Classification is practically a divine endowment. As Genesis says, the Lord breathed existence into being, divided the day into two categories, and called them night and day. Why complicate things with intermediacies such as dawn and twilight? Fortunately for the musical arts, the current era is not Biblical. The dominant theme of twentieth-century music in all categories is the collapse of categories, as genres, styles, and cultural associations mingle and blur.
Few things of meaning come across as more meaningless than another person’s dreams. Everything that makes a dream fascinating to the dreamer—the confusion, the illogic, the mercurialness of time, place, and identity—seems like little more than random weirdness when the Id involved is not our own. As a means for making art, moreover, dream-telling is treacherous for all but the most artful of tellers. I recall myself having written short stories that ended with the cheat of an explanation that all that I had described was really just a dream. I learned to do better at the advice of Mrs.
Fred Hersch, Leaves of Grass (Palmetto) First published 150 years ago this summer, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was always a work in progress--or a series of works that varied in character and grew exponentially in size over more than three decades, until the poet's death in 1892. The first edition, first published one hundred fifty years ago this July and something of a vanity project manufactured with typesetting assistance from Whitman himself, presented a dozen poems on ninety-five pages. The second, published fourteen months later, contained thirty-two poems.