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CLASSICAL  March 2005

CLASSICAL March 2005

Subject:

Re: Crumbs From The NPR Table

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 28 Feb 2005 16:37:01 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (47 lines)

Archimedes writes:

>In spite of the vociferous minority that, for reasons ultimately political,
>deplores the US Government's less than enthusiastic support for those
>aspects of Art and Education that relate to the things formerly enjoyed
>by the American educated elite --that is the intellectual elite, not the
>economic elite-- namely Classical music, Classical Art, Sculpture,
>Architecture, and Literature, I believe that the problem is a personal
>one, and the things we can do are all at the personal level.  You can't
>make schools teach things that the elected representatives of the people
>do not support.  It amounts to saying: the People should not control
>Education.  Think about it.  You might believe in it, but you cannot say
>it without looking like an idiot.  I say it, because I don't care, and
>around here I'm called "Idiot."

It seems to me that you're opening a door you don't want to open.  For
example, the Texas state legislature, in its wisdom, proclaimed, with
the force of law, the value of pi (the ratio of a circle's circumference
to its diameter) at 3, because multiplying by closer approximations was
too hard.  We also see the efforts of people to put Creation Science
(which isn't science) into public curricula.  I don't want to drive on
a bridge designed by someone who never learned to calculate.  I don't
want to be treated for disease by someone who has no idea what a scientific
test is.  Call me a snob.  In short, I don't believe education a sole
matter of familiarizing oneself with popular prejudices.  This sort of
thing has consequences, which we already see playing out.  Low math and
science scores put most American students, even from affluent districts,
behind their counterparts in India, Ireland, and any number of (apparently,
temporarily) poorer countries.  Where do you think jobs are going to go?
What will happen to the economy?

But that's just utilitarian concern.  If classical music has an
intellectual value, if it's something that expands our minds, we should
be able to articulate why it's good in itself, rather than a sign of
prestige, an entree into a higher economic level, or, to put it vulgarly,
a successful career.  I believe it good in itself, but I can't tell you
yet exactly why.  In some way, it affects the way I look at other things.
It makes my bullshit/crapola meter more sensitive.  It helps me spend
my day in a way that satisfies me.  I should say that I'm using "classical
music" as a counter for other things as well: serious art, serious
literature, serious music of all kinds.  I suppose I use these things
as a way of pursuing wisdom.  I'd rather know something than not know
it.  I tend to prefer resistance than instant absorption, because then
I have the pleasure of re-thinking.  I should also say that it sometimes
makes me unhappy, but that sadness too seems valuable.

Steve Schwartz

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