The Glass Bead Game and the Transmission of Civilization; Siegmund Levarie on Noise as the new barbarism

- Peter Myers, January 14, 2006; update December 9, 2017.

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(1) The Glass Bead Game and the Transmission of Civilization (2) Siegmund Levarie on Noise as the new barbarism

(1) The Glass Bead Game and the Transmission of Civilization

Peter Myers

Date (under the title Beyond Nihilism) 13 January 1995

Two novels written during the 1940s seem to be strangely prescient. The West breathed a sigh of relief in 1984 when it seemed that George Orwell's predictions had not been borne out. However, the relief may have been premature. The year 1984 was not itself the point (Orwell wrote the book in 1948, and simply reversed the last two digits). Now with the striking emergence of Newspeak and Thought Police, and the succession of the bipolar world of the Cold War by a tripolar one (Europe, Nafta and East Asia), Orwell's vision still haunts us.

Herman Hesse gained the Nobel Prize in 1946, in the main for his most important book, The Glass Bead Game, first published (in German) in 1943; it is also published under the title Magister Ludi.

It is set in the year 2400, but there is much looking back to our own century. It might be thought that Hesse is writing about his own time, but like Orwell he seems to be looking ahead, extrapolating the trends as he read them. This book predicts a cultural breakdown in the second half of the twentieth century. It is in two parts of this novel that Hesse speaks to us most directly: the General Introduction (at the front, a part of the novel), and From the Circular Letter (at the end of the novel, towards the end of Joseph Knecht's life). In the latter he writes, explaining a reluctance to talk about history.

Quotes from The Glass Bead Game, Holt Rinehart & Winston, New York 1969:

{p. 351}
The second reason we fight shy of history is our traditional and I would say valid distrust of a certain kind of history writing which was very popular in the age of decadence before the founding of our Order. A priori we have not the slightest confidence in that so-called philosophy of history of which Hegel is the most brilliant and also most dangerous representative. In the following century it led to the most repulsive distortion of history and destruction of all feeling for truth. To us, a bias for this sham philosophy of history is one of the principal factors of that era of intellectual debasement and vast political power struggles which we occasionally call the Century of Wars, but more often the Age of the Feuilleton. Our present culture, the Order and Castalia, arose out of the ruins of that age, out of the struggle with, and eventual defeat of its mentality - or insanity.

Hegel's philosophy of history is based on a war of civilizations; Marx' is derived from Hegel's, envisaging a war of classes; Lenin implemented a war of ethnicities (minorities vs the majority); the Radical Feminists' war of the sexes derives from Marx' and Lenin's. The danger, therefore, applies to all of these. Although writing in 1943, Hesse expected the ideological wars, and the decay of our culture, to last for decades.

The "Feuilleton" is the trivia served up in the media by so-called experts, purporting to be analysis. In the Age of the Feuilleton, Hesse says, the media served up trivialities 'by the millions ... They reported on, or rather "chatted" about, a thousand-and-one items of knowledge. ... A torrent of zealous scribbling poured out over every ephemeral incident and in quality, assortment, and phraeseology all this material bore the mark of mass goods rapidly and irresponsibly turned out.' (p. 21)

'It was ... an era emphatically "bourgeois" and given to almost untramelled individualism.' (p.18).

'... men came to enjoy an incredible degree of intellectual freedom, more than they could stand. For while they had overthrown the tutelage of the Church completely, and that of the State partially, they had not succeeded in formulating an authentic law they could respect, a genuinely new authority and legitimacy.' (p.19).

'They faced death, fear, pain and hunger almost without defences, could no longer accept the consolation of the churches, and could obtain no useful advice from Reason. ... They moved spasmodically on through life and had no belief in a tomorrow.' (p. 22)

Hesse thinks that the West, apart from returning to its roots, must now import culture from the East. 'They struggled through a deluge of isolated cultural facts and fragments of knowledge robbed of all meaning. ... they were already on the verge of that dreadful devaluation of the Word ... At the end of an era of apparent victory and success they found themselves suddenly confronting a void' (p. 23).

'... Even as intellectual ambitions and achievements declined rapidly during that period, intellectuals in particular were stricken by horrible doubts and a sense of despair. They had just fully realized ... that the youth and the creative period of our culture was over, that old age and twilight had set in.' (p. 23-4).

