A Brilliant Cultural Analysis based on Classical Music

This arti­cle, although focused on clas­si­cal music, at its core is a bril­liant expo­si­tion and exe­ge­sis of the cur­rent state of affairs in our soci­ety.
From the tran­sience of expe­ri­ence and ram­pant indi­vid­u­al­ism, through to a con­stant­ly thwart­ed search for Australian iden­ti­ty, the obser­va­tions in the mid­dle sec­tion are rich and inci­sive.

Last year, at my son’s pri­ma­ry school Christmas con­cert, the chil­dren did not sing a sin­gle Christmas car­ol. I thought this might have been because the word “Jesus” was ver­boten, but the prin­ci­pal lat­er reas­sured me that it was not. …
I had recent­ly returned from Germany, where a woman had asked me whether Christmas in the Australian sum­mer could pos­si­bly be gemütlich. I sang one of the con­fect­ed Australian car­ols I had learned as a child…
“Oh wow,” she mar­velled. “That sounds real­ly awk­ward.”

This awk­ward­ness was writ large at my son’s con­cert. It was a Christmas con­cert in search of iden­ti­ty; nev­er mind Christ, there were not even any ref­er­ences to Christmases past. It spoke to me of a larg­er Australian malaise: because we dare not con­front the real­i­ties of our own past, we pre­fer to imag­ine there was no past. Instead, we busy our­selves with our home ren­o­va­tions and hero ingre­di­ents, and for­get the Western human­is­tic tra­di­tion. We cel­e­brate cul­ture if you can eat it. (If we do acknowl­edge a her­itage, it is fre­quent­ly one of fail­ure: Gallipoli, the Eureka Stockade, a sui­ci­dal swag­man. This might look like the cham­pi­oning of the under­dog, but noth­ing in today’s nation­al actions sug­gests that we cham­pi­on the under­dog.)”

Its a long read, but worth­while. Read it now: https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2015/october/1443621600/anna-goldsworthy/lost-art-listening

Chris

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