In the Future
all exams will contain four Morton Feldman questions:
1) List from most accessible to least accessible all 181 of Feldman’s compositions
2) Name three people Feldman made love to
3) Hum Rothko Chapel
4) What does sound mean?
In the future,
All corporate jingles will derive from Feldman’s music
The beat of the human heart has been proven to be atonal
Before dinner, it is customary to read a Morton Feldman essay or two
The word “boredom” now means “a state of liminal ecstasy”, as in “This sex that we’re having on the edge of an Aegean cliff, Turkish heroin electrocuting our veins, is boring”
To express excitement or approval for the home team at sporting events, the crowd goes silent
Jazz has been declared “silly”
The French are derided as hopelessly narrow-minded
Density of conversation, as in talking too much when one is talking, and then making no sounds at all when one is not talking, is considered a hallmark of genius
Anecdotes are traded on the stock exchange, where Feldman anecdotes remain the most valuable. Like this one,
Feldman was dying in the hospital in Buffalo. The cancer had spread too quickly. Barbara was with him, and he was ready, telling her he had lived a full life and had no regrets. Only one thing was bothering him, the beep of the EKG machine. “It sounds like something I would have written,” he said, “like hearing myself thinking.” He asked the nurse if she could turn it off. “That’s against the law,” she said. Could he could play a record over it? What if he called in a few friends and they hooked themselves up to one, too? By now snow was falling into the dusk, and the situation was hopeless. Feldman took Barbara’s hand and said, “I know how to stop the beeping.” And then he did.
A Famous Anecdote in Reverse
A man walking with his hands in his pockets
The intersection of 6th Ave & Fourteenth St.
Feldman turns and looks
Wolpe points toward the street
What about the common man?
I care about the sounds
It’s too esoteric
I brought something new
Have a cup of tea
The tea is boiling
The long subway ride
The sun rises
Strange, indecipherable dreams
The snow in Buffalo blows
to and fro
burying cars along the avenue home.
one’s inside to turn their radios on
silence plays silently to no one—
rows of sunken clouds
domes of metal, leather and snow.
I can’t open the window
so the television’s on—
news like a fog horn
an always-ringing phone
the fathers and husbands of Buffalo
emerging, at dawn, from their homes—
armed with brushes and shovels.
One by one
they scrape off the snow
the engines turn on
and I open the lid of my piano.