An Auricular Fast

A very interesting idea over at Ninevah90, (about which I have no opinion, and little knowledge, but i think the title tells it all) regarding a musical and aesthetic “palate cleansing,” the better to approach discernment, in matters musical, yes, but without reading more on the site yet, I believe in all things pertaining to the life of Faith.

even most dedicated Christians have lives that are too noisy, too suffused in music and media, and lacking in aesthetic discernment. Aesthetic discernment is important because it allows us to develop gates and strongholds to our inner lives, the very gates and strongholds that are antithetical to modern approaches to “entertainment.” In short, we want to grow up spiritually in regards to music and media as well.

Anyone know Mark Nowakowski?

5 Replies to “An Auricular Fast”

  1. Well, in order to do that, one might have to skip Mass for a time… It's an "interesting" thought…

  2. Mark Nowakowski – his web page is here: — We shut off the media with some exception over three years ago now – no radio, music or talk radio, a movie about every three months or so – and no computer games or that kind of thing. The "music" in the grocery stores, restaurants, malls, etc became more and more irritating and the longer we went without recorded music, the louder the noise seemed to grow around us.

    Part of what I have come to realize is that recorded music is a technological process with the aim at capturing or reproducing the "perfect" performance. Live music by its nature will always contain flaws. As I teach music history in our small school I am limited in that I cannot offer live performances of most works of music because of the demands for instruments and ensembles and so I must fall back on recordings. But I do have a few students who play piano and after we have listened to recorded music (which never has any variance) I will ask a student to play on an acoustic instrument and we discuss how this differs from the recorded piece.

    Before recordings were readily available and had saturated our minds and souls when we wanted to engage or encounter music we had to avail ourselves of a particular venue and we would never hear it again just that way because of all the variables of live performance.

    So with as wonderful as it is to have recorded music at our fingertips, it is, in a way of looking at airbrushed or photo-shopped pictures of people who exhibit no physical flaws – and this is unrealistic.

    I agree with Nowakowski about cleansing the palate, but he is a professional musician who writes and performs live music as am I — and when we are performing a lot i think that we miss the reality that most people rarely hear non-technologically enhanced music and don't understand the intimacy of live music performed with only the acoustics at hand. We also miss the deeper understanding of the musician to his craft to continue to maintain and improve his craft, often at great personal expense.

  3. John:

    In that I am assuming the music at Mass is done by people and not recorded I would say this that there is the element of a false perfection that is also at work here. The music one hears/participates in at Mass is always different because it is a different set of circumstances when it is performed. I think that this is the missing variable in Nowakowski's theses.

  4. Yes, yes indeed! You know, it's like a "diet" (although, we should consider change of eating patterns, and not "fad-diet' for long-term health, but I digress…) If you go without all week, and then load up on garbage food on Sunday, it skews your results.

  5. I think the problem is not so much what genres we listen to but that we listen to so much music or other recorded sound. All the time. I am aware of people who constantly have headphones in, listening to music, podcasts, etc.

    As a high school student I gave up listening to the radio during lunch for lent. I found at the beginning of Lent that I had a need for noise during this time period and I went and watched t.v. instead. It took me a few days to break myself from the need for noise.

    Mother Theresa said that "God speaks in the silence of the heart." When we drown our whole day in recorded noise, we shut God out!

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