Stravinsky on form:

February 1, 2011

“The more art is controlled, limited, worked over, the more it is free. As for myself, I experience a sort of terror when, at the moment of setting to work and finding myself before the infinitude of possibilities that present themselves, I have the feeling that everything is permissable to me…. Will I then have to lose myself in this abyss of freedom? To what shall I cling in order to escape the dizziness that seizes me before the virtuality of this infinitude? However, I shall not succumb. I shall overcome my terror and shall be reassured by the thought that I have the seven notes of the scale and its chromatic intervals at my disposal, that strong and weak accents are within my reach, and that in all of these I possess solid and concrete elements which offer me a field of experience just as vast as the upsetting and dizzy infinitude that had just frightened me…. My freedom thus consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned myself for each one of my undertakings. I shall go even farther: my freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action an dthe more I surround myself with obstacles…. Th emore constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spririt.”

Igor Stravinsky, Poetics of Music: in the form of six lessons, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1970: 66-68.


[Oh yes, that Terror, I know him.]


[I am sorry it has been so long. Things Have Been Happening, Man, and not all of them wonderful. I’ve been picking myself back up, among other things, and that is time-consuming. But I have also been to London, and visited Keats’ house (!!), and scored a four volume set of the collected works of Barrett Browning, 1866, for £39. Also, the tree outside my window was cut down and I am in mourning, and term has started again, and I have been writing, but barely enough to be validating. And I have been trying to set upon a new programme of rationality and sleep, but have been failing at both. But look at how things go on! Damnable how indifferent it all is! The sun rolling up and falling over, time-in and time-out, day afte– etc. It is something I suppose, but certainly not enough to live on.]

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