You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars: and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you.
I know of nothing better than the Appassionata and could listen to it every day. What astonishing, superhuman music! It always makes me proud, perhaps with a childish naivety, to think that people can work such miracles. But I can’t listen to music very often. It affects my nerves. I want to say sweet, silly things, and pat the little heads of people who, living in a filthy hell, can create such beauty.
It was as a performer that he fastened on the theatrical, ritualistic, ceremonial side of life - the side of life that liberalism is least good at understanding or promoting. The original sin of modern liberalism lies in the idea of social life as a contract, a deal. Life is too short and horrible for us to imagine it governed by something as meagre as a contract; we want it to be governed by a covenant. The difference between a contract and a covenant may, in the cash value of action, be almost purely verbal. That’s its point. The sound is the significance. When the irrational is slighted, the unreasonable takes its place.
Modern equivalents are less common, but you may remember a line in Auden which began as a misprint: “The ports have names for the sea.” What Auden had written was: “The poets have names for the sea.” But when he saw “The ports have names for the sea,” he liked it better than his own line, and so let it stand.
A tiger’s DNA is also a ‘duplicate me’ program but it contains an almost fantastically large digression as an essential part of the efficient execution of its fundamental message. That digression is a tiger, complete with fangs, claws, running muscles, stalking and pouncing instincts. The tiger’s DNA says, ‘Duplicate me by the round-about route of building a tiger first.’ At the same time, antelope DNA says, ‘Duplicate me by the round-about route of building an antelope first, complete with long legs and fast muscles, complete with timorous instincts and finely honed sense organs tuned to the danger from tigers.