My mildly desultory life
By Brenda Tremblay ~ Posted Mon, 01/21/2008 - 8:37am
The problem with reading so much is that I can never remember where I read what. Or did I hear it on NPR? I can only guess. I guess that I read in Time magazine that 65% of Americans are on a diet. So, since popularity (a phenomenon quite removed from the actual merit of anything, I read somewhere) drives me in the opposite direction of any activity, I recently decided to emulate the life of composer Darius Milhaud, who (I read somewhere) lived a mildly desultory life. I like the sound of “mildly desultory.” Sounds like a plan. Or not a plan, which, when everyone else is sweating it out, sounds appealingly contrary. So I’ve settled on becoming mildly desultory myself.
What’s an appropriate soundtrack for my new so-called mildly desultory life? Should I listen to music of Milhaud? B.B. King? Rhiana? Now I realize I’m not sure what the word “desultory” actually means. I have to look it up. Hold on.
* * * *
OK. I’m back. Two meanings pop up on the American Heritage Dictionary, which are: 1. Moving or jumping from one thing to another; disconnected: a desultory speech. 2. Occurring haphazardly; random. See Synonyms at “chance.”
Hmmm. For some reason, I thought “desultory” meant something like “lazy” and now I have to rethink my plan. I think I want to be more lazy than desultory.
Perhaps I’ll reach for music by the King of Randomness, composer Anthony Philip Heinrich. Born in Germany in 1781, he moved to the United States and lived and worked in isolated, Thoreau-like simplicity in a one room cabin near Bardstwon, Kentucky. Known as “The Kentucky Beethoven,” he wrote a bunch of pieces with colorful titles such as Migration of American Wild Passenger Pigeons; The Ornithological Combat of Kings, or the Condor of the Andes; and The Wild Wood Spirits' Chant. Great titles, huh? In each piece, Heinrich strings unrelated themes together like musical sausages. There’s no development, no musical resolution.
They're totally random, I read somewhere. Very desultory.