Pillars

September 14, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

At the base of The Statue of Liberty, there is a bronze plaque that in part reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

That famous line is a snippet from a poem entitled The New Colossus, written by the social activist Emma Lazarus three years before the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in the New York harbor.

The statue itself was the idea of a Frenchman, Edouard Laboulay, to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. One early draft of the statue had Lady Liberty holding broken shackles in her hand. The shackles are now located at her feet, and are barely visible unless you are very high up (by helicopter, for example).

The parts of Lazarus’ poem that at one point in our history had brought hope to the more than 23 million immigrants seeking asylum and the chance for a better life in America, today still stand as a pillar of our country’s ethos.

Pillars are important. They hold up countries, buildings, companies, families, and individuals.

Pillars define the structures from which we move forward in life.

The pillars which support PS Audio are grounded in our beliefs of serving the customer and the music. Of operating ethically and generously. Of building products we are proud of. Of fostering and supporting a community of like-minded people. Of being good stewards of the Earth. Of making a positive difference.

What are your pillars?

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41 comments on “Pillars”

  1. I’d like to hear about people’s pillars with in their audio chains.

    Something that you’ve had for a while and seemingly enough have never switched it out of your systems Synergy while maybe other components have been a revolving door sort of speak. 😉

    1. Hello Nephilim,

      The only pieces that have stood as pillars in my system are the speakers. For me the foundation is the source, and that is pretty solid now. The foundation reinforcement, preamps and amps have changed a few times, and may change again.

      As an audio consumer I live by the following… where can I go that I’m treated fairly, & who has the best sounding most durable components I can afford and enjoy.

    2. Hi Nephilim

      I’ve had my Linn Sondek LP12 turntable longer than anything else. Since ’78?
      It started with a Hadcock unipivot arm, but a colleague knew Roy Gandy so I bought one of their arms waaaay back when.
      Used a Shure V15-V. Various models. Until Shure stopped making them and the last stylus died. Now using an Ortofon 2M black.

      The preamps have changed a lot. Currently using the current one from PS Audio. Sounds rather nice. May be some arm upgrade in the future…

  2. Opera. I’m not an opera buff, but I’ve come to consider it the pillar of performance art, even though given the choice I’d probably choose to see a ballet (that will have to wait till next week).

    Nothing better expresses the human condition. The first show I missed due to lockdown was Fidelio (Kaufman/Davidsen) on 17 March 2020. Last night was the first performance of the new season and the first show since then with a full audience, cast and orchestra. We were served a new production of Rigoletto (Oropesa/Carlos Alvarez/Avetisyan). You need a great orchestra and performers who can sing and act. The best operas are tragedies, often the best plays as well. Rigoletto addresses moral and spiritual issues (the lack of both) and the death of children. It was written with Lear firmly in mind and this production took that to heart, with a full-blown storm to boot. The theme goes back 2,500 years to Euripides’ Medea. As a commentator said on the BBC discussing this production earlier this week, the odd thing about opera is that, at times of greatest torment and agony, the performers are required to sing. It’s not natural and you have to get it right.

    We’ve been to see and hear a lot of music and dance since last July, but now, after 18 months, the musical firmament feels fully reconstituted, with its pillars back in place.

    1. I heard Levine at the Met in NYC conduct
      Rigoletto and it was unreal! Truly a very moving opera!

      My favorite opera is Tosca! Powerful!
      Some of the lines in Tosca are revolutionary considering it was first set on stage in 1899.
      Opera is a mixture of staging, music,
      Costume, acting, voice, story line etc. a treat!
      However, today’s rant “Pillars” makes me laugh-well , maybe not laugh, but it is amazing how” humans “ can be so
      Just, philanthropic, kind, considerate
      With words and it just does not go any further! A brief study of history tells us the true story of humanity!
      Pillars- how naive!

      1. Tosca is a bit melodramatic because everyone dies at the end. In Rigoletto the baddie gets off Scott free because he’s rich, powerful and lucky. Lear goes mad. I find Romeo & Juliet a bit far-fetched at the end.

