Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Accompanist

The Accompanist
          I went out for a walk on a beautiful, sunny December day, onto "The Bluffs", which are in my back yard on Galiano Island. On the way up the hill, through the old growth, to the crest of The Bluffs, to where the panorama of the Gulf Islands, westward to Vancouver Island is suddenly revealed, with the music of Pachelbel’s “Magnificat” swirling through my imagination, conducted by me, at my own walking pace, by happy co-incidence, I met Will Guthrie, the Accompanist to our Coro Galiano, which choir had so recently sung in concert, Pachelbel's same "Magnificat". How great it is to walk freely on the face of the earth with the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and the gorgeous Baroque harmonies playing for my imagination. I can greet my neighbor and accompanist with an open smile, and share the freedom of the music.
          I have walked this path to The Bluffs before.  One walk was to heal my bruised spirit after having been brusquely and emphatically silenced by a woman, whose pristine leftist correctness had compelled her to invalidate my contrary opinions on restrictive and cloistered dress codes for women in the twenty first century, in particular, Islamic Fundamentalist, Wahabist fetishization of the entire female body by way of complete covering, including "niqab".
          What does this have to do with a baroque composer and a classical accompanist, a piano man? It has everything to do with it, for on that day of taking a walk to soothe the spirit, after the previous leftist feminist had pronounced my point of view invalid due to the accident of my birth (as a so-called "white", "western", "christian" woman), I had asked myself, how is it that "A Hitler” can come to power? How is it? It is, I concluded, because we let him. My own ineffectiveness and hesitance, my fear of being marginalized for having a contrary opinion, was what kept me inarticulate in the face of this anti-social political correctness, taking the form of "cultural relativism".
          As I passed Mr. Guthrie on the path, I smiled and said "Hello". We both agreed, Pachelbel's "Magnificat" is a tune that sticks in the imagination. Here I was, a Canadian woman, out for a walk, by myself, in the middle of the day, uncovered but for shoes, socks, underwear, dark, warm leggings, a large sweater and a zipper jacket with a hoodie which I chose to wear off my head, as the mildness of the day made it too hot to wear covering over my hair. I thought “How fortunate, I can greet my neighbour, a man who is not a relative, while I am out walking, on my own recognizance, chaperoneless, and nothing bad happens!”  All of my living male relatives would be younger than I, anyway, for at this point in the unfolding of our generations, I am the matriarch, so how else could I take a walk on my own recognizance?  The last time I checked in, my motives for a walk were not prurient.
          When my very correct leftist friend had so thoroughly scolded me for not holding to the dogma of “free choice” to buy into the fetish of "covering", she had made it clear that the reason my point of view was completely invalid was because I am a western, "white" woman, (never mind my patrilineage in Georgian peasantry, that is ,Georgia by the Caspian Sea).  I recall once hearing a political speaker denounce the “visible minority” label, characterizing it as ultimately racist, asking which scale of visible “colour” these ideologues (of “visible minorities”) were using for their comparison. 
          Two other experiences with "western" classical music and leftist correctness come to mind. Once I read an essay written by a Canadian woman writer (whose patrilineage happened to be Ukrainian). This writer has a way of making tedious and inelegant, obtuse references to the "fact" of her supposed working-class gaze, a tedium that can be downright embarrassing, if not enough to make one run screaming from the proverbial building. This supposed working class bias is hedged in a disingenuousness, the writing peppered with allusions to Marxism and the supposedly innocent and clear gaze of the working class. Probably only in the DRNK could workers be so downright innocent and uncorrupted in the naiveté of their clean and socialistly pure observations of the rotting, old, clunking-to-its’-dying-destiny, culture of "the rich". In this leftist bias that sees all things Western as justifiably doomed, not only the niqab fetish covering is championed as a symbol of the emancipation of women, yea, verily, Western music, especially classical forms, are relegated to history's dustbin. So where Islamic fundamentalists would ban all music but chanted prayers to Allah, the properly correct leftist writer dismissed Mozart, Boccerini, Vivaldi et al as discordant and wooden sounding to her properly tin working class ear. In a world where niqab fetish is a mark of opposition to western/capialist/usimperialist oppression and corruption, the silencing of choirs and orchestras for their bourgeois influence cannot be far behind.
          Second time for me a properly correct leftist revealed the probable demise of beauty under fundamentalist rigor was in 1979.  I had joined some politically active friends in celebrating the ouster of the Shah Palevi from Iran. The activists presented a film made by Iranian activists depicting the history of the struggles of the people of Iran for political progress, presumably, democracy. After the film, a "comrade" commented that he liked the film, but he could do without the "Beethoven" sound track. Beethoven? I wondered? Oh, that soundtrack over the documenting of the ongoing struggle the Iranians with the forces of reaction, THAT Beethoven! THAT was G F. Handel's "Sarabande in D. Minor"!
          I can buy into the “choice” of a pious woman to cover her face.  I wonder, however, how that can become law for all women and girls, regardless of their religious persuasion, which apparently it is in some locales?  Under cover of multicultural inclusiveness, can we look forward to the eventual exclusion of all things "beethovenish" along with the getting rid of prurient dalliances of greetings between unrelated members of the two opposing sexes along forest pathways in broad daylight?