Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An introduction to Mr. Gould the radio artist

When you work somewhere like The Glenn Gould Foundation and when you are on a quest to get acquainted with Mr. Gould, it is often challenging to decide where to go next. I walk over to the shelves, my eyes glancing over the numerous book titles. Yes, Kevin Bazzana's Wondrous Strange, that is on my to-do list. I am not quite ready to commit. After reading all but the final novel, I have decided to finish the Harry Potter series. I am currently too involved for Kevin. My eyes move on to the CD section.

"Glenn Gould the radio artist." My attention is caught. I choose "The Quiet in the Land" and pop it into my computer. I have always been interested in the Mennonite community. I took a history course on the subject while in university and grew up in a rural area where I often encountered this isolated society. When I was little, whenever we passed by a buggy or some young lads on bicycles, my dad and I used to try and track and give meaning to the different types of hats and bonnets that we would see. A little random but a lovely childhood memory nonetheless!

I listen. I love his contrapuntal style. It is full and captivating. The way Mr. Gould pairs spoken word and intellectual thought with soundscapes and music is incredible. Being a country girl in the city, I can relate to many of Mr. Gould's sentiments about solitude. I sometimes find it challenging to live in the city, so close to so many. The amount of consumption is startling. I like to have nice possessions but I make an effort to draw some sort of line before excess. I miss having a strong sense of community but I love the freedom and anonymity that the city provides.

The more I listen, the deeper I fall in love with his style of documentary. It is powerful and soothing while disseminating interesting ideas. The Mennonites' sense of the world is thought provoking. "95% of the television programs are not worth watching," the documentary states. Why have a television set? I agree with Mr. Gould's fascination with solitude. Why do some people crave the city, living in such close proximity to many others? Why do others prefer to be left alone?

I love the hymns and choral music. I don't find the documentary to be pushy; more so descriptive and informative. "To be a Christ-follower means to be concerned for the total well being of the next person." I am not religious yet I find myself wondering how my values align with the bible. More importantly, what does all of this tell me about Mr. Gould?

Mr. Gould's concluding predictions about the future of Mennonite society were insightful, especially considering that he never lived to see today's 21st century society. I enjoyed the documentary and am excited about experiencing more of his work. It is unlike anything that I have experienced. Mr. Gould, you did it again. I am left wanting more.

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