That the infinitude of the exterior world escapes us we accept as natural. But we reproach ourselves until the end of our lives for lacking that other infinitude. We ponder the infinitude of the stars but are unconcerned about the infinitude our papa has within him.
It is not surprising that in his later years variations become the favourite form for Beethoven, who knew all too well (as Tamina and I know) that there is nothing more unbearable than lacking the being we loved, those sixteen measures and the interior world of their infinitude of possibilities.
Schoenberg saw the bacterium, he was aware of the danger, but deep inside he did not grant it much importance. As I said, he was living in the very lofty spheres of the mind, and pride kept him from taking seriously an enemy so small, so vulgar, so repugnant, so contemptible. The only great adversary worthy of him, the sublime rival who he battled with verve and severity, was Igor Stravinsky. That was the music he charged at, sword flashing, to win the favour of the future.
But the future was a river, a flood of notes where composers’ corpses drifted among the fallen leaves and torn-away branches. One day Schoenberg’s dead body, bobbing about in the raging waves, collided with Stravinsky’s, and in a shamefaced late-day reconciliation the two of them journeyed on together towards nothingness (toward the nothingness of music that is absolute din).