Yet 'there were everywhere individuals and small groups who had resolved to remain faithful to true culture and to devote all their energies to preserving for the future a core of good tradition, discipline, method, and intellectual rigor.' (p. 25)

'The Glass Bead Game contributed largely to the complete defeat of feuilletonism and to that newly awakened delight in strict mental exercises to which we owe the origin of a new, monastically austere intellectual discipline.' (p. 33; austere, but not puritanical).

'The young people who now proposed to devote themselves to intellectual studies no longer took them to mean attending a university and taking a nibble of this or that from the dainties offered by celebrated and loquacious professors who without authority offered them the crumbs of what had once been higher education.' (p. 33-34)

'But the paths to honors, riches, fame and luxury no longer led through lecture halls, academies and doctoral theses. The deeply debased intellectual professions were bankrupt in the world's eyes. But in compensation they had regained a fanatical and penitential devotion to art and thought.' (p. 34)

'.. a few generations of lax and unscrupulous intellectual discipline had also sufficed to inflict serious harm on practical life. Competence and responsibility had grown increasingly rare in all the higher professions ... ' (p. 35).

{end quotes from The Glass Bead Game}

(2) Siegmund Levarie on Noise as the new barbarism


by Siegmund Levarie

Levarie was Professor of Music at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

"Noise has emerged as the standard bearer of the forces rejecting civilization ... The new barbarism, with its pre-musical, precivilized worship of noise, glissando, and indistinct pitches, offers no vision and denies natural and artistic norms."

I heard Levarie give this talk during the 1990s, on ABC Radio National. I asked the ABC for a transcript, but they did not have one. Recently, I was able to contact Levarie through Earnest G. McClain, and Levarie kindly sent me a reprint copy of his article.

Critical Enquiry, Autumn 1977 Volume 4 Number 1; published by The University of Chicago Press.

{p. 21} Noise has become an increasingly noticeable and significant symptom of our civilization. Fundamentally an acoustical phenomenon, noise has wider implications. It is the legitimate object of scientific investigations in the fields of psychology and physiology. It can be properly evaluated by its role in music and in general aesthetics. It leads to basic questions of sociology. We shall pursue the implications in these various fields one by one. In this process as elsewhere music provides the bridge from facts (acoustics, psychology, physiology) to commitments (aesthetics, sociology).

Acoustics. - If we define sound as anything we can hear, then noise is the kind of sound that is disorderly. The orderly kind of sound is called tone. All sound is either the one or the other or a mixture of the two. The disorderly aspect of noise is very evident when we look at an oscillogram that is the visual transcription of the vibration underlying every sound. The line produced by noise is highly erratic whereas that of pure tone emerges as a perfect sine curve.

The main distinction between disorderly noise and orderly tone concerns pitch. The orderliness of the vibration bestows on tone an individually defined, discrete pitch, which noise lacks. The disorderliness of the vibration keeps noise undlifferentiated. Pitch can he exactly measured (by frequency or wavelength) and exactly reproduced, whereas noise can at best be estimated by approximation.

Otherwise all sounds - noise is well as tone - may be characterized by different degrees of loudness and different qualities of rone. Hence contrary to the common usage of the word, noise is not necessarily loud. There are soft noises: the turning of a page, distant footsteps, normal

{p. 22} breathing. Nor is noise necessarily grating. There are unaggressive noises: rustling silk, rubbing one's hands, a running brook.

In the sounding world around us, noise is far more common on than tone. Occasionally nature produces tones, as when the wind blows through a reed or a bird sings; but in general almost all natural sounds around us are noises. The production of tone, on the whole, requires a controlled situation. Tone is a human artefact brought about primarily by special "instruments" capable of creating regular vibrations. Elastic strings have proven extremely practical, but other materials and devices have given good service (pipes, electric currents, and others). Outside music, man produces tones as by-products of some organized activity: the clanging of a bowstring (as beautifully described at the beginning of the Iliad, the hitting of hammer against anvil, the striking of a clock. In human life, as in nature, noise is the common occurrence. Tone is an accomplishment.

Spoken language exemplifies well the mixture of noise and tone: all consonants are noises, and all vowels are tones. Hence singers are taught to sing on vowels (the differentiation among them which derives from timbre).

Psychology. - The basic biological factor determining our attitude towards sound is that we cannot close our ears. We cannot "listen away" as

{p. 23} we can look away. We are defenseless against sound. Usually we cannot even place an adequate barrier between us and the audible soulce of a sound; for sound, unlike light, casts no shadow. It goes around most obstacles. Our defenselessness concerns all sound, not only noise but also tone.

