Beethoven, the Sixth Sense, and punking

Just more musings occasioned by watching “Music from the Inside Out” yet again.

I remember that movie “The Sixth Sense.” I remember being punked completely by it, as most people were. Wow, a twist ending!

The issue of course was that there was no twist ending at all. The movie telegraphed everything completely honestly. It went in a completely straight line. Viewers just expected a twist, so we twisted it, and got brought up short when it was revealed in the end that there was no twist, and moreover a rewatch illustrated this pretty bluntly.

A while back, I remarked on Brahms and how for me, the main feature of his music is that all of the cracks in the sidewalk never line up. It gives his music a blurry-edged feel where it’s never in focus and out of focus all at the same time and in the same place.

Beethoven is the Punker, but not in the “punk rock” sense. He punks you. He leads you happily down a garden path, gets you to suspend your disbelief and go into the illusion farther and farther … and you indulge him because he’s so damned good. Then, you get brought up short and ask yourself, “Where the hell am I?” Up you look, to see him about five miles off waving and going, “Over here!”

And just like “The Sixth Sense,” you listen again … and you find out that he was totally above-board the whole time. You just ran off because the implied, nonexistent twist was so damned fun.

It’s interesting to listen to his later music in this vein, mostly because as he got older and more and more withdrawn and unable to engage in the socializing that his extrovert personality craved due to the isolation caused by his deafness, he got more and more hostile in his efforts to lead the listener down the garden path. This garden paths got more and more rocky and overgrown, with some poison oak and spiders lurking in them. But again, what he had to say was so engaging that you slapped on the insect repellent and witch hazel and went along with it.