In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs

“The garden of life is strewn with such dormant seeds and so much of art blossoms from their unwilled and unwillable awakenings.”

And now for something a bit out of the ordinary: When editor Andrew Blauner invited me to contribute to an anthology of essays by some of his favorite writers about their favorite Beatles songs, I did something I rarely do — I accepted, because a particular Beatles song happens to be a significant animating force in my family story.

The anthology is now out as In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs (public library), featuring contributions from wonderful writers like Pico Iyer (“Yesterday”), Rosanne Cash (“No Reply”), Rick Moody (“The End”), Rebecca Mead (“Eleanor Rigby”), Roz Chast (“She Loves You”), Jane Smiley (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”), and Adam Gopnik (“Strawberry Fields Forever” / “Penny Field”).

Here my essay, as it appears in the book.

YELLOW SUBMARINE
by Maria Popova

My parents fell in love on a train. It was the middle of the Cold War and they were both traveling from their native Bulgaria to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where they were to attend different universities — my father, an introvert of formidable intelligence, was studying computer science; my mother, a poetry-writing (bordering-on-bossy) extrovert , library science.

An otherwise rational man, my father describes the train encounter as love at first sight. Upon arrival, he began courting my mother with such subtlety that it took her two years to realize she was being courted.

One spring morning, having finally begun to feel like a couple, they were walking across the lawn between the two dorms and decided it was time for them to have a whistle-call. At the time, Bulgarian couples customarily had whistle-calls — distinctive tunes they came up with, usually borrowed from the melody of a favorite song, by which they could find each other in a crowd or summon one another from across the street.

Partway between the primitive and the poetic, between the mating calls of mammals and the sonnets by which Romeo and Juliet beckoned one another, these signals were part of a couple’s shared language, a private code to be performed in public. Both sets of my grandparents had one. My mother’s parents, elementary schoolteachers in rural Bulgaria who tended to an orchard and the occasional farm animal, used a melody of unclear origin but aurally evocative of a Bulgarian folk song; my father’s parents, both civil engineers and city intellectuals, used a fragment from a Schumann waltz.

That spring morning, knowing that my mother was a Beatles fan, my father suggested “Yellow Submarine.” There was no deliberation, no getting mired in the paradox of choice — just an instinctive offering fetched from some mysterious mental library.

Eventually, my parents got pregnant, got married, had this child. They continued to summon each other, and eventually me, by whistling “Yellow Submarine.” Although I didn’t know at the time that it was originally written as a children’s song, it came to color my childhood. I had always wondered why, of all possible songs saturating their youth, my parents had chosen “Yellow Submarine” — a song released long before they met. My father wasn’t much of a Beatles fan himself, and yet that spring morning, he was able to open the cabinet of his semi-conscious memory, fetch a melody he had heard almost twenty years earlier, and effortlessly whistle it to his beloved. The familial whistle-call became a given in my childhood, like math homework and Beef Stroganoff Sundays, so it wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that it occurred to me to inquire about how “Yellow Submarine” wove itself into the family fabric. The story of how that seemingly random song had implanted itself in my father’s mind is the archetypal story of how popular music, and perhaps all popular art, is metabolized in the body of culture. Once it has entered the crucible of consciousness, a song becomes subject to a peculiar alchemy — the particularities of the listener’s life at that particular moment transmute its objective meaning, if there ever was one at all, into a subjective impression. That impression is what we encode into memory, what we retrieve to whistle twenty years later. The artist’s original intent is melded with the listener’s personal context into an amorphous mass of inexpressible yet unforgettable unity — a dormant seed whose blossoming depends on the myriad factors fertilizing the surrounding soil. That the seed was planted at all may remain unheralded until the moment of its blossoming…

more…

https://www.brainpickings.org/

WIKK WEB GURU

Resist or collaborate?

Resultado de imagem para The chéf of the Resistance Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum

The chéf of the Resistance in Vergt, Acquitaine, France (left) talks to a member of the FFI in 1944. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum

The Nazis have occupied France. It’s easy to condemn the collaborators. But be honest: what would you really do?

Robert Gildea is professor of modern history at Worcester College, University of Oxford. His most recent book is Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance (2015).

A puncture can change your life. In Louis Malle’s film Lacombe, Lucien (1974), the young peasant Lucien is rejected by his former schoolteacher who runs the local resistance organisation he wishes to join and then, returning home by bicycle, gets a flat tire. Seeking help in a nearby farmhouse, he finds himself among a band of carousing militiamen, collaborators sworn to eradicate La Résistance. He denounces the teacher, becomes a local boss of the militia, and is finally shot by resistance fighters.

