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Last Song


Richard Strauss wrote Four Last Songs for Soprano and Orchestra. Many think he is related to Johan Strauss of Vienna Waltz fame – but nothing could be further from the truth.


Is anything further from the truth than anything else? Truth is relative, some seem to believe. A moveable feast. A convenience. Their whole life is geared – at least subconsciously – to the fact that Truth is a matter of opinion rather than an intrinsic, unswerveable incontrovertibility. Life would be a misery if strait-jacketed by a so-called certainty of truth. Life is best when one can shift it about on the table, its various facets changing with the light or the angle of viewing it – ballooning one minute, shrinking the next. Truth can fall off the table and creep about of its own volition, now a rodent-like truth, later a ghostly truth, sometimes merging with the carpet itself or becoming just another indistinguishable aspect of its pattern.


Music can carry an intrinsic truth, however, an ineluctable noumenon of its own. Not the music itself, but an emotion in its weave that no listener can avoid. Nobody can compare that emotion felt by one listener to the emotion felt by another. Reality is only viewed via a single mind. Your mind. That is the only truth, your relationship with your own mind. A mind that can only be the same mind that observes it.


So, dear Richard Strauss, how can there be more than one last song? Perhaps, the last song becomes the next last song that becomes the next last song that becomes the next last song, or halfway through the song, then halfway through the rest of the song, or halfway through the rest of the rest of the song, ad infinitum, ad absurdum, with the listener moving from mind to mind, self to self, last song to last song – and we can therefore live forever, square-dancing inside a sound-woven song-space with four unseen, unreachable corners.

Written yesterday as a speed-writing exercise at the Clacton Writer's Group and first published here


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