‘Joy’ once was code for ‘freedom’. The word freiheit (freedom) was once banned, so Beethoven called it ‘Ode To Joy’. America is the bastion of freedom, supposedly; however, the mobility of the car and the insularity of suburban living reinforce joylessness, creating, ironically, a craving for freedom. You don’t need a car to live in community. And suburbia is community’s antithesis. Does ashram-living mean renunciation? No, instead Flinders recalls that living at the ashram he experienced joy, at times elation!

I don’t think I’ll get to Ramagiri (an ashram near San Francisco), but sometimes I can find joy, even elation, in music, especially Bach. I fell in love with Bach because of Swingin’ Bach Guitar (jazz–1964) and Switched-On Bach (electronica–1968). Learning electric bass, I studied Jetho Tull’s Bouree (1969), more Bach. Joy by Apollo 100 (based on Bach’s Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring) was a hit on the radio. Bach’s Minuet in G was often on the TV. The movie Rollerball featured Bach’s famous Toccata in D minor (usually played on the organ but here on the accordion). Hofstadter won a Pulitzer with Godel, Escher, Bach. Nearly three centuries later, Bach was in the air. As a chorister I got to sing the real thing, and hear it on the organ. My favourites are not choral, however. They are Gould’s 1955 The Goldberg Variations (he recorded them at different tempi again in 1982) and The Third Brandenburg Concerto (which comes in two parts, here played by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra). My kids know Bach through the wonderful Mr Bach Comes To Call. And the beat goes on. images from wikipedia.

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