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No joy without sorrow 


The heights appear highest when you look at them from the depths. To test the truth of that hypothesis, I suggest you listen to pop music (e.g., Britney Spears) for a few minutes; then listen to Franz Liszt’s piece Les Préludes. If you have a poetic soul, the sudden change from ingesting dirt to imbibing a vintage wine will intoxicate you. Your appetite for life will grow tremendously. You may not be able to contain your enthusiasm; your heart will leap to your throat and you’ll start shouting senseless noises of jubilation. The finale of Liszt’s piece may give you a heart attack: the notes rushing to their climax, beating on your ears like drums, and then the horns that blare a single note (—that note which is both a call to battle and a signal of victory!—) as the rest of the orchestra continues its climb to the final triumphant chords… You’ll realize that pop music is redeemed by virtue of its function as a reminder of the muck that humans can and must rise above in order to achieve moments of immortality.

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