The preoccupation with the integrity of art and the value in absolute dedication as opposed to intermittent indulgence has led to the rapid formation of an idea, catalyzed into being by the inspiration found in the National Gallery of Art. It is that of a man’s capacity to ruin a woman with no more than his sincere fixation with the inanimate, specifically a bust embodying the aesthetic elements found only in the woman but captured in marble to grant the piece the permanence of the aesthetic that is never more than fleeting in the woman. This fixation is certain to drive the jealous woman mad for how can she attract as the bust when her cheeks vacillate in complexion while its, hers, remain certain and unchanging in pallor as well as tangibility. The idea acquired a solidarity within my mind no sooner than it passed before me and it cannot be ignored, lest art be offended. But it cannot be indulged now for I sit in a seat that has hitherto lingered only in a dream: for a year I have dreamt of this seat and for it, I was prepared to reside in a different country if only I could be guaranteed this seat I occupy now.
It is a seat before four empty chairs, occupied for a moment by the deliverance of the very zenith of beauty. It is impossible, utterly impossible to describe the wonder that just took place in front of me. Technically, it was a performance of the fourteenth string quartet of the master, Ludwig van Beethoven, by the French, Ebene Quartet, but what is technicality to the soul that succumbs entirely in the presence of greatness? It is a quivering that spreads through the whole being as a result of the interaction with what is profound–a sense of awe not unlike what one succumbs to before any wonder of the world; an instinctual comprehension of significance, paramount significance, the exposure to which connects the present with past; men of antiquity reveal themselves to the soul to arouse it into a state that makes evident the miracle of creation and the inherent purpose of life. Indeed it is a feeling of piety for it inspires a love for life, and what is love for life if not love for God?
The thirteenth followed the fourteenth and inspired to do so undoubtedly by providence, the final movement was omitted to bring to life that which was intended, namely the Great Fugue. Deemed incomprehensible when it was first played, it resounds in the ears of my mind over a century after its conception in spite of those who heard it first. I will not commit such a barbaric insult as to try and limit that illustrious performance with words for I can only describe the feeling. The music itself exists beyond the grasp of language–to make an attempt in allocating sufficient words is no less futile than it is to reach into a river with the hope of taking possession of the elusive water with one’s bare hand. It is only the feeling that I can write of because it is my own and it further solidifies the conviction that art justifies existence; that despite the calamity fate casts upon the individual, art is omnipresent to elucidate what truth and good exists beyond misfortune; that with art, fate’s attempts to confuse man, or the Devil’s to destroy him, are rendered ineffective for when beauty can be perceived in spite of hardship, hardship exists as no more able to affect man than a leaf is that has long fallen, dried and a mere semblance of what it once was.
Art exists to elevate man beyond the material, above the trivial; what a splendid life is that of one who devotes himself to it! The glass within me that serves as a vessel for my motivation and ambition is not only full, but overflowing; how could it be otherwise? To hear what I have just witnessed right before my eyes and be conscious of this overwhelming sensation resulting from having been in the company of something great is to be reminded of man’s potential for becoming great himself and who, thus reminded and with a modicum of love for himself, would not yearn to see if such a state can be reached? Who, certain that all men are born undifferentiated, would deny that the potential for greatness exists for him as it did for the masters of antiquity? And who, finally, thus reminded and certain would not give himself entirely to the pursuit of greatness?
It would be an offense to God, for to become aware of this potential and yet still allocate little to no effort in striving to capitalize on it is as to refuse to see despite the eyes so magnanimously bestowed to man by God. Where is the man who would find no offense in having the gift he zealously gave another completely ignored or disregarded?
When comfort and security are acknowledged as pernicious to inspiration, it becomes easier for those who understand its unparalleled value to tolerate financial hardship. How could I ever scowl and curse fate to consider my own financial position, however pitiful, when Beethoven himself, without whom my day would have simply been devoid of the significance I derived today, endured such straits? Who can know that the author of the fourteenth string quartet in C# minor, Op. 131, suffered destitution without understanding that it is at least somewhat conducive for original creativity? Genuine art does not exist for the sake of what material may be gained in this world. It exists somewhat beyond it, as if caught between the earth and heavens; its distance from us who are bound to the world is great enough that we cannot comprehend it to the extent that would allow for the artist to be inundated with worldly rewards, instead it requires the careful scrutiny of a few generations before it is understood enough to be appreciated.
I have seen the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Kaaba, the Blue Mosque, and even a kingdom formed of clouds before my eyes yet none of it surpasses in sheer beauty what I just–what can I say here for watched, heard, witnessed, observed, or beheld are all inadequate–became. To say I am moved by something is often figurative but here, I am tempted to believe that it was literal for I was not in that auditorium but in the realm of art, between ours and eternity, gliding along the notes that carried me as a zephyr would and it is only now as I am gently landing that I perceive best the difference between where I was and where I am soon to be.
The consciousness of where I was, that realm of which I have hitherto been ignorant, serves to slightly alter my perception of what surrounds me. Just as when Mohammed returned to the world after being taken by Gabriel to see paradise and could not look to it without smiling gently with the awareness of what splendor exists beyond what is perceptible, so too is my countenance stretched with a smile for in treading in that realm, if only for an instant, I became equipped with an immunity to that particular strand of despair known by those who are bored with the world. There are days that a man knows will not easily be forgotten because of their abundance of significance and needless to say, this is among those for me.
Perhaps I was presumptuous in saying an ‘immunity’ from that sort of despair. I have landed from that glorious height I was raised to by the skill of the Ebene Quartet–today I learned what it means to be nervous at talking to those entertainers one has seen innumerably through some screen; I was nervous and spoke faster than one ought to when conversing with those whose mother tongue is not English but I still succeeded in conveying my admiration and gratitude; I could not have left without doing so–and here on the ground, it is silent. Without the resounding influence of beauty intoxicating me as I was in writing what preceded this page, I feel a melancholy in place of what I held in my bosom then.
I was exposed to the ethereal but in my euphoria earlier–sobered now by the hour drive–I naively thought that the mere consciousness of supreme beauty existing here amidst the artificial banality man and his lust for efficiency and profit have created, would serve to make the dull and insignificant tolerable, at least. I did not take into consideration my disposition. To tolerate the deformed, grotesque, and chimerical when one is aware of great beauty existing, accessible without difficulty thanks to technological advancement, is no less than to compromise–were I not an obstinate child, perhaps to compromise and accept a general banality only occasionally interrupted by beauty would be feasible, but I am not and consequently, it is not.
The stale and bland nature of what surrounds me is accentuated by the standards aroused in me by what beauty I have been exposed to in the last three days. It would be impossible for me to resume a routine after such an interruption as that of divine beauty for I am susceptible to addiction and dependency–my bane and certain to produce my ruin, this susceptibility–and I dare say that I cannot do without its effects. One may say a tree is beautiful and content himself with it but it is far removed from me so that although I may look to it in awe, I would not be spiritually affected as when exposed to the beauty of man.
Neither beautiful men nor their conceptions are to be found here so lest I compromise by contenting myself with their follies or the limited beauty of a branch, I must leave. I await only the passport then, God willing, I will proceed south to once again explore for this world beauty and the means to create it.