Essay on art & war

Thomas no longer listens to music with passion, as he was used to before the content in the music changed. Initially, music was gentle, beautiful, harmonious, and resolved. Currently, this is not the case because the music is dissonant, complex, unresolved, and is full of tension. Two different tones are eminent, the former kind representing hope and peace, and the latter representing hopelessness and anguish.
The thesis can be expressed without any reference to music since the variation in tone is an exact replication of the problems facing humanity. Thomas’s response and experience to music has changed. Formerly, music meant to represent hope, joy, and acceptance of death peace and it had a spiritual meaning. This has greatly changed whereby we see music representing anguish, doubt, hate, fear, and confusion. He thinks of death anytime he listens to music. The repeated fading of strings in songs no longer resemble the cycle of life and death but has shifted its focus to the bombs that are exploding in different parts of the world. According to Thomas, the issue of death does not affect him psychologically due to the experiences that he has in life. He has the capacity to recover and move on with life, although he finds himself thinking life’s struggles. The former music is presented in a harmonious romantic style, whereas the latter is in a tortured atonal style. Mahler divides the two worlds by culminating the past and being the harbinger of the future. According to Thomas, Mahler embodies his struggle between to ages. He further shows a man’s struggle between hope and despair, joy, and resignation in the face of death. The first movement in music is tentative, expectant, and sparse. This is like a primary heartbeat that awakens nature. This can be linked to the presence of missiles that are capable of creating artificial suns that can further destroy the life of the continent. To Thomas, this makes the cellos sound like the opening of all hatches and the instant before ignition.
Thomas treats his subject with much concern and seriousness. He shows how Mahler, through his music tries to balance the changes in the world. Mahler represents both the past and present. He talks about what happened in the ancient times and compares to the future. In the past, life was greatly valued whereas in the future people are killed and little concern is shown. Radioactive materials are used to kill large populations. Thomas is worried and concerned about the young in the society because they are the most vulnerable to the dangers of humanity.
In paragraph ten, the irony comes in where the man in charge of the civilian defense in Washington says that instead of eighty million dying from attacks by Russia, the number can be reduced to forty million by getting shelter in the countryside. He further says that Russia will not see it worth their efforts killing forty million Americans through their radioactive weapons. He does not give a solution to the matter on the ground. According to him, killing of forty million people is not a big issue. In paragraph seven, Thomas represents the struggle that people are going through to survive. The presence of vanishing violins that are heard, disappearance of the cellos, with an indication that they would be back, however, there was still hope despite the ongoing human strife.
The words that are used in music express emotions conveyed by the music less precisely than the music itself. The value of music as well as that of life has deteriorated greatly. People no longer listen to music for the purpose of joy as it was in the ancient times. This is because of the different messages that are brought up through the music. Some of these messages are of no value and discourage people, especially the young. Human life as well, is not being respected as before. The value of life has deteriorated, and the number of deaths is increasing at an alarming rate especially because the leaders in charge of human defense have become reluctant.

Works cited

Thomas, Lewis. Late night thoughts on listening to Mahler’s Ninth symphony. New York: Viking Press, 1983. Print.
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