By David Eaton
Beauty has a transcendent aspect and whether we experience beauty through nature, or art, or through human relationships, we can be uplifted by beauty and attain a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Parent and with each other as brothers and sisters. In this sense the aesthetic beauty of art in general, and music in particular, can be considered religious.
Regarding the true spirit of artistic creativity, we read in Cheon Seong Gyeong, Book 10, Ch. 3:
The ultimate goal of artists, and those who work with the arts, is to reach the world of God’s heart … God’s ideal of creation for the created world arose from that heart. The starting point of art is the desire to represent that heart.
Accordingly, in the world of art there are no national boundaries. The purpose of art is not to serve as a tool of an ideology or an agenda. Its fundamental principles are harmony and unity. Divisiveness and conflict are fruits of fallen nature. Therefore the world of art demonstrates universal characteristics in all directions, bringing the East to understand the West and the West to accept the East.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon often said that “music and religion go hand in hand.” The word “religion” stems from the Latin ligare, which means “to bind.” Religion, then, is a process or method by which we can “re-bind” to God. Implicit in this explanation is the idea that at one point God and humankind were not separated and religion became a way to “re-bind” Heavenly Parent with the children who were separated due to the human fall.
Scripture also reminds us that all creation “groans in travail” awaiting the revealing of the children of God and the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:19-23). Attaining the Three Blessings and going the way of restoration is the means by which we can “re-bind” with Heavenly Parent and bring the creative process out of Lucifer’s domain and back to its rightful and godly position and purpose. Because Lucifer usurped creativity’s true purpose in Eden by way of false love, many artists have been similarly seduced by false attitudes regarding their creative gifts, and this has resulted in immorality, self-aggrandizement and selfishness in the artistic sphere for thousands of years. Rev. Moon often mentioned these pitfalls in various meetings with artists.
According to the beauty, truth and goodness paradigm described in the Divine Principle, it is important to assess art in three ways: aesthetically (beauty), intellectually (truth), and axiologically (goodness). Axiology is the study of values: specifically morality and ethics. Too often in contemporary society there is a tendency to overlook the axiological aspect of art.
In her memoir, True Mother, Mrs. Hak Ja Han, mentions that art and culture are more powerful than politics in their ability to bring about societal change. Her view resonates with the views of the ancient philosophers of China, Greece, Israel, and early Christianity in Europe. Art can have “moral power” and artists need to understand that what they create and put before the public has consequences. Music historian Richard Taruskin makes the point that “music is a powerful form of persuasion,” and that “serious art possesses an ethical force and exacts ethical responsibilities.” In this context, the role of the artist in the creation of a culture of peace is no small matter. Artists do not create in a social vacuum; therefore, they ought to take into account how their art affects the communities in which they live and work.
It is fairly well known that the philosophers of ancient Greece understood the “moral power” of the arts as it pertained to creating an ethical society. Damon of Athens, son of Damonides, was one of the first Greek philosophers to study the effects of music on our psyche—psychoacoustics in modern terminology—as well as the social and political consequences of music. Plato cites Damon’s concerns about the influence of music in The Republic:
The care of the governors should be directed to preserve music and gymnastics from innovation; alter the songs of a country, Damon says, and you will soon end by altering laws. The change appears innocent at first, and begins in play, but evil soon becomes serious, working secretly upon the characteristics of individuals, then upon the social and commercial relations, and lastly upon the institutions of the state; and there is ruin and confusion everywhere.
Socrates expressed concern about how music could have the effect of “rendering people susceptible to beliefs and actions that are morally bad.” In Poetics, Aristotle observes:
Rhythm and melody supply imitations of anger and gentleness, and also of courage and temperance, and all of the qualities contrary to these, and of the other qualities of character, which hardly fall short of the actual affectations, as we know from our own experiences, for in listening to such strains our souls undergo change.
Moreover, Aristotle proffered that music “awakes the remote counsel, brings closer the stray thought, and strengthens the tired mind. Music, therefore, causes the return of that which was lost; it makes us pay attention to that which was neglected, and that which is turbid becomes clear.” In the context of “that which was lost,” as Unificationists we understand that the loss of the true purpose of human creativity requires a “re-binding” to the original ideal of creation and the harmonization of emotion, intellect and will. Consequently, our artistic endeavors ought to take into account the “goodness” aspect of creativity in our attempts to influence and edify others with regard to the tenets of Unification and Godism.
In our contemporary culture we can see how unfettering art from moral and ethical connotations has led to various artistic expressions that a few short decades ago would have been considered objectionable, but are now considered acceptable. The loosening of moral standards has had the effect of normalizing decadence and lowest-common denominator values in the pursuit of commercial success. Most popular music has been “objectified” by the recording industry and is viewed primarily as a commodity to be marketed and sold for profit. In many instances the intrinsic spirituality of music has been diminished or removed altogether. As a result, our popular culture has become increasingly coarse, far less enlightened and lacking redeeming values. Objectifying art in this manner is not unlike pornography that objectifies sexuality, thereby removing its divine purpose and reducing it to being a purely physical dimension in order to sell it for profit.
What might not be so well known, especially in the West, is that the Chinese philosophers of antiquity held views that were similar to those of the Greek philosophers with regard to the moral power of the arts and the role of artists in society. In the Analects of Confucius we find several insightful references to music and morality:
If a person be without the virtues proper to goodness,
what has he to do with the rites of propriety?
If a person be without the virtues proper to goodness,
what has he to do with music?
Also from the Analects:
There are three types of delights that improve you, and three types of delights that diminish you. To delight in li and music, to delight in speaking of others’ good points, to delight in having many worthy friends—these improve you. To delight in arrogant pleasures, to delight in idle wanderings, to delight in banquet parties—these diminish you.
In Confucian terminology, li refers to propriety, ritual or rites. Propriety can have several meanings including modesty, politeness, respectability, and decency. These attributes were considered important in the development of one’s character and in becoming a respectable person. Music in ancient China was viewed as an important aspect in the development of an individual’s character and thus a means for establishing a moral and ethical society, as well as modes of good governance. For Confucius, taking egotism out of ritual “brought out its profound spiritual and moral potential,” thus making it possible for even the common man to become a junzi (gentleman or superior man) who had developed to his fullest capacity
Other ancient Chinese texts offer corroborative views regarding music: its usage, its ethical connotations and its origins. The ancient Chinese text, The Memorial of Music, states:
Therefore it is, that when music is generally taught, the duties of the five relations [as defined by Confucian thought] are thoroughly comprehended; the ears and eyes are quick and penetrating; the animal spirits and the emotional nature are in perfect calm; public manners and customs are reformed, and the whole empire enjoys profound tranquility.
