To Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

Morning, July 6, 1800.

MY ANGEL! MY ALL! MY SECOND SELF!

Only a few words to-day, written with a pencil (your own). My residence cannot be settled till to-morrow. What a tiresome loss of time! Why this deep grief when necessity compels?–can our love exist without sacrifices, and by refraining from desiring all things? Can you alter the fact that you are not wholly mine, nor I wholly yours? Ah! contemplate the beauties of Nature, and reconcile your spirit to the inevitable. Love demands all, and has a right to do so, and thus it is I feel towards you and you towards me; but you do not sufficiently remember that I must live both for you and for myself. Were we wholly united, you would feel this sorrow as little as I should. My journey was terrible. I did not arrive here till four o’clock yesterday morning, as no horses were to be had. The drivers chose another route; but what a dreadful one it was! At the last stage I was warned not to travel through the night, and to beware of a certain wood, but this only incited me to go forward, and I was wrong. The carriage broke down, owing to the execrable roads, mere deep rough country lanes, and had it not been for the postilions I must have been left by the wayside. Esterhazy, travelling the usual road, had the same fate with eight horses, whereas I had only four. Still I felt a certain degree of pleasure, which I invariably do when I have happily surmounted any difficulty. But I must now pass from the outer to the inner man. We shall, I trust, soon meet again; to-day I cannot impart to you all the reflections I have made, during the last few days, on my life; were our hearts closely united forever, none of these would occur to me. My heart is overflowing with all I have to say to you. Ah! there are moments when I find that speech is actually nothing. Take courage! Continue to be ever my true and only love, my all! as I am yours. The gods must ordain what is further to be and shall be!

Your faithful
LUDWIG.

Monday Evening, July 6.

You grieve! dearest of all beings! I have just heard that the letters must be sent off very early. Mondays and Thursdays are the only days when the post goes to K. from here. You grieve! Ah! where I am, there you are ever with me; how earnestly shall I strive to pass my life with you, and what a life will it be!!! Whereas now!! without you!! and persecuted by the kindness of others, which I neither deserve nor try to deserve! The servility of man towards his fellow-man pains me, and when I regard myself as a component part of the universe, what am I, what is he who is called the greatest?–and yet herein are displayed the godlike feelings of humanity!–I weep in thinking that you will receive no intelligence from me till probably Saturday. However dearly you may love me, I love you more fondly still. Never conceal your feelings from me. Good-night! As a patient at these baths, I must now go to rest [a few words are here effaced by Beethoven himself]. Oh, heavens! so near, and yet so far! Is not our love a truly celestial mansion, but firm as the vault of heaven itself?

July 7.

GOOD-MORNING!

Even before I rise, my thoughts throng to you, my immortal beloved!–sometimes full of joy, and yet again sad, waiting to see whether Fate will hear us. I must live either wholly with you, or not at all. Indeed I have resolved to wander far from you [see No. 13] till the moment arrives when I can fly into your arms, and feel that they are my home, and send forth my soul in unison with yours into the realm of spirits. Alas! it must be so! You will take courage, for you know my fidelity. Never can another possess my heart–never, never! Oh, heavens! Why must I fly from her I so fondly love? and yet my existence in W. was as miserable as here. Your love made me the most happy and yet the most unhappy of men. At my age, life requires a uniform equality; can this be found in our mutual relations? My angel! I have this moment heard that the post goes every day, so I must conclude, that you may get this letter the sooner. Be calm! for we can only attain our object of living together by the calm contemplation of our existence. Continue to love me. Yesterday, to-day, what longings for you, what tears for you! for you! for you! my life! my all! Farewell! Oh! love me forever, and never doubt the faithful heart of your lover, L.

Ever thine.
Ever mine.
Ever each other’s.

Beethoven

Share

To My Brothers Carl and Johann Beethoven

Heiligenstadt, Oct. 6, 1802.

Oh! ye who think or declare me to be hostile, morose, and misanthropical, how unjust you are, and how little you know the secret cause of what appears thus to you! My heart and mind were ever from childhood prone to the most tender feelings of affection, and I was always disposed to accomplish something great. But you must remember that six years ago I was attacked by an incurable malady, aggravated by unskilful physicians, deluded from year to year, too, by the hope of relief, and at length forced to the conviction of a lasting affliction (the cure of which may go on for years, and perhaps after all prove impracticable).

