; the violin, a nightingale. The cello skates about in a fifteen-note loop of ghostly harmonics, while the piano cycles through a rhythm of seventeen values, divided into a pattern of twenty-nine chords. This whirling solar system would take four hours to unfold its complete circuit of nested revolutions. But the movement lasts a mere two minutes — a sliver between two infinities.
— from a description of Quartet for the End of Time by Olivier Messiaen (1941) in Orfeo by Richard Powers (2014)
Landscape is the culture that contains all human culture
— Barry Lopez as quoted by John Luther Adams.


Image: Sunset in winter over Yellowstone Lake, Frank Walker, 1978, via NPS

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