Atonality

Schönberg did not want to be Mozart. Schönberg wanted, first and foremost, to push intellectual barriers with his serial music. Mozart was appealing to emotion in the most direct form, freed from intellectualism, yet deeply intellectual. The master transcending his craft!

Schönberg’s music was and is ‘unangepasst’, edgy as we say nowadays. With Schönberg there was a willed ‘unangepasstheit’, shared by Stockhausen and Boulez, which in a round-about fashion almost makes the music angepasst. Schönberg wanted to take music down the path of intellectualism, and it has stayed on that path. The path became the destination. For most unangepasste human beings the state is undesired. There is a strong wish to become accepted, and for the work resulting from the unangepasste to become mainstreamed. Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, of such beauty and romance, was famously derided as something ‘whose stink one can hear’ when it came out. Hard to believe as it is, perhaps Tchaikovsky was pushing boundaries, yet very soon the Violin Concerto was ubiquitous, mainstreamed. This was surely what Tchaikovsky wanted. Van Gogh, impossibly edgy in life, is now the favourite of billionaires (and me).

Now, I am not arrogant enough to suggest that ‘What If We Don’t Die?’ is in any way comparable to the works of Schönberg, Tchaikovsky and Van Gogh, but in its own way it may be perceived as unangepasst. Academic philosophers will lament the superficial treatment of deep thought, will lament that I do not explain Kierkegaard, Hume, Levinas, Nietzsche, Einstein more extensively, better, more accurately. But my book is not one of academic philosophy (or theoretical physics). I understand the need for academic philosophy, for delving into the thoughts of the great philosophers and seeking deeper and deeper understanding of the legacy of the icons. Still, the main point of philosophy is not art for art’s sake, the main point of philosophy is to be used. This is the freedom I have invoked. I regret if my poaching of ideas and arguments does not do justice to their originators, but ultimately the measure for my book must be whether it says something original, something worthwhile, something that makes you reflect in a different and fruitful manner. I sincerely hope that this is the case, and that something which might now appear unangepasst and atonal will end up being accepted as perhaps contrapuntal, but relevant and having pushed a few boundaries!

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