A C R O S S _ T H E _ E X T R E M E S The late period of Beethoven
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The challenge is not how one´s own life becomes paradoxical but how one´s own contradictions are the gears of a machine appealing enough to still producing harmonic resonances
We usually read about Beethoven´s deafness but it´s not so common to read that Beethoven was speechless. Silence is the language that corresponds to the tragic hero. What does it mean?
Don´t throw away the ladder.
If talking about music is already a difficult task, what makes this task even more difficult in Beethoven´s late period?
In 1770 Beethoven, Hegel and Hölderlin were born.
Is it that art is a way of being in silence? Is music a way of silence? Is it that silence is the language of the artist? Tractatus 7: Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen. But what does Wittgenstein understand by sagen and sprechen? Was Wittgenstein a frustrated musician?Schumann asking himself: Should I become a poet or a musician?
Tractatus 6.522 There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical.
Robert S.Kahn on his book about the Grosse Fuge op. 133 asks what in God´s name is going on here? Why would anyone write something like this? He collects adjectives that have been given to the Grosse Fuge since it was compossed: atonishing, incomprensible, abstruse, bizarre, unharmonious, extravagant, inconsequential, unplayable, surpasses the bounds of musical performance, tiresome, waste of sound, impracticable, cerebral, repellent, unintelligible, impenetrable, pathological eccentricity.
The Grosse Fuge received only three public performances in the seventy five years after it was written.
Adorno perfectly knew that the late period of Beethoven does not permit itself to be spoken about so easily, there is an unusual difficulty in saying precisely what is all about. Beethoven moved house 27 times.
The music of the Beethoven´s late period inhabitates the limits of the world. He not only drew the limits of the language of tonal music but also pushed them and expanded them without going beyond them, without being atonal, This is an example how a musician can undermine a system from inside the system, using tactics, not strategies. Not to suppress tonality but to turn it loose.
Wittgenstein knew that to define the limits of the language is a difficult task, however, this task should be perform from inside the language, never from outside, basically because the outside means the nonsense and only in case you have a ladder. What we cannot speak about, must we play music?
When Beethoven stopped playing on the piano, someone asked him about the meaning of what he had played. Beethoven´s answer was to play again on the piano the same music. Words are only mediations. Stendhal on his book about Rossini wrote: the domain of music begins when we are not able to speak. Is music the limit of language? But which language? which music?
Glenn Gould is dancing.
The late string quartets are no longer a dialogue between two reasonable people but rather an internal dialogism. Beethoven translates a microcosm.
To talk about the late period on Beethoven demands to bring into play the solipsism. Tractactus 5. The limits of the language means the limits of my world. 5.62. For what the solipsist means is quite correct; only it cannot be said , but makes itself manifest. The world is my world: this is manifest in the fact that the limits of language (of that language which alone I understand) mean the limits of my world. 5.621 The world and life are one. 5.63 I am my world. (The microcosm.) Some of the last compositions of Beethoven are still considered as solipsim.
The question of the late period of Beethoven is the question about the limits of the world. It´s all about limits, how the limits are drawn. When somebody says: I don´t understand this, means that there is a incompatibility between the limits of this person´s world/language and the limits of what is to be understood. Being more precise, is not about expanding, the limits were already there, but rather lighting a little further. In this sense music can be a mirror if there is symmetry in the limits but much more better if music is rather a lamp that irritates your retina and demands a dilatation of one´s own limits.
They are well known the Joseph de Marliave´s words referring to the Grosse Fuge: the attitude of mind in which people listen to chamber music must undergo a radical change. Indeed, Beethoven is demanding from the audience another attitude, as Immanuel Kant and the Sapere aude (Dare to know), Beethoven says Exaudio aude (Dare to listen) and therefore to know.
Nietzsche and Adorno were musicians. Can we philosophize without words? Can music be philosophy?
But how do we understand music? in the same way as when we say the proposition It´s raining?Music is not true or false, music can not lie. If I say: It´s raining while I see the rain out of the window, someone could say: that´s true! But if I go out and immediately I step on the street and a cold drip drills my head before I can say that it rains I will know because my body feels the thrill of raining on my head. I think music is like this, music is much more precise than verbal thought. We can understand music without being able to talk about music.
Nietzsche: the ear is the organ of fear. Beethoven wasn´t afraid at all.
Beethoven was a survivor. The audacity to deepen one´s own spirit, the introspective journey, the inner wealth. Philosopher and musician share the same solitude and both can not integrate in a social environment. Own´s body becomes battlefield and space for research. The artist is the one who experiences dangers, risks.
Art affects us as life affects us.
Art intensifies our experience. Art teaches us, makes us see what before we didn´t notice that was already there producing effects. Art is a tool to approach reality and get certain knowledge reaching parts of the experience that without art we could never reach.