Timens Decedende. Timens Manendi.

(Scared to Leave. Scared to Stay.)

from Rhapsody of the Soul

By on 5-18-2006 in Aristotle's Prayer

Rhapsody of the Soul Artby Gary Powell

All is fine. Then, it’s not. A little brother or sister is born and that mucks up the good thing you had going as the only child. You were on your way to becoming the prom queen in high school and then the exotic beauty from Sweden moves to town. You had the perfect job with open communications, fairness, and positive leadership, and then, your reasonable and fair-minded boss is replaced by a pinhead.

In Morte Perditus

(Lost in Death)

from Rhapsody of the Soul

By on 5-18-2006 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary Powell

Rhapsody of the Soul - Lost in DeathAt last, the dreaded inevitable happens. We hear the bell toll. The ghostly soprano voice representing ultimate loss beckons us, or, perhaps our loved ones. The ringing and predictable chords of life are lost to the repetitive ambiguity of two parallel major chords. In this, the tonality – the key – is uncertain. In spite of our obsessions and our avoidance and our denials, we will die. Doug Manning, The Gift of Significance

The chanting of bass voices implores us to experience our loss and this, our unchosen path. Other voices join as each separately restates our musical themes and recounts each step of our rhapsodic journey. It’s a cacophony of sounds, hardly discernible until the final gasp of life is taken and all voices join in unison in the lyric, “suavis unitas ne discedas” – sweet oneness depart not. The train’s whistle blows. The music is reduced to a single bass pedal, and life is over.


rhapsody of the soul gary powell composer

Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison

(Lord Have Mercy, Christ Have Mercy)

from Rhapsody of the Soul

By on 5-18-2006 in Aristotle's Prayer

Rhapsody of the Soul Album Artby Gary Powell

Throughout the ballet Rhapsody of the Soul, we have explored the separation and loss associated with living life, the moving toward and the stepping away from. The hope for healing and the gift of resolution, which might transcend our losses, has been there all along. Every musical theme within the Kyrie was quoted in the previous sections of the ballet. The healing made the journey with us, although perhaps not consciously, throughout our lives and within the ballet itself.

A Mindful and Reasonable Wish


“Aristotle’s Prayer” from Aristotle’s Prayer

By on 5-18-2006 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary Powell

The wonderment and monumental beauty of the earth can serve as a map for understanding the expansive nature of the human experience. Few of us “live” there, however. One terrible gift of maturity is no longer seeing my reflection in the popular culture where I actually do “live”. The chasm between these two places has compelled me to engage bigger ideas in order to stretch my capacity for understanding and hopefully not just finding but creating a reflection of my liking.

The song lyric below is the thesis statement for this show, “Aristotle’s Prayer”. It’s hope. It’s a prayer. It’s an alter call and yet has no religiosities. The big idea is this: the world CAN be known and our ability to reason remains our best hope for surviving. This is as expressed by Aristotle some 2300 years ago and is an idea still struggling.

The world CAN be known and our ability to reason
remains our best hope for surviving.

Both our individual and cultural psychology continues to project or fabricate images of their own making from their raw materials. Our religions each profess to be the one true religion. Our media plays everyone against everything for the promotion of empty profit. Our governments largely fail the individual and all institutions become whatever our psychology allows. Unfortunately for us, this institutional psychology can create and maintain the most heinous of malignant nightmares with relative ease. However, all profit is not empty, all government is not corrupt, and not all institutions enslave and torture. The really good news is that regardless of each of our own projections, our true nature is understandable.

In 1905, Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity was first to introduce us to the concept of spacetime. Before Einstein, space and time were two different things. He not only imagined, but mapped a system so integrated that the parts could no longer be considered separate. That’s how we might be able to visualize Aristotle’s idea of integrating passion, desire and heart with aspiration, discipline and perfection. The heart and mind become a “whole” new thing and following Einstein’s lead I suggest a new word for it….. HEARTMIND.

“Heart and mind and soul are free and all desire is good by our decree. By nature all creation must agree.”
Lyric from the song “Aristotle’s Prayer”

Maybe it’s time to abandon judgmental designations and their restrictive phrases which label people as right-brained, left-brained, artistic, intellectual or spiritual. Surely, most successful people integrate all that they have and all that they understand and perceive in navigating their life’s course.