This much-quoted moment of chance is the starting point for the book Aurais-je été resistant ou bourreau? (2013) by literature professor and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard, which translates as ‘Would I have been a resister or a collaborator?’ As historians, and indeed as citizens, we assume that we would have made the right decision during the Second World War, given what we know about its horrors. The myth developed by General Charles de Gaulle in 1944 – that the French overwhelmingly behaved patriotically, rallied behind his leadership, and liberated the country themselves – persuades us that we would most likely have resisted Nazi Germany. A myth, however, is designed to unify a people and legitimate its rulers, not to tell the truth. As a young lecturer at Oxford 35 years ago, I remember looking round my college’s governing body, composed overwhelmingly of conservative middle-aged men, and wondering what they would have done if Britain had been occupied by the Germans. I concluded that most of them would have collaborated.

Today, after the shocks of Brexit and the Trump election, and with Marine Le Pen still lurking in the wings, I now begin to understand how the French must have felt in 1940. They underwent a double collective trauma. First, their country, which had emerged triumphant in 1918 after four years in the trenches, succumbed in six weeks to a German Blitzkrieg. The government fell, to be replaced by another led by Marshal Philippe Pétain, the hero of Verdun in 1916, which immediately sued for an armistice. The northern half of the country was occupied by German forces, 1.5 million Frenchmen were taken to POW camps in Germany, the army was reduced to a peace-keeping Armistice Army of 100,000 – what the Allies had allowed Germany after 1918 – and a huge reparations bill was imposed. Second, dazed and demoralised politicians reconvened in the spa town of Vichy in the so-called Free Zone and handed full powers to Pétain to make a new, stronger constitution. Parliament was dismissed, the Republic that had stood since 1870 was abolished, and executive, legislative and judicial powers were vested in Pétain as head of state. A National Revolution was launched to regenerate France in preparation for the time it might recover its independence. Freemasons, communists and Jews, alleged to have dominated the Third Republic and stabbed France in the back, were pilloried as the ‘anti-France’, purged and persecuted. The ‘decadence’ said to have sapped France’s strength was dealt with by sending young people to the so-called ‘Chantiers de la jeunesse française’ (CJF), or glorified boy-scout camps. Married women were removed from public-sector jobs and sent back to the kitchen and bedroom; the author Benoîte Groult, then a 20-year-old writing in her diary, remarked: ‘of the sexes, we are the Jews’.

In such a situation of shock and bewilderment, it was not obvious what the French should do. Overwhelmingly, they were patriotic, but where did patriotism lie? Most took the view that France had been undermined and betrayed by forces that were not properly French. These should be excluded to restore France’s health and vigour, and the nation’s fortunes should be entrusted to a real military hero, Marshal Pétain. The Marshal met Hitler in October 1940 and shook hands with him, announcing that he was embarking on a strategy of collaboration. This was not necessarily all bad. Its purpose was to bring POWs home sooner, to make it easier to cross the demarcation line between the occupied and non-occupied zones and to reduce some of the financial and economic burdens inflicted by Germany, although in practice the Germans made few concessions. Many people thought that Pétain, while working ostensibly with the Germans, was playing a double game – in secret contact with the British in order to eventually bring France back into the war against Germany…

more…

https://aeon.co/essays/put-yourself-in-vichy-france-do-you-resist-or-collaborate

WIKK WEB GURU

What to Do When You Need $100, Fast

Photo by CafeCredit

by Kristin Wong

A new poll from Bloomberg suggests that almost half of Americans would have a hard time affording a $100 emergency, like a speeding ticket, medical bill, or other unexpected expense. Consider the idea that maybe this says less about the financial habits of Americans than it does our garbage economy.

Stop Blaming It All on Bad Money Habits

People are quick to judge when it comes to just about everything, but money seems to kill empathy faster than any other topic. Have massive student loan debt? You were stupid for going to college. Can’t afford your medical bills? Shouldn’t have bought an iPhone. Don’t have a job? Youmust be lazy.

None of that could possibly have anything to do with the fact that, for years now, wage growth has been stagnant and the job market has been unstable—when asked how they get paid, a quarter of those polled said, “it depends on the week.”

Bloomberg’s poll also found that 28% of respondents were worried about being able to pay for a mere $10 emergency. At this point, are we seriously still going to blame avocado toast?

That said, if you’re one of the many who struggles to afford a $100 emergency, you need an emergency fund more than anyone. The trouble is, people blame your bad financial habits, which is completely discouraging and likely only makes you want to give up altogether—don’t! Here’s some judgment-free info on what you can do when you’re strapped for cash and an emergency arises.

Let’s say you do get a speeding ticket and you have absolutely nothing saved. This is typically when people make desperate decisions that can push them into a downward spiral of debt, which typically leads to more desperate decisions and more debt.

Here are the worst options for financing an emergency:

  • Payday loans: With sky-high fees and interest rates, payday loans are a notorious debt trap and probably the last place you want to turn, especially if your income varies on a weekly basis. One late payment and you’re screwed.
  • Debt settlement: This isn’t always a debt trap, but it certainly can be. ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions explains that this is “a form of debt relief that is considered by financial experts to be extremely dangerous.” Debt settlement usually includes fees and rigid contracts—if you miss a payment, you could lose all of your money, and none of it will go toward your debt.
  • High-interest credit cards: This is probably a slightly better, less predatory option than the above, but only slightly. Miss a payment and you’re on the hook for fees and interest. That said, some credit card companies are willing to work with you and might lower your monthly minimum so you can at least avoid a late payment fee.

And here are some better alternatives:

  • Peer-to-peer lending: Sites like LendingClub and Prosper connect borrowers to regular people who loan their money so they can earn interest on it. As NerdWallet explains, your loan is funded by individual investors and the interest rate is determined by how much risk they’re willing to accept. The lender handles the paperwork and payments.
  • Credit union loans: Many credit unions offer short-term loans specifically designed to help people going through a rough patch. The terms are usually a hell of a lot better than payday loans and they consider applicants with poor credit, too. “Credit union lending has traditionally been at the heart of the credit union movement,” Samantha Paxson, Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at CO-OP Financial Services, told us in an email. “Individual credit unions offer loans at lower rates than banks because they are member-owned—people helping people; interest rates are lower because that is the motive, not profit.”
  • Small Dollar Loans: Through the FDIC’s Small Dollar Loan program, some banks offer “affordable” small loans to customers in a bind. NerdWallet explains more here, but generally, “affordable” means interest rates can’t be higher than 36%, which is still a lot, but it’s much less than the 200% interest rate (considering the fees they charge) you’ll get with a payday loan.

Seriously, if nothing else, just stay away from payday loans.

Why You Need an Emergency Fund

Ultimately, of course, you need an emergency fund. This is easier said than done, but consider this: an emergency fund gives you power and control over not only your finances but many other aspects of your life, too. (Here’s some recommended reading: A Story of a Fuck Off Fund.) When you have that money saved, you’re less likely to make rash and desperate choices. For once, you’ll have some breathing room in your life.

If you have to build an emergency fund from scratch, it’s best to start small. (Here’s how I did it. I’m not saying what worked for me will absolutely work for everyone else, but it may help.)

Most experts recommend saving between three to six months’ worth of living expenses, but if you’re struggling just to get by, this probably seems like a pipe dream. Instead, make that $100 your goal and look for ways to save a few bucks here and there, wherever you can find the cash. It might mean picking up overtime, selling some stuff, or looking for ways to save on each and every one of your monthly bills.

Ideally, you’ll keep your emergency fund in a separate savings account so you can’t touch it, and while some banks require a minimum balance to keep your account open, many of them don’t. A few of those include: Ally, Discover Bank, and Synchrony. Best of all, those banks don’t charge monthly fees.

http://twocents.lifehacker.com/what-to-do-when-you-need-100-fast-1795373661

WIKK WEB GURU

New Research Shocks Scientists: Human Emotion Physically Shapes Reality!

Emotions-Physically-Shape-Reality

BY

originally published on Life Coach Code,

Three different studies, done by different teams of scientists proved something really extraordinary. But when a new research connected these 3 discoveries, something shocking was realized, something hiding in plain sight.

Human emotion literally shapes the world around us. Not just our perception of the world, but reality itself.

 

In the first experiment, human DNA, isolated in a sealed container, was placed near a test subject. Scientists gave the donor emotional stimulus and fascinatingly enough, the emotions affected their DNA in the other room.

In the presence of negative emotions the DNA tightened. In the presence of positive emotions the coils of the DNA relaxed.

The scientists concluded that “Human emotion produces effects which defy conventional laws of physics.”

Emotions-Have-An-Effect-On-Reality

In the second, similar but unrelated experiment, different group of scientists extracted Leukocytes (white blood cells) from donors and placed into chambers so they could measure electrical changes.

