The Third

Reddit’s one of those things I’m hesitant to talk about. It’s a lot like WoW, in many ways. It’s supremely nerdy, and there’s a lot of good stuff on the site, but, by the same token, there’s a lot that’d fall quite solidly on the Dark Side of things. For every RedditGifts, there seems to be a horde of schmucks screaming racial epithets and shouting “FREE SPEECH” as an excuse.

But one of the best communities on the site is – for a place like Reddit – relatively small. It’s the classical music community. There, you’ll see links to performance videos, announcements of deals ($9.99 for every Bach harpsichord piece), bits and bobs about composers’ lives (apparently Scriabin was beaucoup loco), and infighting about whether Mozart is overrated. But, up at the top left, where many subreddits have some cheesey version of the Reddit mascot – an alien named Snoo – r/classicalmusic has a scowling Beethoven.

After I was turned down by New Relic – once again, I get why, so no hard feelings – I decided that I would immerse myself in Beethoven. I started by listening to the Moonlight sonata, then moving to the Ninth, then watched a three hour set of BBC docudramas about the composer. I’d love to review those, but this isn’t the place to do so. If you get the chance, though, you should check them out. Like any art, in order to truly appreciate a work, you have to know something about the person. And, while everyone knows that Beethoven was deaf, some of his works – the later pieces, especially – don’t really live until you get some sense of what was happening to the guy at the time.

Watching the docudramas, I could finally express what it was about Beethoven’s music that resonates with me more than, say, Bach – or, into the far-flung future, Shostakovich. It’s the personality of it, the connection with the classic idea of form and function being married to creativity, but the emphasis on blending that with the chaos of human nature. Pushing past traditions to extremes, really.

To me – and this is going back to Orks & Poets – Beethoven, while acknowledging the chaos of humanity – doesn’t fall to the level of letting that chaos envelop him. He fights against it – in “Eroica,” we see the progression from almost capitulating to fate (the Fifth symphony, remember) to triumphing over it. Heroism, the symphony says, is triumphing over chaos and bringing forth humanity.

This is something everyone faces. It’s the constant seesaw, balancing act between failure and success, willing to give up and the drive to not just succeed but triumph. Even in something as astronomically trivial, and being rejected by the company that I really wanted to be a part of, the Third is reflected. Does one give up, collapse in on oneself? Not according to Beethoven.

(To try and avoid doing some armchair analysis of the symphony, check out this video on PBS. Puts it much better than I would.)

So, I thought, what to do? Well, keep plugging away, obviously. However, in doing so, you don’t keep doing the same things. Obviously, the same thing wasn’t optimal, or I would not currently be sitting at Seven Virtues, wondering if these two art fans are going to buy anything from the coffee bar, or just keep pawing at the painting that is right near my head and do people seriously not have conceptions of personal space?

But, no. The leads will be chased. The code boot camps will be applied to. Temp jobs will be done. It may seem melodramatic, but, if there’s one thing that unemployment lends itself to, it’s self-inspection. And, through that lens, the challenge of keeping yourself productively busy is often a near-insurmountable obstacle.

But hey, we march on. To, at least, some sort of resolution.

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