The threatening effect of sound on the human psyche has been well observed in the case of newborn infants, who display a very special kind of reflex, known as the Moro reflex, in response to any loud noise, to a jarring of the crib: "The infant lying on his back extends his arms forward, stiffens the lower extremities and contorts his face into a grimace; after a second or two he brings the arms slowly together into a sort of embrace, emits a cry and then gradually relaxes. The reflex normally persists for about a month or six weeks, being gradually replaced by the startle response shown by adults following a loudnoise like a pistol shot."

Studies of the Moro reflex have not distinguished, to my knowledge, between tone and noise - perhaps because the sounds in a lying ward are likely to be exclusively noise. One wishes that pediatric experiments be refined to determine whether such a distinction might be mirrored by the kind of reflex.2 In any case, the infant's reaction to sound differs significantly from its reaction to other stimuli. Before the end of the first week of life, the infant closes its eyelids when disturbed by some visual stimulation, and it withdraws in a most coordinated manner a painfully stimulated arm or leg. To auditory stimuli, howeer, it remains exposed.

This association between sound and the threatening outer world, early established, lies within the everyday experience of all of us. Our mature differentiation between noise and tone has a bearing on our enjoyment of listening to music. For while we remain defenseless before the power of any sound, the controlled presentation of orderly tones in a good composition obviates the primeval threat. The intelligible organization of music permits us to master and subsequently to enjoy the otherwise confusing and often irritating acoustical stimuli. Noise, on the other hand, evokes in adults and children alike a direct reflex action as if it were a signal of danger, or an unpleasant attack. Indicative in this regard is our immediate reaction, without inference or logical thought, to thunder and lightning. Although we know that lightning

{p. 24} may ignite our house and kill us, we really shudder, not at the dangerous flash, but at the accompanying noise of the harmess thunder. The very idiom "thunder and lightning" reverses the order of the physical event so that the terrifyingg emphasis lands on the word describing the sound. Similarly, according to reports by many Jews who, in Germany under Hitler, lived in continuous fear of being arrested, the sighting of a stormtrooper generated less instinctive fear than the ringing ot the doorbell. In Anne Frank's dramatized story, the threat of approaching footsteps provides the terrifying climax. During World War II the Germans tried to panic the Allied troops by extra noise producers attached to their dive bombers. This practice followed a long tradition, extending from primitive warriors to modern bayonet fighters, which adds the terIol of noise to the menace of the weapon.

Noise need not be loud in order to offend, although here as elsewhere the inherent quality is intensified by extremes (very high, very low, very loud, very soft). In periods of stress or preoccupation or concentration, even a very soft noise can provoke a startled response. A moment later one might smile at the apparently foolish overresponse, but one is psychologically justified in having felt attacked. Musicians know the distressing irritation caused by the smallest scratch on a phonograph record, or by a static on the radio, as if the minimal noise amidst controlled tones symbolized a fundamental aggression againt one's civilized status.

Physiology. - Just as noise assails our psyche, it also damages our hearing apparatus. Factory workers, among others, can attest to both psychic fatigue at the end of a day and physiological healing impairment at the end of their lives. According to current studies, deafness may be only one symptom in a wider syndrome caused by noise.

In 1960, Dr. Samuel Rosen, an otologist at Columbia University, organized an expedition to the Sudan to conduct a hearing survey of a population living in a relatively noise-free environment. He chose an area which until 1956 had been a "closed" one,

{quote} untouched by any foreign culture or civilization. ... It is primarily bush country surrounded bv swamps of the White Nile and contaills abundant game. It is accessible only during the dry season by truck or jeep over a narrow, rough dirt trail sometimes difficullt to find and to follow. In this isolated area live the Mabaans, a pre-nilotic, pagan, primitive, tribal people whose state of cultural development is the late Stone Age. The are a peaceful and quiet peope, living in small huts with straw-thatched roofs and bam-

{p. 25} boo sides. ... They have no guns, but hunt and fish with spears. They do not use drums in their dance and song but pluck a five-string lyre and beat a log with a stick. {endquote}

This musical merry-making of the youth was the only high-level noise recorded by the researchers during a two month period. Except for "the fleeting noises of domestic animals, few other sounds were sufficiently intense to yieldl a reading on the sound level meter."

