The Underground Lady [Page Thirty-Two]

Music should be simple, and hardly ever heard.

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The best music comes from the ancient, traditional forms, but as played by modern masters.

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I prefer musical compositions that evoke a dark, stately parade.  I have walked along in its wake many times.

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The kind of composition I am talking about can be heard floating behind the words of Eliot’s Four Quartets.  If the poems are read in a quiet place, straight through, then one can hear the first strains of the piece arise somewhere around the middle of the second quartet, and listen as it continues, so long as you keep reading silently, until the end.  It happens all of a sudden—and you are no longer alone in the room. 

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I like Japanese music, especially the shamisen.  But nothing can compare to the unitary chanting of  the Gyuto Tibetan Buddhist monks.  It gives one an impression of eternity.  And then it is gone.

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We fail to grasp the wisdom in the Dhammapada—where human bones are compared to old gourds bleaching in the sun—and which tells us that we are bound to be wracked with disease and injuries, until we die, and burst apart and turn to dust.

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Sickness teaches nothing but pain, fear and suffering.  Of course, these are also the components of wisdom under certain conditions.  But who can meditate when one feels like throwing up?

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Sickness is not a metaphor for anything.  Anyone who thinks so has never been very ill.

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I do not understand why dread has been referred to as a “sickness unto death”—sickness and dread being two separable and distinct experiences.  Besides, the idea that we live in dread all the time is wrong.  Most people never perceive the coming catastrophe.  That is how they can be so cruel and stupid.

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Art offers no solace to the ill.  When I am feeling sick, I will tell you, take your music, and your painting, and your poetry, and go to hell.  And I mean it.  Truly.

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Living for a long time—say ten years or more—with a serious illness, gives one an almost impossible to understand perception of things.  The healthy people around one seem like maniacs, idiots and charlatans.  How can they go on with so much recklessness, and so little wisdom?  One comes to the point where one is amazed that they possess even enough intelligence to be able to stay alive.

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The Underground Lady is never sick.  At least, I have never seen her in this condition.  Perhaps she is a hermit invalid.  Many people are.

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Pointlessness is driven home by chronic sickness.  It all seems so vicious and laughable in a dry sort of way.  And it certainly is.

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