When the language is music

IMG_20150125_085153 copyEvery now and again you open a book and the language sings. It rockets off into unimagined word galaxies. Images pump through the pages into your veins like a transfusion of hot syntactic blood.

Like this stuff, found now in Richard Powers’ Orfeo – a scene early on when the protagonist, Peter Els, hears Mozart’s Jupiter for the first time when he is a child. Listen to this:

“Three movements of Symphony 41 pass by: destiny and noble sacrifice, nostalgia for a vanished innocence, and a minuet so elegant it bores the bejeezus out of him. And then the finale, its four modest notes. Do, re, fa, mi: half a jumbled scale…

Young Peter props up on his elbows, ambushed by a memory from the future. The shuffled half scale gathers mass; it sucks up other melodies in its gravity … At two minutes, a trapdoor opens underneath the boy…

Five viral strands propagate, infecting the air with runaway joy. At three and a half minutes, a hand scoops Peter up and lifts him high above the blocked vantage of his days. He rises in the shifting column of light and looks back down on the room where he listens. Wordless peace fills him at the sight of his own crumpled, listening body. And pity for anyone who mistakes this blinkered life for the real deal…

When silence sets him down once more, he no longer believes in this place.”


Posted under: Indiscriminate Devotion, Uncategorized

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