Carefully set up audiometric and other medical tests confirmed the case against "noise as the critical factor in the differences in hearing with aging in various populations." In modern industrialized areas in the United States, hearing deteriorates in the natural course of aging. The primitive Mabaans, ranging in age from ten to ninety, "demonstrated better hearing in the high frequency with aging than [people] in similar studies of modern western civilization. ... There is a simultaneous presence of blood pressure elevation and high tone loss with aging in the United States. There is a simultaneous absence of eleated bIood pressure and high tone loss with aging in the Mabaans."

The auditory test results could have been predicted on the basis of the steep and noticeable increase of hearing aids even among middle-aged people in New York City. The established harmful effect of noise on blood pressure is likely to be paralleled by analogous findings in medical areas yet to be investigated.

Music. - Although music may utilize all available sounds, the proper building material of the art of music is tone. When we think of a piece - a popular tune or a Bach fugue - we identify it by its pitches, that is, precisely by that characteristic of sound that distinguishes tone from noise. The other sound qualities of loudness and timbre enter but remain dispensable. To evoke the "Star-spangled Banner," for instance, one does not first wonder whether it is hummed or trumpeted but rather how its opening line "goes." If I reproducce this line, another person will recognize it as an individual, particular experience defined by pitches.

Now the path from the unlimited world of sound to the discrete experience of a specific piece of music marks a long and complex accomplishment of civilized man. It involes spiritual as well as intellectual endeavors, all of them in the direction from random to order, from nature to art. The process is one of continued selection, or increasingly refined discrimination. At the beginning lies undifferrentiated sound; at the end, the art of music.

The diagram on page 26 sketches the main steps in the development from the infinite world of physical vibration to the finite world of musical tones.

In this process of repeated distillation, the left column shows the increasing purification; the right column, the nonmusical elements that are eliminated at each step. Just to distil sound from the rest of nature,

{p. 26} we first eliminate all those vibrations that we do not perceive because they lie above or below our senses (X rays, radio waves) or that we do not hear because their frequency is either too high (light) or too low (e g., a swing). From sound, we distil pitches, that is, tones, by eliminating noise. From the infinite number of possible pitches (as represented by the siren), we select discrete tones. And finally to reach a musical system - any musical system - we eliminate asystematic chance relations between tones and select systematically from among the discrete tones a certain nurnber with which to operate. In Western tradition, this number happens to be 12. Other numbers are possible. Whatever the musical system, however, it is inevitably reached by a similar selection process which successively rejects nonmusical elements in favor of musical.

From this final point of view, noise appears as a premusical element. Other phenomena that may be called premusical are continous pitch variation - that is, the siren or glissando in which individuated tones remain submerged - and asystematic chance relations of tones which deprive individuated tones of meaningful connections

The history of music, at least until recently, is a manifestation of musically meaningful tone relations. Before the Romanticism of the nineteenth century, noise instruments such as drums a cymbals were almost never prescribed by the composer. They existed, of course, and

{p. 27} were employed for particular purposes (such as marches, dances) but they never characterized the musical style of a period or composer. In the entire huge opus by Bach, there is not a single instance of a nondiscrete pitch. Timpani, when providing a desired element of percussive definition, are always marked by pitch. (So are the bells in the spurious cantata "Schlage doch," the only occurrence in the music of Bach of another percussion instrument.) Similarly Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven employ pitchless noise instruments only when deliberately evoking the barbarian: in occasional Turkish music in symphonies or in an opera like Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail.

The situation drastically changes in the Romantic style of the nineteenth century which must be considered a direct antecedent of many current trends. Realism, first at home in opera, demanded noise. Beethoven raises a storm in the Pastoral Symphony exclusively with instruments of defined pitch while producing the artful illusion of noise by an indistinct and quasi-disorderly mixture of tones in a low register. Comparable pieces by later composers utilize drums, wind machines, rattling chains, scratching metals, and hammer strokes.

The establishment of noise as a primary style characteristic can be read off the growing lists of noise instruments in twentieth-century scores. Highly typical in this respect is the work of Edgar Varese, a strong influence on generations of American composers growing up after the Second World War. His famous lonization, of 1931, is scored for thirty-nine percussion instruments without definite pitch, three percussion instruments with definite pitch, and two sirens.

The participation of sirens is significant. The glissando of a siren projects a theoretically infinite number of tones each one of which has lost individuality because of the almost instantaneous transition to its immediate neighbor .This lack of pitch definition places the sound of a siren psychologically closer to noise than to tone. It is the opposite of individuation, a continuous becoming, never an artistic being. Like noise, a siren is premusical (see fig. 2).

