Here’s a course in anti-Zionist musicology

Oxford University Press has a book out by Assaf Shelleg, Assistant Professor of Musicology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The noun ‘stain’ in the title ‘Theological Stains: Art Music and the Zionist Project’ reveals the author’s political slant.

The rest of the blurb is typical of present-day musicological propaganda. Read it and weep:

ABSTRACT
Theological Stains traces the growth of art music in Israel from the mid-twentieth century to the turn of the twenty-first. In a riveting and provocative account, Assaf Shelleg explores the theological grammar of Zionism and its impact on the art music written by emigrant and native composers grappling with biblical redemptive promises and diasporic patrimonies. Unveiling the network that bred territorial nationalism and Hebrew culture, Shelleg shows how this mechanism infiltrated composers’ work as much as it triggered less desirable responses from composers who sought to realize to the nonterritorial diasporic options Zionism has renounced. In the process, compositional aesthetics was stained by the state’s nationalization of the theological, by diasporism that refused redemption, and by Jewish musical traditions that permeated inaudibly into compositions written throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Accompanying this rich and dramatic story are equivalent developments in modern Hebrew literature and poetry alongside vast and previously unstudied archival sources. The book is also lavishly illuminated with 135 music examples that render it an incisive guide to fundamental chapters in modern and late modern art music.

 

 

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  • I would weep…if I knew what he was saying.

    (How can so many words convey so little intelligible thought?)

    Look, someone hired him, someone published him, and those someones are established institutions in academia (Hebrew U and Oxford U Press), so who’s to blame, academia, or him?

    • The photo chosen to illustrate this post seems to show this guy rising up from hell.
      Better start weaving cloves of garlic into necklaces, lest he cometh to lay waste to what you hitherto believed about 20th Century Jewish art music.
      (BTW: What is art music?)

  • What’s the critique here? The book has a point of view and bias? Please don’t tell me you believe that canard about objectivity, etc. in this or any other form of communication.

  • “Jewish musical traditions that permeated inaudibly “-how the hell does that happen then? (never mind the rest of this mish mash of garbage)

    • I will explain: you filter all the rests from a Jewish traditional work, write them out in a row, make a score of it and distribute the rests into different parts, and perform it by an ensemble of muted instruments which are not played.

      In this way, the traditions are permeating inaudibly but for that reason all the more effectively

      Cage would have loved it. After all, his 4’33” has also been able to permeate inaudibly throughout the musical world, so why not Jewish traditions?

    • They are written in a secret scale with notes so high-pitched, only dogs can hear it. It’s all outlined in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    • “Heard Melodies Are Sweet, but Those Unheard Are Sweeter.” And those that are unhearable must be really really really sweet. Somewhere (where it is very warm) Richard Wagner is shaking his head and thinking, “what a great line! Why didn’t I think of that one?”

    • Good one! I was still reeling from this bit of illiteracy: “Unveiling the network that bred territorial nationalism and Hebrew culture, Shelleg shows how this mechanism infiltrated composers’ work as much as it triggered less desirable responses from composers who sought to realize to the nonterritorial diasporic options Zionism has renounced.”

      In an area of study whose agendas are discrediting it hour by hour, this patch of psychobabble deserves a (dis)honourable mention for bringing disrepute on a discipline that used to have SOME meaning.

      I agree that it is mystifying that Hebrew University has engaged him, and the OUP has published him.

    • I caught that line too and suddenly there were strands of Cage’s 4’33” running through my mind. Bet you didn’t know John Cage was Jewish. Me neither.

  • It would help if the guy could put an intelligible sentence together. Not just gibberish but woke gibberish.

  • I can think of only one word to describe this idiocy: “obscurantism”. These so-called academics are incapable of conveying anything insightful or meaningful in their subject areas so they create a language of their own wrapped in the the veneer of “wokeness” and political correctness so they get published in esoteric journals that no one reads other than their fellow obscurantists and they keep their tenure and their cushy lifestyle!

    • I worked in periodicals in an academic library through college I came to the conclusion then (late 80’s early 90’s) that most of what was in the “professional journals” was useless at best and destructive nonsense and bullshit at worse.

  • Somebody employs people to express these opinions. They have freedom of speech, yes, but the ideology on the taxpayer’s meter is the problem.

      • At least the crap spewed out from the White House was comprehensible. I don’t know whether the next four year’s crap will be though.

        • M McAlpine: Oh, you mean like the following quotes from the Orange Enemy of the People:

          Q: “According to a Axios-Ipsos poll, 70 percent of white Americans say they trust the local police. Only 36 percent of African Americans do. How do you attack that problem? How do you change things?”

