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43. Beethoven: 16th String Quartet


[…] folding away my tools with the dead parts of my soul
I go to night school, study Art;
my teacher is a homosexual who teaches us
to make shadows with a 2b pencil 
[…]
there are color wheels,
there are scales
and there are many deep and futile rules
that must never be broken;
all about me sit half-talents, 
and suddenly I know
that there is nothing more incomplete than a half-talent;
a man should either be a genius or nothing at all;
I would like to tell that homosexual 
(though I never will)
that people who dabble in the Arts
are misfits in a misshapen society;
the superior man of today is the man of limited feeling
whose education consists of ready-made actions
and reactions to ready-made situations;
but he is more interested in men than ideas,
[…]
so we sit and piddle with charcoal
and talk about Picasso
and make collages; we are getting ready to do nothing unusual
and I alone am angry
as I think about the sun clanging against the earth
and all the bodies moving
but ours;
I would bring down the world’s stockpile of drowned and mutilated days!
I would bring down the beams of sick warehouses I have counted with each year’s life!
I want trumpets and crowing,
I want a red-palmed Beethoven rising from the grave,
I want the whir and tang of a simple living orange in a simple living tree;
I want you to draw like Mondrian, he says;
but I don’t want to draw like Mondrian,
I want to draw like a sparrow eaten by a cat.

Excerpt from Bring Down The Beams by Charles Bukowski


Late 1820’s Beethoven suffered some misfortune, his death being an absolute low point. The man died aged 56 during a heavy thunderstorm. That’s all we know.

This 16th String Quartet was his last major work, which premiered one year after his death in 1827. It has Beethoven’s signature all over it. All conventional rules and standards are thrown out the windown to make room for new refinement. One moment it is calm and relaxing, the next it is cruel and ferocious. Like a sparrow eaten by a cat.

Recommended recording:
Takacs Quartet

The Gods loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages. The Takacs Ornithologists are birds of paradise bustin’ out, dead or alive.

▶︎ PLAY IN SPOTIFY

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