Schoenberg Moon Bridge

After a lengthy discussion of the limits of language in describing a classic of dark ambient music on the Disquiet blog, was somewhat humbled by this statement, in an essay comparing people who want to believe 20th Century music is a conspiracy to people who want to believe the moon landings were faked:

This is not to say that you're crazy if you find atonal modernism incomprehensible. (Unless you also believe that the moon landing was a hoax: then you are crazy.) But the persistence of the argument that it ought to be comprehensible is coming from the same place. It's why that whole twelve-tone music as Nazi espionage code hoax from a while back was so spot-on funny. It's why the reaction against the new—which, in the Romantic era, most often was couched in terms of compositional incompetence—is now more likely to introduce an emperor's-new-clothes aspect. It's why criticism of the complex and the complicated is so often laced with accusations of deliberate obfuscation: if it can't be completely grasped, it must be a con.

It is a con. But only because all music is a con. Music is constantly conning us into mind-bogglingly vivid emotional reactions even though it's communicating practically nothing at all, qualifying as a language-game only on terms so rudimentary as to be a caricature. It presents us with timbres and pitches and rhythms that we turn around and project whole worlds onto, worlds so intricate that we can't even fully map them. It's all impossible to grasp—and it's all true, as true as you want or need it to be. The difference between music and the historical, contingent world it exists in is this: if music seems to be trying to sell you a bridge to the moon, then somewhere, there's a bridge to the moon to be had. You might not want to bother looking for it. That doesn't mean the rest of us can't.

Humbled because the author makes it seem so obvious. Perhaps we could say that all music defeats language but some defeats it more than other. Hat tip avianism - and be sure to check out the link in the quoted passage to the Schoenberg-as-Nazi-code satire - really well done dry humor relevant to the whole frustrating cats discussion. (Frustrating because arguments have to keep being reasserted - like whack-a-mole with 12-tone cats.)