Law and Music
While gazing at the blank computer screen, that phrase popped into my head. Should I follow up? Is it another cryptic memo from Petey? Or is it just craptic noise? Only one way to find out.
As an aside, I was very much influenced by Herman Hesse's Glass Bead Game (AKA Magister Ludi), even though I don't think I understood a word of it. But I did understand the description of what the book was supposed to be about, and that was enough.
This experimental novel "is set in a 23rd-century utopia in which the intellectual elite have distilled all available knowledge of math, music, science, and art into an elaborately coded game." Just like here in Upper Tonga.
Another review says the book is an intricate bildungsroman....
Excuse me. Bildungsroman?
Ah: "a novel dealing with one person's formative years or spiritual education." As if I didn't know that.
Anyway, as I was saying, Magister Ludi was a big part of my own intricate bildungsroman. It is "about humanity's eternal quest for enlightenment and for synthesis of the intellectual and the participatory life.... Since childhood, [the protagonist] has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy. This he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game)."
So, the folks who play the game realize that all truth is related, and that it is indeed One Cosmos after all. And although I didn't understand the book, I've been playing the game ever since. It goes like this: take two subjects or disciplines that appear to have nothing to do with each other, and show how they are related. I do it all the time. Or, maybe I can't help doing it.
So, the whispered fragment "law and music" is like an invitation to play the game. Or maybe a taunt. In any event, it doesn't mean I'll win the game. After all, if the outcome were known, it wouldn't be much of a game, would it?
It says here in Law and Revolution that "the most significant difference between Roman law" and law as it later developed in Christendom is that the former, "with certain rare exceptions, was treated as finished, immutable, to be reinterpreted but not changed."
In contrast, the canon law of the Church, for example, "had a quality of organic development, of conscious growth over generations and centuries." "This gave it a somewhat disorderly character," whereas Roman law was nothing if not ordered.
Applying a musical analogy, we can say that the Christian development of law was much more jazzy and swingin', whereas Roman law was staid, static, and predictable.
But of course, it's always a balance of complementaries, isn't it? At the opposite extreme from Roman law is Obama-style lawlessness, whereby the law is so flexible that it is anything he wants it to be.
But even Obama always obeys the law in a rigid manner. It's just a question of deducing the law he obeys and the tune to which he is dancing. For example, what is the ancient law that makes him treat Prime Minister Netanyahu in the hateful manner he does? It is not any explicit "law of the land" -- being that this is a deeply philo-Semitic land -- but rather, an implicit law that governs the squalid precincts of his soul.
Whatever it is, it is very rigid and not subject to learning via experience. One could say the same of his warm feelings for Islam, which seem to be insulated from the influence of any real-world behavior of Muslims. Thus, as of yesterday, the Taliban is not a terrorist group, just an armed insurgency, like the Continental Army.
So you can see that Obama plays his own twisted version of the Glass Bead Game whereby he proves to himself that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." He is indeed an "intellectual," a word that does not imply any quality of the thought.
Rather, as Sowell describes it, an intellectual is simply a person who deals in ideas, whether we're talking about someone as brilliant as Thomas Aquinas or someone as retarded as Thomas Friedman or Charles Blow. Being that most ideas are bad ones, most intellectuals are therefore harmful, in particular, if their ideas should be put into practice via politics.
Everyone talks about the "separation of church and state," which, despite the hypertrophied vertical hostility of its votaries, at least reflects a kernel of truth, in that problems arise when terrestrial and celestial powers converge in the same person or institution. This salutary principle found its first historical instantiation with the idea that the Pope is the Pope and the King is the King: two heads of two hierarchies.
Few people, however, talk about the separation of ideology and state. But since leftism is a secular religion, my own glass bead game long ago led to the recognition that the consequences of their fusion are worse even than the convergence of church and state, since it redounds to the consolidation -- the re-fusion -- of unalloyed power unleavened by a trace of spiritual truth.
This is why the politico-media or the university-politico complexes are so destructive of our liberty. It is as if they play an outwardly improvisatory melody rooted in pure expedience, all the while dancing to a predictable Marxian tune.
Consider the movie critic Howard Dean, who makes the outwardly insane observation that the people who like The Sniper are just angry and hateful tea-partiers. But the comment makes perfect sense from a Marxian class warfare perspective. The latter is Dean's "higher law," even though it makes his utterances sound like chaotically insane word salad to us.
More generally, the left masks its power under the form of chaos. It is like compulsory chaos, if you like. For example, a ruling just came down in California that judges are not permitted to be members of the Boy Scouts. Why? Because the latter would prefer to conform to the eternal vertical order, and not have members who might be posing as Boy Scouts while scouting for boys. Being that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, the freedom-loving Boy Scouts are just homophobic terrorists.
Back to music. Now, music cannot actually be static, in the sense that it is always deployed in time. But it can be repetitive, like an Obama speech or a troll comment. Berman describes how, as the seeds of Christian moral intuitions began sprouting in history, "a new sense of time" appeared, and with it, a "new sense of mission to reform the world. A relatively static view of political society was replaced by a more dynamic view."
Politics is always about order, but here we see a radically new conception of order, which is oriented toward an open future, instead of the future being foreclosed by the repetitions of the past. Note that those living in the old order will resist the new order, either because of fear, or inadequacy, or settled habit, or because it threatens the legitimacy of their power, which is rooted in custom and tradition.
Here again, we're talking about a repetitious tune grounded in some self-serving murky-mythic encounter with ultimate authority, vs. a new reality in which we are at liberty to compose our own damn melody, free of the state's tedious ditty blaring in our ears.
"In the twelfth century there appeared the first European historians who saw the history of the West as moving from the past, through stages, into a new future." The Christian "yearns ardently," in the words of Peter Brown (in Berman), "for a country that is always distant but made ever present by the quality of his love and hope."
The leftist flatlander collapses this love and hope into the now, and as we all know, "Attempts to create heaven on earth invariably produce hell."
Brown also suggests that the great disentanglement of secular and spiritual was analogous to nuclear fission, accounting for the tremendous "release of energy and creativity" that followed. Which is why America quickly became the most energetic and creative nation. And which is why we should be every bit as frightened of the left's attempts at nuclear fusion as the Mullah's efforts at nuclear fission.
Well, we didn't get too far with the music side of the game. We'll end today with a quote by Zuckerkandl:
How is music possible?.... [W]hat must the world be like, what must I be like, if between me and the world the phenomenon of music can occur? How must I consider the world, how must I consider myself, if I am to understand the reality of music?