In the last few weeks, three of my favourite writers have died, two of whom I have written on - Stanislaw Lem, Muriel Spark and Ivor Cutler. All of them shared a wonderfully wry sense of humour with a dark edge at times which have concealed a penetrating insight into human folly, but with a deep, almost hidden, undercurrent of compassion. Each in their own way can leave me marvelling at their skill with language and their sustained originality. For all his popularity, I still think Lem is an under-rated writer, far more than a science fiction label would suggest - I think he had greater scope than Borges, for instance. Muriel Spark never ceases to amaze, and works through a kind of theology of writing that would be fascinating to unpack, although sensibly she doesn't articulate it often, and just gets on with it. Ivor Cutler is someone who I think if he had written in French, we would be fed up hearing about. Both he and Spark epitomise something in a Scottish worldview which is harder to describe than to recognise it is a kind of merciless compassion, if that isn't too oxymoronic. Anyway, read them if you haven't.
Easter was quiet, but gave me the chance for an annual listen to some of the most moving works I know. My programme for Easter was
St Matthew Passion
James MacMillan's The World's Ransoming and Cello Concerto
Haflidi Hallgrimsson's Passia
Frank Martin Golgotha except the final resurrection part
Poulenc Stabat Mater
James MacMillan's Vigil
the last part of Golgotha
Medtner Piano Quintet
All very moving and inspiring for the rest of the year, I hope. I also managed to finish a paper for Aarhus, entitled Stage-fright - I'm there for a Kierkegaard conference in a couple of weeks, just after I get back from Vilnius, in fact, which is crazy, but should be fun.
Hope to post a bit more here in the next few weeks. Keep well!