Thursday, 12 May 2016

vexations and municipal tulips

Saturday we were at Conway Hall in London for the Boring Conference. The right kind of boring resides more in the built environment and human culture than in gardens and greenery, although a short piece on street lighting was full of pleasing detail and nimbyish outrage at the unreasonable nature of street lights. But it was in a leafy bit of London, and Red Lion square outside was clattering with blackbirds and crows. Not that we saw any of that; we were sat inside in polite rows, listening to things that were quite interesting, about topics that were, well boring.

Then, just before lunch, Rhodri Marsden came on stage, and started playing Vexations by Satie, which he described as the the most boring and irritating piece of music ever composed; a single short phrase of awkwardly unmemorable and dislocating piano, to be repeated 840 times, which may or may not have had something to do with breaking up with a surrealist:

It is difficult to listen to. I cracked at repitition 25 and fled into the square where I suffered some of the temporary effects people describe from listening (involuntary silence, auditory sensitivity and confusion) though thankfully none described from playing (visual hallucinations, hysteria and madness).

I photographed tulips until I felt better.

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municipal tulips municipal tulips municipal tulips

Municipal Tulips are magnificently grounding. Garish, speckled with greenfly, jutting up from bare earth or a background of cheerful bedding in complimentary colours, they have a brusque simplicity; I am flower, see me blaze.

Anyone wishing to experience the effects of Vexations firsthand can find a full length version on Youtube. I would recommend having a bunch of tulips at hand.

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