Sunday, November 20, 2011

falling through the tones

Olivier Messiaen's Christian mysticism, which inspired his music, makes no impression on me. The notion of Eschaton has, for me, a vapor of nihilism about it.

So what I get from Messiaen's music is not anchored to religion. Nonetheless, his music does have for me a dreamlike, almost-mystical quality.

Lately, I've been pondering the death of loved ones. Despite all my pondering, I still don't know what it means. Life with their presence has given way to life with pervasive absence. It simply does not compute.

When I listen to this piece of music by Messiaen, something odd happens to me: my anguished pondering ceases. I simply fall through the tones of this haunting score. My sadness and incomprehension are stunned into a kind of indifference. Or a stupefaction. The sense of it is something like a dream. A brief transcendence. As if memory and time itself are falling between the notes...toward a realm of muted sighs.


  1. This is the beauty of it transports us from one mood to another, is at times an anesthetic, and sometimes a knife. You pull from it what you need. God. Will. Surrender. Fight. Rest. Inspiration. A beautiful piece to be sure.

  2. Yes. And sometimes it opens up an infinite space or a form of eternity.