Chapter Thirty Four of An Ecstatic Loneliness: From My Kristonysian Diary
By Michael Moriarty
There's a Providence somewhere in today's "Do-ing's". God willing it's not the "fall of a sparrow."
I obviously, when not sure of what to do in this moment exactly, have fears of what I would call a premature death. I want to live to at least 83 years of age! That would be quite a triumph for someone like myself, a 72 year-old survivor of heart surgery at 66.
It's rather a quietly exciting day for me. A sense of the unknown like I haven't felt in quite awhile but thrilling! I'm profoundly at peace with the direction my life has been headed in for the last five years!!! Divine actually.
Listening to a Finale software playback of my as-yet-unfinished 1st Symphony.
Yes, there's a massive amount of work still to do on it but I'm in no hurry. My confidence in my longevity has given me not only strength and patience, it inspires me to write for many different chamber instruments and ensembles.
Meanwhile, my wife Irene works precisely and valiantly on the Vienna Symphonic Library's instrumentation of my Symphony For String Orchestra!
Now, let me check on my chamber works, two of which are already on YouTube with more to come each Sunday.
Now listening to the 4th movement of Mahler's Symphonie Tragique, conducted by Sir George Solti!
Ah, what a relatively uncomplicated time that was. Oh, I know Leonard Bernstein's discussions of the complexity within Mahler's position as conductor of the Vienna Court Opera. Also Bernstein's defenses of Mahler against many musicians and, in fact, whole orchestras.
There is, however, a revealing disparity between the title for this Tragic Symphony and the relatively serene epoch that Mahler lived in when compared to the nightmare that would follow. He never even saw the Russian Revolution, let alone World Wars I and II!
Bernstein's compassion for Mahler as a fellow Jew dealing with anti-Semites in Vienna, all the way into his own orchestra's membership?
No wonder Mahler bravely escaped to New York at the end of his life!
However… one must ask this question: does Mahler's music even foretell the depth of nightmares that would rise steadily and rather swiftly with the Russian Revolution and two world wars?!?!
In addition, Mahler's tradition, as a romantic, did not post-date that of Puccini.
Unfortunately for Mahler he embraced the melodrama of the very operas which he so diligently served as conductor for the Vienna Court Opera.
Puccini's wit, as in the first scene of La Boheme, seems to have escaped Mahler as a symphonic composer. Mahler's sylvan portraits have a few witty nods to the birds of his imagination… but… oh, well, I'm not a music critic, I'm a composer.
Bernstein, as a composer, despite his efforts otherwise in such adventures as CANDIDE… was equally THE ROMANTIC. Perhaps THE LAST ROMANTIC.
His inheritor, I think, would be Stephen Sondheim, whose wit saved him from the quicksand of Devout Romanticism.
One of my favorite Bernstein creations?
The score for On The Waterfront.
That is one, brilliantly tough-sounding score. The love theme within it was, in my opinion, one of his most moving; but that perhaps was helped considerably by the iron fist of the waterfront themes around it.
April 11, 2013
The Hiding Place, though a most upsetting look at the Ravensbruck concentration camp, delivers a persuasive vision of faith in Christ as, indeed, Man's best Hiding Place.
Painfully it imbeds the reality of Nazi Germany's hell on earth. A look at the inferno from a horrifyingly new yet mysteriously persuasive point of view.
I'm still upset by it… however, I know it was an important film for me to see!
The Hiding Place and its message was delivered more beautifully but without the exquisite Italian salesmanship of Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful.
A comedian who is also an authority on Dante's Divine Comedy, Benigni makes much the same case as is presented in The Hiding Place. However, Benigni's plot makes it impossible to include Christ by name.
Is Christ a reality in The Hiding Place or merely the best psychological game to play when hoping to believe that Life is indeed Beautiful even in the midst of Hell?
Is Christ the longed for but imaginary "tank" in Benigni's Life Is Beautiful?
At first I didn't even recognize Julie Harris in The Hiding Place, her voice and accent were so authentically European; and, throughout the entire film, I never even recognized Arthur O'Connell.
I am, however, getting old.
Actually, having reached a very recent 72 years of age, I actually am old.
Still upset by The Hiding Place. A part of me thinks of it as a warning of frightening times to come. I'd hate to think that those premonitions were true but there are undeniably ominous clouds on the horizon.
Repeatedly, however, and for the last 15 years or so, the message that life is perfect has come not only from a story I was told about Miles Davis's similar opinion at the end of his life but also from these two films I've mentioned.
I now live with the frequently blissful assumption that life is perfect.
The hard times? They are the necessarily challenging food for faith!
My entire time on earth, considering the heavenly life I have now, corroborates my "food for faith" theory about hell on earth.
Therefore life is, indeed, "perfect"!
In the midst of pain and confusion, I simply ask myself, "There must be something perfect about this. I must find out what it is."
Sitting this morning in what I call my "quandary", I ponder the "higher regions", the destination that one like myself is asked to attain when educated in the Cranbrook Preparatory School for Boys, the motto of which has been "Aim High".
I hated that two year experience in a boarding school. So my father bought a house and enrolled me in the nearby Jesuit-run University of Detroit High School. I gained more reliable substance from the Jesuits than from the four years I spent at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
These mixtures in my life, bizarre at first sight, have, in retrospect, "perfection" written all over them. That includes my inevitably inherited alcoholism. Thank God I've been an alcoholic and forced eventually and inevitably to attend Alcoholics Anonymous.
"Let go, let God!"
That is AA's commandment and I could not have been more grateful for it.
Despite my remarkable education and the Fulbright Scholarship to England it afforded me, I am not intelligent enough to handle life by myself. Indeed the only way I could eventually leave the hell of alcohol was with God's help. I certainly could not do it by my own will power.
Therefore my motto now is not "Aim High" but "Let God Help You Rise Higher".
The days like this when movies such as The Hiding Place and Life Is Beautiful, despite their hopeful message, when such films deeply depress me?
I surrender and wait for God to lift me out of the grips of a despondency which He has obviously wanted me to experience.
He's always there! He never leaves us!!
At the bottom of such seemingly bottomless pits and when I "let go, let God", rather like Julie Harris in The Hiding Place, a lovely tingle comes over me.
And I am, indeed, "Reborn"!
Just received this photo from my friend Spike:
Life, despite some appearances, is, indeed, Perfect!!
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.