The Yoga Sutras and The Red Violin: a review of David Gordon White’s New Book

Canadian director François Girard’s 1998 film “The Red Violin” tells the fable of a miraculous instrument, crafted by one Nicolo Bussotti (a character modeled on Antonio Stradivari) that passes through the hands of several virtuosi over four centuries and three continents. Its rapturous tone beguiles generations of listeners. Several of its players die in ecstasy while playing it. Don McKellar’s chronologically labyrinthine plot sweeps the violin towards a fateful auction in the present day, concealing to the very end the source of the violin’s deadly mystique. Spoiler alert: We learn in the final minutes that the blessing and curse of the instrument is apparently soaked into the very grain of its soundboard. Bussotti had been crafting the violin for his unborn child. As he’s finishing the final sanding, he is summoned home to find that his wife has died in labour along with the baby. In abject grief, he bleeds her corpse to create a final vermillion varnish for the instrument, before going mad. The violin’s power is rooted in this single terrible, revelatory night: so say these storytellers, who in uncovering the mystery play the taut strings of our yearning for an essence we dream we could rescue from the vrittis of history. Continue reading “The Yoga Sutras and The Red Violin: a review of David Gordon White’s New Book”