PHILIP GLASS AND GANDHI
1971:I left the would-be revolutionaries with whom I was associated
when one hailed the murder of Sharon Tate as a sign that times
were achangin'. Never before had I heard such a statement
of such complacency,of such self-righteous stupidity as this.
It made my neck hairs tremble and my toes get cold. I could not find words
for the sensation. But that night I had a dream in which Gandhi appeared, and said nothing,
but had tears in his eyes. And within days, I had packed up and
bid my "cell-group" goodbye.
Why did I not remember this when called upon to review Satyragaha,
Philip Glass' opera about Gandhi? O those theoretical reasons with which
one cloaks imperception, wrongheadness, envy. I intended to say
that the technique was stolen from Bali, more or less, which is untrue.
But that night I once again dreamed of Gandhi; and this time he
said, "Anyone who writes an opera about me is alright,
Phillip." Afterwards, I obtained a tape of Satyaragaha,
which sounded quite beautiful to me.
I told this story a few weeks later to the person who became one
of my closest friends, who worked in the world of foundations.
He laughed and said he was glad, in part because he had hand a
hand in commissioning it.He also told me a story about the Rome
premiere of Satyagraha:the opera house staff was going on
strike ("They're always going on strike," said Howard)
and Glass, whose opera was about to get lost in the fracas
asked why. Because the bathrooms weren't being cleaned
properly. And so he cleaned the bathrooms of the Rome Opera,
averting the strike. Someone said, "but you are the composer! Why
should you clean-up the men's room?" And Glass replied,
" Gandhi would have."
Years after, on returning to North Carolina, I felt need of
psychotherapy. I had lost a large number of people to AIDS
and I could not get out from under it. I went to one new-
age-y fellow who was far too California to me--meaning
that not getting out from under it was not a matter
of finding one's inner child, but of life and death.
I decided on the therapistl when I noticed a quotation
from Gandhi on his wall. A few months later,I told him
the story Howard Klein told me. My shrink
turned out to be Phillip Glass' first cousin.