Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beethoven was deaf

... is the name of a Morrissey concert album. Like many of the best things in life, Morrissey operates in that strange place between the serious and the ridiculous, where criticism is irrelevant and laughter is as appropriate a reaction as applause.

However, calling an album Beethoven was Deaf is a fine demonstration of his unique and razor-sharp aesthetic. It’s almost the perfect album title. So much is in that short sentence; it could be a full and argument-stopping answer to all sorts of questions about human wonder and tragedy.

Another fellow with a unique sensibility is James Lileks. If you don’t read at least some of his Bleat now and again, you’re missing out. He is far too prolific, mind. Impossible to read everything he writes and he gives as much prominence to his eccentric retro-obsessions as to his masterful, insight-clogged writing. Spend five minutes perusing his output however, and I guarantee you will find a good handful of gems.

For example, here he is writing about aliens and the possibility of them visiting Planet Earth:

Life elsewhere is one issue; life that gets off the rock and goes elsewhere is another. One of the snarky objections that annoys me: Why would they care about us? Lowly smelly violent apes. I don’t know. Maybe they never knew they had the capacity to appreciate beauty until they got out of their neighborhood, and once they saw what other rocks were up to, well, they were changed. Earth would be crack to these guys. Music. So much music, pouring out of this green globe without effort. They couldn’t stay away.

There’s not an argument against it that doesn’t sound like hubris; there’s not an argument for it that doesn’t sound like wishful thinking.

How good is that?

For every day when all seems to be discordant clashings and dirgeful gloom, there are ten more days of so much music, pouring out of this green globe without effort.

Why would aliens not want to visit? Why would anyone want to get off before their stop? It is inexplicable; the imagination draws a blank. This is, after all, the planet where Beethoven was deaf, where Puccini gave us O Mio Babbino Caro and Dylan went electric. OK, there's also tinnitus and James Blunt. But, never forget, this is where Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet anointed Solomon King. It's got to be worth sticking around.


Anonymous said...

Brit, you are brilliant. I do believe you've cracked Fermi's paradox. They haven't come yet beacuse we're boring them to death. Instead of sending recordings of the sublime Ms. Gheorghiu their way, we've been putting them to sleep with scientific gobbledegook or, even worse, messages from Amy from Santa Barbara telling them all about her family and how she'd love to meet them so they could go shopping together and discuss how to bring about world peace.

Brit said...

Well exactly. That Arecibo message is an embarrassment, like trying to attract people at parties by talking about your newt collection. The aliens think we're a planet of geeks.