The View from These United States

24 Feb

The weekly babbling brook of consciousness — music, videos, writings, projects, and people — that keep TUS tapping out tunes of their own.

This week, J. Tom on how various art forms express the inexpressible.

David Denby’s article on silent cinema in this week’s New Yorker is one of the best pieces on film I’ve read in a long time. In it, he quotes Béla Balázs:

The gestures of visual man [i.e., the film actor] are not intended to convey concepts which can be expressed in words, but such inner experiences, such non-rational emotions which would still remain unexpressed when everything that can be told has been told.

Somewhat ironically, on the other side of the spectrum, these “non-rational emotions” are the same ideals that can be expressed through pure sound…music. To quote Aaron Copland:

The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, ‘Is there a meaning to music?’ My answer would be, ‘Yes.’ And ‘Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?’ My answer to that would be, ‘No.’

So, as a tribute to two masters of expressing the ineffable…one of my favorite scenes from Buster Keaton’s incomparable “The General” (pay particular attention to the bit starting at 1:20)


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