Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mere Peace

When I drive my daughter to school, at some point, she's there and I'm on my way back. On the classical station, I've been hearing ads between the music for a performance of the local master chorale.

November 18th, the chorale will present 3 pieces: Haydn's Mass in Time of War; Andriessen's The City of Dis or: The Ship of Fools, the first section of a five-part opera-in-progress based on Dante's La Commedia; and Tormis's God Protect Us From War.

From the program notes:

Opening in a minor key, the gloomy timpani again utter frenzied throbbings when the music suddenly blossoms with trumpet fanfares, a dance-like tempo accelerating as the chorus insistently intones, “Dona nobis pacem,” an entreaty for peace. (Haydn's Mass)

And:

Featuring chant-like melodic motifs and the underlying tones of a gong, the impression of an ancient prayer wrapped in a mysterious veneer comforts us... (Tormis's God Protect Us From War)

Peace. Comfort. The absence of war, conflict, disagreement. Consensus.

Not victory. Oh, God no. Not success. Not even prayers for the well-being of the troops.

Peace. As in, "Bring the troops home!" As in, "No blood for oil!" As in, "peace in our time".

How is that peace maintained? By whom? At what cost?

"Don't know" And "don't care"

But peace is good! And right! And must be made now! So that the peaceful lotus-eaters are not disturbed in their dreams of...peace.

Interesting. I had not realized that peace is an artifact, made by man. I'm not saying that war is the natural state of mankind, but peace is something made, something that does not exist naturally, without support, without attention paid to it, without the infrastructure to wage war...to make peace.

This selection of music for the performance is an affirmation--a re-statement--of the obligatory, not-up-for-discussion chant "Peace good! War bad! Peace good!" There's no consideration, no room for consideration, of how peace is made. And kept.

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