"The mind is a compact, multiply connected thought mass with internal connections of the most intimate kind. It grows continuously as new thought masses enter it, and this is the means by which it continues to develop."

Bernhard Riemann On Psychology and Metaphysics ca. 1860

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

Handel's Messiah and Loss of Historical Perspective

I attended a performance yesterday of that holiday ritual. It is truly an irony that that we stand for the Hallelujah chorus in imagined imitation of the king. What you will read is that Handel was a court favorite and that he waged a campaign to stage the Messiah in opposition to the prevailing sentiment for the political satire of Gay's Beggar's Opera.

But I challenge you to put yourself back in your imagination to that time and place. Remind yourself that one of the favorite literary works was Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. This was, after all, the pre-Revolutionary period that swept up the intelligentsia worldwide.

In that light, the aim of dampening the enthusiasm for a "religious" oratorio in the city of London that had taken Dublin by storm makes perfect sense. In fine, the Messiah is a perfectly anti-Imperial tour de force.

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