The plague etc.
A great graphic on a horrible plague:
2 days in a row with my blog, maybe a record.
What of the plague?
Whatever happens, two of the last public events I attended were a fitting end (before eventual resumption?). On 11th, the opening of the National Gallery show of Titian’s late mythologies for Phillip II. Great tragedies of women in extremis, realised in blazing paint. Maybe they involved some voyeurism – Titian wrote to his patron promising to show nudes from back and front – but the intense and complex human dramas disarms the kind of formulaic viewing that too often passes as analysis. The other was a concert at the Royal Festival Hall, courtesy of my close friend Tania Correia, which recreated a massive Beethoven concert from 1808, conducted with punchy elegance by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Again a heroic assertion of the human spirit – though Pierre-Laurent Aimard played the Fourth Piano Concero more as we might imagine Liszt would have done than Beethoven with his Walter piano forte. If his piano had been assaulted as heavily as Aimard’s modern titan, I suspect it would have gone the same way as Hendrix’s guitar.
At some point I will write about the plague and what it ‘means’ – or will be seen as meaning. But not mentally geared up for that.
To a large degree I am less afflicted than many. My schedule of talks is gone – cancellation of visits to Florida, Venice, Stuttgart and Beijing. But since I work out of home, my daily routine is less disrupted than most people’s. I’m writing a book on Dante and divine light in art (for Dante’s 700th next year), which I can do largely from home since the Dante texts are all online. The visuals will be radiant. Though Dante is difficult. Also planning a big Hockney show for Cambridge in summer 2021. There are of course piles of unread books.
The problem is not one of boredom or lack of things to do. It is of variety. The same rooms, the same views, the same kind of cerebral and visual activities. Lively contact with people is vital for my morale. As a keen player of sport (previously) and avid listener to Radio Five, I really miss the games and contests. I admire great skills of the word-painting commentators, from whom I have learnt a lot. Masters of the modern ekphrasis. They are my friends. I don’t have a television.
Not in my stride yet, but bear with me…