The daily cartoon and live briefing: Sunday, March 20, 2021

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Today the editor’s look: Time: Partly sunny with a chance of showers in the morning, then sunny in the afternoon. Cooler. Less humid with highs in the mid 70s. Northerly winds 5-10 mph. Chance of rain 40 percent. Sunday evening: clear. Lows in the lower 50s. Winds northeast around 5 mph.

“The Revolutionaries”, by playwright Lauren Gunderson, a comedy about four women during the Terror of the French Revolution, plays at the City Repertory Theater in Palm Coast at 3 p.m. heritage and defend his convictions. At the City Marketplace CRT, 160 Cypress Point Parkway, Suite B207, Palm Coast. Tickets: $20 or $15 for students. Book your tickets here. See the preview, “Badas “Revolutionists” Guillotine France’s Reign of Terror in City Repertory Theater Comedy.”

Byblos: In 1717, François Couperin wrote “Les barricades mystiques”, literally translated as “The mysterious barricades”. The title seems as evocative as the play, although no one has been able to explain the title. Couperin no. The explanation is not so important. Think of those titles that accompany works of art in museums. We rush towards them as towards the holy grail, missing the point, which is in the work (if even there: let’s not even be reductive to the point of seeking a point), not the title. Sometimes the artist gives him a wink, as if to tell you not to attach much importance to the titles, if not to the work itself, such as “The Treachery of Images” or “The Treachery of Images by Magritte with his famous This didn’t pass a pipe (“Ceci n’est pas une pipe”), a nod as rich in double-meaning as the piece itself (a pipe, in French, is fellatio). Or think of the way titles are imposed on musical works after childbirth – Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata, a marketing gimmick he has nothing to do with that depreciates rather than informs the piece. I digress. The evocation is enough. The great (late) harpsichordist Scott Ross compared Couperin’s piece, anachronistically (a performer of his genius must have poetic license), to something like a train. Had it been used as a wedding procession, funeral procession, baptism procession, even graduation procession, and sticking to that use over the centuries, it probably would have worked just as well as the Vaughan Williams Walk or that the sheep may safely graze from Bach. We associate occasions with certain pieces of music not because that’s what the music was written for, but because, like moonlight as a romantic trope, that’s what someone has to at some point decided to associate it, and it stuck. Of course, associating a heavy metal track with a Wordsworth poem might seem anachronistic. But you never know. If Picasso could turn the handlebars and seat of a bicycle into this handsome bull’s head – beauty is as much in the idea as in the execution – then why not Heavy Metal Wordsworth? Art without borders is redundant. It’s a tautology, like saying that all sonatas are sonatas. Art is by definition without borders, a balm for imaginations which may not have the talent of the artist, but who are nevertheless able to appreciate its scope and beauty – the beauty for itself, not because it makes us better human beings, not because it teaches us anything (God forbid), not because it makes us “more cultured”, God forbid the power of twelve: art is not transactional. This is not the chamber of commerce’s way of improving sales. She is (like human beings, we so often forget) her own end. So going back to Couperin’s barricades, which at this point can mean quite the opposite of the title – or could mean barricades to the interpretation – adapting the title to a use, imagining it as something particular, don’t is not the point. What it is in itself is all there should be. And if you insist on some In this context, Couperin had become a few years earlier one of the composers of the court of Louis XIV, at the dawn of the endless reign of the Sun King. He died in 1715. Perhaps the play calls to mind those echoes of echoes in the empty rooms of Versailles, France having never known such a gigantic reign or end. Louis XV would not be big enough. Or this (I see that I contradict everything I have said above): Would Couperin have dared to pun on the Fronde, the attempt at a nascent aristocratic and bourgeois revolution that Louis XIV so ruthlessly suppressed, delaying the French Revolution who should have been? (The Fronde could have been for France what the Glorious Revolution would be for a few decades for England). Couperin melancholic, audacious, of unbearable elegance: these are his barricades. I listened to this piece again and again, each time listening to it again. This would work just as well at a memorial for the victims of Ukraine. Or for their dim but inextinguishable hopes. Here are two versions, the first for harpsichord, the second for piano:


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“I’m an American, but I don’t believe any of us like a swaggering nationality – a nationality with a chip on its shoulder, a nationality with its elbows up and its swaggering. We love that calm spirit , self-respecting, indomitable, who strikes only when it is necessary to strike, then strikes to overcome.

–Excerpt from a 1916 campaign speech by Woodrow Wilson.

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