Aesthetics. - Individualized and individuating pitch accounts for the fundamental distinction between tone and noise. Yet in the world around us, the two aspects of sound are seldom, if ever, cleanly separated. Pure tone, that is, the acoustical counterpart of an exact sine curve, can be electrically produced in a laboratory. It may be approximated bv the vibration of a tuning fork. Otherwise all tones we hear contain some admixture of noise, particularly at the moment of attack. The complex mechanism of a piano, for instance, never completely eliminates the noise of the finger on the key, of the actions of the various levers against each other, and of the hammer against the string The best violinist cannot entirely free his tone production from some scratching of the bow against the string; the best flutist, from some wind escaping from his mouthpiece; the best timpanist, from some rapping of his sticks

{p. 28} againlst the memrane. A singer is bound to noise by the consonants of his text; among musical performers, he may have the best chance of approaching purity of tone in a vocalizalion such as a melisma, coloratula, or a piece expressly so composed (for instance, the "Chorus of Heaenly Spirits" in Spontini's opera Nurmahal, or Ravel's Volalise forme dÕHabanera).

The aesthetic criterion guiding performers is the elimination or, at least, maximal reduction of any noise. All technical training concentrates on how to minimize scratching, knocking, hissing, rasping, and grating. The aesthetic ideal, in short, is escape from noise toward tone. This purely practical process parallels the artful distillation demonstrated for the genesis of tone out of premusical elements. Tone becomes the final aesthetic accomplishment, while noise remains symptomatic of a more primitive stage transcended by evolving civilization.

The persistent admixture of noise to tone serves as a reminder of the imperfection of this material world. "Uns bleibt ein Erdenrest Zu tragen peinlich," Goethe complains at the end of Faust. "We are left to bear painfully an earthly remainder." Yet a positive lesson may also be drawn: absolute purity comes treacherously close to sterility. For the maintenance of life, bacteria are as essential as cleanliness. Music made with "sterilized" pure tones would have as limited an appeal as existence under an oxygen tent. The only such composition (of limited duration) in my experience appropriately accompanied an eerie fairy story in an illusive silvery puppet theater.

The opposite process, namely, the recognition of the presence of tone in every noise, is also possible. Analysis of sound, developed by the French scientist J . B. J . Fourier around 1800, shows that every sound can be dissected into an unlimited number of sine waves, that is, tones, of varying frequencies. No matter what the noise, it can be understood as a superposed conglomeration of tone "clusters." Unlike the presence of noise in tone which could be ideally eliminated, the presence of tone in noise is fundamental. Noise can be decomposed into tone, but the flow is not reversible. Noise is the primary, natural, disorderly phenomenon. It becomes the remainder in the refined, artistic, orderly genesis of tone.

For the production of music, noise, unlike tone, is not essential but may serve it as, in terms of evolution, a tamed animal serves man. Noise, though inadequate to create a musical system, may add spice to a composition. Thus it has been used - apart from the cleliberate barbalism of Turkish music - throughout most of music history. In dance music, percussion instruments mark the characteristic beat and add luster to the tune. In Richald Wagner's overture to Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg (to give just one example), a soft triangle stroke distinguishes the artful combination of three themes at the moment of return to the tonic C major: and a rousing loud cymbal clash, the climactic final cadence. In these as in countless similar instances, noise, always subordinated to

{p. 29} tone, affects us like a lion in a cage. It provides excitement without danger. In the coexistence of noise and tone, aesthetic value derives from the preponderance of one over the other.

Sociology. - In recent decades, noise has broken out of the cage. It dominates the contemporary scene outside and inside the concert hall. Together with the siren, it has become the most noticeable symptom of modern life. Electric appliances, crowded stores and supermarkets, factory machines, automobiles, trains, airplanes - whatever the technological gain, the concomitant phenomenon and the price we pay for it is noise, and usually at a high degree of loudness. Our spontaneous reaction to the howling of a siren, the acoustical symbol for dynamism run wild, is utilized by the alarm signals of fire engines, police cars, ambulances, and air-raid drills. Has the intended shock worn off so that we accept the wailing factory siren as a substitute for the noon bells of a church? Under the impact of noise and sirens, our health and elementary reactions to acoustical events and acoustically deeply rooted symbols seem to be vanishing. Only occasionally some feeling for fundamentals still prevails - usually on a subconscious level - as in the identification of the all-clear signal with a steady tone. Similarly amidst the confusing and inherently threatening noise of a traffic crossing, the reassuring horn tones of a honking car admonish us to collect our wits. The overpowering attack by noise on a defenseless population has evoked an increasing number of protective anti-noise laws in various cities, states, and countries.