For the Chinese of antiquity, the connection of music with the ordering principles of physical laws and metaphysical ideals was considered important due to the belief that the same laws and principles contained within music and sound production were present in the celestial order that governed the entire universe. Those who possess even a cursory understanding of the Chinese philosophical tome the I Ching understand that the Taoist axiom of harmonizing the polarities of yang and yin is one of its central tenets. The fusion of Taoist principles and Confucian ethics would give rise to various rationales that guided the Chinese in matters of art and social governance.
The author with singer-songwriter Ahan Woo, with whom he has been collaborating on several projects over the past year in Korea.
The issue of political and social governance with regard to music was of great concern to Lu Bu Wei (291-235 BC), a politician in the Qin region of China. He wrote extensively on the matter of music and its effects on society and governance. In his Spring and Autumn Annals he writes:
The will of people living in an area can be known by examining the customs that prevail there. And their virtues can be known by examining their will. Whether a state will become prosperous or face its downfall, whether its sovereign is sensible or unworthy, and whether a person is honorable or base, can all be known by the music they enjoy.
This perspective echoes that of Damon of Athens with regard to a society’s moral and ethical well-being and the music within its culture. Wei goes on to say:
Music is a product of the heart. When the heart is moved, the feelings can also be reflected by harmonious sounds. And when a harmonious tune is heard, the heart can also be touched by it. Hence, the customs of an area can be known by examining its tunes. … When their virtues are well cultivated, they can compose music. If the tunes composed are harmonious, they will resonate pleasantly, and they can edify and direct the common people to pursue Tao.
Tao in Chinese philosophy means “path” or “the way” and is usually associated with the beliefs that can edify and guide a person toward living a virtuous life. Tao is considered to be the natural order of the universe and one must discern through intuition the proper “way” to live one’s life in order to realize the potential for individual wisdom. This intuitive knowledge of life cannot be grasped as a concept; it is gained through the actual living experience of one’s everyday being. This concept aligns with “Godism” as explained in Book 10 of Cheon Seong Gyeong. The “ism” in Godism means “way of living,” thus living in accordance with axiological tenets as defined by the Divine Principle and Unification Thought is “the way” to attain our true authentic self. For artists it becomes “the path” to discover their authentic muse—their artistic Tao.
Too often we discuss issues of governance, education, commerce, the arts, and journalism according to the ideological perspectives of “left” or “right,” when we ought to be more concerned with “higher” and “lower” virtues and values. As the ancient cultures of both the East and West instruct, there should be serious consideration given to the true purpose of art and culture in relation to creating a moral and ethical society. This begins with a belief that God exists and God’s ultimate purpose is love.
Art that is created in that spirit and with that intention—combined with highly developed technique and aesthetic sensibilities—can be art that moves the soul and opens one’s consciousness to a higher love. In that way, artistic achievement can facilitate greater harmony between the cultures of East and West in accordance with True Mother’s desire to create Hyo Jeong culture. With the recent creation of the International Artists Association of Culture and Peace (IAACP) as one of the pillars in the UPF sphere, the issue of artistic integrity will become an important aspect in the quest to establish a culture of peace.♦
David Eaton has been the music director of the New York City Symphony since 1985 and is currently an artist-in-residence in Korea serving as the Director of Music at the Hyo Jeong Cultural Foundation and conductor of the newly-formed Hyo Jeong Youth Orchestra. He received an honorary doctorate degree from Unification Theological Seminary in 2016.
It is fascinating, as you, David, clearly point out, how the moral or transformational power of music has been known to man in different cultures for ages already. Yet it is sad that we seem to lose that understanding so quickly and easily. Popular music was more refined, both musically and lyrically a mere 7 decades ago. Of course there were the odd lyrics with questionable innuendo, but the mainstream music was relatively clean. The arrangements had a clear aim to create beauty, and the listener, the consumer, was able to appreciate that beauty.
Was it the audience that changed, demanding music of “lower” virtues and values? Or was it the music industry that objectified popular music, viewing it primarily as a commodity to be marketed and sold for profit? Probably both are true. A Last Days phenomenon…?
The task is vast; on the one hand the artist should be so aware of God’s heart as not to let any garbage out. On the other hand we should be able to educate the listener to appreciate art of “higher virtues and values”. Talk about swimming upstream!
Young people are the mass consumers of music, and they mostly go by feeling. It takes a lot of maturity to analyse one’s own musical taste and the moral implications thereof. Is there a way to speed up that process of maturing? As it is now, many young people just gobble down popular music as if it were junk food, unaware of its unhealthy effects. (Sadly, it’s not only the youth — there are many adults who refuse to grow up… but that’s another story)
In any case, the historical/philosophical cornerstones of bygone thinkers that you presented above are an excellent groundwork for the work that needs to happen to purify the music world of today. Thank you for that.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. When I was in college (as a music major), I immersed myself seriously into music theory and the European classical music repertory. At the same time I was performing in various rock groups, jazz combos and a Motown/R & B band. Pop music was a significant part of my musical upbringing, but I could make an objective distinction between the two musical realms that I was engaged in.
What became apparent at that time (late ’60s/early ’70s), was that there were significant opportunities in the pop music sphere to generate huge financial gains for record companies, their shareholders, lawyers, agents, and musicians. Fred Goodman’s book Mansion on the Hill chronicles how commercial interests became the driving force behind the pop music scene and how this caused many musician’s to “sell out” in the pursuit of big money.
This was a significant factor in the “dumbing-down” of pop music, IMO. The advent of MTV and music videos continued this trend. Brian Hardgroove, former bass player in Chuck D’s band Public Enemy, once told me, “David, the five words that killed the music industry are: ‘What does she look like?'” Visuals began to take precedence over musical concerns.
Pop music did play important roles in various political movements; the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, e.g. I wrote an essay about Woodstock at 50 for the AU Blog in which I took the view that the idealism of that era was usurped by the very commercialism that the Woodstock generation deplored. It really comes down to values — the “goodness” aspect of the Beauty/Truth/Goodness paradigm.
East meets West via the arts is a good essay from a qualified person. The author is a conductor and composer, with a long experience in arts and a deep relection on aesthetics, nurtured by the most classical authors, but with insights from more contemporary sources. Moreover, David Eaton is now living in Korea. This Western artist recognized in the Western world has decided to bring his expertise to Asia. In this essay, David reflects on the mission of beauty, in relation to the two other values, truth and goodness. He shows that Western thought as well as Asian thought have given complementary insights, and sometimes similar ideas on the topic.
David’s essay is therefore timely. I read it as some statement of mission or manifesto in support of the newly-created International Artists Association of Culture and Peace (IAACP).
I have a few remarks. I believe that the unified, heavenly culture will be more than the sum total of best practices and aesthetic values of East and West, from Socrates until July 2021. The splendor that already exists in Western and Eastern museums, libraries, concert halls, repertoires, all the masterpieces made by ancestors of all existing cultures are treasures and sources of inspiration — we use these works and cultural references in our Principle presentations, more often than our own artists.
