The other night I found this on my phone.
Just this, nothing else.
Der Rosenkavalier had left it.
It’s funny how two people can have meaningful conversation without uttering a word.
This is one of my favorite pieces, Erik Satie’s Gnossienne No 1.
Satie was into gnosticism, an esoteric form of Christianity. Gnosis means knowing in a way that’s personal, not simply having knowledge of something. It’s connaitre rather than savoir, or kennen rather than wissen. It’s a distinction in many Continental languages that English lacks.
Gnossienne is a word that Satie made up, but from the way its ending is written it implies that it’s a woman in the know.
This version is played French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet — one of my favorites. He’s famous for wearing red socks and striped formal wear. He has a home in LA (as well as Paris) so he plays locally a few times a year. He’s coming back to LA in February 16, around Valentine’s Day, to play Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F. Thibaudet, though French, is a great lover of Gershwin’s American music.
Trains are something Der and I had a conversation about. They are so much a part of European life that today they are regarded as utilitarian. In some ways, their association is more with work or school than travel. But to Americans, trains are still romantic travel. They represent adventure, possibilities, freedom — the very antithesis of a daily 9 to 5 slog.
So, too, we spoke of clouds. Here in California, clouds are more rare than gold. In Northern Europe, however, they are unremarkable. I told Der of how I always want window seat whenever I rode a train in Europe, not to see the scenery but the clouds. It was then, too, I admitted I was a the owner of several books by the International Cloud Appreciation Society.
He laughed, but clouds became our shared secret after that. He’d say things such as “I saw a nimbostratus today and thought of you.”
How long it took him to find this video, I can only imagine. The emerald bracelet, a reference to how our relationship might be a beautiful but dangerous thing, was grand. But as grand gestures go, this video was surely the grandest yet. I would have thrown myself in his arms — had he not been 1300 miles away.
So make what you will of this video’s meaning. For myself, I already know.