To complement the planned publication of Balloons of the Apocalypse Sooner Rather Than Later!™, I am presenting a series of articles about a group that features prominently in the book – the Ludite (pronounced LEWD-ite) Church. Their primary claim to fame is that the worship the music of Ludwig van Beethoven.
The start of the series – Introduction to the Ludite faith – can be found here.
While many aspects of the Ludite Church can, and ought, to be viewed with concern, consternation, and untempered vitriol, one aspect of the Church’s work is universally praised.
And rightly so.
Ludite furniture isn’t just the most highly sought after home and office product to come out of Beet City. It is the most highly sought after home and office product in the known world.
Many people, willingly or not, are brought into the faith. Not all are suitable for missionary work.
Some of those who aren’t show an aptitude for the arts.
A non-zero number of those who show an aptitude for the arts also exhibit a talent for carpentry.
A fraction of that number, it turns out, can be trusted with knives and other sharp tools.
These people end up under the purview of the Ludite Church’s Artisan Bureaucracy.
Artisans are apprenticed with a Master for ten years.
The first three of those years are spent sitting in a chair, holding stock still, and watching the Master work.
In the fourth year, the apprentices are allowed to start doing basic prep work, such as queuing music and fetching sand paper for the Master.
During years five through ten, the apprentice slowly works his or her way up to making miniature furniture: chairs, stools, simple beds, kitchen sets. This involves building a 1:15 scale version of an item, tearing it apart, then rebuilding it, over and over, until the muscle memory is perfected and the Master approves moving on to the next item.
Such is the thoroughness of their training during this period, that this miniature apprentice furniture is coveted by dollhouse aficionados, who are known to pay exorbitant amounts for some examples of the work.
If all goes well, after ten years, Journeyman status is achieved, and students are allowed to assist in the manufacture of full-sized Beet City tables and chairs.
Master status, usually attained during the Ludite’s twilight years, is only rarely bestowed, with fewer than ten Masters in existence at any one time.
This long and arduous creative path results in Beet City furniture being the most supple and calming furniture in existence.
The exact process of manufacture is a trade secret, but the sales brochures do disclose this much: the material is saturated with Beethoven’s music from start to finish.
It starts in the design phase, when the rare materials are procured. Only the highest quality recordings are played. In the case of a prestigious commission, recordings are deemed too flat for the sought after effect, and live orchestras are brought in to play around the clock.
It has been suggested by some that music is even played to the trees as they are cut down, and in extreme cases, to seeds that are planted with furniture in mind.
And, of course, Beethoven is played during the actual assembly of the furniture. The intention is to saturate the fine-grain wood with the dulcet tones of the Great Composer’s work, so that it might ooze the melodies’ soothing effects as the furniture is used.
Whether you view the Ludite Church as our last hope for salvation or an intolerable bane on freedom, you cannot dispute that the chairs are remarkably comfortable, the tables sturdy and beautiful, the bed frames deeply relaxing.
Even the condemned who swing from Beet City-made gallows are reported to go out with a smile.
Followed shortly thereafter by the violent convulsions of death.
Although Augustus Brutus, an early Il Maestro of the Church, claimed these convulsions were the Great Composer reaching out from beyond the grave, attempting to conduct one last symphony.
So convinced of this was Augustus Brutus that he tied batons to the hands of those facing execution, and he had an orchestra present during the hangings, playing music to the wildly gesticulating limbs.
The resulting music was said to be so disturbing that Augustus Brutus was eventually murdered to put an end to the practice, and all recordings destroyed.
Now who among us wouldn’t want to own a piece of furniture with a provenance like that?