Sunday, June 12, 2005

Gould meets Gould

text by Glenn Gould (b. 1932 - d. 1982, concert pianist, Canadian)

Glenn Gould: Is there something particular you would like to talk about?

Glenn Gould: What about native rights in Alaska?

Glenn Gould: Well, I must confess I had a rather more conventional line of attack, so to speak, in mind, Mr. Gould. As I'm sure you're aware, the virtually obligatory question in regards to your career is the controversy you created by giving up live concert performances at the age of 32 and choosing to communicate only through the media. I feel we must at least touch on it.

G.G.: As far as I'm concerned it involves moral rather than musical considerations, in which case, be my guest.

G.G.: Now, you've been quoted as saying that your involvement with recording, with media in general indeed, represents the future...

G.G.: That's correct.

G.G.: ... and that conversely the concert hall, the recital hall, the operahouse, what-have-you, represent the past, an aspect of your own past perhaps as well as in more general terms music's past.

G.G.: That's true.

G.G.: I hope you forgive me for saying that these ideas are only partly justified. Also I feel that you, Mr. Gould, have foregone the privilege that is rightfully yours of communicating with an audience.

G.G.: From a power-base?

G.G.: From a setting in which the naked fact of your humanity is unedited and unadorned.

G.G.: Couldn't I at least be allowed to display the tuxedo fallacy perhaps?

G.G.: Please Mr. Gould, I don't feel that we should allow this conversation to degenerate. I tried to pose the question in all candor and...

G.G.: Then I'll try and answer likewise. To me, the ideal audience to artist relationship is a one to zero relationship. That's where the moral objection comes in.

G.G.: Run that by me again?

G.G.: First, I'm not happy with words like "public" and "artist." I'm not happy with the hierarchical implications of that kind of terminology. The artist should be granted anonymity. He should be permitted to operate in secret, as it were, unconcerned with or, better still, unaware of the presumed demand of the marketplace, which demands, given sufficient indifference on the part of a sufficient number of artists, would simply disappear. Given that disappearence, the artist will then abandon his false sense of public responsibility, and his audience or public will relinquish its role of servile dependency.

G.G.: And never the twain shall meet.

G.G.: No, they'll make contact but on a much more meaningful level.

G.G.: Well, Mr. Gould, I'm well aware that this sort of idealistic role-swapping has a certain rhetorical flourish. The creative audience concept that you've devoted a lot of interview space to elsewhere, has a kind of McCluen-esque (?) fascination, but yet you conveniently forget that the artist, however hermetic his lifestyle, is still in effect an autocratic figure; he's still, however benevolently, a social dictator, and his public, however generously enfrachised by electronic options, is still on the receiving end of the experience; and all your neo-midevil anonymity requests on behalf of the artist as zero, all your vertical pan-culturalism (?) on behalf of his public isn't going to change that.

G.G.: May I speak now?

G.G.: Of course. I didn't mean to get carried away there, but I do feel strongly about...

G.G.: About the artist as Superman?

G.G.: That's not quite fair, Mr. Gould.

G.G.: Or about the interlocutor as controller of the conversation perhaps?

G.G.: No need to be rude.

G.G.: (pause) What about this: if we imagine that the artist....

2 Comments:

Blogger fred burgess! said...

This is from the movie, "Thirty-two Short Films about Glenn Gould."

I added (?)s where I spelled out what I could hear to the best of my ear, but I didn't know what was meant -- so I could have typed it wrong. Does "vertical pan-culturalism" mean anything to anyone else?

I think you can get the point of the piece anyway.

7:43 PM  
Blogger carlBOMB said...

i would say that the forum of a blog is ripe for promoting neo-medevil anonymity. (on that note, however, i'll choose to waive my right to post this anonymously)

4:59 AM  

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