Monday, December 17, 2012

Der Erlkönig

It's understandable, after Sandy Hook and similar events, that people focus on instrumental, functional, societal responses. I also think Schubert (and Goethe) is justified, as an artist, in exploring or expressing the perennial macabre. Horror and death – the symbolic demon king of this lied – is always there, just off-stage. Our society of consumer spectacle, “progress,” and strange optimism tends to repress darker, ancient aspects of world as such. 

The Schuberts, Kafkas, and Celans bring to thought and feeling that other consideration: the irremediable tragic. The aesthetic realm can be a place where works shove aside narcissism, hedonism, and busyness, substituting instead a muted, subliminal shock of being. An expectation of horror as a slow catharsis beneath the waves of phenomena. 

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