In an article written 10 March this year titled Vienna Under Siege, my concluding sentence reads, The last thing our over homogenized world needs is for its cultural traditions to merge.
After writing this sentence, I remembered the citation written by the jury chairman, naming Toru Takemitsu the 1996 Glenn Gould Prize laureate.
Arriving at the citation’s raison d’être, the chairman wrote , “for his (Takemitsu’s) music merging the cultures of east and west”.
I looked up merge in my O.E.D.
Horrors! To merge means to render one thing indistinguishable from another.
I spent many days pondering the chairman’s statement, growing angrier as I recalled past conversations with Toru. Nothing was farther fromTakemitsu’s beliefs. In all that time I’d only heard him speak about the world’s cultural variety and the pleasure, indeed inspiration, it gave him, particularly the ancient traditions of Japan which he had begun exploring in the early 1960s.
So, here I was, faced with the missuse of a single word. One word that completely skewed the intentions of the jury, effectively rendering the prize null and void. And I’ll leave it at that. Except for this. If you ever hear someone speak about merging cultures, take pause for thought. Might they mean cultures emerging? That’s something with ehich Toru would have agreed.