        My favourite tragedy is Manon. Dying in her lover’s arms with a bad haircut is a good way to go. (See Les Miserables.) Seen it loads of times. The great star of American Ballet Theatre in NYC, Roberto Bolle danced Des Grieux for his final performance in June 2019 and a few months later came to London and danced it with the Royal Ballet and Marianela Nunez as Manon. The music is absolutely wonderful. It’s difficult to get English audiences off their asses, but they got a 20 minute standing ovation. We were in Row D and I think my wife wet herself – several times.

        These shows are pillars of the repertoire and people complain when they aren’t performed annually. They are also money-spinners, as there is rarely an empty seat.

        Companies and orchestras have performers and musical directors/conductors who you think are the pillars that hold up the whole edifice, but they move on and get replaced.

        1. When we started dating, my missus sent me a version of E Lucevan le stelle, sang by Salvatore Licitra. A beautiful version of this piece by a guy who died too young. Just a few months later, I took her to Rome, and we had dinner in a little restaurant in Piazza Farnese, where the French embassy now stands. That is the location of Tosca, the Palazzo Farnese.
          Camponeschi is the restaurant. Not too many tourists go there. Classic extremely well prepared Italian food in a beautiful place. Incredibly romantic. They know how to treat you very well. A little truffle grated on the pasta course…

          PS: He doesn’t sing it from there, though, but from another castle nearby.

  3. THE NEW COLOSSUS
    by Emma Lazarus

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame.
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; here mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor, that twin cities frame.
    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvNxWcrYEsI

    “With liberty and justice for all.”

    Naive you say? Middle school social studies you say? No and no. Pretty radical actually.

  4. I guess that pillars need a strong foundation in order to fulfill their basic function and staying upright. 😉 Thus what about the foundation, basics values? What about tolerance, respect, solidarity individuality and (!) intolerance concerning the enemies of those basic values including those who daily destroy the basis of life and nature and a peaceful cooperation?

    1. BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!
      Well said Paulsquirrel.

      If I had the ability to write in such an honest and eloquent manner, I would my share own feelings this morning but your words ring so true to my ears there is no need for me to say a another word.

        1. Thanks for the kind words. When someone expresses similar feelings to mine in a conversation I see no need to throw my two cents in. It doesn’t add anything to the conversation.

  5. Well, you’ve done it again, Paul.
    Thank you for pointing to the larger and deeper questions that are always there, often in darkness or amidst the noise, that are about the most important things in life. When all the surface issues are either disposed of or disappear of their own, one is left with the questions “what are my values” and “was I / am I true to them”, though one’s language for expressing this may vary. Truth and beauty are both obviously and mysteriously connected to these questions, and that is the esthetic and ethical foundation for pursuing this hobby of ours. Some days it seems to be more a necessity for a grounded and hopeful life, the privilege of the endeavor notwithstanding. I still listen to entire albums these days, hoping to find myself in the artistic space that prompted the composer or musician to midwife such beauty in the first place. You and your team play a meaningful role in assisting that, as the components in my rack would indicate.

  6. In the early 1970s long before the renovation I climbed the 162 steps of the spiral stair from the pedestal to the then-poorly ventilated head of the Stature. It was 115 degrees in the head that day, and very humid from all the people panting from the climb and dripping with sweat. The windows were small and so dirty it was hard to see out. Overall, it was a miserable experience. But at least I could say “been there, done that.” LOL

    The base building was designed by Richard Morris Hunt for a fee of $1,000 which he donated to the building fund. Without the base building “pillar” the Statue would be incomplete. Hunt also designed the Biltmore Mansion in NC.

  7. The Earth doesn’t even know humans exist. We are so pretentious to believe we are it’s stewards. The Earth will be here long after humans are gone and not even know nor care we were ever here.

    1. Well, following on from your point, I’m not surprised no one’s quoted Shelley’s famous verse about the ultimate fate of all great things and the certainty of facing oblivion:

      I met a traveller from an antique land,
      Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
      Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
      Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
      And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
      Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
      Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
      The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
      And on the pedestal, these words appear:
      My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
      Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
      Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
      The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

    2. rwwear, You are, of course, right in several ways. If by “earth” you mean the rock, the water and atmosphere that we all live on it ( earth ) it is an intimate object and has no way to know of our presence. Also, if by some remarkable luck our species is still around a billion years from now the sun will go off of its main phase ( burning hydrogen to make helium ) and the energy output from the sun that we receive will change so drastically that life forms such as our will not be able to survive.