When do we have a real Unificationist production, based on Unification aesthetics? This culture should be recognized by Unificationists as truly beautiful and inspiring, and should also be recognized by the public.
Above all, it should please God, the Creator, and not only the public, be it Unificationist. The best Buddhist production pleases universally, likewise the Catholic masterpieces.
No doubt, some of our best holy songs have pleased God and the spirit world, in the early stages of Unificationism. They reflect a Completed Testament spirituality, distinct from Old Testament and New Testament productions. I would add that songs such as “Generation of Righteousness” from Dan Fefferman and underrated masterpieces such as “Bridegrooms’ Face,” “Vigil Keeper” and “Resurrection” from Sandra Lowen are of the same level as the Holy Songs made in Korea. Dan and Sandra received divine guidance to write the melodies and lyrics.
The Unificationist architecure, so far, is not so convincing. I like the Cheon Jeong Gung Palace, the Peace World Center, the Hyo Jeong Café and the whole concept of Cheongshim. It is indeed beautiful, of high quality.
Is it divine and Unificationist? Some would say, “Yes, of course.”
It deserves the appreciation of specialists by the cogent use of state of the art technologies. But is it a revealed architecture, or just a good job? I accept that it may just be the best job for our age, and no more. We are not yet at a level of surpassing existing beauty.
Likewise, there are many domains of thought where we are still less qualified than other thinkers. For instance, those advocating headwing in our movement prefer to quote existing thinkers, supposedly close to our ideas. We also tend to believe that such and such leader of this or that country is the person closest to Headwing, and our media sometimes blindly support those leaders, whereas they should keep a certain distance. We often praise John the Baptist’s ideas even if they preach their own stuff and have little opportunity to praise our ideas, simply because we don’t have clear ideas on Korean unification, headwing, and … vaccination.
Regarding the reunifcation of Korea, I observe that all our current webinars mobilize a lot of expertise, but we ourselves are still in search of a doctrine.
I absolutely believe that we are going to breakthrough soon. That is why I am very skeptical about our acceptance of current best practices in thought, ethics, and aesthetics. We too often say to our audiences, “look, we have had Paul Potts singing for us” or “we managed to set up ‘Nutcracker’ or ‘Don Quichotte’ with as much talent as famous ballet companies” or “we had this Nobel Prize winner coming to our program.”
When we produce our own musicals about True Parents, I often feel that it is official art or mere propaganda, not the worst, not the best. It is well made, sometimes entertaining (a bit long), but I am not sure that it has the immortal quality that I find in real art and in the best of our holy songs. And I can see that nothing seems to be able to influence those who decide and prepare these super-productions.
As a Unificationist, I know that one day, we shall be really inspired and truly creative. And it makes me judge our current productions as often pleasant but easily forgettable after the event for which they were made is over. You don’t really want to see them again and again. I suggest therefore, that we have real long-term think tanks, a real academy of arts and the sciences and we start to work on something that can really make the difference.
This analysis of yours is another one that resonates with much in me. You put your finger on various points in need of searching deeper for what truly classifies works of art as divine and thus immortal.
As I have no training in any type of art, I lack the techniques to “put pen to paper” in a specific field of art, but I do have a personal sense of what makes art beautiful (for me), and the main criterion is whether art honors our creator, God, and secondly, whether it is performed for the joy and pleasure of others as opposed to “the artist being at the center”.
Furthermore, I believe true and immortal works of art cannot be commissioned and ordered by kings and rulers; they will appear naturally when the artist and his/her creator meet in the most intimate place. When this happens, we will recognize the greatness of such art.
Therefore, the main objective of our movement should be to encourage, facilitate and support our brothers’ and sisters’ search for a deep encounter and relationship with their creator. Then “new art” might naturally emerge.
You ask a pertinent question, as well as answering it (perhaps obliquely), in your comment:
“When do we have a real Unificationist production, based on Unification aesthetics? This culture should be recognized by Unificationists as truly beautiful and inspiring, and should also be recognized by the public.
Above all, it should please God, the Creator, and not only the public, be it Unificationist. The best Buddhist production pleases universally, likewise the Catholic masterpieces.”
It could be said that the art that pleases God most will be the art that brings the public closer to God. When True Father said that “music and religion go hand-in-hand” he was alluding to the spiritual power of aesthetic beauty to transform consciousness and thus bring us closer to godliness. Experiencing beauty can be significant in our pursuit of goodness.
In her address at the Rally of Hope in November 2020, True Mother referenced the beauty of the European classical tradition in the context of the Christian faith that inspired it. The “universal” appeal of the Western classical musical tradition lies in its profound embodiment of the ontological archetypes that are present in nature and in God, (Rom. 1:20). Of course, this is true of any art form in which these archetypes are present and perceivable, regardless of the culture of origin.
The Theory of Art as explained in Unification Thought posits that to the degree that the three foundational attributes of purpose, resemblance and give and take are present and harmonized in a particular art work is what imparts a sense of beauty and inspiration to the appreciator. In music, for instance, when the constituent elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, dynamics and form are well harmonized in accordance with divine ontological principles (sung sang) and physics (hyung sang) we are presented with a composition that reflects the nature of God — as well as the nature of Nature — and our original mind and heart respond accordingly. The best art of any culture is a result of this type of relational harmonization.
This is why the Western classical music tradition has been embraced in Korea, Japan, China, Malaysia, and Central and South America. There are terrific orchestras and choirs in those places. In an essay for the New Republic (“Roll Over Beethoven,” Aug. 4, 1991), Edward Rothstein cites a king from Madagascar who in 1850 was so enamored with European classical music that he sent some of his young men to Europe to learn to play Mozart and Rossini. Beauty transcends locality and the desire to experience beauty is atavistic.
That said, when we think of great composers whose music we revere as being the “highest” examples of that particular art form, there may be 15 or 20 — Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Verdi, Wagner, Mahler — who we consider to be “the most high.” Will a young composer emerge from the ranks of the second/third/fourth generations that will rise to the level of the best-of-the-best? Perhaps a more pertinent question might be: Is the European tradition that True Mother referenced the best-of-the-best traditions? We are pioneers in the pursuit of Hyo Jeong culture. Just as we are finding our way in matters of governance, education, journalism, science and commerce, artists will also be engaged in the same pioneering process of creating art that resembles and expresses heavenly culture.
In response to both Johann Hinterleitner and to David Eaton who opened this discussion, I’d like to draw attention to grace. Grace is common to religious language and to aesthetics. Grace in aesthetics is often associated with just elegance, feminine beauty or defined as the counterpart of sublime beauty. It also has an ontological meaning, I guess. Beauty is a good not “needed”, it is not a vital necessity of the daily life. It is gratuitous.
