This post is a response to the NWW Photo Prompt, Dimples.
You see, I like Beethoven. I like to hear the bow of the violin cut into the string. I like to follow the phrase of the violin as it goes on and on, like a deep-rooted orgasm squeezed out into a rope of sound. I like to go out at night in a cosmopolitan city and sit in a dark auditorium watching dancers fly into each other’s arms.
~ Wallace Shawn
It’s interesting that over the years I’ve transposed the violin in this passage from Wallace Shawn’s play, The Fever to the cello. You see, I prefer the cello.
I prefer the deeper tone, the way — especially when it’s amplified, in an arena — the vibration of the string moves through my chest. It’s like a low AUM resonating beneath my sternum when sung from the diaphragm. It connects me to something. Something very deep. Something exquisitely beautiful.
Though, not so much the Beethoven. I prefer my music more modern, more contemporary, some beautiful piece of music even Beethoven could never have dreamed of.
Still… None of this deflects from what Shawn is really getting at with this passage. Its context is privilege. And the question it asks is a complex one: how did I come to deserve to have such beauty in my life, when so many in the world — the vast majority of its 7 billion souls, in fact — live in a poverty so abject and profound, it is beyond my ability to comprehend? How dare I have all this beauty? How can I expect to attend any concert of my desire when so many toil in sweatshops to make the concert t-shirt I bought for just $26? (And complained about the exorbitant cost!) None of those workers could afford that price, let alone the admission to a concert.
I may prefer the cello. But simply knowing of its existence, having the ability to attend a live music event in a multi-million dollar facility with tens of thousands of others so privileged as I… I am humbled, and chastened.
“Property is theft,” the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhoun infamously said with tart insight. Shawn observes in The Fever, so too beauty is theft.
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