Existence through aesthetics


Maxim Februari

This blog is inspired by Maxim Februari being a guest in the VPRO program Zomergasten of last week. Maxim February (23 February 1963 ), is a Dutch philosopher , lawyer, writer and columnist. Since September 15, 2012, Februari, born as a woman with the first name Marjolijn, started to publish under the name Maxim Februari, because of her transition to the male gender. Zomergasten, which means Summer Guests, is a 3 hour long program in which guests are asked to fill the evening with a choice of their favorite fragments of movies, documentaries, music, art, etc etc, and talk about that and their own life. The episode with February was one of exceptional insights, tenderness, romance, wisdom, humbleness and above all aesthetics. Very moving and impressive fragments shown by a very moving and impressive person. I hardly know where to begin and end, and it’s too much to cover all in this blog, so I will choose what impressed me most and that was by far a fragment from a UK series  (The South Bank Show) on Gershwin being performed  by famous musicians. 


Sinead’ O Connor

The Glory of Gershwin is a 1994 tribute album by various singers and performers, Adler’s lifelong friends, in celebration of American musician Larry Adler’s 80th birthday. Adler himself plays the harmonica on each of the songs, all of which are written by George and Ira Gershwin, except where indicated. The album was produced by George Martin. 

Maxim showed a fragment from ‘The making of The Glory of Gershwin’ documentary of this album, featuring Sinead O’Connor. And he was so right in his analysis of it. One big shot of beauty, totally disarming you, lifting you up, touching you, and embracing you with so much emotional sense you could easily cry when immersing yourself in it totally. The song she did was Gershwin’s ‘My Man’s gone now’ from Porgy and Bess (about a dead husband), but it’s Sinead herself who makes it become this intense experience. She has some troubles with getting the right tone on a difficult part, but like Maxim later say, that’s absolutely not a sign of not being a top singer or having no music talent. Music talent is not a one dimensional thing, it cannot be measured with one way of measuring. Maybe others would have managed to get the tone right away, singing it from a paper with notes in front of them, but the magical performance in how she sings it after rehearsing the hard part and then gets it done, shows how she masters music and gives herself to it all. Sinead became depressed years later, battling with herself and religion, but when I look at the Sinead of 1994 it strikes me how pure and (seemingly?) happy and energetic she was at that time. She impressed me more with this song than all her other songs, just because she feels so unharmed and undamaged, able to show her talent without feeling suicidal and lost. I hope she is happier again now with her present choices in life.


Listen and feel the intensity:

What I liked so much is the feeling of being connected when touched by someone. Sinead in this case, but also Maxim and his interviewer who both were silent and without words after the music stopped. This feeling of totally being overwhelmed by someone’s presence or someone’s performance, feeling alive and deeply moved are moments to cherish. This shared moment of silence and understanding why silence is the only possible way to respond also means a lot. Such moments of connectivity don’t come easy, even not with loved ones, because all has to be in a rhythm of making  you soft, wanting you to let go of all shields and resistance. The music in this fragment and how it was performed, did it for me. Existence through aesthetics, aesthetics through existence.

For who is refused to watch the scene, here is the alternative link, but bad quality:

Leader music Zomergasten

And because very nice music as well,  I also add the leader music which is used when the program starts.




Watch Zomergasten (Dutch only)

Leave a Reply