Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gettyburg Oration
Quantifying and calibrating by order of greatness in anything is a difficult order to fill, especially in the arts. Lincoln's address, however, stands alone in many ways.It is both high rhetorical art combined w/ an acute sense of the historical moment. Word for spoken word, there is little doubt that the Gettysburg Address, as a public drama, has no peer in American history. It fills the bill on all the measures of sublime oratorical composition. As recited here by Mr. Rapoport, it approaches an operatic splendor. In euphony, austerity of word, and pitch perfect composition, it has no match. Lincoln's only lacking, and this is probably why the speech was so lost on his audience at the time, was his high vocal register and un-resonant vocal timbre.

Part of its indelible mark in time has to do w/ this precise compositional architecture as it coincides w/ the perfect historical moment to which the address met in/ exquisite proportion. What truly marks Lincoln's genius, though, was that he was as much a dramatist in the highest tradition of the Greek tragedy as a poet with a gifted ear at the same time. And what distinguishes him, almost exclusively among world leaders in all of history, is that he was writing and acting his own character upon the real dramatic stage of history in real time. In this sense, reality imitates art in its most transcendent form.


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