‘Most of the people I like,’ she said, ‘listen to the same sort of music I do—it’s how we find out what we have in common.’ Most of the people I like do not listen to the same sort of music as I do—mainly, I think, because the sort of music I really like is inimical to any kind of social message, to any message or meaning other than a common humanity, a hunger for life in all its miasma, a coming to grips with what is and what is not, which yet avoids complaint. Life is hard, this music says, it is complicated and dangerous and it hurts a very great deal—but it is also, inexplicably, the most beautiful, the most fantastic thing you will ever know, so make the most of it, dear fool, while you can.
Get a radio or phonograph capable of the most extreme loudness possible, and sit down to listen to a performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony or of Schubert’s C-Major Symphony. But I don’t mean you just sit down and listen. I mean this: Turn it on as loud as you can get it. Then get down on the floor and jam your ear as close into the loudspeaker as you can get it and stay there, breathing as lightly as possible, and not moving, and neither eating nor smoking nor drinking. Concentrate everything you can into your hearing and into your body. You won’t hear it nicely. If it hurts you, be glad of it. As near as you will ever get, you are inside the music; not only inside it, you are it; your body is no longer your shape and substance, it is the shape and substance of the music.
Is what you hear pretty? or beautiful? or legal? or acceptable in polite or any other society? It is beyond any calculation save and dangerous and murderous to all equilibrium in human life as human life is; and nothing can equal the rape it does on all that death; nothing except anything, anything in existence or dream, preceived anywhere remotely towards its true dimension. (2002.108, p. 17f., [Let us now praise famous men])