Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

It's always great when the holidays fall over a weekend, so that one can snuggle into the old rocking chair for 3 1/2 days with some books and opera DVD's and expect relatively few disturbances, and then have it happen again, twice in a row. The only reason for complaint was the dark and grismal weather that prevailed this year, which prohibited any attempts to get outdoors and do some serious, or rather unserious hiking.

It is indeed wonderful  in effect to be given official permission to tell the whole world to kiss off and simply to do what one feels like for 3.5 days, but it is the English, from whom we yet have much to learn, who really excel at this. Not only is one authorized two consecutive days to celebrate Christmas, but the whole country goes virtually into lockdown for a week or ten days at the end of each December.

As described in this space exactly one year ago, I habitually put myself through various musical rituals over Christmas and New Year's; this year I enjoyed the Claudio Abbado version of Beethoven's Ninth, which I thought was quite good, before immersing myself in early Verdi, in particular Nabucco and Ernani.

The best Christmas blogging I found this year was by Magistra et mater, who purchased the last holiday cupcakes available in Drumnadrochit, Scotland, and who speaks of the "real historical continuity" involved with feeling one's toes growing numb during Christmas Eve services inside some freezing church. It put me immediately in mind of similar sufferings at Midnight Mass in Grace Cathedral, where one's ability to enjoy the spectacular ceremonies was much hindered by the fact that it was AWFULLY COLD.

The best poem I came across over the holidays was written by Nicky Beer, who describes the inevitably ponderous lust of tortoises at Verse Daily.

As for 2010, I thought the whole year was basically a bunch of rubbish, at least as far as public life is concerned. I cast hexagrams on New Year's Day and came up with #63, After Completion. Following Richard Wilhelm, the idea seems to be that having reached perfection, there is obviously no place to go but down. One is therefore admonished by the Oracle to pay attention to detail in order to avoid structural hassles.