Monday, August 27, 2007

479. An Offer Received In This Morning's Mail - Amy Gerstler

(On misreading an ad for a set of CDs entitled
"Beethoven's Complete Symphonies.")

The Musical Heritage Society
invites you to accept
Beethoven's Complete Sympathies.
A full $80.00 value, yours for $49.95.
The brooding composer
of "Ode to Joy" now delighting
audiences in paradise nightly
knows your sorrows. Just look
at his furrowed brow, his thin
lipped grimace. Your sweaty
2 am writhings have touched
his great Teutonic heart. Peering
invisibly over your shoulder
he reads those poems you scribble
on memo pads at the office,
containing lines like oh lethal blossom,
I am your marionette forever,

and a compassionate smile trembles
at the corners of his formerly stern
mouth. (He'd be thrilled to set
your poems to music.) This immortal
master, gathered to the bosom
of his ancestors over a century ago,
has not forgotten those left behind
to endure gridlock and mind-ache,
wearily crosshatching the earth's surface
with our miseries, or belching complaints
into grimy skies, further besmirching
the firmament. But just how relevant
is Beethoven these days, you may ask.
Wouldn't the sympathies of a modern
composer provide a more up-to-date
form of solace? Well, process this info-byte,
21st century skeptic. A single lock
of Beethoven's hair fetched over $7,000
last week at auction. The hairs were then
divided into lots of two or three and resold
at astronomical prices. That's how significant
he remains today. Beethoven the great-hearted,
who used to sign letters ever thine,
the unhappiest of men, wants you
to know how deeply sorry he is
that you're having such a rough time.
Prone to illness, self-criticism
and squandered affections––
Ludwig (he'd like you to call him that,
if you'd do him the honor),
son of a drunk and a depressive,
was beaten, cheated, and eventually
went stone deaf. He too had to content
himself with clutching his beloved's
toothmarked yellow pencils
(as the tortured scrawls in his notebooks
show) to sketch out symphonies, concerti,
chamber music, etcetera –– works
that still brim, as does your disconsolate
soul, with unquenched fire and brilliance.
Give Beethoven a chance to show
how much he cares. Easy financing
available. And remember:
a century in heaven has not calmed
the maestro's celebrated temper, so act now.
For god's sake don't make him wait.

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