Purposiveness without purpose
It does not need to justify itself, it is self evident, has its own finality. Kant defined beauty as ‘‘purposiveness without purpose’’. At first, you may think that Kant fails to depict the enchantment and magic of beauty. Yet, he does, perfectly. Art is to please us, with no other intention than to enchant our heart, purify our moods, so that we are just happy and transfigured. The Greek theater was to guide the spectators to catharsis. We identify with the hero, and cry out our soul. Art brings us to the edge of redemption through grace and beauty. We feel alleviated, we open to contrition.
Splendor of the true, splendor of the good
In Christianity, you have “justification by faith”, advocated by Protestants. The sinner, who was living in ignorance, has to know the truth and to unite with the right teaching. He has to show that he believes well, has the right credo, confession. He has to know the Bible, to recite the truth. Anything heretical will be checked. You also have the “justification by deeds”, advocated mostly by Catholics. The sinner who was living selfishly has to practice agape love, do good things, follow the saints. He has to repent for infringing the moral law and confess his sins regularly. Both Protestantism and Catholicism tell us, implicitly, that we are in the hospital ward, or the prison ward, we are not yet free. We have to take our medicine every day, to pay our debts. Grace is for later.
The branch of Christianity promising grace now is Eastern Orthodoxy. It is the spirituality of the Balkans and of many Slavic peoples. In the Orthodox way, grace is central. Spirituality is true beauty. No matter how well you know, how well you do, you remain a sinner unless you embrace pure beauty. Hence the “strange” tradition of kissing holy icons. You embrace the body of Christ or Mother Mary, the purest offerings. You listen to seraphic (angelic) music. You smell the incense and other fragrances. You can dance. You have to taste heavenly cakes to assimilate beauty with your mouth. All of this is gratuitous, it is the “splendor of the true”, “splendor of the good”.
Philocaly, beauty will save the world
Justification by beauty also exists in Catholicsm, but is more ornamental, flamboyant. The Orthodox icon is a holy item, containing the real presence of the divine, not merely a representation of biblical scenes. This centrality of grace in the Orthodox tradition is called philocaly, literally the love of beauty. No wonder that only an Orthodox writer like Dostoievski could ever say, “Beauty will save the world”. This sentence is obscure for a Protestant and vague for a Catholic. It is kind of a self-evident truth in Orthodox Russia. Beauty means that you may already live in a corner of Eden, you are freely invited there. God has forgiven you, you don’t need to justify yourself by showing how much you know, how well you do.
Let us play
Father would often include singing during the Hoon Dok Hae sessions. He would ask someone to rise and sing songs. Moreover, Father emphasized playing a lot. Just like we play an instrument or a role (in theatre), we are to play our faith. Father wanted his disciples to rejoice, to have fun, to be in heaven like children. Moreover, the pictures of True Parents are not merely ornemental for us. True Parents, more than the founders of an institution, are like the flesh of God on the earth. We often have absorbed ourselves in contemplating Father’s and Mother’s beauty. The picture of True Father in black and white at the beginning of the Divine Principle is destined to show us how divinely handsome our savior is, how smart our eternal spirit self is destined to become.
The reign of horror
Dostoievski was epileptic, fascinated by crime and criminals. Monstrosity and horror are omnipresent in his books. He is a terrible Christian artist contemplating hell like Dante.
In The Possessed (1872), one of his visionary books, he announces the atrocities of the 20th century. Dostoievski felt that it would be the century of horror and ugliness. He also announced that the devil’s beauty would become sovereign. In the 20th century, the attack on beauty and the glorification of ugliness became mainstream. It is as if art had to produce an anti-catharsis. People accept to be raped by ugliness and invite it on their smartphones, watching again and again bloodbaths, pornography, corruption, horror.
Not useful, yet so needed
Our movement should reflect on that. Since beauty is purposiveness without purpose, we should refrain from militant art. We shouldn’t prove, or demonstrate anything. Let us play and please. We don’t need to spend huge amounts of money on special effects and shows which will mesmerize the crowds. We can touch people’s hearts with pure, amazing grace.
During a workshop in Austria (2014), I had my first encounter with Korean Unificationists of the third generation in their twenties. One evening, two young ladies took a guitar and started to sing together a very soft ballad for 100 people. There was no microphone, but a complete silence came in. We all were glued and moved to tears, because the miracle of simple beauty was visiting all of us like a gentle bird. It was not useful, yet so needed. Beauty will save the world.
With regard to beauty vis-a-vis Catholicism, I always thought that the Catholic church intuited that by stimulating the spiritual senses via the physical senses as a way to experience the reality of God and the incorporeal realm was an inspired idea. Whether it was through music, stained glass windows, architecture, incense or colorful vestments, there seemed to be an idea that physical beauty could open us to the possibility of developing a more enlightened and devotional frame of mind. This was why St. Augustine eventually approved of music being in worship services in spite of his initial reservations about doing so. The Protestants who came to America had a very different view and stripped away all the aesthetic “excesses” that they felt usurped the true essence of their beliefs.
The musical settings of the Catholic mass by Franz Joseph Haydn are among the most exalted compositions in his output. His “Mass in Time of War” (which I conducted years ago), was one of six settings of the mass that was commissioned by the Esterhazy family and these compositions remain in the active repertory of many orchestras and choirs throughout the world precisely because the beautiful harmonization of the text and music touches ones’ soul in profound ways.
In his book, The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution, art historian Denis Dutton writes: “Artistic masterpieces fuse myriad disparate elements, layer upon layer of meaning, into a single, unified, self-enhancing whole. The greatest works of art unite every aspect of human experience: intellect and the will, but also emotions and human values of every kind.”
As I mentioned in my essay, the integration of beauty, truth and goodness (“the big three,” as American philosopher Ken Wilber calls them) in our artistic endeavors remains a central issue.
Kant was quite disinterested in music (some allege that he was tone deaf), because of its ephemeral aspect—it was fleeting, not lasting or permanent. Yet other philosophers and commentators—Schiller, Schopenhauer, Goethe—placed a great deal of importance on music and its affects on our psyche. Friedrich Schiller (Beethoven’s collaborator in his 9th symphony), intended to become a Christian cleric as a young man before turning to poetry and writing. He famously opined: “Only through Beauty’s morning-gate, dost thou penetrate the land of knowledge.”
His perspective comports with that of True Mother when she speaks of beauty and art opening the hearts and minds of people to receive new thoughts.
First of all, thank you for the quality of the debate on beauty. Indeed, there is some competition between the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, regarding the role of beauty.
