Friday, April 20, 2018

The musician and the intellectual

There is no enemy; there is the American principle of free debate; fighting against an invented enemy is wasteful; fighting for ourselves and one another is constructive, is sharing—otherwise known as love.
That quote is from a bygone era.  It is from Leonard Bernstein.

Some of us still hold on to those dear values and "because of that love I feel more than ever the compulsion and responsibility to re-examine our automatic enemy-concept."

Bernstein was no ordinary musician, but a deep thinker too.  People might have disagreed with him, and plenty did, but he was not an uninformed lunatic.

I was reminded of Bernstein, and his commitment to music and social justice, when a couple of items blipped in my news feed.  They are in the context of TM Krishna's latest book.

TM Krishna is, of course, not a new topic here.  Like Bernstein, Krishna is far from an ass.  A thinking musician who boldly and loudly speaks out on India's troubling issues of caste and religion, he has been well recognized, including with the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Krishna writes:
There are some who wonder whether an artist has to be loud and open about art’s divisiveness. ‘Can we not just do this quietly, in the way we make art and not announce it to the world?’ Yes! It is distinctly possible, but the danger in this hide-and-seek is that the art world has an instinctive ability to snatch from undeclared counter-movements its energy of questioning.
"Qui tacet consentire videtur. Silence is acquiescence," reminds Bill Kristol.  Quietly is not an option.

I agree with Krishna that "any social change begins with personal conflicts."  It is easier to philosophize in the abstract than it is to look within.

Krishna relates the personal to the causes that he champions.
“For me, they run together,” he says. “Projects related to issues go parallel with traditional concert work.” 
I applaud the man.  There is hope for the old country in people like him.