Born with a passionate and excitable temperament, keenly susceptible to the pleasures of society, I was yet obliged early in life to isolate myself, and to pass my existence in solitude. If I at any time resolved to surmount all this, oh! how cruelly was I again repelled by the experience, sadder than ever, of my defective hearing!–and yet I found it impossible to say to others: Speak louder; shout! for I am deaf! Alas! how could I proclaim the deficiency of a sense which ought to have been more perfect with me than with other men,–a sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection, to an extent, indeed, that few of my profession ever enjoyed! Alas, I cannot do this! Forgive me therefore when you see me withdraw from you with whom I would so gladly mingle. My misfortune is doubly severe from causing me to be misunderstood. No longer can I enjoy recreation in social intercourse, refined conversation, or mutual outpourings of thought. Completely isolated, I only enter society when compelled to do so. I must live like an exile. In company I am assailed by the most painful apprehensions, from the dread of being exposed to the risk of my condition being observed. It was the same during the last six months I spent in the country. My intelligent physician recommended me to spare my hearing as much as possible, which was quite in accordance with my present disposition, though sometimes, tempted by my natural inclination for society, I allowed myself to be beguiled into it. But what humiliation when any one beside me heard a flute in the far distance, while I heard nothing, or when others heard a shepherd singing, and I still heard nothing! Such things brought me to the verge of desperation, and wellnigh caused me to put an end to my life. Art! art alone, deterred me. Ah! how could I possibly quit the world before bringing forth all that I felt it was my vocation to produce? And thus I spared this miserable life–so utterly miserable that any sudden change may reduce me at any moment from my best condition into the worst. It is decreed that I must now choose Patience for my guide! This I have done. I hope the resolve will not fail me, steadfastly to persevere till it may please the inexorable Fates to cut the thread of my life. Perhaps I may get better, perhaps not. I am prepared for either. Constrained to become a philosopher in my twenty-eighth year! This is no slight trial, and more severe on an artist than on any one else. God looks into my heart, He searches it, and knows that love for man and feelings of benevolence have their abode there! Oh! ye who may one day read this, think that you have done me injustice, and let any one similarly afflicted be consoled, by finding one like himself, who, in defiance of all the obstacles of Nature, has done all in his power to be included in the ranks of estimable artists and men. My brothers Carl and Johann, as soon as I am no more, if Professor Schmidt [see Nos. 18 and 23] be still alive, beg him in my name to describe my malady, and to add these pages to the analysis of my disease, that at least, so far as possible, the world may be reconciled to me after my death. I also hereby declare you both heirs of my small fortune (if so it may be called). Share it fairly, agree together and assist each other. You know that anything you did to give me pain has been long forgiven. I thank you, my brother Carl in particular, for the attachment you have shown me of late. My wish is that you may enjoy a happier life, and one more free from care, than mine has been. Recommend Virtue to your children; that alone, and not wealth, can ensure happiness. I speak from experience. It was Virtue alone which sustained me in my misery; I have to thank her and Art for not having ended my life by suicide. Farewell! Love each other. I gratefully thank all my friends, especially Prince Lichnowsky and Professor Schmidt. I wish one of you to keep Prince L—-‘s instruments; but I trust this will give rise to no dissension between you. If you think it more beneficial, however, you have only to dispose of them. How much I shall rejoice if I can serve you even in the grave! So be it then! I joyfully hasten to meet Death. If he comes before I have had the opportunity of developing all my artistic powers, then, notwithstanding my cruel fate, he will come too early for me, and I should wish for him at a more distant period; but even then I shall be content, for his advent will release me from a state of endless suffering. Come when he may, I shall meet him with courage. Farewell! Do not quite forget me, even in death; I deserve this from you, because during my life I so often thought of you, and wished to make you happy. Amen!

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN.

(Written on the Outside.)

Thus, then, I take leave of you, and with sadness too. The fond hope I brought with me here, of being to a certain degree cured, now utterly forsakes me. As autumn leaves fall and wither, so are my hopes blighted. Almost as I came, I depart. Even the lofty courage that so often animated me in the lovely days of summer is gone forever. O Providence! vouchsafe me one day of pure felicity! How long have I been estranged from the glad echo of true joy! When! O my God! when shall I again feel it in the temple of Nature and of man?–never? Ah! that would be too hard!

(Outside.)

To be read and fulfilled after my death by my brothers Carl and Johann.

Share

I Shall Meet Him With Courage

I joyfully hasten to meet Death. If he comes before I have had the opportunity of developing all my artistic powers, then, notwithstanding my cruel fate, he will come too early for me, and I should wish for him at a more distant period; but even then I shall be content, for his advent will release me from a state of endless suffering. Come when he may, I shall meet him with courage. Farewell!

Beethoven

Share

The Ranks of Estimable Artists and Men

God looks into my heart, He searches it, and knows that love for man and feelings of benevolence have their abode there! Oh! ye who may one day read this, think that you have done me injustice, and let any one similarly afflicted be consoled, by finding one like himself, who, in defiance of all the obstacles of Nature, has done all in his power to be included in the ranks of estimable artists and men.

Beethoven

Share

I Still Heard Nothing!

What humiliation when any one beside me heard a flute in the far distance, while I heard nothing, or when others heard a shepherd singing, and I still heard nothing! Such things brought me to the verge of desperation, and wellnigh caused me to put an end to my life. Art! art alone, deterred me. Ah! How could I possibly quit the world before bringing forth all that I felt it was my vocation to produce? And thus I spared this miserable life—so utterly miserable that any sudden change may reduce me at any moment from my best condition into the worst. It is decreed that I must now choose Patience for my guide! This I have done. I hope the resolve will not fail me, steadfastly to persevere till it may please the inexorable Fates to cut the thread of my life. Perhaps I may get better, perhaps not. I am prepared for either.

