Sunday 19 August 2007

The church and legs

Just a follow on from my last post. I think one of the unattractive things about church is that you have to sit and be still. I equally dislike going to the theatre,  concerts (classical - rock is fine), and lectures. I discovered restless leg syndrome  a few years ago. I have an attenuated form of the condition, so attenuated that I never realised there was a condition or a name for it until I heard about it on a radio programme. Now most children (most? many at least) squirm through the functions their parents take them  to, but I don't know if other children experienced the physical torture I got in my knees when trapped in a concert seat or a pew. Although that as such rarely happens to me nowadays, I think the memory is hard wired in. Cinema's fine - I can sprawl. Rock concerts, football matches, obviously, fine. But places where I sit. still. aaargh.

Which brought me when I was thinking about it on to another historical thing to look up. When did the tradition come in that we have to sit still and silent in order to listen to music?I'm aware that in courts of roughly renaissance times they used to walk about and talk all through the performance, at least the king did. What is it about being modern and civilised which means that we have to be still when the body's natural instinct is to move to the rhythm? I heard from someone that most languages don't have separate words for "sing" and "dance" because they're the same thing. I have no idea whether it's actually true, but it does seem to me maybe another facet of the Enlightenment separation of body and mind that we had to start "appreciating" music without responding to it physically. Maybe it's a way of separating the upper classes who have the discipline to do it, from the rude mechanical lower classes, who still have to jig around when they feel a rhythm. I'm obviously lower class then. And proud of it :-)

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