Thursday, May 25, 2006

On Finnish folk hymns

I have little use for Bach's majesty or Mozart's unearthly Requiem as regards religious music with my particular inheritance of the Finnish Pietist folk melodies. It is strange to think how a collective, non-intellectual effort reaches to the same universal heights as with these individual, artistic geniuses. Negro spirituals (among many others) have the same effect. I wonder what this says of art? T.S. Eliot had a personal answer with "Tradition and the Individual Talent" but that I find hard to accept in its entirety. Surely he had a point of sorts, but I feel that he missed the essential and went overboard with his strange dogmas though he did touch on certain very crucial aspects of art.

In any case, I don't think that the religious aspect of these beautiful, sad hymns is beside the point as a pure aesthete would have it, somehow I think it is the essence of the message, but not literally, theologically interpreted. The longing for a true home connects both religion and art (and philosophy for that matter) in a sense that contradicts Plato's view of art as something distracting the true human pursuit of the essential. A very crucial issue to settle I would think. Well, in any case I feel tremendously priviledged as having these unearthly melodies as my childhood context: no wonder I have seeked universal art so singlemindedly - it was my very inheritance.

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