Listening to three presentations with Q+A -- forty-five minutes for each paper plus another thirty for the discussion -- at the Arizona Quarterly Symposium was wonderfully provocative, but all that attentiveness takes a major toll.
By the time I made it to the Kronos Quartet performance -- Terry Riley's tribute to space exploration -- with Yuanyuan, I had difficulty focusing. Thank G-d there were stimulating visuals to prevent my drifting off. The strange part was that the backdrops -- abstract renderings of outerspace, spinning gyroscopes, shots of the Earth and Jupiter -- were really, really indebted to a late 60s-early 70s aesthetic. I kept remembering those strange shorts they used to show on public television in the minute or two between programs.
Actually, I don't suppose "remembering" is the right word, since I was a toddler when I watched them and didn't have the mental resources to register them distinctly. I couldn't really put the parts back on the body because I never had a sense of which parts belonged to which body. My memories are like one of those middle-period Cindy Sherman photos with an excess of limbs.
At several points in the performance, I thought of the light shows at the Fillmore West. That the projection technology was rather primitive and glitchy, at least by post-Wired standards, only enhanced the effect.
I'd have to have a sharper mind to figure out how the music factored into the retro vibe. Minimalism is, I suppose, as much a product of the late 60s as swirling colored gels and still photographs of "typical" human beings, the sort intended to elicit what Joe Sartelle used to call "species pride." He was thinking of Star Trek: Next Generation, but NASA isn't too far removed, is it?
It was really nice going with Yuanyuan, because she appreciated the opportunity and had such smart things to say about the music. I felt like I was at a film with knicolini or a San Francisco Giant's game with Steven.
Also, I got to say "Hi" to hey_tiger and sittinginaroom afterwards, since they were also in attendance. This was one instance when a little passive inhalation actually did my brain some good, even if my lungs are complaining.
It's time to eat dinner, my friends.