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Tag Archives: Beethoven

All your bass, alto, and soprano are belong to us

To complement the planned publication of Balloons of the Apocalypse Very Soon Now™ [IT’S OUT NOW!], I am presenting a series of articles about an organization that features prominently in the book – the Ludite Church.

The start of the series – Introduction to the Ludite faith – can be found here.

This installment discusses the process of indoctrination – how new members of the Church are inducted into the Faith.

First, it needs to be stated that the Ludite Church believes in expansion. Rapid, unobstructed expansion.

As a result, some of their missionary activities are deemed by outsiders to be…aggressive.

Now while it is true that missionaries are sent out to find new converts, the primary source of new recruits is tourism.

The Ludites built a grand city in the desert, one of remarkable architecture, striking landmarks, and unrivaled musical performances:

Beet City.

One cannot see or hear the words ‘Beet City’ without thinking of some of these tributes to music and engineering:

  • The Eternal Flame of the Composer, a fountain of fire and vibrato unparalleled in modern existence, and said to put viewers into a trance of pure ecstasy
  • The imposing, 1000-meter tall Statue of Symphony, a stern-but-welcoming herald inviting music lovers to visit Beet City and experience its transcendent power
  • The Gift Shops of Inexhaustible Kitsch, offering a vast array of inexpensive mementos that allow you to keep Beet City close to your heart, even when you are far away

As intended, this wonder of the North American continent serves as a major tourist draw, pulling in a rich and varied pool of potential converts.

Once trapped within the walls of this holy see, visitors are barraged with subliminal messages and, in some cases, more overt methods of brainwashing conversion.

Those who are ill-prepared for this onslaught of indoctrination soon find themselves inured to the beliefs and tenants of the Ludite Church, and so a family vacation to Beet City turns into an unintended pilgrimage.

Tourists are carefully monitored at all times, and when the authorities deem that indoctrination is complete, they are designated novices and apartments provided for their long-term stay. The tour guides provide directions and maps, and the new novice then finds him or herself at the Office of Legal Orchestration.

It is in these offices that the novice provides a detailed family history, including last known addresses of all relatives and ancestors, and sign over all their worldly goods to the Church. Following the completion of this necessarily cumbersome paperwork, the Initiate is taken to a celebration known as a Mass Conversion. Here a Church Member of the First Chair performs the Rite of Confirmation. This Rite not only converts and enters the individual into the Church as an Initiate, it also converts all of their relatives and ancestors into the Church.

As relinquishing all your worldly goods is a prerequisite to joining the Ludite Church, the Office of Legal Orchestration then files lawsuits against all the Initiate’s relatives and ancestors in the City-States where they reside. The lawsuits seek to recover the property of said ancestors, which in the view of the Office of Legal Orchestration is now the rightful property of the Church.

It is disturbing how successful these lawsuits have been. Their success is usually attributed to the 10% finders fee awarded to the municipality in which the lawsuit is filed. All appeals have to be made in Beet City, where plaintiffs must sit through an indoctrination presentation before being allowed entry to the courts.

Few are able to resist the power of this presentation, and end up joining the Church as well.

Still, it cannot be denied that Beet City is an amazing place well worth visiting, assuming you can withstand (or don’t mind) the attempts at conversion.

Part 3 of this series, Assumed Missionary Positions of the Ludite Faith, can be found here.
 
 

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Deadly music isn’t just a Sirens thing: Intro to the Ludite Faith

With the planned publication of Balloons of the Apocalypse, the sequel to Marlowe and the Spacewoman, coming up Very Soon Now™ [IT’S OUT NOW!], the time is ripe for an exposé on a group that features prominently in the book.

I speak, of course, of the Ludites (pronounced LEWD-ites).

Adherents to the Ludite faith, also known by the (derogatory) term Beeters, worship the music of Ludwig van Beethoven and await His return to complete His 10th Symphony.

