Wednesday, September 8, 2010


by Richard Crews
I sat in my big, padded easy chair in the dark this evening listening to Haydn string quartets played by The Amadeus Quartet on the Stradivarius instruments owned by the Library of Congress--a sparkling performance--DDD and played on Bose speakers. I have had the recordings for a couple of decades and listened to them from time to time, but not for several years.

My inquiry this evening was to listen to see how Haydn plays with and paints and shifts the emotions he delivers. My conclusion: he doesn't; he was a hack; he worked at the court-composer trade and generated music for his master by the yard. He was no Bach; he was no Chopin.

While I listened, I thought about what sort of things should obsess me now in my later years? Growing old? Watching my mental and physical abilities fade? (Sometimes pretending that they are not?) Dying?

I found ease again in refreshing my realization that the human brain is a special-purpose computer. It was designed through the evolution of DNA to fear death (one of DNA's little ploys to perpetuate itself), to believe in God (a brain designed to solve problems seeks cause-and-effect patterns), and surely not to "go gentle into that good night" but rather to "rage, rage against the dying of the light" (DNA fights for every point no mater how long or how lost the match). Moreover the human brain was designed (through the evolution of DNA) to grok the world on our work-a-day level, not to visualize more than three dimensions, the quantum paradoxes, or the billion-light-year vastness of interstellar space.

I was pleased to think of God as "the world of mystery and perceptual distortion that surrounds us." And of death as Socrates saw it--without fear since, he said, he didn't know anything about death and wasn't daft enough to fear something he knew nothing about.

The Haydn came to an end. I realized I have not written you, my friends, lately. So I sat down and wrote this. I hope it finds you well--as brimming over with love and joy as it does me.