Johann Sebastian Bach

Imagine you are nine years old. Your parents have died, within months of each other. The world is frightening, large, lonely – as if Germany wasn’t bleak enough, only 20 years after the Thirty Years War scythed down 1/3 of the population.

This was Bach’s entry into the world.

This man’s response to a hard start in the world was to pursue the art his family loved, an art his father had initiated him into. Bach is held up as a composer of mathematical patterns and structures, but there is phenomenal emotional depth and passion, humour; you are in the hands of a great soul, a man of grand vision and humility, witticisms and compassion. As Beethoven quipped, “nicht Bach, sondern Meer”. (not a brook, rather a sea).

Looks could be deceiving; he looks somewhat stern and serious; a wig that emphasises his antiquity compared to us. But explore the geography of his music; he is much more than he looks. In his entire life, Bach never left Germany; but his soul soared.

Track down the St Matthew’s Passion, and experience one of the greatest pieces of art ever conceived.

To Bach – a great soul, a life lived with passion, despite all manner of setbacks; a man who had the courage to pursue his calling.

Published in: on Sunday, 7 February 2010 at 10:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Big outside = Big inside?

What is the difference between being male and being a man?

What gives us the perception that some men are more manly than other men?

If you were to believe the superficial layers of our culture, it would be that being big is good. Bigger is better – so why not for men, too? Get ripped in 6 weeks! Kick sand in other guys’ faces, because you are huge!

Intellectually, many of us know this is garbage. But we may still feel inadequate when football stars, boxers, and others are lauded for their bodies. No wonder that football players play up. They think they are the pinnacle of manliness, and are made to feel like it, too. But they may have souls, vision, ignorant, narrow, withered, immature.

But it is so easy to compare, to measure size. To see big muscles.

A man’s vision, his courage, the breadth and depth of soul are harder to gauge. Only he truly knows it, if he brave enough to look in the mirror.

Has he lived with a fierce spirit? Has he sacrificed himself for others? Does he put other things ahead of himself? Has he let humanity into his heart and soul? Or the universe? Has he been brave enough to listen, to learn? Has he been tough enough to care for others? Manly enough to look after others?

Published in: on Sunday, 7 February 2010 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment