March 24, 2007

From the Archive: Apology for Rag-Time

Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2003 00:12:40 -0500
From: "Bonnie Anne Whiting" <>
To: "James Welsch" <>
Subject: drowsy headed poppies.

Your ragtime is kicking my orchestra's ass. What do you mean by the
glissandi in the flute and clarinet? They say it is not possible.
Tell me what you want, and I will tell them. Wow. It is hard for them.

Date:Mon, 3 Mar 2003 08:01:08 -0800 (PST)
From:"James Welsch" <>
Subject:An Apology for Rag-time
To:"Bonnie Anne Whiting" <>


The Entire Universe ascends before mine eyes as many Layers of Circling Whirling Globes.
The Outer Orbit, beautiful, in Eternal Eden is the Realm of Truth and Light.
Man, in his delimiting imagination, open’d his jaws and call’d it Concept.
The Inner Orbit, breathing, generating, sexual and physical, is perceiv’d by the Theater of our
Sensations as a Delicious Lifelong Embrace.
Woman, in her moonbent perturbation, open’d her Womb to it and call’d it Object.
The Third Orbit, nowhere and all consuming, created by the Mighty Artist, and Invented by
him as the Word, is Mankind’s Salvative Solution to Understanding the Outer Spheres.
To Throw down your Pen is to renounce your Sexuality, in effect renouncing your Immortality.
To Notate at the Speed of Light is to be a God, perfect, beyond Space and Time.
To be an Artist is an attempt at a Reflection of Eden’s Beauty, which Mozart came close to,
and for it died Midway through Life’s Journey, at Jesus’ age.
And God said, Thou canst not see my Face: for there shall no Man see me, and Live. [Exodus xxxiii:20]
Luckily, I suck at Notation, so will most likely live a Long and Impotent Life.
When I say Glissando, it is a Word created by a Mortal to tell a Mortal Clarinetist to
slide between two notes.
The Glissandi of the Heavens are Puissant, Infinite, Terrible, Beautiful in their Divine Glory!
A Classical Musician perceives the Word on a Page & says:
Lo! God has written this Word and it is within my Mortal Powers to Fly through the
Indefinite Elysian Galaxy in an Infinitesimal Nanosecond, if I while away my Allotment of
Time Practicing it, to Reflect the Composer’s Flawless Handwriting.
A Rag Musician perceives the Limits of the Page & says:
Cat, I shall never dig the Perfection of God and the Boundless Regions of the Stratospheres!
What the Room, What the Hour, the Performance will be Endlessly Different!
Such is the Glory of Love, Such are the Limits of Rag!
If the Fall of Man were One Second Later, would Measure Sixty-Nine be delay’d as well?
I shall Rejoice in my Humanity and play the Glissandi when where & how I shall!
To Honor the Inadequacy of the Scribe is to Rejoice in the Paragon of his Muse!
As the Great Poet resounded to the Ecchoing Indeterminate Silence:
Composition, Performance, and Audition or Observation are Really Different Things.
They have next to nothing to do with one another.
These Ideas are not mine own, and have been decreed by Plato Aristotle Shakspere & Blake
timeless times before and timeless times in the Distant Future.
However, as this is The Way Things Are, & as Language is sadly merely the Looking-Glass of Truth,
my restating it for mine own piteous purposes, in my feeble attempts at poetry and music,
will plagiarize nor do no harm to no Immortal Force:
For such is the quality of rag.


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