Thursday, June 24, 2010

Midsummer, melancholy

Summer up north is always a melancholy affair - to me, anyway. Hectic, intensely bright and cheerful in a strangely sorrowful way. We live in a bipolar country, weather-wise.
To put it with a well-known bard:

O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days

(From Sonnet 65)

Midsummer came and left, and with it my usual midsummer melancholy. This year it seemed like I could feel the break in the light - the turn from light to slightly darker. Almost like the building up of this year's soul has reached its sparkly new shape, and now meets the batterings and toils of the diving into darker and deeper waters. And the beauty of that.

Music that follows my midsummer mood: Cornelis Vreeswijk (for example En visa om ett rosenblad, Grimasch om morgonen), Monica Zetterlund, Lillebjørn Nilsen to name some. All Nordic, I notice, and not very well known outside Scandinavia. I suspect these are striking some kind of mutual melancholy summer string with their fellow Scandinavians. Other artists have been Susanne Sundfør, Schubert (listen to the Fantasy in f minor), and in a strangely different, bubbly-black sort of way: Muse. Not quite so melancholy, but grandiose enough to capture me if I wish to be captured. A kind of humoristic, pompous and melodious mixture that is often quite appealing.

On the movie side, I have had a pull towards The Dark Knight, strangely enough. It has much to do with the sublime, dark imagery and the disturbing undercurrent of madness and chaos. Suits my mood very well. Also the Matrix has been revisited by me this summer, almost to my own surprise. Some movies one has seen a substantial number of times already...

Well, well. I really do enjoy the whole of the summer, and the heavy, breezy green of the late summer is something to walk around in too. And the beginning of the autumn as well, the crispness and sharpness and all that. So no danger, really.

And that's the end of these prosaic musings.

1 comment:

Lyle Daggett said...

Although not quite as far north as Norway (Minneapolis is located almost exactly on the 45th north parallel), the pendulum of light and darkness does swing far enough here to be perceptible in individual and collective mood. During December I leave for work in the morning in darkness, and come home in darkness; on winter solstice we have about 8 and a half hours of daylight. On summer solstice we have about 15 and a half hours of daylight.

I also begin to notice the gradually shrinking light after midsummer, and feel a touch of the quiet sadness you talk about here. (At winter solstice, with three or four months of cold and snow and ice still ahead, I console myself that at least the days will now begin getting longer.)

I confess that I am not familiar with any of the musicians you mention here (other than Schubert) -- this even though Minnesota has a long and large history of immigration from the Scandinavian countries, and the echo of Scandinavian cultures is still strong here. (I have on my shelf a recording of traditional Swedish fiddle music, performed by local musicians here and recorded at a college in St. Paul.)

Now I'm curious -- I'll keep my eyes and ears open for any of the names you've noted here. One never knows what one may find when one goes looking.