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Monday, 21 April 2008

Surrounded by piffle on all sides - a lot of it fatal. Why?

We’re all emotional, but I’m emotional about what you may consider some very odd things.

Quotations, for instance. Here is one from Aristotle:

“We have a duty to know. That is what humans are for, and it alone leads to happiness and is the nearest we can come to immortality.”

I use it sometimes in seminars, and I confess that almost every time I do, I get a lump in my throat. Odd? Perhaps. I just believe in it very deeply.

Anyhow, it came to mind when I read of all things a review of a jazz concert in which a writer referred to the late Bill Evans as “the most influential pianist of the 20th century”.

Not just jazz pianist – any pianist.

That man is talking straight through his hat.

Let’s take jazz. Bill Evans was a nice melodic pianist – but does he compare for an instant with Art Tatum, widely acknowledged by jazz pianists themselves as the greatest jazz pianist of all time? I remember one telling me that every time he heard Tatum he felt like giving up. Did he have more influence than Scott Joplin, James P. Johnson or Duke Ellington? Or Erroll Garner, not to mention Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell? Or even Oscar Peterson?

That’s just jazz pianists. But since he was a jazz pianist with a dash of the classical, can he possibly even compare with the highest-paid concert pianist ever – Paderewski? Or Rachmaninov – not only a great pianist but a great composer - also true of Bartok and Prokoviev. What about Horowitz, Rubinstein, Gilels, Gould, Arrau?

No doubt someone even more ignorant than him will believe this man and repeat his piffle.

We live with the depressing consequences of ignorance every day.

Men, women and children die in agony every day because Blair, Bush and their henchmen never studied what has always happened to invaders of Afghanistan; or in Iraq’s case never looked at what the Allies did at the end of World War 2 to make sure Germany didn’t collapse in chaos.

And now we’re all going to be coughing up for a few years because bankers and politicians never studied previous collapses - all with similar patterns going back to the 17th century.

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