Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-09-07 - 3:49 p.m.

A govt minister visited the firm today – our paths didn’t cross – although I wore a smarter suit just in case. I was thinking about Wagner as precusor of impressionism/expressionism. For example some people say that Debussy recycled tricks and devices pioneered by W.

Wagner has to be a romantic I suppose and this made me think that the classical period of musical composition was essentially progressive – whereas there is a historical dimension to the Wagner project. This line of thought risks getting too diffuse in the overlap between romanticism, realism and history – I should add that I have never found any reason to approach W sympathetically.

I read an article about Kolakowski yesterday which grabbed my interest – his views on how Marxism had become institutionalised in the 20th century. There were the attractions of a simple idea, for example, that history is a process that carries forward the present and promises a progressive future – which no one accepts any more. (Well maybe a few americans do .)

Perhaps Wagner thought history was working through his music to help realise a progressive future. You can hardly call this point of view ‘realistic’ – well not when baldly stated like that – it needs a bit of support.

I suppose there’s a point of view whereby one believes that through a close examination of the facts we can come see how the present connects with the past. Geologists seem to be able to pull this trick off and geology was doing well in the first decades of the 19th century. That point of view suggets a special theory about transformation through time. One can see that a composer might believe that he had a method for modelling or displaying the secrets of transformation through time.

And you can see how others might think that the claim to have discovered the priveliged method of composition – the one which portrays the essence of transformation through time – is overblown and unreal. And impressionism and expressionism could position themselves in opposition to such a claim as more fundamental and authentic.

I drove back to Gfd – it was the graduation ceremony for those who left Vita’s old school in the summer – they all got certificates and there were speeches. It was quite good fun – and very interesting to see where they are all going next. This particular school year has done very well and collectively they are the 13th highest achieving year in the country for non-selective schools. One of the pupils was in the top 5 nationally in the photography A levels. The staff said that as a group they managed to both work hard and play hard. The head boy is the lead singer in a school-based rock band who played a couple of numbers – pretty well. Vita seems to like being at art school too and driving from home to college along the Hogs Back.

I have ordered a book on the history of Marxism.

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