It turns out this wait can be a dangerous one, for many of the faithful have died in the course of trying to expedite Beethoven’s return.

I will offer no person judgments on the ludicrous beliefs of this reckless cult, but will instead, in a series of articles, paint a picture of their history and beliefs, and allow you, my gentle readers, to come to the conclusion that they’re kooks.

In this first installment, I talk about the basic tenants of the Beeter faith.

But before one can talk about the rules of the Beeter faith, one must describe the events that led to it.

This brings us, of course, to the period of history known as the Partially Thwarted Apocalypse, and the collapse of the Big Fed (known in its heyday as the United States) that occurred as a result.

A great deal of chaos and fear ensued amongst the general populace immediately following the global collapse of all large governments. However, instead of driving the unwashed, and now ungoverned, masses to church as conventional wisdom suggested, this uncertainty so disheartened people that they fled from faith in droves.

Those who failed to be circumspect about their lack of a lack of faith often found themselves on the wrong end of a hail of stones and other heavy, sharp projectiles.

In the North American continent, secretive, isolated cults did well in the first few years after the fall of the Big Fed, as did religions that masked their beliefs behind faith in more secular items.

Prominent examples of these neo-secular faiths would be the Ludites and their fixation on Beethoven and his music, the Church of Mickey D and its holy Shroud of the Clown, which held certain types of fast food to be hallowed, and the deadly Bunny in da Hat cult, which placed a high premium on violent street magic.

And yet, within ten years, as city-states formed and imposed order in the form of local government, the uncertainty and disheartenment of the masses faded back to comfortable, or at least tolerable, levels. In this environment of structure and perceived stability, faith came back into vogue and there followed a period of openness.

With this new openness came conflict, and then, inevitably, consolidation.

The Ludites proved quite adept at co-opting and absorbing other religions, and as one of the first faiths to embark upon such a course of action, quickly built itself a large and stable fan base.

The best example of this absorption of other faiths is the annexation of the Church of Mickey D. To ease the merger, the Ludite Church declared fast food a required staple of the faithful (more on Ludite eating habits in a later article), and by the time fast food was phased out of Luditism, three years later, the Mickey D members had either embraced the Ludite faith completely, were excised with ruthless precision (sans all their worldly goods), or died due to poor heath resulting from their preferred diet.

The Shroud of the Clown became the Shroud of Tourette, reportedly donned by Beethoven prior to delivering his frequent public verbal flayings. According to the new Church doctrine, the shroud cloaked Beethoven in an impenetrable aura of obscenity and invective that left those subjected to his withering diatribes gibbering, broken shadows of their former selves.

The incongruity of a bright yellow and orange shroud in Beethoven’s era was glossed over as an article of faith not to be questioned. The golden ‘M’ emblazoned on the front of the shroud was explained as an emblem of the Church’s supreme leader, and thus was the office of Il Maestro born.

It is towards the end of this period of consolidation that the Ludite Church, now confident in its ability to safely operate in the open, published its basic tenants. Prior to this, the articles of faith were passed down only orally, in the form of hauntingly beautiful cantatas.

Initial circulation of the tenants was poor due to the use of stone tablets as the medium of publication. This was quickly rectified by phasing in the use of parchment and paper.

The basic tenants are simple:

  • Only through Beethoven’s music can one find fulfillment
  • Beethoven shall return to this Earth to complete his Tenth Symphony, bringing harmony and peace to the world
  • To prevent false prophets from claiming to be the Bringer of the 10th Symphony, Beethoven cast upon the world the Curse of the Tenth Symphony
  • Thou shalt not write a Tenth Symphony before Beethoven’s return, and after His return, His 10th will be so perfect there’s no reason to finish yours
  • The Return of Beethoven will be known and heralded by the Ludite Church’s holy leader, Il Maestro

Surprisingly, from those five basic tenants, Church bureaucrats have derived eight thousand pages of rules and regulations. This includes, to mention but a few, minutiae on offices that can be held within the Church, proscribed and prescribed food stuffs, acceptable methods of travel for missionaries, hierarchy of techniques for indoctrination (ranging from ‘kill them with kindness’ to use of drugs and sleep deprivation to break resistance), and proper posture of orchestra members when performing Beethoven’s music.