My point was that, from a soteriological viewpoint, there seems to exist a stronger belief that “beauty will save the world”, in Orthodox tradition. Philocaly, for instance, is specifically Orthodox, and absent in Catholicism. Generally speaking, the Mediterranean world sees less dichotomy between mind and body than the people of Western Europe. The notion of the incarnation, of the imago dei in Christ is probably deeper in the southern part of the European culture.
As for Russian culture, I had two experiences with young Russians.
In 1991, I attended a DP workshop in Siofok, Hungary, with hundreds of Russian students, from the best universities of their country, Most of them were brilliant in sciences. But they kept telling me that science was only a pastime for them. “We can compete with the rationalism of Western Europe, we know the rules of formal logic, we are interested in physics and chemistry. But…”
– “But what?” I said.
– “Well, for a Russian, real life is passion. Not just emotion and sentiment. Russians accept to live according to the law of passion, we are extremely passionate. We set no limit. We live for passion and die for it. We feel different from other Europeans from this viewpoint. Passion is a pastime in Western Europe, but not in our culture. We can think like you, but you cannot feel like us.”
Later, I attended a huge workshop of 1,000 students in Beijing, in 2001. One third were American, one third were Chinese, one third were Russian. They all followed the DP lectures with roughly the same attitude of modern young people.
The last day, they were asked to prepare a final show. Each team had little time. The American delegation was confident to perform well. Being at home, Chinese students thought that they would o offer a brilliant show of Chinese culture. When the evening came, the Americans were entertaining, the Chinese were thrilling, but when the time came for Russians to perform, it was pure enchantment. The magic immediately filled the auditorium, grace was there, expressed through dances, choirs, music and so on. I could see the superiority of the Russian amateur artists. It was not technical. It came from their heart, their soul.
We could see a joy and a passion for art that really surpassed the two other delegations. I saw an example of a culture where art is central. I think that there are deep reasons why Father so much loved the ballet tradition of Russia, especially from Saint Petersburg. And to come back to the topic of your essay, Father probably felt that Russia is the bridge between East and West. It has the Western mind and the Eastern soul in balance. It can combine the scientific rationality with the deepest language of emotions.
But this is purely subjective, coming from a French person, living in a typically Apollonian culture, so different from what Nietzsche called the Dyonisian culture of Russia. France and Russia have good cultural relationships, because we are so complementary. French culture takes delight in classicism, finitude, geometry, realism. Russian culture is thirsty for the enormous, the infinite, the informal, the pure idealism. Both nations are revolutionary and messianic, one for reason, the other for passion. But there is a nostalgia of passion in France, of reason in Russia.
With regard to France and Russia, it’s interesting to note that Igor Stravinsky’s major ballet scores (“The Firebird,” “Petrouchka,” “Rite of Spring”), composed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, were premiered in France and were huge sensations there. Stravinsky called France “my second home.”
The fact that both Russia and France had significant ballet traditions made for one of the most productive collaborations in history of Western music. When Oleg Vinogradov of the Kirov Ballet became a serious artistic influence on the Universal Ballet Company, the Russian style was being juxtaposed onto the Korean ballet culture in significant measure.
I too attended that workshop in Beijing in 2001 and assisted with the production of the entertainment program that you cited. I’ve worked with many Russian musicians who were regular members in the New York City Symphony and I’ve conducted concerts in Moscow and Kiev. This was just after the end of the communist regimes in those countries and it was sad to see these wonderful musicians in such dire straits due to the harsh economic conditions that were the result of failed economic modalities.
The Russians who I worked with in New York City, as well as the talented Chinese musicians who immigrated there, were quite respectful of our movement’s anti-communist position. Several attended DP workshops. They were grateful to be working and performing in a free country. To this day I remain in contact with several of them.
The article is very interesting and well-written, and the responses fascinating too.
However, I want to point out something not directly related to art. Underlying the article is an assumption that we are facing a decline in society. I question and disagree with that assumption. Throughout history, as far as I can see, the older generation has always thought that the next generation is in decline. My parents didn’t like my music, and I don’t like my son’s.
Yet that perception of decline is based on sensibilities developed in the past, so it is maybe not applicable in the present. If we look at history, the actual movement of history has not been one of steady decline predicted by the the older generation. The past was not better than the present.
You are right, Dr. Burton. I agree that we may have given this impression of being a bit dissatisfied with the current level of culture, both within and without the Unification community in our discussion and I am grateful that you make this observation. We need to come up with more hope and perspective for the future. I am already in the mood for that.
David and Laurent,
My first exposure to music in a meaningful way was by way of the music that my parents enjoyed, especially Big Band music and Broadway musicals. That music inspired me to take music lessons and from that point on I began exploring music — old and new — Classical, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Folk, Motown. I played in rock bands and in my community orchestra and eventually majored in music with an eye on a career in classical music. To this day I still write and arrange music with Classical, Pop, Jazz and Folk influences — Hip Hop too.
With regard to the idea that we are experiencing a “decline in society,” I feel that this is not an unfounded assertion. Allan Bloom, in his book, The Closing of the American Mind (1987), and Alasdair MacIntyre in his book, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (1985), point to the emergence of “emotivism” and the problems with creeping moral relativism that occurs when truth and reason are continually usurped by emotion. This phenomenon is now everywhere — politics, education, journalism, the arts — and has brought us to a point where truth is fungible and not being “open” to everything is viewed as untoward. But is it?
At face value, the desire to be “open” to new ideas can be seen as being inherently good and beneficial. However, Bloom contends that there are two manifestations of openness: one that promotes laissez-faire indifference so as not to be viewed as an arrogant, prideful “knower,” and another which encourages the serious examination of knowledge in the context of history and our cultural patrimony, with the intent of discovering that which can make us better people. The former is rooted in a decidedly politically correct mindset that can be extremely disingenuous.
As Bloom put it:
“Openness, as currently conceived, is a way of making surrender to what is most powerful, or worship of vulgar success, look principled. It is historicism’s ruse to remove all resistance to history, which in our day means public opinion, a day when public opinion already rules. … If openness means to “go with the flow,” it is necessarily an accommodation to the present. True openness means closedness to all the charms that make us comfortable with the present.”
Bloom viewed this as part of the “Romantic dilemma” with regard to morality and ethics. We desire peace. We desire to be free and unencumbered. But freedom requires us to be accountable for our actions in the context of community — for what we “ought” to do in order to foster conditions for the general well-being of the society (which was Baruch Spinoza’s contention).
This requires that we examine history in order to find what works well for the benefit of the communities in which we live and work (Edmund Burke’s contention). This is the gist of my essay. Artists too ought to be accountable in the context of what they create and produce for public consumption. The “goodness” aspect of the beauty, truth and goodness paradigm need not be assessed in the context of “old or new,” or “left or right,” but rather “higher or lower” or “beneficial or not beneficial” in pursuit of social betterment.
