Bust of Apollo, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Napoli
On a long walk with Joan through Fairmont Park he spoke of music and its autobiographical aspects, especially Beethoven’s. The master's compositions have uncanny power, and he achieves great emotional impact by various devices, such as repetition, contrast, dynamics. Even metaphor.
“In one of the Diabelli variations, there’s a simultaneous ascending phrase and a mirroring descending phrase. The pianist’s right hand soars to heaven, while at the same time the left plunges to the depths. No end to that man’s capacity for drama.”
You could see it, he said, as a represention of the tension between the Apollonian and Dionysian, two central principles in Greek culture. Apollo is analytical and rational, concerned with form and structure. Dionysus is an embodiment of enthusiasm, passion, ecstasy. Music is the most Dionysian of the arts, since it appeals directly to our instinctive, chaotic emotions...
Joan frowned. “Oh, come ON. You’re talking about a literary thing. It doesn’t apply to music.”
“But surely an accented dissonance and its immediate resolution is a vivid metaphor for a promise made and a promise kept,” he said.
"I'm sorry," she replied. "I can't relate to that at all. Music is music, not literature."
She was adamant. Nothing he said would convince her.
At least the sex was good.