spiritual self, communion, John Cage, Bach, Messiaen


Allow me to posit a traditional four-part division of the self into the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical/sensual. This may be further simplified to a two-part division, one being the spiritual and the other being a trio of the other selves which collectively may be termed the natural self. Sacred activity in this context would be an effort to achieve communion between the spiritual self and other spiritual entities. Such communion would be, in fact, the self's highest goal and, ultimately, the only one worth all its efforts. True communion with other beings is only possible on this spiritual level, since the other three are appendages or adjuncts to it and the spiritual self is the seat of will and consciousness. The problem is, spiritual selves are the most mysterious of the four and are hard to define, describe, or circumscribe. Moreover, the spiritual essences of other beings are elusive, and they have a will that cannot be handled, forced, or manipulated. You cannot force a spiritual communion to take place. There are no formulae, patterns, recipes, spells, or algorithms that work consistently. Mediating through one of the other three selves is possible but haphazard. Analogies of the spiritual are poor substitutes—at best, fumbling, crude representations; and they are very culture specific.

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C.T. Asplund. "Achieving the Body without Organs-Three Approaches: Bach, Cage and Messiaen" Perspectives of New Music Volume 35(2). Summer 1997.

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