Sunday, November 21, 2010

Unexpected Insight From George Eliot

"At first when I enter a room where the walls are covered with frescoes, or with rare pictures, I feel a kind of awe - like a child present at great ceremonies where there are great robes and processions; I feel myself in the presence of some higher life than my own. But when I begin to examine the pictures one by one, the life goes out of them, or else is something violent and strange to me. It must be my own dulness. I am seeing so much all at once, and not understanding half of it. That always makes one feel stupid. It is painful to be told that anything is very fine and not to be able to feel that it is fine - something like being blind, while people talk of the sky."

- Dorothea Brooke, in George Eliot's Middlemarch

Rereading Middlemarch this weekend, the above quote seemed to pop out and slap me across the face. Though Dorothea here is speaking to Will Ladislaw about paintings and art, I realized that this is exactly the way I've felt about sound since the CI. The things I'm hearing are so numerous and overwhelming, and I have so little knowledge with which to make sense of them. When I try, they slip out of my fingers. My appreciation of sound derives mainly from a sense of being overawed, as one present at an unprecedented spectacle, not from a true educated subtlety. That subtlety will come with time, but as of now the things I hear are indeed "violent and strange." Yet what an ineffable, seductive strangeness it is.

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