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      Jazz and Philosophy
      發布時間:2018年04月01日     王強 譯  
      來源: 英語世界
      字號 簡體 繁體 打印

      Jazz and Philosophy


      By Douglas Groothuis[1]


      Philosophy warms to[2] jazz, but not as much, perhaps, to rock or blues. We can talk through the night about rock and blues, and it may be fun. But just how philosophical can we get about rock and blues – even with the help of a few smart friends and a few adult beverages? Rock is the rambunctious and electrified child that came out of the blues, and the blues are a way to make pain bearable and even enjoyable, once the music does its magic on us. But jazz seems to be more amenable to reflection. It swings[3]; it improvises; it mystifies even as it mesmerizes; its initiates[4] are few, but militant; it is vibrant, but sometimes elusive. It seems that the best rock drummers draw heavily on jazz: Ginger Baker (Cream) and Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix), making their time keeping[5] more fascinating. (Let’s not bring up John Bonham.)


      [1](1957— ),美國丹佛神學院哲學教授。


      [2] warm to 喜歡;感興趣。


      [3] swing 搖擺。爵士樂的重要概念與特征。


      [4] initiate 內行。


      [5] 對節奏或節拍的把握和控制。

      Philosophy is the discipline of finding meaning and truth through reasoning. It aspires to find the essence in the messes of things and to thrust that essence in our face saying, “So what?” – as did Miles Davis on Kind of Blue. “What is justice?” asked Socrates, when everyone knew – but no one really knew – the answer. “What is jazz?” is much the same: we all know, but do we know? The great philosophers lived and died without swinging (as far as we know). Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine[6], may have written about music, but not jazz music. That would have to wait for centuries. Jazz had a centuries long gestation.


      [6] (354—430),古羅馬帝國時期天主教思想家,歐洲中世紀基督教神學、教父哲學的重要代表人物。


      Like many things, we may come to jazz without articulated intellectual questions. We are not usually in the classroom, but at the club, or auditorium, or sitting in front of our sound system. We listen and are moved. Or not. That is, we feel an immediate response, whatever that may be. Pat Metheny’s response was love at first listen[7]. He did not have to work his way into jazz. It found him. In my late teens, I was drawn to jazz-rock fusion, but still only picked up the crumbs from the dinner plates of jazz. It boggles my mind to[8] think that I had a vinyl album of A Love Supreme, in my senior year of high school – along with my Deep Purple, Yes, and Jimi Hendrix. But I seldom played it. It was beyond me at the time, but not beneath me. It had to wait for me to catch up – and I did.


      [7] 第一次聽就深深喜歡。love at first sight(一見鐘情)的擬作。


      [8] sth boggle the mind 使人無法想象;使人難以接受。

      Since then this philosopher[9] has come to savor this music, a distinctively American art form (but not limited to America). But what is philosophical about jazz? Yes, some jazz men are philosophical: John Coltrane supremely so. But that is not all I mean.


      [9] 作者自指。鑒于作者為神學院哲學教授,譯為“我這個哲學家”并無大礙。但考慮到中國讀者的接受習慣,轉譯為“我這個研究哲學的人”,以避“自吹自擂”之嫌。

      Like philosophy, jazz summons us to attend carefully to itself. Just as you shouldn’t read philosophy in a hurry, you shouldn’t listen to jazz casually – that is, if you want to find the center and get immersed in the vibe. It draws you in and keeps you there. Is the singer a little behind the beat? Did Charlie Haden play the same note through several choruses[10] on the recording, Last Dance with Keith Jarrett? It seemed odd, but fit perfectly. Of course it did. It was Charlie Haden.


      [10] chorus 在爵士樂中指樂段,由多個小節構成,在演奏中可多次重復。重復時一般會即興發揮,以避免完全重復。又稱副歌等。

      Further, Aristotle wrote that “Philosophy begins in wonder.” I wonder over and ponder the relation of the mind and the body, the relation of God to the world, the relation of unity and diversity (to be more abstract). When I introduced Pat Martino at Dazzle[11] recently, I quoted Aristotle and added, “Many of us wonder how Pat can play like that.” Pat tells me that his playing is “pure emotion” and comes from a higher source. On the same note[12], many of us wonder over the emotion and aspirations flaming out of John Coltrane’s music – particularly A Love Supreme. Music comes from musicians and their instruments. But is that all there is to it? Does the structure of music exist apart from its performance? Eric Dolphy was recorded as saying that the music flies off into space and is[13] no more. Was he right, or is that music retained in some sacred vault beyond our memories or recordings?


      [11] 爵士樂與藍調音樂俱樂部,位于美國科羅拉多州丹佛市。


      [12] on the same note 同理。本義為“以同樣的曲調”,基于隱喻衍生出“更多;類比;推理;并列”等義。


      [13] =exist 存在。

      Like any philosopher, I could go on, but this is an essay (a short solo), not a book. Perhaps that book needs to be written. However, I will go on listening philosophically to this philosophical music: jazz. Please join me in this performance.