Thoughts of a Dry Brain in a Dry Season.

"It's a shocking piece," [Miles] Hoffman says. "It's still startling to us today when we hear it, but it is not a confusing piece. It's compelling. We're hearing irregular rhythms, we're hearing instruments asked to go to the extremes of their capability, but we're also hearing patterns that we recognize, with pacing, contrast, fascinating harmonies, continuity — all the basic principles of what makes a piece of music work are all there.

I have treated myself to a concert ticket for one of my favourite pieces of classical music: Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring).

I have long been a convert to Modernism - by that I mean, that vast array of strange and deliberately disconcerting art forms which emerged in the Western part of the world around 1908-ish and which petered out towards the end of the 1930s. Shklovsky's definition of остранение (ostranenie or 'defamiliarisation') describes my favourite art works so splendidly: they unsettle the readers/listeners/spectators by forcing them to acknowledge the artifice of art (and thereby making a clean break with the naturalist tradition of art).

Kasimir Malevich's suprematist paintings (not pictured although the image on the left is by Malevich) and Gertrude Stein's marvellous Tender Buttons are great examples: Malevich seeks to figure out how to paint the very act of painting (and how to communicate the unnaturalness of this act to his audience): Stein plays with the building blocks of her trade - grammatical units - and attempts to uncover the act of making meaning. Stravinsky's ballet is not as ambitious and is vastly less subtle in its use of defamiliarisation - but his use of fertility rites ties in well with the Modernist preoccupation with primitivism and anthropology (Picasso, Ezra Pound, TS Eliot). Wwwwroaw.

So, yes, "I can connect / Nothing with nothing. / The broken fingernails of dirty hands / My people humble people who expect / Nothing." I'll be swept away once more.