Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Contrapunctus XIV

Contrapunctus XIV is J. S. Bach’s greatest unfinished masterpiece. The composer’s death in 1750 literally cut this sublime composition in mid-sentence, in a way that is both eerie and awe-inspiring. I have decided to name this commentary page after this composition, for it bears many analogies to today’s America and, in a wider sense, Western culture.

Contrapunctus XIV is the climax-piece of The Art of Fugue, a work in which Bach brought the fugue—Western music’s most perfect expression—to its highest level. Similarly, America is the climax-piece of Western civilization—the world’s most advanced, accomplished and generous culture since the days of Ancient Greece.

Several composers and scholars have attempted to finish Contrapunctus XIV, using as a guide the fugue’s magical self-developing DNA as well as a deep analysis of Bach’s original style. Some attempts produced wonderful music; other attempts failed. In both cases, the deciding factor was how close the scholar remained to the original intent of the great man who envisioned the piece in 1750.

Like Contrapunctus XIV, America is an unfinished masterpiece. Our forefathers left us a Nation more perfect than any other through generations of brilliant philosophical thought mixed with the leadership and sacrifices in many hard-won wars. But we are now nearing the fateful last bar: it is time for us to decide whether we want to prolong this masterpiece so that the next generations can enjoy its harmony--or to let its voice fall silent forever.

This is the time to decide what kind of composers we want to be. We too have at our disposal America’s magical DNA in the form of our Constitution; and we can consult a powerful archive of the Founders’ brilliant original intentions. But many among us—including our leaders—choose to ignore, bastardize or downright vilify these tools; worse yet, a growing number of cultures incompatible with ours are laying claim to their right to alter our Country so as to reap its last fruits before letting it wither to the status of another has-been.

A new orthodoxy is ossifying around these anti-American, anti-Western sentiments, and many of us have been intimidated into silence. This new orthodoxy has promoted the valueless concept of “diversity” to the rank of an idol to be absolutely worshipped; and on whose altar manliness, honor, national pride, Christian tradition and moral clarity are but smoldering sacrifices. Our leadership has far abandoned these old, noble concepts, often being the ones who lit the sacrificial flame; and we, the Citizens, are now alone with the responsibility of our Country.

The pen is in our hand. How do we choose to continue the masterpiece America? What will the bars we write sound like to our children’s and grandchildren’s generation? Will they sound like the nihilistic blather of Madonna’s and Britney Spears’ modern pop? Like the incoherent tribal rants of Eminem and Snoop Doggy? Like the passive, plaintive and self-indulgent sobs of Whitney Houston and Tracey Chapman? Like the chilling adhan of an Islamic Muezzin, as our heads are forced to bow or to fall, followed by deathly silence?

Again, the pen is now in our hands, and this is up to us. We have the information, we have the means to communicate, we have the dedication and we have the invisible hand of our Forefathers on our shoulders, as it encouragingly prods us along the right path. Let’s write another great page of music together, so as to make our next generations proud of how we preserved America—and Western civilization--intact.

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