In this experiment, the donor was placed in one room and subjected to “emotional stimulation” consisting of video clips, which generated different emotions in the donor.

The DNA was placed in a different room in the same building. Both the donor and his DNA were monitored and as the donor exhibited emotional peaks or valleys (measured by electrical responses), the DNA exhibited the IDENTICAL RESPONSES AT THE EXACT SAME TIME.

DNA-Responds-To-Our-Emotions

There was no lag time, no transmission time. The DNA peaks and valleys EXACTLY MATCHED the peaks and valleys of the donor in time.

The scientists wanted to see how far away they could separate the donor from his DNA and still get this effect. They stopped testing after they separated the DNA and the donor by 50 miles and STILL had the SAME result. No lag time; no transmission time.

The DNA and the donor had the same identical responses in time. The conclusion was that the donor and the DNA can communicate beyond space and time.

The third experiment proved something pretty shocking!

Scientists observed the effect of DNA on our physical world.

Light photons, which make up the world around us, were observed inside a vacuum. Their natural locations were completely random.

Human DNA was then inserted into the vacuum. Shockingly the photons were no longer acting random. They precisely followed the geometry of the DNA.

Light-Photons-Followed-The-Geometry-DNA

 

Scientists who were studying this, described the photons behaving “surprisingly and counter-intuitively”. They went on to say that “We are forced to accept the possibility of some new field of energy!”

They concluded that human DNA literally shape the behavior of light photons that make up the world around us!

So when a new research was done, and all of these 3 scientific claims were connected together, scientists were shocked.

They came to a stunning realization that if our emotions affect our DNA and our DNA shapes the world around us, than our emotions physically change the world around us.

Scientists-Make-A-Claim-That-Human-Emotion-Defy-The-Conventional-Laws-Of-Physics-And-Reality

And not just that, we are connected to our DNA beyond space and time.

We create our reality by choosing it with our feelings.

Science has already proven some pretty MINDBLOWING facts about The Universe we live in. All we have to do is connect the dots.

 

How to Practice Right Speech Anywhere, Anytime, and With Anyone

How to Practice Right Speech Anywhere, Anytime, and With Anyone
Photo by RKTKN | https://tricy.cl/2pM0T4X

And why right speech begins with good listening

By Krishnan Venkatesh

Mastering our minds begins with mastering our mouths. We spend the first 10 years of our lives learning “elementary right speech”: how to interact politely, respectfully, and inoffensively; when to speak, when not to speak. Then we spend another decade learning to express more complex feelings and ideas to others. We might call this intermediate right speech, although what we study even on these two preliminary levels is bottomless. Even something as simple as when to speak and when not to speak can’t be determined by a formula; it is a skill refined over a lifetime.

If you want to stop suffering, the Buddha taught, there is an eightfold path of practice to that end: right view, right motivation, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. While the word right: carries connotations of orthodox correctness, it is a misleading translation of the Pali word samma, which means perfected, completed, or consummated. The eight limbs of the path are not eight steps to be taken consecutively, but are to be worked on simultaneously. Like the eight branches to one trunk or eight tributaries flowing into one river, each is essential to the elimination of suffering. Of these limbs, none seem plainer than “right speech” or samma-vaca, yet samma-vaca is a powerful practice, and one that we can do anywhere, anytime, and with anyone.

“And what is samma-vaca?” asks the Buddha in The Discourse on Mindfulness Meditation. “Refraining from lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, and meaningless speech.”

The process of learning to improve ourselves through language can be thought of as advanced right speech. In this practice, we become more consciously skilled with our words, aware of the effects they can have on ourselves and others, and alert to the ways that our thoughts and statements can grow into habits. We avoid speech that makes us “impure”—confused, muddy, self-evading, and unable to separate truth from untruth.

Impurity, according to the Buddha, can come about in four ways. The first is telling falsehoods, by which we deliberately relax our commitment to truth and eventually even become so tied to subtly evolved fictions that we can no longer notice when we might be fooling ourselves. The second is saying things that are certain to cause strife, contention, and bad feeling, thus destroying social harmony by creating a miasma of mistrust and at the same time turning ourselves into someone who delights in dragging other people down. The third way is uttering words designed to hurt and upset, which sows internal strife in those around us and undermines their capacity for contentment. And the fourth destructive way may be the hardest for a modern person to understand: filling precious silence with babble that matters to no one, just to hear our own voices or to cover over a silence in which anxiety might arise. (Accustomed as we are to the sounds of entertainment and commentary, silence can disturb us; we find it awkward.) The effect of these together is unproductive emotional entanglement and mental confusion.