In music, too, noise and glissando, for the first time in civilized history, have assumed the role of a primary style characteristic. They have affected alike popular entertainment and avant-garde sophistication. Compared to the language of systematic tonal relationships, there is no difference between, on one side of the social spectrum, the gross brass slides and loud drum batteries in a dance hall and, on the other, the relatively pleasant and soft sound of a vibrating gong submerging in a bucket of water. The overall popularity of noise instruments is reflected, among other symptoms, in the recent quanltitative and qualitative superiority of a percussion program at a leading New York college over other instrumental instruction.

What are the possible reasons for the ascendancy of noise in our society? How can we interpret it? It signifies a particular kind of rebellion. We have established the acoustical and musical facts according to which a system built on musically meaningful tone relations represents the end product of a long and artful selection process. To arrive at it, many elements had to be eliminated, among them noise. The result of the selection process marks an accomplishment of civilized man; for civilization may be defined as a willingness to accept limitations, and within the infinite world of sounds, any tone system signifies a voluntary limitation. In this sense, a creative artist is essentially always civilized, for

{p. 30} he cannot work without some kind of limitation. A citizen is civilized if he understands that the alternative to limitation is chaos and anarchy.

By contrast, any deliberate repudiatng of accomplishments of civilization and voluntary returning to a precivilized state denotes an act of rebellious barbarianism. Rebellions are sometimes necessary. They can produce positive results when a justified need for change replaces the old order, not by anarchy, but by a new order. Such was the case in the American Revolution. Music history, too, records various "revolts." We read that the secular uprising of the ars nova of the fourteenth century was condemned in a papal bull because of its depravity, wantonness, irregularity, and excess. Around the year 1600, the crumbling confines of an earlier practice were overthrown by a group of composers in the north of Italy, whose new aesthetic principles were in turn interpreted by musicians of the next generation as "deformations of nature and propriety." None of these and other revolutionary efforts, however, relapsed into disorder because each in its own way accepted as a basis for further operations the artistic accomplishments of discrete tone and some ordered system. The development of music (and of good art in general) has been identical with that of civilized man.

Today, however, the rebellious departure from traditional music is one of principle. It began with Arnold Schonberg's attack, in the early decades of the century, not on discrete tones, but on natural tone relationships and proportions. Since then, for the first time in history, an irruption of the irrational has openly declared musical proportion, and order to be without value. Noise and other phenomena eliminated on the long path from chaotic sound to civilized music are claimed to be essential. The inarticulate and the unformed have been elevated to aesthetic standards.

Noise has emerged as the standard bearer of the forces rejecting civilization. Barbarianism has always existed, but never before has it been held up as a model to aspire to. The function of barbariarism in our society was predicted and described in 1930 by Ortega v Gasset: "The characteristic of the hour is that the commonplace mind, knowing itself to be commonplace, has the assurace to proclaim the rights of the commonplace and to impose them wherever it will." A decade before him, Karl Kraus had written: "A culture ends when the barbarians break out of it."

The eruption of noise in contemporary music has been claimed to be "good" on the grounds that it is an expression of our time. If it be true that art should mirror its time, it must by no means mirror only the external and existent. The mirror should also reflect human aspirations and their wellsprings. The art of great epochs has fulfilled this function

{p. 31} above all others. Greek art reflects not so much the actual Greek of the time as a certain elevated aspect of the Greek soul. The Romantic postulate, that the artist's works are identical with his life, is clearIy at variimce with fact. One need not boast about "expressing one's time." The secular, physical person is only half the man; and of this half, biography renders account. Art is much more the record of that other, invisible part of him. It provides those energies which shape the most precious parts of ourselves. For above all, the task of art is to show a way. In medieval terms, it is anagogic. Where art is concerned, one may safely ignore all concern for being timely. The new barbarism, with its pre-musical, precivilized worship of noise, glissando, and indistinct pitches, offers no vision and denies natural and artistic norms. It is like screaming during a catastrophe - an occupation that is neither musical nor artful. The responsible reaction is to try to recognize noise for what it is and to assess it accordingly. {end}

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