…another guest post, from a longtime correspondent of mine in Taos, New Mexico, who also happens to be a classical composer. Here’s a link to an interview with her, if you’d like to learn more.
written by Joanne Forman
May It Please Your Eminence:
I pray Your Eminence will deign to accept this preliminary report on the successful rescue of The Singers; one of the most intricate, and if I may humbly venture to say, one of the most arduous projects—which exists, of course, due to the wisdom and compassion of Your Eminence.
As Your Eminence will well understand, our expedition will be very gratified to return, as we will shortly, to the civilized society of our own planet, though our endeavors have not been without interest.
The Singers themselves are, on the whole, doing well, and are most becoming in their fervent expressions of gratitude and relief. On the part of a great many of the whales there is a perhaps remarkable note of regret and deepest melancholy upon having to leave their home planet. Already there are symphonies and requiems in progress, partaking of the usual magnificent harmonic structures. Even more stunning is a note of pity for the rapidly approaching demise of the primitives, even though they have persecuted and murdered whales throughout their sorry history.
The dolphins, on the whole, seem to regard The Rescue as a great adventure, a lark even. Naturally, they are also creating new music, and the 13-part counterpoint is dazzling. If their insouciance is startling and perhaps a bit off-putting, how they choose to cope is, of course, their affair. Their amazing ability to do so, I most humbly and earnestly beg, may be a study of worth to us.
In any case, the addition of these great-hearted creatures to our world is a benison totally due to the benevolence and foresight of Your Eminence, whom it has been our great privilege to serve in this matter.
Knowing Your Eminence’s interest in primitive societies (if the case in point can be called a “society”) I take the liberty of approaching Your Eminence with a report on an odd incident.
This happened on the last day but one of the Rescue. The documents fully describe, per Your instructions, the difficulties of coordinating the many flights from that planet, the problems of achieving the exact salinity required in the tanks, the logistics of lifting the Singers from the waters into our ships. Too, the near-crushing problems of dealing with the shock of removal and transportation from the only home they had ever known to our much more salubrious planet. Your Eminence knows, of course, that they are adjusting well, but it was not easy.
It is not surprising, as Your Eminence in His infinite compassion will understand, that this entire project produced the greatest distress, anger and fear among the primitives, requiring regrettable but necessary measures. I was badly in need of a period of silence and reflection to recover my equilibrium. Thus it was that I was walking alone on one of the beaches, thanking Your Eminence in my heart that the Rescue was nearing completion, but ruminating upon the ruin of what could have been a beautiful planet, had it not been heedlessly ruined by the species that, so mistakenly, thought of itself as dominant. Your Eminence knows well, in Your infinite wisdom, the childish vanity of primitive species.
So there I was, thanking Your Eminence in my heart (as the primitives would say) that the task was nearly done, and that on the morrow we Rescuers would ourselves depart, to return to our home planet and the benevolence of Your Eminence. I had thought I was mercifully alone, but sure enough, one of the primitives approached through the near-night gloom that envelopes the accursed planet. I saw, as it drew closer, that it was what the primitives call “female.” What can one do but deprecate a species that has only two genders? Really, perhaps we should not blame them for the wreck of their planet; like infants, they have no concept of anything beyond their own desires.
To make it even more annoying, this primitive regarded itself as what it calls a composer. We have been much bemused by their notion that only very special ones of their species can create music, whereas, of course, every baby among us is born able to Sing. I admit I was annoyed, and waited impatiently for its request for its own music to be included in the archives we are bringing home for Your perusal.
I cannot resist craving Your Eminence’s patience: oh, the millions upon millions of requests, pleas, hysterical begging we have endured from these primitives! Very many have begged us to take their children—as if we would dream of continuing this useless species! Just as many were requests for themselves. We were quite amused at all the rather clever but ingenuous reasons why this or that precious and unique person should be preserved.
Then there were those who asked not for themselves, but for what they regarded as the important and immortal creations of what they called their Civilization. Truly, Your Eminence, what could we do but laugh. Their “science!” Their “art,” “literature!” What rubbish!
Worst of all, their “music!” I suppose we should not have laughed; what can one expect from a species that has only a rudimentary anatomical voice production, and such lamentable lack of appendages?
Anyway, I waited as patiently as I could for this primitive to make its inane request for its own supposedly valuable, unique music to be preserved. Your Eminence is well aware of the very limited ability of the species to communicate, but I tried not to flinch as I to listened to the ugly honkings, garglings and squeakings which it calls “speech.”
But! Even the primitives, usually so predictable, can occasionally surprise. I realized it was pleading not for its own music, but for that of what it regarded as the greatest composer of its culture. It handed me a portfolio of that stuff it calls “paper,” and then, to my utter amazement, it said that it wanted to make a gesture to convince me of its sincerity and desperation.
It removed its breathing mask! Naturally, in the poisoned air of this lamentable planet, it expired, gasping, in less than two minutes. Of course, we know it was doomed anyway, but one of the most remarkable characteristics of these primitives was how they clung to their worthless existences. Really, it was quite touching
Therefore, I pray Your Eminence will pardon me, but I somehow found myself including the sheaf of “papers” the primitive had handed me. It is, in the gimcrack scratches they utilize, entitled “Music of Johann Sebastian Bach.” I trust Your Eminence will take a moment to glance at it before consigning it to the Archives of Primitive Societies.
I remain, gratefully, Your Eminence’s most humble and obedient servant,
copyright 2011 by Joanne Forman. All rights reserved.