But whatever you might think about the Ludite Church, there is one fact that no one disputes:

They have excellent taste in music.

Part 2 of this series, Indoctrination into the Ludite Faith, can be found here.
 
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Posted by on 29 July 2014 in Marlowe and the Spacewoman, Noir

 

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Beethoven’s influence on contemporary literature

It is a well known fact that Ludwig Van Beethoven was deaf by the time he died, most likely due to the high lead content in his ear trumpets (ah, it was a vicious circle, that).  What is less well known is that Beethoven was completely illiterate except when it came to writing music.

Beethoven hated literate people.  There are numerous documented reports of him walking through a Vienna park, walking stick in hand, and when he came upon some Bohemian-type (the beatniks of his era) stumbling along the path, nose in a book, he would thrust his walking stick between the fellow’s legs and trip him.  One police report shows Beethoven arrested for actually clubbing one of these Bohemian readers with his walking stick after the man had the gall to complain about being tripped.  If doctors had stitches in those days, it is estimated that Beethoven’s victim would have received at least twenty.

These facts make the strong influence Beethoven has had on contemporary literature all the more surprising.

Jane Austen, widely rumored to be one of Beethoven’s lovers, wrote in a letter to her sister Cassandra on 9 March 1814 that the character of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice owed more than a few of his attributes to the strong but distant manner of “that dear friend of mine, LVB.”  Most scholars agree that LVB referred to Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Who can read Arthur Conan Doyle’s haughty portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and not think of the great composer?  Acerbic, craving intellectual challenge, and completely indifferent to the needs of the criminal class. Am I talking about Beethoven or Holmes?  Who can tell!

While Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer is widely (but erroneously) believed to be autobiographical, the theory has been put forward that in actuality, Miller’s approach to creating his protagonist was to imagine Beethoven had lived in 1930s Paris, and was an author instead of a composer.  Certainly the protagonist’s legendary sexual prowess is in line with what we know of Beethoven’s romantic dalliances.

Samuel Beckett commented privately to several close friends that in the first draft of Waiting for Godot, Godot actually arrives at the very end, and is, in reality, Ludwig Van Beethoven.  Beckett claims that his inability to articulate the reason for making Godot Beethoven is the reason he eventually bowed to pressure from his publisher to change the ending.

J.D. Salinger confided to a close friend that Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of Catcher in the Rye, was his imagining of what Beethoven would have done had he been a teenager forced to attend prep schools in the 1940s and 50s.  Such was his fear that people would realize this connection, that after the book’s publication, Salinger avoided the public eye on the off chance someone might confront him about it.

It is even rumored that J.K. Rowling’s character of Snape in the Harry Potter series is an idealized version of the great composer (which makes sense given that Voldemort is clearly based on that vilest of composers, and a man Beethoven would have hated had they lived at the same time, Gustav Mahler).  This Snape / Beethoven connection is less clear cut, however, and is included in this list only for completeness’ sake.

When all is said and done, it is quite amazing that a man so renowned for his hatred of letters and written words should have such a profound impact on Western literature.  His royal status in the music world is unquestioned and uncontested (and rightly so), but few are cognizant of the lasting influence his life and the way he led it has had on the books that make up the very fabric of our society.  One cannot help but wonder what future literary masterpieces will be created in the shadow of this great, great man.  It makes you want to go out and buy all of his CDs again, and spend a month floating in an isolation tank, alternately listening to his music and listening to audio book versions of the aforementioned titles (except for Waiting for Godot – it’s an absolutely awful play that even the presence of Beethoven could not have saved).

What books have you seen the influence of the Great Master in?

 
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Posted by on 19 April 2011 in Music, Other Blogs

 

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