In matters of musical taste and preference, we understand that this is largely a subjective issue: De gustibus non est disputandum. But as UT instructs, there are objective standards as well as moral standards that ought to be in the equation.
I appreciate your deep answer as usual, and the cogent citing of Allan Bloom. I agree with the view that we cannot be blindly open to nonsense newness and innovation, or complacently tolerant out of polite indifference. However, there is something that Bloom does not know: The merit of the age and the God of the future.
Bloom does not know, because we did not witness to him. He does not know about the Second Coming and the Merit of the Age. The Merit of the Age states that we have reached a totally new level of spirtuality and intellect. We have seen the transition from the New Testament Era to the Completed Testament Era and even Cheon Il Guk era. We failed to inform Bloom and company, all the brilliant conservative minds, about that. We failed as central figures, or Abel-type people, to guide those Cain-type geniuses to receive insights from God. I therefore welcome their critiques, repent and pledge that we shall do better. They express the resentment of he who did not see the Promised Land. They were John the Baptists, ready to offer their insights, legacy, and our movement did not include them.
We Unificationists have contemplated, at least in vision and revelations, Absolute Values. These conservatives cherished Absolute Values and searched for them in yesterdays. We came to know the heart of God, like no one else before. Moreover, we have been called to attend the God of the past, God of the present, and God of the future. We know who God was, who God is, who God-with-us will be. Unificationists are prophets of the future, who pray in their names and are actors of tomorrow.
A few years ago, True Mother asked the department of theology at Sun Moon University to change their focus. She told them to stop teaching only the God of the past. She said, “You surely need to study what God did. But can you please teach what God is doing now, what God will do in the future?”
God called us, not just to indemnify the problems of the past. He blessed us to host the future in our daily lives. Had we understood our responsibility in Home Church and Tribal Messiahship, we would have hosted and welcomed the God of the future on our family altars. Our Blessed families, instead of becoming fertilizer, would have become the salt of the earth, the light of this world. As for myself, I deeply regret that I know the past but I don’t really know the future. I blame my blindness, my ignorance of the days and weeks to come. I wish I could be the actor of the years 2022, 2023, 2024, and so on. And when I see our movement stuck in the present moment or in nostalgia of things obsolete, I ask God to be patient with us.
Our second and third generations are certainly more open than we often think to learn the God of the past from us. in a way, they envy us who were called. They keep telling us, “We did not receive the same calling as you did.” And they need not. Through the natural dynamic of the four realms of heart and three great kingships, they are to do better than us. To think otherwise should not be an option.
If our troubleshooting reveals that many of them have not yet surpassed us, even if a majority of them have not, we should accept the evidence and then we should repent. We did not fulfill our responsibility. To say that they did not fulfill theirs is not acceptable, in my opinion. It is against nature.
One poet put it very simply. Khalil Gibran wrote the famous poem “On Children,” which states:
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said
“Speak to us of children”
Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you
You may give them your love but not your thoughts
For they have their own thoughts
You may house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams
You may strive to be like them
But seek not to make them like you
For life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday
You are the bows from which your children
As living arrows are sent forth
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite
And he bends you with his might
That his arrows may go swift and far
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness
For even as he loves the arrow that flies
So he loves also the bow that is stable
This poem should of course not be taken literally. But still, when we see that our own movement is still so stubbornly silent about the future, Gibran’s words should come from this thick silence, and be “written on the subway walls, and tenement halls and whispered in the sound of silence.”
Thank you for this. You put so poetically that which appears plain in my words. The image that comes to mind for me is of the twelve spies Moses sent into Canaan. Ten of them lost faith with God who had brought them out of Egypt and sustained them in the desert. Rather than draw on their knowledge of how God had acted to save them, they knew fear upon observing the Canaanites. This fear resulted in all of the first generation dying in the wilderness. Except for Joshua and Caleb, none set foot in the promised land.
You are quite right, Dr. Burton, our mind is too often in Egypt, and we do not always challenge our prestigious masters.
I tried to do that more often when I was young. Pierre Emmanuel was the most important Catholic poet in France, when I met him in 1978. He was 62, I was 21.
“Are you the man who wrote this letter to me?” He said, when I arrived in his apartment in Paris, near the Eiffel Tower. He was holding the 20 page letter I had sent to him, My letter was a thorough study of his very hermetic poetry, from a literary and theological viewpoint.
“How can you write such deep things, at your age? I can’t believe. I can’t believe.”
He quickly understood that I had not come to receive his compliments. We sat down and I started to talk immediately about the core of his poetry.
“The whole issue of much of your poetry is to clearly understand the positions of the Archangel, Eve and Adam,” I said,
“I have new insights about this. Would you like to hear them?”
He was really nervous, tormented, I could fathom his deep and heavy heart.
We started with a study of John 8 and then I taught him about the Fall of Man. His whole body was shaking. Passions of a whole life came out of his mouth. He had deeply suffered, if not agonized, as a Catholic poet, of the tension between Eros and Agape and so on. His poetry was Catholic, but heavily influenced by much stuff on sex which were not all aligned with God.
I was really direct, and he sometimes opposed strongly my presentation.
“I have heard terrible things about Moon and his cult,” he said.
“Forget them,” I told him. “They are entirely wrong. Reverend Moon has the same questions as you. But I guess that he is showing us the way. He wants to save us from the temptations of false sex, which have destroyed our society.”
I visited him a dozen times. His poetry changed after we met. It remains one of the most thrilling encounters I ever had. I miss him a lot. This man was of a generation who should have attended True Parents. But I did not fulfill my responsibility, even though I did so much home church at that time.
With regard to “challenging our prestigious masters,” we need to create conditions for natural surrender in order to win them over to our perspectives and methods. Achieving results is one significant factor in this process because having a result justifies our ideas and actions.
When I took the reigns of the New York City Symphony in 1985 I had certain ideas that I believed could help us achieve the goal of gaining artistic credibility in the NYC music sphere. One big issue was hiring union musicians and paying union wages. Not all my superiors were in favor of that because it would be expensive. I argued that hiring the best musicians could make a serious artistic impact. By going the union route the orchestra started getting good reviews from the NY music press within a year.
This, in turn, led to other producers and patrons wanting to work with us resulting in serious funding support from non-UC sources — in the six-figure range over several years. This, of course, made the skeptics quite happy.
In this discussion I have cited several biblical examples to prove various points, and this is a narrative from my essay; the past can be instructive in our pursuit of future betterment.
Thank you, David, for the debate triggered by your brilliant essay. We are entering the world of real experience.
I guess this is what the AU Blog is. Our corpus of Unificationist wisdom should combine theory and practice.
