Saturday, June 17, 2006

Human Shows Reviewed on Amazon

I was pleased to see that my review of "Human Shows: Essays in Honour of Michael Millgate - A Hardy Festschrift" which appeared in English Literature in Transition (v45:2) is now available through You can get it using this link. Someday, I will write about the five years living an ill-fated Hardyan life.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Savage Spirits

The idea that poets can "make a difference" on the real world is as complex a notion as whether an artist can actually summon the Daemon for the passionate ends. One must admit defeat (as Geoffrey Hill does in "Précis or Memorandum of Civil Power," published in the May issue of Poetry (again, I allude to Alex Ross whose "take" on the poem is different than mine). But, somehow, as Hill suggests, change occurs within diversity and the panoply of the public. Perhaps, we can only on the verities of an Gnostic Other, rather than the abeting spirit
that is created of our own. Thus, savages, as ourselves, cannot hope to evoke the compassion from self-creation and human ego. God, is The Without. I quote the beautiful poem of Wallace Stevens:

Less and Less Human, O Savage Spirit

(Wallace Stevens)

If there must be a god in the house, must be,
Saying things in the rooms and on the stair,

Let him move as the sunlight moves on the floor,
Or moonlight, silently, as Plato's ghost

Or Aristotle's skeleton. Let him hang out
His stars on the wall. He must dwell quietly.

He must be incapable of speaking, closed,
As those are: as light, for all its motion, is;

As color, even the closest to us, is;
As shapes, though they portend us, are.

It is the human that is the alien,
The human that has no cousin in the moon.

It is the human that demands his speech
From beasts or from the incommunicable mass.

If there must be a god in the house, let him be one
That will not hear us when we speak: a coolness,

A vermillioned nothingness, any stick of the mass
Of which we are too distantly a part.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Realities Of Disorder: Strauss and Modernity

Realities Of Disorder: Strauss and Modernity

Is an article that I will expand on later

Friday, June 09, 2006

My Poetry in Raritan Review, Winter 2006

In March 2006, Raritan Review published three poems by Seth Lachterman: Southwest, Gesture for an Afterlife, and The Watchman.
All three were written during a period of unusual personal turmoil. Each represents a "window" to the events that transpired. It's unnecessary for the poem to explicate anything of the actual reality and unfoldings.

More on this later.

Strauss and Modernity

Relatively late in my life, I've decided to embrace Richard Strauss's music. Early on, I was fond of the tone poems, but later, as a music student, felt he was a surface artist. In a summary fashion, I rejected his harmonic language as manipulative, and relegated his vocal works as suitable only for the most trivial of tastes. In a real way, I thought of Strauss as a precursor of movie and show music.
Well, either my sensibilities have taken a nosedive, or I've discovered something very significant about his operas. After all, Wordsworth became a passion in my fiftieth year, so why not accept Strauss as a true genius. Alex Ross, the music critic of the New Yorker (
in an essay), states the case for Strauss being the real giant of twentieth century music. Somewhere he states, "why do I love his music so?," or something to that effect. My sentiments exactly, since there is some sense of ambivalence in my heart to the delight I feel listening to the music. Perhaps I shouldn't fret. It may very well be that Strauss's operas in the past century rival the stature of Mozart's. More on Strauss later.

Remembering Hans Fantel

Hans Fantel, noted author, columnist for the New York Times, and musicologist, died May 21, 2006. Traveling back home from a swim at the local gym, he, somehow, went off the road and hit a tree. Two weeks after the accident, he passed. A NYT obituary can be found here. The following paragraph appeared in the Berkshire Record as a brief remembrance.
Hans and I became good friends only in the past eight years. Our musical passions were somewhat complementary: mine being Bach, his being Strauss. Hans was determined to reveal to this apostate the artistry and depth of the collaborative operas of Strauss and the Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal. He revered their work (both musical and literary) and regarded operas as Der Rosenkavalier and Ariadne auf Naxos among the greatest achievements in western culture. I was going to be a subject for his evangelical zeal, since I had little taste for Strauss or tolerance for what I perceived as music of gratuitous sentimentality. “You cannot understand the essence of Viennese culture without understanding Der Rosenkavalier,” he would say. Beginning a year ago, Hans methodically educated my taste by lending me his precious tapes, LPs and CDs of his favorite Strauss/von Hofmannsthal operas and poetry. Hans’s endearing enthusiasm and patience paid off. Within weeks I became something of a fanatic convert to his musical sensibility. His tragic loss is almost too much to bear, but the joys and insights he imparted will never be forgotten and will be his endowment. In the opera “Ariadne,” a harlequin sings “Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen, Zagen,/Alle Lust und alle Qual …” one of Hans’s favorite parts: “ The heart knows and must bear, at once and for all, by loving, hating, hoping, fearing – both passion and agony.” These words haunts me now.
Alex Ross has published an article featuring Hans.