In contrast, when we learn to be more disciplined and scrupulous with our words, we find ourselves becoming better people. In The Discourse on Mindfulness Meditation, the Buddha says: “And how is one made pure in four ways by verbal action? There is the case where a certain person, abandoning false speech, abstains from false speech.”

This is the rare person who can always be counted on to be truthful and honest; who never speaks in such a way as to cause discord and is both good at and enjoys making friendships; someone whom people routinely seek out because of her sincerity, kindness, good nature, and encouragement; and one who is always to the point and worth listening to. This is an image of a wonderful, lovable human being—the kind of person we would want for a friend, and also the one that we aspire to become.

The beauty of such a path is that it can be practiced. At the beginning of each day, we can articulate to ourselves an intention to work on the four aspects of samma-vaca with the particular people and situations we come across. Before we go to sleep, we can reflect on our conversations, evaluate in detail whether we succeeded or not, and then decide what we need to do to improve. It is the conscious application of our reflective intelligence that makes this a practice and not just the spontaneous play of natural gifts. Did I tell the truth? Was I right to tell my friend X what my other friend Y had said about him? Did I hurt W’s feelings and make it harder for him to speak with me? Did I just waste an hour chatting about politics on Facebook?

Underlying all of these queries is the larger question about motivation: why did I speak, and what in me needed to say this? In thinking about these things and trying to cultivate lucidity regarding our own actions, we gradually become smarter about ourselves, more sensitive to other people, and more nuanced in our actions. When we do, we are able to, as the Buddha says: “speak words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal.”…

more…

https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/practice-right-speech-anywhere-anytime-anyone/

WIKK WEB GURU

Debate: Why Are So Many Men Such Terrible Dressers?

by John McDermott

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when a man wore a crisp white shirt and neatly tailored suit to the office simply to convey that he was of a certain means and self-respect.

But, oh, how fashion standards for men have fallen since those days. Many offices now allow male employees to stroll in dressed like they’re about to hit the skate park.

Which is, in some ways, a good thing. The loosening of arbitrary social norms is almost always worthwhile. But there’s also something to be said for putting time and effort into your appearance, and the confidence and respect that come with showing your best self to the world.

So why the hell don’t more guys dress better? To solve this mystery, MEL turns to its panel of a straight woman (Tracy Moore), a straight guy (John McDermott) and a gay man (C. Brian Smith), who find that men’s aversion to fashion is rooted in homophobia and laziness.

Brian: My grandfather once told me, “No one takes a man in shorts seriously.” So I never wore them to work.

John: I like the cut of your grandfather’s jib. There are like three acceptable scenarios for a man to wear shorts: beach, working out and temperatures above 85 degrees (and even then it’s debatable).

And his comment speaks to the larger issue, which is that fashion standards for men have decreased to embarrassing levels over the past few decades, and I hate it.

Tracy: I agree the standards may have decreased, but at a time when there is more advice and guidance than ever for men making an even minimal effort.

John: Most men don’t pay attention to that, though.

I don’t date or check out men, so I’m actually curious to hear how fashionable the male populace is.

Tracy: I see dapper, well-dressed men all the time

John: But you’re a coastal elite!

Tracy: I also see guys in beefy T-shirts and cargo shorts.

Brian: I tend to overdress, likely because I’m always nervous about looking too casual. It’s a horrible look for an adult man. Like, grow up, bro.

John: I’m with you there. And yet so many guys wear the basic bro uniform (ill-fitting jeans, generic button-down or T-shirt, baseball cap, sneakers over white socks).

Brian: Let’s say you’re going to a friend’s dinner party — is there a minimum requirement for a guy?

John: No, and that’s the problem.

Tracy: Yes, men have largely been given a pass (outside of formal events) to dress however they want, with no consequences. They often dress for maximum comfort and nothing else.

John: That wasn’t always the case, though. Used to be the only time you’d see a man in a T-shirt and jeans was when he was mowing the lawn. Perhaps I’m being precious, but I feel like something has been lost.

Brian: What would be a consequence (if there was one)?

Tracy: For the most part there is none. If a guy shows up to an event underdressed, some woman might privately push him toward dressing better, or his friends who are better-dressed might mock him.

A single guy who’s out on the scene and puts zero effort into his appearance might ruin his chances with more style-conscious women. But he still might get laid.

