Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Verses of Memory

"However that may be, I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse. This is not because I fear having missed out on truths that are incapable of statement in prose. There are no such truths; there is nothing about death that Swinburne and Landor knew but Epicurus and Heidegger failed to grasp. Rather, it is because I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts — just as I would have if I had made more close friends. Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — farther removed from the beasts — than those with poorer ones; individual men and women are more fully human when their memories are amply stocked with verses."
Richard McKay Rorty, 1931-2007  American Philosopher
   The Fire of Life, 2007

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature: Thirtieth-Anniversary Edition

"We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea."
-  A. C. Swinburne, "Garden of Proserpine"

Last year, Karen and I watched a fascinating and touching documentary about the efforts of Dan Cohen to bring music to persons in nursing homes.   "Alive Inside: Music and Memory", 1 hour and 20 minutes.  A worthy cause!!  A fascinating discussion about how music effects our minds from infancy to old age.  How is it that you can remember the verses to songs you learned when you were three years old?

As for Tai Chi Chuan and music ... I recall only T. T. Liang recommending you play music while practicing Taijiquan and timing your moves to the music as if dancing.  Maybe Sophia Delza also advocated doing Taijiquan to music since she was an expert on Asian dancing.  Now, in 2015, you can use an IPod or Sony Walkman or other devices to play digital music and listen on ear phones or ear plugs while practicing Taijiquan or Qigong.  I have also purchased and listened to prerecorded music especially designed for specific Taijiquan forms or Qigong which are timed to match a proper performance of the form.  I know that the Tai Chi Kung Fu fan form is specifically timed for performance to a specific piece of music.  I am not particularly fond of the tuning and twanginess and lively pace used in traditional Chinese music, but anyone can find music they favor to suit the ambience desired for Taijiquan or Qigong practice.  I like a lot of New Age music or Japanese Zen flutes. 

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