Sunday, June 16, 2019

That Godless Arch-Scoundrel Voltaire

I believe it was Mozart who called Voltaire ‘that godless arch-scoundrel,’ which I always thought was kind of funny.
Funny in the sense of ‘ha, ha’ funny and funny in the sense of odd, as in the kettle calling the pot black.
I never knew too much about Voltaire except that my violin teacher in music school made me read Candide my first semester there, probably to take some of my ‘California Mellow’ off.
I found it an amusing book although, yeah, relentlessly cynical with the hero’s nose even falling off towards the end. I read somewhere that Mozart had a friend who was dying and his nose had fallen off as well. Evidently there was a widespread nose falling off problem back in the day.
And then, of course, there was dear old Mozart only living to thirty-four or whatever.
The crux of the book was, ‘everything is well and good in the best of all possible worlds.’  This was supposedly the mantra of the Catholic Church (wait, what other worlds?) since they were taking care of everyone and everything. This was just prior to the ‘Sturm und Drang’ movement that said artists should be free to depict the darker side of life too.

“Everything's fine today, that is our illusion.” Voltaire.
“We all get it in the end
(Just gotta get used to it)
We go down and we come up again
(Just gotta get used to it)
You irritate me my friend
(This is no social crisis)
This is you having fun
(No crisis)
Getting burned by the sun
(This is true)
This is no social crisis

Just another tricky day for you”

Songwriters: Pete Townshend
Well, good that everything has changed so much now days.  Just ask anyone you see on the street ‘how’s it going?’
They’ll say ‘fine.’ If they say anything else, we really didn’t want to know.

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