Arvo Pärt – And Then Came the Evening and the Morning

A new light must come.

And you won’t know it,

it must be your own fruit,

the fruit of your flesh.

For otherwise you can’t make contact with it.

Arvo Pärt

This is my favorite film I’ve seen all year. It’s a documentary about Arvo Pärt, the most performed living composer, made in 1990. He has created all kinds of different types of music, but for me he’s most closely associated with the holy minimalist movement, which, if I’m being honest, is my favorite kind of sound, the kind that relaxes my soul, then sends it soaring.

The film starts off as though it’s an abstract and artsy music documentary, but it goes to a different and magical place. If you watch nothing else, please take eight or so minutes to watch from 45:00. You won’t have all the context, the emotional tone, that builds to that moment, but that moment is special, and worth your time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the limits of language, and about how art—the means by which we communicate our inner universes to others—can share things, even using language itself, that direct description through language cannot grasp. In this moment, Pärt gestures toward something beyond even that, something that can’t escape our own inner universe, but is nonetheless real—that is part of the exigencies of experience, and magical, and divine. And it seems like this the wind that guides him, the firmament that moves him to make what he does, all in the service of gesturing toward something that is not subject to language, or is even possible to share. But we can try.