He shall not destroy the earth in the middle of a song.

Lo and Behold and also Rejoice! We shall not be destroyed for many a moon! Actually 7608 moons, by my, admittedly rough, calculations.

The Composer John Cage wrote and piece of music called "Organ2/ASLSP," commonly known as "As Slow As Possible." And LO! is it ever Slow! It is being played in a small town in Germany called Halberstadt as we speak and, assuming the goodwill of future generations, it will end sometime in 2640. Some parts of the organ haven't even been built yet, since those pipes won't be used for several decades.

Halberstadt is the home of Canned Hot Dogs, so anyone who calls them 'Vienna Sausages' is sadly misinformed.

The New York Times also reports as follows:

"For anyone keeping records, the performance is probably already the world's longest, even though it has barely begun. The organ's bellows began their whoosh on Sept. 5, 2001, on what would have been Cage's 89th birthday. But nothing was heard because the musical arrangement begins with a rest — of 20 months. It was only on Feb. 5, 2003, that the first chord, two G sharps and a B in between, was struck. Notes are sounding or ceasing once or twice a year — sometimes at even longer intervals — always on the fifth day of the month, to honor Cage, who died in 1992.

There are eight movements, and Cage specified that at least one be repeated. Each movement lasts roughly 71 years, just four years shy of the life expectancy of the average German male."

And later on, the good folks and NYT inform us that:
"All agree that nothing should interfere with the music. Solar power cells and a backup generator are on hand in case the electricity is interrupted. So far, the notes have flowed unimpeded."

One good and interesting thing about this piece, in addition to its ability to prevent the apocalypse, is the way in which it makes us question our society. In a world where we bustle about from this to that, demand hi-speed everything, and try to pack our days with eight zillion activities, isn't it nice to think about a single piece of music that will be playing for 600 years?

Now, my sweet and innocent little readers may wonder how this music shall save us from our doom. It is well-known to all, that if you dislike someone's music and wish to change it, you must wait until the end of the track to remove the needle from the grammaphone's disc! To cut a song sharply in the middle is unthinkably rude. Furthermore, know this, I have met God on a number of occassions and while He is many things, He is not a total jerk-ass. Therefore, we are free and clear for the remainder of this piece, for Lo -- He shall not destroy the earth in the middle of a song.


Blogger Bea said...

Col., that is quite possibly one of the most disturbingly amusing things I have read this week. Thank you!

Your humble student,
Lt. Bea

3:28 a.m.  
Blogger Matthew Lie - Paehlke said...

Amusing?!? This is all deathly serious, it is the apocalypse that we're talking about you know. I could see how this post might be uplifting though, in that we seem to have something of a reprieve from planetary immolation.

12:11 p.m.  
Blogger Bea said...

You are, of course, perfectly correct Colonel. The echoes of that most melodious of first chords must have numbed my mind to the gravity of the situation! Damned that John Cage! (and thank goodness for your vigilence.)

What with the reading of the recent antics of the American GOP these days (CIA reshuffle? tapping phone records? leader of the minority house promises no impeachemnt? his *brother* as the next president? Oh. My.) it is easy for the young untrained apocalypse watchers to be so inundated with signs of our portending doom that we forget the seriousness of the situation. So numbed are we to hysterically awful signs of our imminent distruction.

So thank you Colonel for bucking us up and reminding us to be ever mindful. May your astute watchfulness carry us through the End of Days (which, with the help of those backup generators, hopefully won't be for another 600 years). Long live Colonel Von Mustard!

2:23 a.m.  

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