If there’s one type of romance which won’t get you fucked (in either of the word’s self-antonymic good or bad senses), it’s a romance with music. I have that type of a romance - not in the post-modern style of some goth jizzwit basing their morals and emotions off shit lyrics they don’t really understand, but in the old style of having my soul torn calmly asunder by live classical music. Having said that; goth chicks are hot. Fact.
So I was recently in New York and saw their Philharmonic play Elgar’s Cello Concerto. As with any of the world’s best orchestras playing one of humanity’s greatest works, over the course of forty minutes I went through a range of feeling that put the sum total of events in my emotional deathcoaster of a life into a box marked “trivial” and forced on me what felt like an orgasm but without all the grunting, spunking and “that wasn’t forty minutes it was more like two”. Not that I wouldn’t love to breach orgasm with a violinist at some point. Comparing a woman with a violin in her hand to the same woman without a violin in her hand is like comparing the white-hot searing beauty of The Venus to a dead dog. Fact.
Recently, also, I was in the Ukraine (yes I’m international like that) at the Odessa Philharmonic Hall, not to see their orchestra, but to see a Russian pianist (whose name I can’t type with this keyboard) play all of Chopin’s Nocturnes. Yet even though I love the Nocturnes, even though this guy was one of the world’s top and in particular top Chopin-playing pianists and even though I was completely surrounded by the stark, near-suffocating beauty of a century-old historical monument – I was not as moved as I was by the Elgar. Now that isn’t to say I wasn’t moved – I was moved. I was moved, in fact, approx. seven dimensions away into a world which had converted all its shittiness into goth chicks holding violins. But it wasn’t as much as with the Elgar.
I know tangents turn you on a little, so let’s talk about literature for a while.
I read any chance I get, but I’m the least well read bastard you’ll ever meet. I’ve also studied nothing of literature, its history or mechanics. I also read Harry Potter books and sort of like them. I have a friend who lectures creative writing at Warwick and he would sorely like to rip out my viscera and spit up my windpipes because of everything I just said. Because for him, the enjoyment of literature comes from its analysis and being able to read into what the writer does rather than what the words do. And for me, sitting here like the plebeian book-cripple I am, I think that’s sad. Because there are vast swathes of books he’ll now write off as rubbish, because he can see straight through them, spot every mistake and regard with absolute clarity what the author was trying to do to the reader. Books lose their magic.
Okay I’m melodramaticising – obviously there are books that literary scholars enjoy, but what I’m saying is that the type of enjoyment is different. It’s more technical and less intangible. More practical and less esoteric. I’m speaking generally. And I prefer to have my imagination driven by JK Rowling rather than being unable to read her books because they’re written like a pile of rotting tits.
And this is why, when I see a jazz band playing their solos, I get blown away by every single instrument except the piano. Not that I don’t enjoy the piano – I fucking do – but not in the same magical way. I play piano. When I see or hear pianists I’m cataloguing their mistakes and enjoying their technical skill. The notes don’t fly out at me in the same way as they do from a saxophone or double bass or harp. It seems more… Normal. And this is why Elgar won over Chopin and I think it’s a crying shame that I’m corrupted this way.
And isn’t love like this? Isn’t this why, when people first fall in love, they’re so taken aback by how intense, eternal and completely fucking mystifying the feelings are? Isn’t this why they think it’s the most brilliant thing that’s ever happened to them? And isn’t this why, as you become more used to it, more experienced and more able to recognise the chemical imbalances and rationality-failures, you’re just a little more jaded against the magic? What was once carefree is now a careful weighing-up. What was once heart-before-head is now head-before-heart. What was once “I’m in love, what else matters?” is now “I’m in love”.
It’s not the end of love as you know it. It’s the end of love as you knew it. As with anything; you touch it and it fades to grey.