Beethoven

Share

I Am Deaf!

Born with a passionate and excitable temperament, keenly susceptible to the pleasures of society, I was yet obliged early in life to isolate myself, and to pass my existence in solitude. If I at any time resolved to surmount all this, oh! how cruelly was I again repelled by the experience, sadder than ever, of my defective hearing!–and yet I found it impossible to say to others: Speak louder; shout! For I am deaf!

Beethoven

Share

Detached From The Outcome

Self-actualizing people live their lives detached from the outcome. And detached from the outcome means I don’t do what I do because of what might show up for me. I’m not motivated by being famous; I’m not motivated by making money; I’m not motivated by other people’s approval. I’m motivated by doing what I love and loving what I do. And it’s the process of doing it and living it and loving it that appeals the most. And this is very difficult in a world which says that you are what you have and you are what you do and you are your accomplishments and your achievements and your acquisitions. When we begin to evaluate ourselves on the basis on all of these kinds of things, then attracting those kinds of things becomes almost the paramount motivator of our lives. And it is one of the most difficult things in the western civilization to get people to understand that doing what you love and loving what you do is its own reward and whatever the universe provides for you in the way of the outcome is what you accept. So that what you are motivated by is a sense of peace, fulfillment, and awareness that I’m doing what I love and loving what i do.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Share

The Vocation of the Intellectual

I understand the vocation of the intellectual as trying to turn easy answers into critical questions and putting those critical questions to people with power. The quest for truth, the quest for the good, the quest for the beautiful all require us to let suffering speak, let victims be visible and social misery be put on the agenda of those with power. So to me, pursuing the life of the mind is inextricably linked with the struggle of those who have been dehumanized on the margins of society.

Dr. Cornel West

Share

Paul Gauguin Concerning Vincent van Gogh

This is what had happened: Van Gogh went back to the house and immediately cut off his ear, very close to his head. It must have taken him some time to stanch the flow of blood, for next day a number of wet towels lay on the stone floor of the two ground-floor rooms. The blood had soiled both rooms and the little stairway which led up to our bedroom. When he was well enough to go out, with a Basque beret pulled way down over his head, he went straight to a house where, if you can’t find a girl from your hometown, you can at least find someone to talk to, and he gave his ear, carefully washed, and sealed in an envelope, to the man on duty. “Here,” he said, “in remembrance of me.” Then he fled, went home and to bed, and fell asleep; but first he took the trouble of closing the shutters and placing a lighted lamp on a table near the window.

Within ten minutes the whole street reserved for prostitutes was in an uproar and people gossiped about what had happened.

I was far from suspecting any of this when I reached the doorstep of our house, and the man in the bowler hat said to me point-blank and very harshly: “Well, sir, what have you done to your comrade?”

“I don’t know . . .”
“But you do . . . you know perfectly well . . . he is dead.”

I would not wish such an instant on anyone, and it took me several minutes before I could think and overcome the pounding of my heart.

I was choking with anger, indignation, and pain, and also the shame of all those people’s eyes tearing into me. I stammered, “Very well, sir, let us go upstairs and discuss it up there.”

Vincent lay curled up in bed, completely covered by the sheet, and appeared lifeless. Gently, very gently I touched his body; its warmth assured me he was alive. I felt as if all my intelligence and energy had been given a new lease on life.

In a near-whisper I said to the chief of police; “Sir, kindly wake this man up as carefully as you know how, and if he asks for me, tell him I’ve left for Paris; the sight of me could be fatal to him.”

I must say that from that moment on, the chief of police was as polite as could be and wise enough to send for a doctor and a carriage.

As soon as he was awake, Vincent inquired after his comrade, asked for his pipe and tobacco, and even thought of asking for the box that was downstairs and contained our money. Doubtless, he suspected me-I who was already armed against all suffering!

Vincent was taken to the hospital and there his mind immediately began to wander again. All the rest is already known to people who can be interested by it and there would be no point in discussing it but for the extreme suffering of a man in a madhouse who regained his reason every month enough to understand his condition and, in a frenzy, paint those admirable pictures of his.

The last letter I received was written from Auvers, near Pontoise. He told me he had hoped to be sufficiently cured to come and join me in Brittany, but that today he was forced to recognize that a cure was impossible. “Dear Master” (the only time he ever used that word), “it is more worthy, after having known you and caused you some sorrow, to die in a sound state of mind than in a degrading state.”

And he shot himself in the belly, and it was not until several hours later that, lying in his bed and smoking his pipe, he died, with his mind fully alert, with love for his art, without hatred for mankind.

Paul Gauguin, Excerpt from Avant et Apres

Share

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a main era – -the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.

And that, I think, was the handle – -that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting – -on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – -the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Share