Mira, keep this close to Luis Sagasti’s A Musical Offering, close to Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights.
It is, after all, a musical offering — golden threads of western music’s entwining with the orient, of Liszt’s recitals in Constantinople, of how Nietzsche wanted to Mediterraneanize music, of the narrator’s replica of Beethoven’s compass that insisted on pointing east, but most of all because it reminds you beautifully that “music is a fine refuge against the imperfection of the world,” one that describes music as “time thought out, time circumscribed and transformed into sound… time domesticated, reproducible time, time shaped,” and cautions that “life is like a Mahler symphony, it never goes back, never retraces its steps…” but also that “this feeling of the passing of time is the definition of melancholy, an awareness of finitude from which there is no refuge.” Take note of how there is a metronome on the cover instead of a compass. Perhaps because a metronome goes back and forth between directions whilst keeping the music in time.
It is about flights. A hypnotic trip across east and west, tick tock, east, west, art, love, time, self, other, literature, until they have intermingled and are present in each other, an adventure with Being — of traveling to the lands of your dreams and to your favorite cities, about crossing the borders of genres, art forms, literary forms, and geographical borders, but also flights from sanity, and traversing through memory, history, and dreams, suggesting that “our dreams might be more knowledgable than we.” Flights of flavors, an exotic dish not everyone will love; disturbing at times, an acquired taste with a scent of opium.
But keep this book close to Luis Sagasti’s A Musical Offering, close to Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights, close to your heart. Only you know how much this book means to you. Don’t forget you were constantly wide-eyed with wonder when you read it and you agreed with the following lines. How much you were in need of reading that last sentence!
“Sometimes I feel as if night has fallen, that western darkness has invaded the Orient of enlightenment. The spirit and learning, the pleasures of the spirit and learning, of Khayyam’s and Pessoa’s wine, have not been able to stand up to the twentieth century; I feel that the global construction of the world is no longer carried out by the interchange of love and ideas, but by violence and manufactured objects… You have to have… energy to constantly reconstruct yourself, always look mourning and illness in the face, have the perseverance to continue searching through the sadness of the world to draw beauty or knowledge from it.”
3 thoughts on “Mathias Énard: Compass”
This one sounds wonderful… while I’m not musically inclined at all the fact it deals with our type of places and travel has definitely piqued my interest. I think I will add to my buy list! X
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It is! I know some people who probably wouldn’t enjoy this because of the many references that will escape those who rarely read about the region, but I think YOU will find it wonderful! Although if you plan to read this author, it would be best to start with Tell Them of Battles, Kings, & Elephants. ❤
Haha so funny, but today I went through my list and added some books to my cart to buy tomorrow. You must have told me about Battles, Kings etc as I have put it in to buy!!! Lol. X
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