          Trump: “Well I think it’s a very sad problem. As you know, as a Republican I’m doing very well with African Americans and with the vote with the — in polls and everything — especially, I mean, I haven’t seen one very recently because you had the plague come in from China. So that changed things up, but we had the best economy ever. We had the best numbers for African-American on employment and unemployment in history. Best homeownership — best everything. We had the best numbers in everything — not only African-American, but the African-American numbers were great.”

          or

          Q: “How do you handle the law enforcement part?”
          Trump: “Well, I think you have to get better.”
          Q: “How do you handle the law enforcement part of this?”
          Trump: “They have to get better than what they’ve been doing. I mean obviously that was a terrible thing. And I’ve spoken about it numerous times in various speeches. And what’s interesting is I spoke about it when we launched a very successful rocket — a tremendous program that culminated on that day and obviously it goes on from there.
          But I then made a speech and it was a speech about the rocket, and I devoted 25 percent of the speech probably to what happened — or more — to what happened with respect to George — George Floyd, and it was — and then you listen to this, he doesn’t talk about George Floyd. The rocket went off, I then I made a speech, and I talked about George Floyd, but they said he didn’t talk about George Floyd.”

          There’s lots more where that came from.

    • Don’t forget this being done through the courtesy of the student’s tuition payments and corporate grants.

  • It sounds like “Artspeak” which is designed to be so obtuse so that most people won’t know that the speaker has no idea what he’s talking about.

    • The brumous desiderium for an eylsian petrichor of veridical compunction is like this maudlin sillage we obviate in musical occhiolism.

  • I’d rather welcome a critical history of Zionism. The one practiced by Bibi is not contributing anything but division No music needed at all.

  • Have you read the book or are you literally judging a book by its cover? Seriously? Who is really engaged in irresponsible propaganda here?

  • “biblical redemptive promises and diasporic patrimonies”

    and later on the word “inaudible.” Evidently there’s nothing a$ unedible…oops I meant unaudible to start your mind going off…

    “was stained by the state’s nationalization of the theological, by diasporism that refused redemption, and by Jewish musical traditions that permeated inaudibly into compositions written throughout the second”

    Oh yeah, before that
    “this mechanism infiltrated composers’ work as much”

    Should have a question mark there, sorry.

    “this mechanism infiltrated composers’ work as much?”

    “The book is also lavishly illuminated with 135 music examples that render”

    And if the whole article has anything to do with extracting “Hebrew culture” it’s about as sane as what happens when you go to a resort for children, and forget your spoon, not having put it where it wouldn’t have been discovered going through the Customs departmnet.

    Anti whatever. If Mr. what’s-his-name with his legal scores comes in here. Would they even know that one of Ed De Boer’s sons, and Ed has only written once decent piece that was played all over the country when he was studying in Utrecht, only that we find he’s written nothing worth taking note of since, has changed his name, who knows what else, like to accuse “Mozart” of prefabrication, just like a tree has too many leaves the same, and each one is supposed to have mutated, which goes well with such criticism, would it grow leaves….. One of his sons is actually the other half of Puccini, and yet he uses that to ridicule the artistic environment of his country, when they hear something in the boy’s playfulness.

  • Never use one or two syllables when 5 or 6 will do

    It sounds like impenetrable twaddle from beginning to end

  • Without having read the book I’m not able to judge its contents, but I’m sure there is an interesting story to tell about how, for example, the German composers Paul Frankenburger and Joseph Grünthal became the Israeli composers Paul Ben-Haim and Joseph Tal, and how far their musical language reflected their early education and subsequent engagement with Jewish tradition and the establishment of the state of Israel. I don’t actually think it’s possible to leave politics out of this discussion entirely, in the same way that it’s perfectly legitimate to talk about Sibelius within the context of the Finnish independence movement, but talking about politics is not the same as politicising. I hope the book hasn’t fallen into the trap that the blurb suggests, but I’m not hopeful.

    • You make a good point. I have played some music of Ben-Haim and Tal, and I was struck by the use of Arabic references, clearly not undergirded by any particularly deep study of the source material. It rather reminded me of Edward MacDowell’s “Indian Suite”.

    • I thought Christopher Storey’s “impenetrable twaddle” above was a good example of a few extra syllables where one or two would do!

    • It is:

      ‘stercorebovemia ineptium academiensis’

      …. so that it is immediately clear for every thinking individual.

      • “The closest TWO words are Groiser Dreck. Example; “Groiser dreck written by a scheissekopf.””

