Becoming Not Quite Like Beethoven

As I was invited to contribute a series of posts to this blog, I thought first off I would like to tell you a little bit about who I am.

graz - graffiti :: beethoven
photo credit: southtyrolean

When Ludwig van Beethoven lost his hearing at age 30, he was totally and utterly devastated. I learned about this at roughly the same age and was taken aback by the commonalities. By coincidence I had found Beethoven’s letter to his brothers (which has come to be known as the Heiligenstadt Testament) on the internet:

Forgive me when you see me draw back when I would have gladly mingled with you. My misfortune is doubly painful to me because I am bound to be misunderstood; for me there can be no relaxation with my fellow men, no refined conversations, no mutual exchange of ideas. I must live almost alone, like one who has been banished; I can mix with society only as much as true necessity demands. If I approach near to people a hot terror seizes upon me (source)

Like Beethoven, I had lost my hearing almost completely during my twenties. Like him, I was tense and afraid of situations in which there was a chance for misunderstanding. I was thrilled: I felt like I could have written that letter. (This is how I put it into words, then.) So I was all the more shocked when I learned that if Beethoven had not felt obliged to music, he would have killed himself:

Such incidents drove me almost to despair; a little more of that and I would have ended me life — it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me. So I endured this wretched existence. (source)

In Beethoven’s despair over his deafness, I recognized much of myself. In his resignation however — life only as a duty — I did not want to recognize myself.

This is why five years ago, I started a blog called “Not quite like Beethoven” (in German) in which I set out to explore “the good life with bad audio”. I decided that being hard of hearing or even late deafened should not mean being isolated, depressed or unsuccessful. I wrote down all those absurd, awkward moments that not hearing well gets you into — even with state-of-the-art hearing tech behind your ears. I wrote about the inaudible, the non-heard, and the unheard.

And during the coming weeks, I would like to share some of my thoughts and some of those stories with you…

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