Monday, September 12, 2005

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sept 12, 1864 Paris

Dear Parents,

Hector Berlioz is my teacher now! My longstanding wish has been fulfilled, he has accepted me of his own accord, I come to him regularly now, almost like a son. This man, who nobody has ever understood, who has had to fight until his hair turned white, lives like a hermit in Paris, he considers himself to be dead, when I ask him the other day what he was working on, all he said was:

Je n’écris rien
Je ne compose rien
Je suis mort, c’est fini!

This man has adopted me, I work at his house, he sends me home with major scores to study after going through them with me in meticulous detail; in short, he is my teacher, I am his pupil, but don’t go thinking that he charges me for this, to offer him payment would be the surest way of falling out with him, he would feel hurt. I once thought that the privilege of just standing on the staircase in the house where he lives would make me great, now I visit him on a daily basis, whenever I want, he is always at home for me!

—Asger Hamerik (1843–1923), quoted in Christopher Follett, “Danish Composer Asger Hamerik—Berlioz’s Last Pupil,” The Berlioz Society Bulletin, 170 (Summer 2005).

O’s first day of classes at AHN. Her friend MG is down with a strange ailment and will miss school at least today. I hope that O becomes someone’s student. Was it in my freshman year of high school that I first read The House of Intellect? Did it change the course of my life? Would I wish something similar on O? Many of the educated seem discontented. Is it better to be a mass man? Is it better to be not worthy, to say, Don’t come—just command that I have a comfortable and trouble-free life? Is it better not to be man? For mass man is not man, but the avoidance of man, his annulment or, as C. S. Lewis said, his abolition. There is hope: the masses are also complaining. The poor and the rich lived in the Big Easy.

Are children aware that they can embarrass their parents and that all their notions are most likely boring to an adult?


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