Mahler and William James' "sick soul."

We arrived in Clearwater Saturday and after opening up the condo we walked Island Way, it was a beautiful, hot sunny day but we were pretty tired from getting up at 5:00 a.m., the plane flight, etc.   We had a quiet and relaxed evening of reading and listening to music.  Sunday was also beautiful and we took our “traditional” walk to our marker pole at North Beach and swam for a while.

B. looked up what was at Ruth Eckerd Hall and it turned out to be Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection.  Dominic from Monday Night favors that piece above all others and so I had at his suggestion listened to it a few times.  It is fairly complex music for me so I’m not sure I “got it.”  

Last evening, watching the full orchestra, I came to an appreciation and a startling recognition that the symphony portrays William James “soul sick” individual in need of integration of the divided self, conversion and redemption.  I was startled at how completely the quoted written description of the movements by Mahler himself, describing the expressive progression of the Second Symphony, mirrored the discussion in the Chapter on the “Soul Sick Individual” in VRE.  Here is what the program says(Florida Orchestra Program, May 2009, p. xvi):

“1st movement, We stand by the coffin of a well loved person.  What now?  What is this life—and this death?  Do we have evidence beyond it? Do life and this death have a meaning? – And we must answer this question if we are to live on.

2nd movement – Andante (In the style of a Landler).  You must have attended the funeral of a person dear to you and then, perhaps, the picture of a happy hour long past arises in your mind like a ray of sun undimmed – and you can almost forget what has happened.

3rd movement – Scherzo based on Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt.  When you awaken  from the nostalgic daydream ( of the preceding movement)  and you return to the confusion of real life, the senseless bustle of daily activities may strike you w horror.  Then life can seem meaningless.

4th movement – Urlicht (mezzo soprano solo).  The moving voice of naïve faith sounds in our ear; I am God and desire to return to God!

5th movement.  We again confront all the dreadful questions. The end of all living things has come.  The Last Judgment is announced and the ultimate terror of the Day of Days has arrived.  Our senses fail us and all consciousness fades away at the approach of the Eternal Spirit.  The “Great Summons” resounds: the trumpets of the apocalypse call.  Softly there sounds a choir of saints and heavenly creatures: “Rise again, yes, thou shalt rise again.”  An Almighty love shines through us with blessed knowing and being.”

If James had used musical cases, rather than written cases from literature, this piece would express clearly and with great beauty and emotion that there is an type of individual who is in pain and suffering over the nature of life and death and cannot be happy until this pain and suffering is removed by the unification of the tortured self in the conversion experience.
Premium Drupal Themes by Adaptivethemes