When the riots broke out over the performance of Stravinsky’s first production of Le Sacre du Printemps it became a subconsciously pivotal moment in world history.
Was it a statement on the instability of social class after the Industrial Revolution? A tumultuous issue that lingers into the 21st Century?
Was it about the decay of Western Civilization? The fall of stabilizing empires? The fall of Christianity from spheres of influence?
Was it about…meaninglessness versus meaning?
I tend to think it was the last.
A pagan dance that felt instinctual still on a human level. Still! How dare Stravinsky remind us that no matter how far civilization had genuinely progressed that at our core we were (and are) still the same species who danced to death to bring on a change of seasons necessary to grow food sources. We knew/know so much but were/are still so primitive at our core.
Primitive. Not sophisticated in a way that elevates us by our own devices out of death and literal crap. Dumb. Unscientific. Unscrupulous. Weak. Ugly. Pathetic.
How profoundly demoralizing.
…Well…weak, ugly and pathetic as compared to God. God Himself.
Some…likely who saw the tenderness of our souls and the beauty of being humble children in God’s eyes…loved it? Some who saw the necessity of grief. The danger of evil. The best sort of people, as Hemingway would have described them. But, people… Loved it.
Just think about the setting: Théâtre des Champs-Élysées at its start.
It was a brilliant audience too. Brilliant in every way…
It was before World War II. It was before World War I. It was before the fall of the Russian Empire. …Before the 1920’s too, of course… It was merely 1913.
But even so, it was a little less than a year until the (official) start of it all…
And so they stood as our ancestors on the precipice of one of the bloodiest, most technologically sophisticated periods in all of human history. Technologically sophisticated… But still, they felt moved by the paganism of the very distant past.
Some felt understood, perhaps. Some felt painfully, not just or only narcissistically, belittled, perhaps. They felt shook. Could both factions have also spiritually sensed impending doom? Was like it an alarm going off indeed?
Yes. I’d bet yes!
It was a beautifully real and truthful insight into the bigger human picture and it stands objectively outside of itself. A reason to see all the dystopian, narcissistic, inaccurate, inhumane postmodern nonsense that came from the mouths of crying children in the future as exactly what it was and is: Crying. Wailing. Actually, it predicted it. Children sacrificed for spring to arrive (Vietnam). Crying, damaged, confused children of a species that couldn’t get out of their hole. Who without God were like the pagans. Technologically advanced but potentially abhorrent idiots. It’s an attack and critique on the 20th Century…but also the (at least start) of 21st.
Maybe modernism was one of the best philosophies we’ve come up with. Maybe No. 5 is- *shrug* And yet, it’s all not enough for eternity. We still long for transcendence, spring without death and perfection. Whether we admit or not. It’s not that there’s a lack of meaning or of course meaningful love…but rather it’s just that we’re just not all that great. A species still both innocently and disgustingly moved to dance primitively in varying measures. Both beautiful and vile in varying measures.