Let’s talk music for a second. I’m not a very musical guy, I don’t know what most of the Italian means, but – as they say – I know what I like.
You know Ode to Joy, right? I don’t mean the big German choral piece at the end of Beethoven’s Ninth, I mean just the tune itself, plain and simple, like on a piano.
I don’t know how it is for you, but to me, this tune feels…elemental. It feels basic, like wind or water, like relativity waiting for Einstein to discover it. Rationally, I know Ludwig sat down and wrote the thing at some point in the early nineteenth century. But instinctively, I can’t imagine a world without this music. You don’t write music like that; it just is.
(The fact that he did sit down and write it is, of course, a testament to his staggering genius.)
I was thinking about this the other day, and I couldn’t come up with any piece of writing that feels the same way. Probably that’s because music, as a medium, feels more “basic” than writing; words are inherently human constructs. But there are a few quotes that come close. The most obvious, for me, come from the Bible:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Why these quotes? Well, they all seem very simple and deeply profound, which I suppose is what it takes. (The fact that it’s the Bible, and I’ve read it and heard it quoted all my life, is probably a factor too.)
I know lots of other quotes that are equally profound, but it’s hard to find them worded in such simple language. In fact, I just looked through my entire quotes file (an ever-growing text file where I write down any good quote I find, as I read it; it’s quite long by now) and there was really only one non-Biblical quote I could find that seemed to fit the bill:
“Be as you wish to seem.”
(This is attributed to Socrates, anyway, but I never have found a source for it. I’m wary of source-less Internet quotes.)
Anyone else know any other bits of writing (or music) like this, or even just some good quote you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments!