Believing things to be true because one wishes them to be true is a prime malady of the human condition. It is an opposite of objectivity, reflecting a shortfall of intellectual honesty. It has led to wars, famines and other guarantors of human suffering.
Meditation for Monday of Week 06 in the season of Dormancy
Long before we get to Love, we may have to rid ourselves of any malevolent feelings. These are unhealthy emotional states toward others, or toward the self.
The corresponding emotion for the first level in the development of interpersonal relationships is the absence of malevolent intent. Conceptually, it represents the first level of development but in practice it can require the skills of a spiritually mature person, especially if malevolent feelings are habitual and longstanding.
As with all the values at each of the levels of attainment, they are not predictable by age. A three-year-old can exhibit generosity while an eighty-year-old lives out the remainder of a life of tightfistedness. Germany would have been far better served by leadership from Anne Frank than by Hitler’s misrule. Small children have shown themselves to be capable of heroic acts. Most aspects of spiritual attainment can come at any age, which is not to say that a lifetime of good spiritual practice does not yield benefits and rewards. This proves beyond a doubt that we are capable of high levels of spiritual attainment from an early age. If we ever reach a social state in which we have eradicated harmful influences and have established sound spiritual training and practices throughout our populations from an early age, we can create a world like none we have ever known or scarcely could imagine.
- Joseph Conrad, The Duel (1908).
Film and Stage
- The Duellists, in which a military general bears no animosity toward a fellow general, who has gone mad and tried to kill him
- a gang of juvenile delinquents, whose sole redeeming quality is their apparent devotion to one another”, offers “a brutal and unrelenting picture of poverty and juvenile crime” (The Young and the Damned): this film, about “
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Scott Ordway, The Outer Edge of Youth (2020) (approx. 80-85 minutes): “Written as a response to the toxic masculinity in our culture, Ordway's libretto deals with questions of love and friendship, the astonishing beauty of nature―and the tension between the immobilizing idealism of youth and an adult world rife with pain, inequality, and injustice.” The composer explains: “I have sought to create a work that focuses on the inner lives of boys and young men as I experienced boyhood myself: quietly, observantly, disinclined to violence, competition, and confrontation, in love with language and sound, at odds with other boys, desperately searching for beauty, and at the edge of a dark and mysterious forest (in my case, literally, the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Northern California). The opera does not focus on deeds, actions, or accomplishments. Instead, it celebrates the imaginative world of two young boys who think, and discuss, and feel.”
William Lawes (1602-45) composed sedate, mournful-sounding music, mainly for consorts, which conveyed empathy for human suffering and an implicit desire to avoid it. Albums of his music include:
- Jordi Savall & Hespèrion XXI, “Consort sets in 5 and 6 parts” (2001) (115’)
- Fretwork, “The Consort setts for 5 and 6 viols and organ” (2002) (130’)
- Il Caleidoscopio Ensemble, “New Old Albion: Music Around the Harp Consorts of William Lawes” (2016) (61’)
- Rose Consort of Viols, “Consort Music For Viols, Lutes & Theorbos” (1996) (98’)
- Phantasm, “Consorts to the Organ” (2012) (98’)
- Sophie Gent, et. al., “The Passion of Musicke” (2012) (61’)
Finnish composer Selim Gustaf Adolf Palmgren composed a substantial body of small piano pieces, many of them after Finnish folk songs. They are uniformly innocuous, and pleasant. Pianist Jouni Somero has championed Palmgren's work on the Grand Piano label (427’, through six volumes).
- William Brade, Hamburger Ratsmusik um 1600 (consort music) (approx. 50’)
- Hans Gál, Suite for Piano, Op. 24 (1922) (approx. 14-15’)
Albums, from the quirky-dark side: Nicki Leighton-Thomas, is a jazz singer with “wary, sardonic tone, sometimes touched with a curious tenderness”. Her voice has a child-like quality but the lyrics in the songs she chooses are distinctly adult, with an edge. Her albums include:
- “Forbidden Games” (2001) (49’)
- “The New Enzyme Detergent Demise” (2017) (35’)
- “One Good Scandal” (2022) (47’): “Nicki Leighton-Thomas now has enough experience to handle the darker side of Landesman’s lyrics, as evidenced on ‘Depravity’ in partnership this time with Steve Waterman’s resigned and melancholy trumpet. Nicki’s vocals embrace Landesman’s lyrics with pathos, joy, sorrow and resignation, and even a little optimism and levity on ‘This Little Love Of Ours’, with the music provided by on this occasion by Tommy Wolf and performed with just the rhythm section.”