“…a pilot, in those days, was the only unfettered and entirely independent,
human being that lived in the earth.” – Mark Twain

In Life on the Mississippi, author Mark Twain used the term unfettered in describing the life of a steamboat pilot. Twain saw the “rank and dignity” of this profession as an ultimate choice of self-determination fueled by aspiration, guided by reason and agreed on by all concerned. Clearly this job description is a young man’s fantasy without regard for the encumbrances of relationships. However, just copy and paste this feeling of living without fear into a more mature understanding of the individual in context of others and we may get a grasp of Aristotle’s mindful and reasonable wish for humanity.

“The pattern of the possible is preferred above the rule.”
Lyric from the song “Aristotle’s Prayer”

A truly mature life lived without fear will not be “stuck” in destructive patterns. To arrive fearlessly, however, the rest of us, whenever possible and each at our own pace, will endeavor to break our patterns which no longer serve us. We now know that patterned entrenchment is not good for human beings. We think we’ve just now figured this out with modern psychology, but Aristotle understood this in 340 B.C.

Truly, “all the wonderment and beauty lay before us and the truth they speak I pray we will believe!”

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Daring to See It


“A Chance for Beauty” from Aristotle’s Prayer

By on 5-18-2006 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary Powell

When the integration of the disparate aspects of each of our own histories is complete….. something wonderful happens. Before that time, however, we chase, run in circles and regardless of the goodness of our actions, seldom do we feel “complete”.

We chase, run in circles and regardless of the goodness of our actions, seldom do we feel “complete”.

We trip, stumble and run after beauty, as we each define it, trying to capture and hold it tightly… all the while claiming it “mine”. Beauty is illusive in this game and like a wild stallion is most magnificent when not named, penned, owned or branded. I don’t know what your job is, but mine is to fully understand and finally gaze from within the beauty that is me. In this ever so illusive place all my parts become one, whole and at once BEAUTIFUL.

Aristotle said, “All men by nature desire knowledge…” The relationship between knowledge, self-discovery and beauty are all intertwined in this very personal lyric.

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Galileo Betrayed by Inquisition


“How Do I Go On from Here?” from Aristotle’s Prayer

By on 5-18-2006 in Aristotle's Prayer

by Gary Powell

There are different genres of betrayal, to use a musical term. By definition, betrayals are compromises of our trust either by greed or passion. However, there are worse betrayals.

The source of these betrayals is always detectable in psychology, but how do we divine the source and prevent it from happening again? More important, how do we recognize any responsibility we may have in it?

There are those secret-life betrayals which cause offense outside of all acknowledged agreements or honored traditions. A Herculean effort must be mounted just to go forward after this kind of disconsolate discovery. These are the private betrayals, but the public betrayals can be more injurious yet.

There is also the betrayal served to us at the secret discretion of the institution, the corporation or… wherever large groups of individuals with, what Austin therapist Amy Person calls “lost voices”, gather. All manner of atrocities have been perpetrated on humanity in the name of “US”, at the price of “ME”. This is the slow-burn betrayal which can unknowingly obstruct our productive and passionate contributions to this world for an entire lifetime.

All these different shades of betrayal are common and experienced by nearly everyone.

On the other hand, we are seldom aware when our APTITUDE or our POSSIBILITIES have been hijacked!

Slavery, certainly, is the blackest of all betrayals as it extinguishes our corporal, natural, inherited, learned and earned humanity. Common slavery is easily identified. However, how do we know when our very “personal intellect” itself has been misappropriated or conscripted into service? This idea of “personal intellect” lives at the core of Galileo’s wonderful gift, which unfortunately existed during an unenlightened time in a place where the keepers of “lost voices” held court.

Galileo Galilei knows betrayal. Under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church Inquisition Court, Galileo, one of the greatest minds ever produced by humanity, was sentenced to life in prison for THINKING. Actually, he was way past just thinking. His thoughts were not idle musings. They were scientifically PROVEN, yet a small-minded institution stripped him of his intellectual voice and every other expression of freedom.

In the show, Aristotle’s Prayer, Galileo’s grief is presented in the song, “How Do I Go On from Here?”, and was written from this intellectual giant’s very public perspective of his own betrayal. It immediately follows the song of his trial, “The Boys in Red”. It’s not a dead, historical betrayal with no meaning or feeling. It is a betrayal which we each may share with Galileo, but have yet to feel the knife.

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