      There is, however, something that will happen in a much shorter term than a billion years if we don’t stop doing what we are doing on this planet. What will happen is we will exhaust the resources of the plant if we continue to multiply at the rate that we have been doing so. One hundred years ago the human population of earth was 1.5 billion people. Today it is 7.5 billion people or five times what was 100 years ago. If that rate of reproduction continues for the next 100 years it would mean over 35 billion people on earth.

      The most optimistic estimates say the maybe earth can support 9 billion people. We have got to put the brakes on our own reproduction. So while we may not be the stewards of earth, we better start being the stewards of our own reproduction or the consequences of over reproduction will put the brakes on for us.

      1. Tony. I believe it’s 5 billion years before the sun becomes a red giant but I don’t plan on being here to see it. I agree there’s too many people in the world. Maybe the only ones that get to eat and reproduce are the ones who work. Exceptions for those who are unable.

    3. Oh… I’m pretty sure the earth knows we exist and is right now saying if we don’t get our poop in a group she’s gonna punt us right off the planet for good! And the other planets are saying Hell NO! WE don’t want ’em!
      Now don’t get me wrong, I love life – it is absolutely grand and I’ve there have been countless amounts of fantastic people throughout time, but good gawd, overall we are a dreadful, horrible species! The dinosaurs were on the planet for about 160 millions years – no problems, we’ve been here around 300,000 years and we’ve pretty much messed it up…
      On the gooder side, setting up my new 3.7i’s up tonight – there’s MY pillars.

      1. The Earth is not messed up. It’s the way it is and we can’t change it. If Climate Change were true would rich people like Obama buy mansions on the ocean and fly private jets everywhere? Climate Change is a big money making scheme to control humans and keep poor countries poor and in the dark like Africa.

    4. You are correct, as a non-sentient object, the Planet Earth does not know that we exist, or anything else for that matter. Nor does the big unshielded fusion reactor that is a star that we call the Sun. The Universe does not exist for our benefit, but it happens to be organised in such a way that the friggen’ weird thing called life came into existence. Life has had an enormous effect on the surface of the planet, transforming it and adding into the upper terrestrial crust, hydrosphere, and atmosphere the current biosphere. Even those non-living outer components were not always there, gradually changing from an accretionary disk of the byproducts of old stars into the the Solar System that we know (well, sort’a) and love.*

      Life is fragile, but also resilient. That is abstract life, not just us critters, et al. growing and scampering around on the surface. As the self styled apex critters, humanity is making significant changes, and all too often not for the better. If we keep trashing the world, it will eventually become a hostile environment that is not tenable for most of humanity and many of our fellow life forms. Humans being a clever and scrappy species, a small fragment may survive in scattered, isolated pockets of relatively less foxtrotted up mini-environments. But what we rather pompously call civilization is an even more fragile thing and when civilizations collapse, suffering and death are the consequences. Talk about your classic existential crisis.

      This Earth is still a beautiful blue-green place, despite the short sighted, hell bent efforts of too many individuals to ruin it for fun and profit. Despite our manifest failings, I remain rather fond of our benighted species. In particular, I desire my kids including Teensy Sweety: the Next Generation to live out safe and productive, even happy, lives.

      * If you have not seen it, I highly recommend the National Geographic series “One Strange Rock”. It is available for streaming on Disney+ and also as a 3 DVD set for unrepentant physical media guys like myself. If interested, here’s a link to the trailer:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrC4vDcWmxK

      1. Hmmmm. Glitch somewhere. Okay, if still interested you can do a manual search. The particular video referenced is: “One Strange Rock – Trailer | National Geographic”

  8. Non-audio pillars: family, faith, friends and fair dealing.

    Audio pillars: PS Audio front end and Legacy Audio speakers. Right now, Mark Levinson power – hope someday to go to BHK Signature 250.

    1. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies an unregarded yellow sun.

      Orbitting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two [sic] million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”

      –Douglas Adams (1979)

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