You had the unique career of being the conductor for the Messiah. Your personal field experience is as important as your vast culture and knowledge. Your work with union musicians is something that very few of us can ever experience. We may love music but know little about the profession. You talk about the infrastructure and social conditions for cultural change and progress. We need to be aware of that. In order to restore the birthright, parent’s right, king’s right, we have to negotiate cleverly like Jacob with Laban.
Please be sure that I challenge you with new questions and observations, because I always expect really good answers and I very often receive inspiration. I may have more questions coming.
Regarding unions, I have a perspective as an employee and an employer.
I joined the musician’s union in Cleveland in 1970 when I started to work professionally. Being in the union had certain benefits, not least of which was assisting me in getting better compensated for my work.
As an employer I had to deal with the fact that hiring union musicians and paying union-scale wages would affect the “bottom line” of the NYC Symphony. But the task at hand was to make the orchestra a viable and credible artistic entity in New York City. Achieving that particular artistic “bottom line” required the necessary investment.
After the orchestra made its Carnegie Hall debut in 1989, Bill Zakariasen, the chief music critic at the New York Daily News, wrote this:
“Give credit where it is due; Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s International Cultural Foundation has helped the New York City Symphony become one of America’s finest orchestras. The NYCS played Carnegie Hall, apparently for the first time in its 63 year history, and gave outstanding performances under its alert music director, David Eaton.”
The spiritual “bottom line” in all this was to witness to our founder’s vision for art and culture. Mr. Zakariasen’s comments were a deep bow to our founders. I was beyond thrilled when I read his review. He had written other reviews (favorable) in the past and always mentioned ICF’s patronage. (I always mentioned that in our concert programs). But to give direct credit to the founders was the fulfillment of a certain stage of development in the arts providence.
NYCS performed several more times at Carnegie Hall with the financial support of other individuals and organizations, largely because the NYCS “brand” was viewed as artistically credible. Being able to hire the best musicians available was a significant step in the process.
David and others,
Much has already been said in the wonderful discussion above, but one aspect sort of escaped the dialogue. In my view the quotations that David brought up in his article were about the role of music in society as a whole, not just guidelines for the composers or performers. I fully agree with the notion that there has been a general dumbing down of popular music. I don’t think it’s mere pining for the good old days, but I just think that it’s not only the art that changed; there was a also demand for “lower” art. You cannot sell something people aren’t willing to buy.
Which brings me to my point. Alongside with educating artists, equally important is to educate the listener, the consumer to learn to appreciate the “higher” art. Unfortunately, there’s been a dumbing down of that education too, at least where I live. For instance many painted masterpieces have revealed their deeper beauty and meaning to me only after I have made the effort to educate myself on their historical background, their particular genesis. I am not naturally drawn to painted art, so it was a conscious effort. It has been the same with some musical pieces too, even though I have always been interested in music and spent countless hours listening and playing. Point is, everyone can benefit from good arts education.
In short, I want to emphasize the importance of general arts education. Sadly, when the budgets get tight, it is often the arts that suffer the loss in our schools.
I fully agree with you, Tommi. The Unification Thought, in the Theory of Art, stresses that Creation and Appreciation are both needed and are the two sides of the same coin. The beauty of artworks should be appreciated by an educated and enlightened audience. We learn how to appreciate beauty.
One problem is that,the appreciation of artworks was excessively influenced by human sciences. There was a reductionist approach, which says that the work of art is but a reflection or a copy of the socio-economic infrastructure (Marxian view) or the expression of the artist’s unconscious (Freudian approach). The Freudo-Marxist ideology perverted both the creation and the appreciation of art.
A typical example is Luchino Visconti. Himself an Italian aristocrat, Visconti was fascinated by the decadence of the bourgeoisie. He was constantly leaning toward Marxism and joined the Commuinist party of Italy.
He had read a lot about Freud. He is a typical example of the talented Freudian-Marxian approach to art. His movies are often masterpieces, but they convey the wrong message.
Needless to say, he was a truly great artist, a man of immense culture, and he tried to adapt the best novels of literature, for instance Gattopardo (Lampedusa) L’Etranger (Camus) or Death in Venice (Thomas Mann). The beauty of his movies is obvious but also very poisonous (The Damned, 1969). Visconti was highly appreciated by an elite of atheist critiques, who did not challenge his intentions. The Spanish director Luis Bunuel was in the same mood. He was the star of the Freudian-Marxian world.
There was then some consensus that books, theatre, movies, should contain a critique of the bourgeois world, from a Marxist and Freudian viewpoint, with much decadent beauty into it. Sometimes, these productions were made for the general public and could become quite popular, but the main intention was to please a certain elite fascinated by decadence. These artworks were the aesthetics of modern man’s secular religion, and were to be created and appreciated by a “remorseful” bourgeoisie of media people, scholars, psychologists and psychiatrists, who aimed at being our modern clergy, our directors of consience. They were to tell the general public just how bad is the bourgeois world.
“Have you seen the last Visconti? It is a must see.”
“Not yet, but tell me about The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Bunuel). What are the lessons of this movie? I need to understand.”
Whereas Marxian, Freudian, and Structuralist approaches of art were often dominant, the genuine critics often privileged a phenomenological approach of creation and appreciation. There was no school there, just very talented critics who did not follow the zeitgeist but their personal intuition.
And this is a much more healthy approach. Here, you don’t think that the artist is a product of the real world. Rather you understand art as a way to redeem oneself from the imperfections and ugliness of the real world, and search for the ideal society. In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean refuses his destiny. He wants to be a good man, who follows his conscience and God’s calling. But Javert, his mortal enemy is the voice of the existing society, where people are determined at birth.
In a sense, Valjean can be see as a metaphor of the real artist, who announces and prophesies what we ought to be, rather than showing in the mirror our current situation. Les Misérables is a noble novel. It shows a decadent society and human beings failing their responsibility, but the central figure is a beacon of hope and universal values.
The “dumbing-down” of our socio-cultural condition is not endemic to the arts. This has been an issue that cuts across many spheres and is linked to the problem of “instant gratification.”
I’ve often made the point that classical music (and jazz) has always been a minority taste. You are correct in your assessment that becoming “better listeners” requires a certain personal commitment.
In his Pulitzer Prize nominated book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr makes the following observation:
“For the last five centuries, ever since Gutenberg’s printing press made book reading a popular pursuit, the linear, literary mind has been at the center of art, science, and society. As supple as it is subtle, it’s been the imaginative mind of the Renaissance, the rational mind of the Enlightenment, the inventive mind of the Industrial Revolution, even the subversive mind of Modernism. It may soon be yesterday’s mind.”
Carr makes the case that the Internet contributes to the problem of instant gratification. The desire for instant gratification is often viewed as a liability in one’s character, whereas “delayed” or “deferred” gratification is considered to be a positive personality trait. In the realm of psychoanalysis “deferred gratification” is seen as an important aspect in developing emotional intelligence. The ability to delay gratification can be especially important with regard to how we experience and appreciate music because music occurs over time.
The symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms or Mahler can take up to an hour to perform. It takes a certain commitment on the part of the listener to invest in the process of appreciation. Reading a novel can take many hours. The “3-minute pop song” that is uncomplicated requires no such commitment.
In music education I have seen that when young people are exposed to art music they don’t reflexively shun it. In 2006 I had the opportunity to conduct members of the Harlem School of the Arts orchestra in a benefit concert at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The 25-piece ensemble, comprised of inner city children, could play Bach and Mozart quite well and they relished the experience of working with the professionals in the New York City Symphony. Arts education remains an important factor in our attempts fashion a better social condition.
All true what you said. As I understand there was a practical reason why the 3 minute pop song appeared. The 78rpm and the small single 45rpm vinyl format led to that. Now with digital (streaming in particular) formats there at least is a chance for lengthier compositions to thrive. However, the first signs aren’t good — people fill their ears with 3 minute pieces of “muzak” just the same. I assume many popular playlists are computer generated.
I don’t mean to say that a long composition is automatically better than a 3 minute piece, but like you said, it takes a greater commitment from the listener. Your point about instant gratification well describes the general atmosphere in today’s culture.
David and Tommi,
The dangers of instant gratification are undeniable, but may be put into perspective. Why is the moment so important for modern man? Because it is the age of democracy. But why is it the age of democracy and instant communication? Because this is the age where True Parents should address the whole world as their congregation, “live”.
Why are so many newspapers called the “Times”, not only in English but in many other languages? It is because we are in the era of the news, what the French language calls actualités. The instant information spread everywhere should bring all mankind together. What for? For what kind of news?
The Good News, that’s right. The Divine Principle in two days, 7 days, 21 days, 40 days, but also in 12 hours, 2 hours, 1 hour presentation. You mean, God’s words in a “Readers’ Digest form?” Yes. Father told us: yellow parts, blue parts, red parts, for those in hurry, taking the subway between their railway station and the airport, but who want to stay connected.
God wanted mankind to enter the age of broadcasting and “live”: not just to hear the last song of your favorite star, but to listen to … the Messiah live. Do we us the instant communication well? That’s the question.
In Jesus’ time, huge stadiums had already been built, arenas, plazas, theatres, so that the Messiah’s words could be heard by many with a good acoustique. In our era of mass communication and mass media, God prompted mankind to invent the telephone, the telex, the fax, the mobile phone, the internet, so that the Good news could be conveyed instantly. The fall took place in an instant, Father suggested, and salvation should take place in a moment of grace too (not literally).
In the last months, I have been teaching the Principle by WhatsApp to dozens of people in Benin. I am stuck in France by the virus, I “hate” WhatsApp, but I am gaining new spiritual children every month, who find their own spiritual children.
So not everything is wrong in the instant culture.
I have attended several peace festivals online organized from Korea: very long (3 hours), quite repetitive, old fashion. One peace festival was organized by our movement in the USA in June 2021. I really enjoyed it. In 70 minutes, the message was conveyed much more powerfully, through very short clips, but of a great diversity. No star was there, only normal people, at home. Instant culture, but much more powerful, intimate, deeper than a long show, in my opinion. And True Mother’s words came much better, I felt, in this atmosphere.
Now can we blame the present generation for being only in an age of instant gratification? Indeed, there is fast food and there is fast sex, but there is slow food also, and more attention is paid to quality production. Many young people don’t like waste. They are in favor of a lasting economy which respects the environment. They advocate the “lasting”, more than people of my generation (I am 64). In France, one of the favorite competitions takes place only every four years. The Vendée Globes is a circumnavigation and the heroes and heroines of this long race live alone on a boat for more than three months. It is a school of super-human endurance.
No doubt, in every nation, there is still a taste for the long, long, long drama which keeps you breathless for days and nights.
Laurent has taken us to a very interesting and pertinent place in our discussion when he brings up the Marxist-Freudian influence on the arts.
In his book The Dangers of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays, Richard Taruskin examines the influence of Marxism/Leftist attitudes regarding musical composition.
Taruskin suggests that Arnold Schoenberg’s “emancipation of dissonance…owes its political vibes to the liberatory rhetoric of the dialectic,” and had more to do with emancipating composers than musical style. Additionally, the modernist narrative of scientific processes supplanting faith and metaphysics played heavily into the rationale behind creating music. The formulaic/mathematical methods of Schoenberg were viewed as an inevitability; something that had to happen. This, of course, is “historical determinism” being injected into the realm of musical composition.
The philosophical ruminations of Theodor Adorno, whose neo-Marxist perspectives regarding the abnegation of the natural and the metaphysical aspects of music became an important theory to mid-century modernist composers.
Though Adorno was at least partially correct in his belief that art forms can “reflect the history of man even more truthfully than do documents,” he nevertheless failed to understand (or, more likely ignored for purely ideological reasons), the fact that nature has been a significant factor in the evolution of musical style, theory and syntax; not the only factor, but not an inconsequential factor with regard to tonality’s expressive viability and theoretical soundness. (No pun intended).
As Taruskin notes, a “forced dichotomy…The Great Either/Or” became pervasive in the debates of academically trained musicologists regarding modern music, and this resulted in a “pseudo-dialectical ‘method’ that cast all thought in rigidly—and artificially—binarized terms,” specifically the influence of political or philosophical ideas on the composer.
The reason for this binary outlook was, as Taruskin observes, very much rooted in Cold War psychology, “when the general intellectual atmosphere was excessively polarized around a pair of seemingly exhaustive and totalized alternatives.”The offshoot of this binary modality was the all too familiar perspectives of Adorno and his Frankfurt School comrades who viewed the trajectory of twentieth-century music in decidedly Hegelian terms; a struggle between the “heroic resisters” of the avant-garde, and the old world “reactionaries” clutching the traditions that were rooted in religious idealism and tonality, not to mention capitalism, the bane of all serious Marxists.
It is undeniable that all systems of musical organization are human constructs, but it’s also true that sound, or more accurately, pitch production (vibratory energy in motion) is the progeny of physics and nature. For Adorno and others of the neo-Marxist persuasion, the idea of conjoining nature and pitch production in the attempt to justify any system of pitch organization was viewed as a mode of “physical determinism” and was decidedly reactionary.
But as Taruskin opines, those who are quick to denounce physical (or biological) determinism, “are often determinists of another stripe, usually historical. When you’re convinced that history has a purpose—your purpose—that must inevitably triumph, you can rationalize any means of helping the inevitable along.” This mindset was highly evident in the writing of György Lukács, a co-founder of the Institute for Social Research (aka the Frankfurt School) who belligerently asked, “Who will save us from Western civilization?”