Brain Dropping #10
It occurred to me while watching an old black and white video – of a performance of Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastic” by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Charles Munch – what a long way we’ve come from the sixties. The performance was thrilling, but I couldn’t help noticing that there were only three women in this ensemble of over one hundred, a harpist, a flutist and a cellist. And I recalled that, during this same decade, the members of the exclusively male Berlin Philharmonic went on strike to block the admission of women to their ranks.
In the puritanical, misogynistic United States, we may be entering a new period of quasi-fascism, what with the egregious NDAA allowing the military to scoop you up and hold you incommunicado indefinitely, the murder by drone of American citizens without due process ( giving one man a monarch’s power of life and death), bankers and corporations cheating and stealing with impunity, and the lunatic right-wing becoming even more insane by the day – but on the cultural front amazing things are happening that were undreamed of three decades ago. There is a growing number of women in political office and a few cracks in the corporate ‘glass ceiling, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, general acceptance and legal codification of gay marriage, growing empowerment of the LGBTQ community, wide spread use, in certain media, of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can’t Say On T,V.” the very words that got Lenny Bruce arrested, the first black President of the United States of America, and symphony orchestras where women are fully represented.
What’s going on? How could these two divergent streams be at the flood at the same time? Like Rome, is the American Empire, entering a critical period of decay and putrefaction? Or more hopefully, is there a growing consciousness of the palpable hypocrisy of our leadership, our system of governance, of the compelling need for alternative ways of structuring human society.