The Rod Blog

24 January 2006

The Vanishing Symphony



In times of bleak I find great solace in beautiful music. This afternoon the radio is playing Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony. The announcer tells me that among the performers is Geoffery Lancaster playing [some technical term] piano.

I can just hear him if I listen carefully, but I wonder what the difference would be if the part were removed. Let’s not stop at the piano. What about the oboe. The horn. The drum. Inch-by-inch the symphony wastes until at some point it dies. It’s hard to predict when, but we know that sooner or later a critical moment will come, and it will lose whatever it is that keeps it alive.

Thus it is with complex things. Would your car notice missing hubcaps? No, but keep unbolting random parts: a wobble here, a squeak there. Never mind, turn the radio up again and hope for the best. But you know where this is headed: it’s unlikely to involve motoring happiness.

Another day, another news report. This bird is about to go extinct. In a remote location somewhere, some cuddly, furry animal is in trouble, but it lives in the domain of lentil-eating, middle-class bushwalkers, and has no economic impact. Elsewhere a coral reef is bleeched by nutrient runoff and warming seas.


Now here’s the economist: we’re in trouble because of our declining birthrate. Have one for the nation. And all the while I wonder how many parts we can discard before our craft falls out of the sky.

1 Comments:

  • Rod

    An interesting treatise that certainly gets you thinking. I guess the corollary to it is that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

    By Blogger David, at 8:57 pm  

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