The Tulkinghorn project, if you will, always had psychological pitfalls -- a mask that looked so much like my own face might become hard to pull off. Turned out to be true, much to my own chagrin and David's, and the constant irritation of maintaining the high-minded yet charmless role was not only not fun, but damaging to a number of things I cared about.
Be that as it may, I came across in the most recent issue of the New Yorker (11/29/10 not available on line except on the other side of an unscalable wall) an astonishing essay by James Wood that forcefully threw all that back at me. Thus, this: the first of probably many Tulkinghorn farewell tours.
Wood writes at length about Keith Moon and Wood's own love of drumming. (This was a bit like finding out that Proust was a baseball fan.) Wood writes as well and with as much technical facility about the differences between The Who and Led Zepplin as he does about Saul Bellow and Franz Kafka.
Reading this excerpt from a much longer autobiographical paragraph felt like having my face slammed into a wall. Speaks for itself, I think:
Nowadays, I see schoolkids bustling along the sidewalk, their large instrument cases strapped to them like coffins, and I know the weight of their obedience. Happy obedience, too: that cello or French horn brings lasting joy, and a repertoire more demanding and subtle than rock music's. But fuck the laudable ideologies, as Roth's Mickey Sabbath puts it: subtlety is not rebellion, and subtlety is not freedom, and it is rebellious freedom that one wants, and, most of the time, only rock music can deliver it. And sometimes one despises oneself, in near middle-age, for being so good.