James Leroy Wilson's blog

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Smashing Heads

Robert Anton Wilson's Prometheus Rising has an interesting quote from Lenin, which made me look it up in fuller context. From Time 60 years ago, quoting Lenin on Beethoven's Appassionata (Sonata 23):
"I know nothing more beautiful than the Appassionata and I could listen to it every day. Wonderful, immortal music. I always think, with perhaps a naive, childish pride, how can man create such wonders? . . . but I cannot listen to music too often. It affects my nerves and makes me want to say sweet nothings and stroke the heads of men who live in a dirty hell and can still create such beauty. But these days you can't go around stroking people's heads lest your hand be bitten off. You have to smash them over the head—smash them without mercy—even though in theory we are against every form of oppression of mankind . . . ours is a hellish task."
Lenin is not really unique in this sentiment. Everyone who believes that political power will make the world a better place can identify with it to some degree. And that's the deepest irony: most "world-improvers" like Lenin end up making the world worse off - unlike Beethoven, who unquestionably improved the world without ever firing a shot or casting a ballot.

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