Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Ugliest Sound

A Tall, white-haired man in his 50's carrying a violin case stepped into the back of my taxi. I recognized him as a violinist from a quartet that played all modern classical music.
I usually don't bother celebrities but his kind of music doesn't have a big following so I told him I enjoyed his playing and his dedication to the avaunt garde.
He looked back at me with boredom.
"I used to go to all your concerts," I added.
"Used to?"
"Yeah I guess I lost interest ... no - that's putting it negatively -  I fell in love with a woman who played Latin jazz. She's gone but I still gotta have that rhythm."
"It happens," he said with indifference.
After a moment of silence, I asked, "Are you working on anything now?"
"I'm been working on creating the ugliest sound ever heard," he said laconically.
"Why not?"
"Well ... well ... because music should be beautiful," I said, sounding lame even to myself.
He sneered, then asked, "What is beauty?"
"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty," I quoted like some idiot college freshman.
"I like Keats," the violinist said. "But you have to admit that he wasn't what you could call a profound intellectual."
"I suppose not, but you have to admit that his poetry was beautiful - and does beauty really have to be defined?"
"Now you're on the right track," he said with a little enthusiasm, "listen to this."
He took out his violin and played the theme from Beethoven's Fur Elise
"Now that's beautiful!"
Without a word he switched to the Mediation from Thais.
"Wonderful! Bravo!" I shouted.
"Yes," he said. "Beauty IS. It defines itself.  But it's only half the story. What about ugliness?"
"What about it?"
"Who has defined it?"
"Who hasn't?"
"But pure ugliness? I don't think so – I've spend the last three years, three years of hard work, tireless research and endless experimentation, trying to make a sound uglier than has ever been made before.  But  finally – at last – I've created it ."
"And may I add that I felt much angst and despair during my quest."
"I can well image."
"Not even my wife understands."
"I can image that too."
"Do you want to hear it?"
"Is it uglier than chalk on a blackboard?"
"Oh, yes," he said laughing."
"Is it uglier than a car with brakes screeching and crunching metal as it crashes into another car?"
"Is it uglier than women screaming as they are being slaughtered by soldiers in an insane war?"
"There's only so much one can do with a single violin," he said as he raised his instrument toward his neck. "But - yes. I should think that's it's uglier than the cry of any individual woman. Do you want to hear it?"
I threw him out of the cab. 

I probably should’ve run him down and I probably would have if I hadn't imagined how ugly his screams would be.