John: Doesn’t that double standard bother you?

Tracy: It bothers me enormously that men get to look how they look, and you don’t know what a woman “really” looks like unless you’re dating her.

John: What’s the lowest level of fashionability you’ll accept in a romantic partner?

Tracy: He has to have a sense of style I don’t find hideous. Cargo shorts and a beefy T-shirt is the main offender. Also, flip-flops.

Brian: I need a guy to dress like an adult.

John: What does that even mean nowadays, though? I wore jeans, a T-shirt and hoodie to the office today (and yesterday). I’m dressed like a middle-schooler. (See my point?)

Brian: Yeah, I didn’t say anything, but I noticed.

Tracy: But the clothes actually fit you. Style isn’t about the items themselves — it’s about design, fit and fabric. You have a style that isn’t off the rack of a Costco (sorry, Brian).

Brian: Kirkland-chic?

Tracy: Anything can be pulled off if it fits you and expresses some kind of cohesive style. It’s just usually men do nothing — absolutely nothing.

Brian: Define “cohesive style.”

Tracy: Style, like being cool, is just having some original way of putting things together on your body that works. Men could just buy clothes that fit and that would be a great fucking start!…

more…

https://melmagazine.com/debate-why-are-so-many-men-such-terrible-dressers-6f32d367bc03

WIKK WEB GURU

Beethoven’s Advice on Being an Artist: His Touching Letter to a Little Girl Who Sent Him Fan Mail

“The true artist is not proud… Though he may be admired by others, he is sad not to have reached that point to which his better genius only appears as a distant, guiding sun.”

Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler

“The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself,” E.E. Cummings wrote in contemplating what it means to be an artist — a sentiment which intimates that the accumulation of learning, an inevitable byproduct of the process of growing up, takes us not closer to but further away from our creative source. Baudelaire captured this perfectly when he wrote: “Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will.” This, perhaps, is why some of humanity’s most fertile minds have traced the origin of their creative purpose in childhood moments of epiphany — Pablo Neruda in his anecdote of the hand through the fence, Patti Smith in her encounter with the the swan, and Albert Einstein in his formative memory of the compass.

In speaking with children, therefore, one might be able to get to the heart of art most simply and directly, unobstructed by the learned assumptions with which the act of living cloaks the act of creation.

That’s precisely what Ludwig van Beethoven (December 16, 1770–March 26, 1827) did in his response to a fan letter from a little girl.

In the summer of 1812, a young aspiring pianist named Emilie sent her hero a beautiful hand-embroidered pocketbook to express her admiration for his artistic genius. Touched by the gesture, 41-year-old Beethoven wrote back, offering some simple yet profound words of encouragement and advice on the creative life — an exquisite micro-manifesto for what it means to be an artist and what art demands of those who make it.

In a letter from July 17 of that year, found in Beethoven: Letters, Journals and Conversations (public library) — which also gave us the great composer’s stirring letter to his brothers about how music saved his life — Beethoven writes to Emilie:

My dear good Emilie, my dear Friend!

[…]

Do not only practice art, but get at the very heart of it; this it deserves, for only art and science raise men to the God-head. If, my dear Emilie, you at any time wish to know something, write without hesitation to me. The true artist is not proud, he unfortunately sees that art has no limits; he feels darkly how far he is from the goal; and though he may be admired by others, he is sad not to have reached that point to which his better genius only appears as a distant, guiding sun.

Although known for his explosive anger, a bout of which reportedly caused his deafness, Beethoven was indeed a man of multitudes, capable at times of tremendous tenderness and sensitivity. It is from that soft and human place that he adds, in this letter to a little girl of meager means and no social advantage, a touching note on the artist’s responsibility to humility:

I would, perhaps, rather come to you and your people, than to many rich folk who display inward poverty. If one day I should come to [your town], I will come to you, to your house; I know no other excellencies in man than those which causes him to rank among better men; where I find this, there is my home.

If you wish, dear Emilie, to write to me, only address straight here where I shall be still for the next four weeks, or to Vienna; it is all one. Look upon me as your friend, and as the friend of your family.

Complement this particular fragment of Beethoven: Letters, Journals and Conversations with Einstein’s advice to a little girl on being a scientist, Sol LeWitt’s electrifying letter of encouragement on being an artist, and Rilke’s timeless wisdom on what it takes to create, then revisit Beethoven’s passionate love letters.

https://www.brainpickings.org/

WIKK WEB GURU
%d bloggers like this: