Judith Fitzgerald's critique of "The Master Song"

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David
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Judith Fitzgerald's critique of "The Master Song"

Postby David » Thu Mar 27, 2003 7:40 pm

What a marvelous piece of work! (I e-mailed Ms. Fitzgerald to tell her this, but it was returned to me, so I'm doing it in public instead)

I also have just a li'l tidbit of an idea that might be fun to think about for future exegesis: unless I'm mistaken, adherents of the belief in an astral plane hold that one's astral body is connected to one's corporeal body by a "golden thread" or a "golden string" that extends through the navel.

I've always thought that those two bodies connected by a "golden string" referenced this.

Any other ideas?

Ms. Fitzgerald -- you out there?


David
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Partisan
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Postby Partisan » Thu Mar 27, 2003 8:27 pm

I will start reading her work just as soon as she starts writing it in English.

p.
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Postby lizzytysh » Thu Mar 27, 2003 9:40 pm

As I read Judith's work, I find that she extracts every possible ounce of meaning from within each word, and then turns the words and phrases around to breathe even more unique, and still fresher, life back into them. She gets inside her words, soars with them to higher planes, and takes me with her. I love the journeys, for which she serves as guide, often in the same manner as mediums, through whom the spirits speak. A tremendous path of predestiny, considering her childhood background and her extensive accomplishments in the world of words. She gives new meaning to the word "words," with all the entendres imaginable. I'm sorry you don't appreciate her work, Partisan ~ but then there's much of Leonard's that you're non-plussed by, as well. So, within that context :? .
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Postby George.Wright » Thu Mar 27, 2003 10:09 pm

You are right in the golden cord being the astral attachment, David
Regards...............Georges
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Partisan
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Postby Partisan » Thu Mar 27, 2003 10:51 pm

Tysh darling we have discussed this at more length before, Miss Fitzgerald has absolutley no respect for the words/language she is writing in and extrapolates her suppositions to such an extent that you often get to the end of a sentence with no sense of where she has been let alone where she began, which is more often than not irrelevent to where she has finished, this being compounded by sentences over one hundred words long(that in itself being at once both pretentious and inept), a compulsive predeliction for neologism, and in other mediums and forums an unneccesary tendency to use foul and abusive language.

Now, what was I saying at the start of that last sentence?

p.
David
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Ms. Fitz

Postby David » Fri Mar 28, 2003 12:43 am

Umm... without wanting to get embroiled in yet another imbroglio, I dounderstand Partisan's beef about Ms. Fitz's magnifying-glass approach toward words and syntax. But I think that's an occupational hazard of literary criticism in general: I usually don't read lit crit for that reason --it can drain the blood and sinew out poetry and prose, leaving nothing but a parched theoretical landscape.

In Ms. Fitz's case, though, her writing seems to retain a sense of the luminousness of the writing she's critiquing.

Jus' my opinion, though... and since I'm a critic myself (music critic, but nonetheless...) I realize I may be open to accusasions of defending "my own" here. But from the relatively little I've seen of Ms. Fitz's work, it seems to meet both the test of theoretical rigor and poetic insight.

David
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Postby lizzytysh » Fri Mar 28, 2003 12:54 am

I'm reading some of Judith's poetry right now and finding it micro/cosmic, as well as macro/cosmic, concurrently. I'm enjoying it very much. Dissecting the work of another is a wholly different task, of which David is far more qualified than I to assess. However, what I have read, I have also found to be enjoyable.
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Postby Partisan » Fri Mar 28, 2003 1:08 am

David, one of the things about her 'criticism' (usually just a hymn of unstinting praise) is not that she drains it, rather she fills it with matter that simply is not there. In addition she breaks one of the cardinal rules of analysis, she is absolute rather than suggestive in what she says more often than not. There are other issues as well, however I can not go in to them here as either they may be libellous or Jarkko will simply remove them. He does so like to do that with my posts :)

p.
David
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Ms. Fitz

Postby David » Fri Mar 28, 2003 1:24 am

Well, I agree that "hymns of unstinting" praise can make for lousy criticism. The first duty of a critic is to establish and maintain that tricky thing called "critical distance." 'T'ain't easy! I've tried to do that in my reviews of Leonard's work, and reading what I've read years later I believe I usually pulled it off. But I definitely understand the problem.

As for reading in things that aren't there... yeah, maybe. But again, that seems to be part and parcel of the critic's job. It often looks foolish, I agree -- but Ms. Fitz is hardly the only one guilty of this particular indiscretion.

And in terms of her "absoluteness"... well, of course: ALL blanket statements are wrong! ;)
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lightning
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Postby lightning » Tue Apr 01, 2003 5:50 pm

Judith Fitzgerald's flight into space launched from the Master Song seems to overlook the forest for some imaginary trees. While overinterpreting by associating many not so relevant spiritual symbols i.e. the Holocaust, the Trinity of self , Mary Magadalene etc. she overlooks the simple human (or bestial) psychological situation which this song describes: Two male primates (spiritual seekers tho' they be) struggle for dominance and possesion of the female. The cuckolded "I" in this song (prisoner (of love) sick in bed-sounds like Leonard) eventually triumphs over his rival, the Master, who went off wth his female messed her up both physically and emotionally, dismissed her, so she comes crawling back to him but he doesn't even want her now, and so he emerges the victor, the new master . The song boasts of this victory . There are two versions of it with minor variations-- one in Selected Poems and one on the lyrics sheet of the first album. The former ends with the stanza "I Loved your Master perfectly and taught him all that him knew-- I taught him how you would long for me no matter what he said no matter what you do.." Is this a spiritual lesson that one who "loves perfectly" teaches? We have to laugh. Is this really a tale of the triumph of the superego (or its cabalistic equivalent) over the id and ego? Years ago in the Freudian Age critics might have thought so.
< p > In addition Judith Fitzgerald misquoted two words printed in both Selected Poems and the lyric sheet for Cohen's first album. She mis- quoted " who had a word and who had a rock" when Cohen wrote "who had a worm...". She misquoted " Your love is some dust in an old man's cough" when Cohen's words were "an old man's cuff."Small examples of her lapses of attention. <p>re: Astral body attached by a golden string- I read (and at least one cohen writer on VP has seen it) it was a silver cord (Ecclesiastes).
David
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More critique

Postby David » Wed Apr 02, 2003 8:01 am

Fascinating and thought-provoking, Lightning!

This is why criticism and critical interpretation can be so good -- helps folks (like me) see --and possibly understand-- writings from new angles of vision, perspectives, etc.

Has Lightning's reading of "The Master Song" irrevocably changed that song for me? No -- I continue to see the protagonist as a wounded cuckhold unable to love the one who betrayed him, rather than a "new master" who gains victory by refusing to love the one who's come "crawling back to him" (thus his "victory," if indeed "victory" it be, is Pyrrhic at best) -- nonetheless, it's added a new texture or dimension that will always be there, from now on, when I hear it or sing it. And for that I'm grateful.

D

p.s. The only reference I can't quite follow is how the protagonist's rival "messed [the woman] up both mentally and physcially." She may be a mental wreck (with those "wild eyes" and all), and, yes, her "knuckes are red" and her "thighs are a ruin" -- but I don't see any evidence that The Master did any of that to her, especially the thighs and the knuckles. But I could be missing something.
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To Lightning

Postby George.Wright » Wed Apr 02, 2003 11:01 am

Lest thy golden bowl be shattered and thine silver cord be severed.......
I believe is the reference in the bible................Georges
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lightning
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Postby lightning » Wed Apr 02, 2003 4:31 pm

George, The lines you quote are from the end of Ecclesiastes referring to physical death when the etheric body is severed from the physical body. The silver chord can be seen as the umbilical chord of birth into the next life. The golden bowl is supposed to be the cranium or crown chakra. I found one small internet site ( down at present) saying that a golden string attached the astral body to the crown chakra. The silver chord is usually at the navel like the umbilical chord. Perhaps the higher one (golden) separates mind ( conscious function) the other body (unconscious function.)
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Postby lightning » Wed Apr 02, 2003 5:05 pm

David, When thinking about this song in terms of dominant primate theory it's usually only the males that fight with each other, and the winner gains possession of the female. No need to fight for dominance with the female --she has no chance. In "Master Song" the writer of the lyrics did not best the other male but aquired the female by default as the other male , the Master, mistreated and rejected her. "I can't make out what your master said before he made you go." Nevertheless he makes claim to besting him mentally and emotionally "I taught him all that he knew" and "that you would long for me"-- that the master could not break his hold on her. As there are S & M references in this song such as "I think you are playing far too rough" and "collar of leather and nails", "knuckles red" "thighs are a ruin" and the Master is usually half of the S & M "love" duet, this one a former soldier (back from Nam?) I assumed there was physical violence as well.
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Master song

Postby David » Wed Apr 02, 2003 6:33 pm

I can see your interpretation, Lightning -- I guess I never quite envisioned the song in terms of dominant primate theory. My reading was always that -- yes, there was a battlle, so to speak, between the protagonist and the Master, but it was being waged on several fronts. The protagonist had been the "master" (i.e., teacher) of the one who became the Master of the woman in question -- he felt betrayed because his student, whom he trusted as an acolyte, had cukcholded him.

I never envisioned that German shepherd with a collar of leather and nails as an S&M image -- I always thought that it represented a [false] sense of security and power that the Master deluded the woman into believing that she could attain with him -- a sense of securtity that lulled/seduced her for a while but could not keep her. The aeroplane, the trick of steering it without any hands, all those seductive tricks were, ultimately, false: the "music of rubber bands" is a profane substitute for true music; and it can't really "erase" pain. In fact, "the lights" are "killed" by all this tomfoolery; the darkness gets worse. It was a false seduction.

Nonetheless, the "playing far too rough," to me, was an accusation that she, herself, was using her power --sexual, psychic-- over the protagonist in question in a dominating, cruel way. Again, not an S&M image, but a reference to the protagonist as "slave to desire," so to speak. In a very real sense, I think, the singer is suggesting that in this sense SHE is, in fact, the power-holder, at least over him. I see a bitter irony in her falsely supplicant act of "bringing wine and bread" -- it's not alms but an arrogant anointment (he is, after all, her "prisoner" not her warden).

I didn't necessarily see that the the Master "abused" her; it seemed to me more likely that he betrayed her in some way (mabye by cuckholding her in the same way she cuckholded the protagonist), causing her to return to her original lover, who's now debilitated enough to be unable to respond. In fact, I think it's just as likely that she herself decided to leave him, simply because she realized (too late) that she actually loved the protagonist more. In this reading, maybe the Master "made [her] go" because he realized that her love for him was false.

I agree that the "long[ing] for me, no matter what he said..." etc. represents a kind of victory for the protagonist. But the reason I consider it a Pyrrhic victory is because now, in his debilitated state, the protagonist cannot return this longing (even if he feels it) -- thus both he AND the woman are unable to consummate the relationship that would have been theirs had the original betrayal not taken place. I see no evidene that the protagonist really "gets her back," so to speak. Nobody wins.
"Nothing is said that is not sung."

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