An Ode to Joy

a dialog presentation

by Rolf Witzsche

Audio version

The German poet Friedrich Schiller wrote the poetry for the Ode to Joy, which Ludwig van Beethoven set to music 40 years later as the closing 'song' of his 9th Symphony. Since Beethoven had been deaf at the time, and Schiller had died 20 years earlier, neither had heard their work performed. In the story, the work is presented in China, in a fishing village at the great lake Poyang hu, at a cultural festival.

The story is the first of the 7 final chapters of my gigantic 12-volume series of novels, The Lodging for the Rose, exploring the Principle of Universal Love. The 7 final chapters are designed to explore the dynamics of multifaceted reverse paradigm shifts to uplift the decaying cultures of today, away from war, terror, looting, depopulation, economic decay, and so on, towards the growing realization of the precious nature of our humanity and its creative power, goodness, and capacity for love.




An Ode to Joy

      Steve started the engines and got the ship underway again towards our destination. During the continuing discussion we talked about a few more poisoned rivers.

      We realized for instance, that the imperial depopulation ideology has poisoned America so deeply that its government had committed itself more than once to force a radical depopulation on Africa, in order to preserve Africa's natural resources for America's possible future requirements. We realized that this policy commitment might have been one the major turning points where the poisoning of America became escalated. Ross, our researcher, suggested that this trend can be traced back to the early 1960s when the poisoning of America's financial system was shifted into high gear. From that point on America's insanity began to take off and to ripen into evermore grotesque forms of depravity. One by one its vital contributory rivers became so thoroughly poisoned that they began to stink, by which America's arrogance, its fascism, and its insanity grew. Ross take was, that in order to save the world, we had to save America first, that had become its rock bottom sewer.

      Tony began to laugh at him. He suggested that the whole world has to make it its highest priority to nurse America back to life from its poisoned state. "If you have a child in your house that is sick," he said. "It becomes your highest priority to make it well again. You don't throw it out of the house. You help it to get rid of whatever has 'poisoned' its being."

      Ross agreed. He said that he realized that for this to happen, Steve's development project of the four sciences would be indispensable. We realized that we had to push these projects forward with, or without, Steve's participation.

      Steve's comment was, when I and Jacky talked to him on this issue on the bridge, that all roads lead to truth, no matter who is involved and where. "Without embracing the truth about ourselves, no one is free. There is no freedom without truth, only an endless slavery to opinions and utopian ideals that have nothing to do with reality," he concluded.

      Steve suggested at the end that it is only natural that the deeper a society isolates itself from the truth that defines the reality of its being, individually or collectively, the greater will be the insanity that rules in its world. "We can't get away from this effect," he added, "but we can pull ourselves out of the rut of our own stupidity by becoming honest with ourselves about the truth, and help humanity to do the same."

      Jacky appeared to be impressed by what he had heard from us, and by our commitment to help. Consequently he made plans for Steve, myself, Ross, Fred, and Ushi to fly with him to Beijing for a few days of meetings with all of the people in his department, to begin uplifting the mental background there. So it was, that before we even reached our destination that day, travel plans were arranged for a float plane to come to our destination in a couple of days, to take us to Poyang and from where Air China would take us the rest of the way.

      Our destination for the current day lay still a few hours distant on the south side of the lake. Wai-yi had arranged for us to take part in a lake-side music festival. The festival wasn't held in one of the big cities like Nanchang or Poyang. Instead, we had been invited to a small fishing town, named Nanfeng where lake side musical festivals had become a part of the local culture. The musical entries for the festival had been chosen from the best of China's heritage, to which we added, as an experiment, the best that the western culture has produced. We presented the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven to the fishing village, the same music with which our day had begun. We had a perfect recording of it, superbly performed. Thus, Beethoven became electronically presented at a cultural festival in a far away place in China.

      Steve, who had become fluent in Mandarin introduced the symphony to the festival audience. Steve of course, was introduced by Jacky. He called Steve a long time supporter of the people of China.

       Steve spoke softly, looking over the top of his narrow glasses, just like I remembered him from his lecture in Germany many years back in time. This time he did not speak about mathematics. He spoke about the wonders of the human spirit and the grandeur of the sublimity of its reach. Wai-yi translated his speech into English for us.

      Steve spoke from the podium that had been erected at the lake-side plaza for the performers. The podium was located right in front of where the Lu Rose was docked. Numerous Chinese musicians had performed on the podium since we arrived, from which Steve now spoke. He said that they would find the music they were about to hear, radically different. He said that it had been composed by Germany's greatest composer who had been totally deaf by the time the music was written, so that he had never heard the music performed with his own ears. Steve explained also that the text of the choral part of the symphony was modeled after a poem by Germany's greatest poet and fighter for the freedom of humanity, Friedrich Schiller, whose life was taken by the hand of an assassin before his poem too, The Ode to Joy, was set to the music they were about to hear.

      Steve said to the people that neither the poet nor the composer ever heard their works performed, which they were about hear. Steve said that the music is truly a composition about freedom and joy. He said that freedom and joy are some of the greatest elements in human existence, he also said that these two elements are the most frightening to the imperial oligarchy, for which Schiller's life had been destroyed. "But the imperials couldn't destroy that poet's heritage for humanity," said Steve and smiled, "because that still lives on. It inspired Ludvig Van Beethoven, and through his work it continues to inspire all of us," said Steve.

      Steve explained that the first words that they would hear in the forth part of the symphony, are really a greeting extended heart to heart to the listeners, to join in with the music in their hearts; "'Oh friends, let us raise our voices in pleasing, joyful sounds.' With that invitation opens the coral passage," said Steve. He translated the invitation into Chinese. After that, he said the great choral passage culminates into a sublime celebration of joy and its virtues: "Joy, beautiful spark, spark of the gods, daughter of Elysium. Thy magic unites all those whom stern custom has parted; all men will become brothers under thy gentle wing."

      With having said this, in Chinese this time, Steve stepped down.

      The Symphony was played through the ship's stereo system that we had set up on board of the Lu Rose. The system was not designed for huge spaces. Still, it was sufficient to penetrate all the way to the far end of the plaza, and into the streets beyond it. And people did respond to it.

      When the music began, barely half of the plaza was filled. Many people had already left by then. But by the time the symphony ended, there wasn't a free space left to stand. Some people stood even in the street leading up to the plaza. It appeared that virtually no one had heard that kind of music before. Also, I had the feeling that more than just a few of the people who had heard that music began to understand that night the meaning of our boat, called the Lu Rose, the Lodging of the Rose. They seemed to have heard something in that music that had found a lodging in their own hearts. One could see it in their faces.


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from Chapter 9 of the novel:  Lu Mountain

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