Tag Archives: Amor Fati

In Victory and In Defeat

“If you keep feeling the bite of a point that has been sharpened, the point will not stay sharp for long. (…) When the work is finished, and one’s name is being distinguished, the way of Heaven is in withdrawing into obscurity. ”

– Tao Te Ching, Verse 9

If your attitude was correct, if the path traveled was noble, the result is of secondary concern. The merit or demerit is never exclusively yours – Fortune always has Her say.

Celebrate victory with the ones closest to you, with good posture, generosity and in moderation. Ostentation drives away friends, and envy drives enemies to action.

Suffer defeat with dignity. Seek support from those closest to you and whom you trust, but don’t shy away from your responsibility in the matter – do not expose them to bitterness, do not make them bear witness to your resentment.

Nothing dissolves friendships faster. Any good person understands the pain and suffering borne by his or her fellow human. But nobody loves people who resent life and Fortune. Nobody likes a crybaby.

If the “point” of defeat bites you so unbearably, then you need to be defeated more often, until it loses its sharpness.

On Preferences

“You should not have a favorite weapon, or, by the way, any kind of exaggerated preference. Becoming too attached to a weapon is as bad as not knowing it well enough. You should not imitate others, but use that which suits you, and that you can handle with competence. To entertain preferences is bad for both commanders and soldiers. “

— Musashi Miyamoto, “The Book the Five Rings”

Think – using and appreciating the resources you have at your immediate disposal instead of being a one-trick pony, only writing with that perfect tool, cooking in the perfect kitchen, or practicing with that ideal weapon. 

If you hold too many preferences you severely limit the condition of your enjoyment of life, and your ability to create anything beautiful and useful.

About Beethoven’s Last Night

I have already written about my peculiar relationship with music. Exceptions are usually songs that tell stories. I’m not the right person to assess musical quality, but stories are my life, so it does not surprise me that a song which incorporates a narrative catches my attention.

I am not necessarily talking about a musical number at the theatre or the movies. Those never sat well with me; it felt like the prose was being forced into the music. A story does not mean dialogue; it does not mean prose. A handful of good stanzas is enough when you know what you’re doing.

One of my favorite albums is “Beethoven’s Last Night” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It is a brilliant rock opera that, across its 22 tracks, tells the story of the composer’s last night.

But like the best stories, it frames it as a battle between good and evil. At the gates of death, the artist despairs to finish his last work, and primordial forces arise to fight for his soul. Hell appears incarnate in Mephistopheles. The heavens send a muse, under the guise of an old love.

Music represents the dialogue between these three parts. Mephistopheles does everything to convince the composer of the futility of his efforts; the muse encourages him to persist, to create his final work in praise and honor to the Divine. Throughout the album, Beethoven vacillates between inspiration and despair, under the influence of these two forces. It is one of the most beautiful metaphors the artistic process that I had witnessed.

That all this is transmitted so vividly, so colorfully, through short verses and the power of music… That is simply exceptional.

So who wins, after all, the soul of the composer?

You can find out by listening to the album:

It is worth leaving my usual note here: we live in a fantastic time in which we have beautiful art at our disposal, completely free of charge. If such a work captures your imagination, if such art inspires you, then that is a signal to ponder the possibility of buying what is freely given, and thus support the artist.