Friday, August 14, 2015

Evanston: in training; as intended; two quotes and a little wit; no idea

        I am in training. More even than usual, for I am always in training for sailing oceans. Some years ago I wrote an article, “The Forgotten Factor”, in which I observed that people planning to go offshore spend time and money preparing their boats, but often do not prepare themselves.  No matter how easy you make your boat to sail, if you sail enough it is going to get physical, and sailors fail boats more than boats fail people.
        But I’ve also gone into training for Richard Wagner’s THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG.
        I don’t recall what turned me toward Wagner at this late date in life. Until recently I had none of his music and knew only “The Ride of the Valkyries”. But now I have two full recordings of THE RING, one the Decca/Solti/Vienna Philharmonic which has been called the greatest recording ever made; one the famous/notorious Boulez/Chereau performance at Bayreuth.
        In preparation I’ve watched a DVD about the Boulez/Chereau production; downloaded all the librettos to my laptop; have two synopses of the operas;  researched German/Norse mythology; and read a very short book:  ASPECTS OF WAGNER by Bryan Magee. I seldom read criticism, but this one is as exceptional as the professional and reader views claim. I have the revised 1988 edition, to which a chapter had been added. Even so it only runs to 91 pages.
        Two days ago I decided I was finally ready and watched DAS RHEINGOLD. Although my opinion on opera has little value, the music was all new to me and I found it magnificent. I am enthralled and eagerly looking forward to DIE WALKURE, but won’t get to it until Monday.  Cubs games, English Premier League, and Carol take precedence this weekend.
        However, I wonder if Wagner is not doomed to extinction.  The entire RING takes about fifteen hours to perform spread over four nights. The final opera in the cycle, GOTTERDAMMERUNG, alone is five hours long.  The Solti rendition needs 14 CDs. The Boulez/Chereau 7 DVD’s.
        That’s a long, long time in an age when the Internet has reducied attention spans to nanoseconds. 


        I don’t like to think I misuse GANNET, but I certainly don’t use her as she was intended. It is a credit to Ron Moore and those who worked with him back in the late 70s and early 80s that a hull they built to day race can without much modification cross oceans.
        Here is a link to a fine article about how Moore’s are meant to be sailed with some dramatic photographs.
        GANNET once hung for a few seconds in the position of the boat in the third photo, but knocked down by two aberrant waves rather than a spinnaker.  Fortunately Moore 24s pop back up.


        I’ve never admired Sir Edmund Hillary’s two most famous quotes after coming down from Everest’s summit:  We knocked the bastard off.  And:  We climbed it because it’s there.  
        I don’t think we conquer mountains or oceans, we merely transit them.  And I don’t think we climb or sail because the mountains and oceans are there, but because we are.  Climbs and voyages are affirmations of self.
        However, the other evening Carol and I watched an entertaining documentary on Netflix, THE ALPS FROM ABOVE, which has great photography and possibly the most disjointed script ever written.  
        It begins with a quote from Sir Edmund I did not know and which I do admire:  It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.

        From my friend and fellow solo sailor Steve comes this from MOBY DICK which I also like:  

. . . and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces.  And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains, so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.
        Added to wit:  philosophy:  good questions, bad answers.


        You will find spacing between sentences in this entry inconsistent. I had no idea I was sinning against typography until I chanced upon this article.
        I even agree with it and I’ve tried.   
        I don’t think I can change.