        I think what you meant is:

        “Großer Dreck” (nobody would say that, though.)
        and “Scheißkopf” (same here)

        This looks like something a non-native speaker would come up with.

        (My apologies if this wasn’t supposed to be German.)

    • I think its bullshit, although I remember a movie with John Clease was a college professor and his phrase was absolute crrrrrrrap.

    • Certainly not! And my intention was praise for your rather more elegant manner of expressing the vulgar term asked about.

  • Fringe musicologists can count on exposure here. Real musicologists, who are the majority, stand little chance, which usually comes with backhanded compliments.

  • Instead of reacting to the unsourced blurb given by SD, you could read the description on the Oxford University Press website, which is in correct English, is relatively jargon-free, and makes sense:

    “Theological Stains offers the first in-depth study of the development of art music in Israel from the mid-twentieth century to the turn of the twenty-first. In a bold and deeply researched account, author Assaf Shelleg explores the theological grammar of Zionism and its impact on the art music written by emigrant and native composers. He argues that Israeli art music, caught in the tension between a bibliocentric territorial nationalism on the one hand and the histories of deterritorialized Jewish diasporic cultures on the other, often features elements of both of these competing narratives. Even as composers critically engaged with the Zionist paradigm, they often reproduced its tropes and symbols, thereby creating aesthetic hybrids with ‘theological stains.’

    “Drawing on newly uncovered archives of composers’ autobiographical writings and musical sketches, Shelleg closely examines the aesthetic strategies that different artists used to grapple with established nationalist representations. As he puts the history of Israeli art music in conversation with modern Hebrew literature, he weaves a rich tapestry of Israeli culture and the ways in which it engaged with key social and political developments throughout the second half of the twentieth century. In analyzing Israeli music and literature against the backdrop of conflicts over territory, nation, and ethnicity, Theological Stains provides a revelatory look at the complex relationship between art and politics in Israel.

    https://global.oup.com/academic/product/theological-stains-9780197504642?cc=us&lang=en&#

      • I apologize; I should have said ‘blurb for which no source was given’. Clearly OUP employs less literate people in its publicity dept.– or perhaps somebody was writing in a language other than English and then using Google translate?

        • Well, it may be a little more grammatical than the blurb, but if that’s jargon-free, I despair.

          “He argues that Israeli art music, caught in the tension between a bibliocentric territorial nationalism on the one hand and the histories of deterritorialized Jewish diasporic cultures on the other, often features elements of both of these competing narratives. Even as composers critically engaged with the Zionist paradigm, they often reproduced its tropes and symbols, thereby creating aesthetic hybrids with ‘theological stains.’”

          George Orwell, where are you when we need you?

          • V.Lind – where are the grammatical errors in the OUP description, and what words or phrases do you find so meaningless and obscurantist as to be jargon, in its pejorative sense? Can you point to doublethink and Newspeak? It is not great prose, certainly, but there is no need to invoke Orwell.

            (If I were editing, I would do something about ‘engaged’, which could be read at first as an adjective rather than as a verb. But hey, it is just a publisher’s description of an academic book.)

    • Thank you for the link. Way too many commenters on SD do not waste any time looking for or reading primary sources, or even summaries of them. They would much rather keep their steel trap minds snapped shut, and post their closed-mindedness for all to read, rather than let a fact slip in and possibly open their minds.

      The description makes the book sound interesting.

      • That, and all too many SD commenters do not waste an opportunity to get in some mockery, cheap digs, and lame humour, and condescension.

  • Typically, academic conceits have a brief vogue and then go out of fashion. You don’t hear much about deconstructionism any more. Once in a while, people confuse them with reality and serious damage is done. For some reason a lot of the really destructive academic fads seem to emanate from an august institution in my own city, the University of Chicago. Originalism and Milton Friedman’s Free Market Fundamentalism are excellent examples of this. We can only hope that the fanciful hypotheses of this author will fall into the first category.

    • However, deconstructionism, which is a subspecies of postmodernist ‘thought’, has sipped into academia into all the humanities, and where it has lost its label, its entirely crazy ‘method’ has done a lot of damage. The entire woke movement has its roots in it, and using academia as a political instrument.

  • FYI, this is a real PhD musicology dissertation at a major university. I didn’t make this up —
    “Beyond Beyoncé: Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary American Hip-Hop “

    • Tha Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA, part of the Unviersity of Amsterdam) at some time accepted final exam theses which had subjects like the deeper meanings of Lady Gaga and the distribution of climaxes in porno films. Everything permitted in the search for the deeper meaning of modernity. And this is the result of postmodernist ‘thought’.

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