Sacrifice in the Name of Music

Discussion of Joseph Campbell's work with an emphasis on the personal creative impulse as well as the sociological role of the artist in today's global community.

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Post by Martin_Weyers » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:46 pm

Cindy B. wrote: I agree with you, Martin, in the sense that it's not our literal mythic past and all its trappings that needs to be recaptured but the spirit and imagination inherent in the mythic that can move us forward. Good grief, I wouldn't want to go back for anything. :wink:

Agreed! That's why I don't care for mythic societies. Myth and humanity do not match, unless you know well, where you have to be critical, and where you should let go your intellect.
Works of art are indeed always products of having been in danger, of having gone to the very end in an experience, to where man can go no further. -- Rainer Maria Rilke
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Post by noman » Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:20 am

People have always made tremendous sacrifices for their bliss. Joseph Campbell said Joyce was the greatest novelist of his time. But at great cost. His heath was failing, his eyesight failing, he lived in poverty all of his life, faced rejection of his work all of his life. Many artists take their own life – often at the peak of their creativity. And remember, we only hear about the ones whose work is socially successful.

I understand sacrificing for art, or for any other bliss. But there is one big difference with castratos: these were just boys when they had this surgery done on them. These weren’t young men making this irreversible life decision. And the Italians knew what they were doing was wrong:

During the 18th century itself, the music historian Charles Burney was sent from pillar to post in search of places where the operation was carried out: "I enquired throughout Italy at what place boys were chiefly qualified for singing by castration, but could get no certain intelligence. I was told at Milan that it was at Venice; at Venice that it was at Bologna; but at Bologna the fact was denied, and I was referred to Florence; from Florence to Rome, and from Rome I was sent to Naples ... it is said that there are shops in Naples with this inscription: 'QUI SI CASTRANO RAGAZZI' ("Here boys are castrated"); but I was utterly unable to see or hear of any such shops during my residence in that city."
But it was done, according to the Wiki article, mostly on boys of poor families with the hope that a successful singer could lift them out of poverty.

This reminds me of something closer to home. There have been accusations of severe doping of young female athletes, particularly in East Germany during the 70s and 80s, possibly comprising their long term health. The sports world is awash in illegal substances. But the treating of youth, even youth that ask for it, should be punished so harshly so as not to even be a consideration.

However, adults always have and always will suffer, and suffer, and suffer even unto death, for their bliss. And that can be a beautiful thing, a reminder that we are not merely rationalizing, optimizing machines.

- NoMan
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Post by randallhall » Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:02 am

If you like this topic check out the movie Farinelli (
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Post by greekam » Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:14 pm

I'll check out Farinelli, but I'll also suggest a very lowly book--Ann Rice's "Cry to Heaven." Options for the poor (no middle class back then) were pretty limited in those days, and just because these guys lost 2 of their 3 endowments didn't mean they couldn't function (at least according to Rice). Some of them found life preferable in that limited capacity to spending their lives back on the farm in poverty or working as slaves/servants in the city. Can't say I'd blame them, but then I'm a woman and it's easier for me to say. On the other hand, maybe you guys are just too attached to your attachments...