Ode to joy under pressure



It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about
Watching some good friends screaming, «Let me out!»
Under Pressure, Queen (fut. David Bowie)


Sometimes I think, perhaps to restore my courage, that Beethoven wrote his last symphony, the one that is considered by many connoisseurs as the ultimate musical composition, when he was almost completely deaf.

I’m not interested in how he did it, I just know that he was a genius and he could achieve things unthinkable to us, the common mortals. The point is that he did it.

The choral fourth part is Ode to Joy and it is based on a Friedrich Schiller’s poem. Beethoven’s arrangement is devastating; and I’ve always wondered how this man in the absolute darkness – a composer who had lost his hearing – could ever reach such levels of joy, mania, divinity?


Undoubtedly it’s much easier when everything in the garden is rosy, when you were born privileged and live as such, to dedicate your life to art and creativity.

The hard part isn’t to write, paint or compose. The hard part is to get in the right psychological mood and make time to do it, when you are not a cardholder of the “more-equal-than-the-others” club.

There is a bigger circle of misery around us. When you see what is happening in our world, how much foolishness, greed, hatred and bloodthirstiness there is, you feel discouraged. Why should you write poems when a bigoted psychopath will plow his track into the crowd?

Coups (?) and bombings, puppet-leaders who mortgage entire countries, swarms of refugees drowning into the sea, slaves dying at work producing useless items that other slaves– who are not dying at work – can buy.

Does anything matter in this insane world?


There is also a smaller circle of pressure and misery, confined within the limits of your own egg.

It’s the despair you feel when you see that you can’t get a job, which despair may be deeper when you get one and soon figure out that you’re not going to live a decent life with the money you earn. You can hardly pay your taxes and bills.

You realize that is impossible to spend one more summer of your life enjoying the sea, even though you are only a stone’s throw away from it.

There is no time, because time is money, it costs, and you must trade your time, your own life, at a bargain price.

Bottled up like this, it makes you think: Why should I write something? How can I feel joy?

Then – when I have such thoughts – I remember Beethoven’s ninth symphony.

Find the strength to turn darkness into light.

Turn the silence into music.

Turn the pain into joy.

To finally make it and get the brush and draw two lines on the canvas. Two will do. Or even one.
Write a single word.
Play a single note.

This is the hardest part and also the most important one: while you’re under pressure, enraged, depressed, disappointed, while wading through shit, to deal with it and raise your head a bit and take a look at the stars.

And then make a draw out of them, write about them or turn them into a song.

You don’t have to be as talented as Beethoven was. What the “Titan of Music” teaches, is not music, but his inexhaustible tenacity.

That, in spite of the time we live and the writings on the wall, in spite of the misfortune and the hits, you can keep on looking at the stars and singing about Joy.


Drop the excuses that postoponement and despair offer: “I can’t get to doing it, I don’t have time, I’ve run out of strength”.

Art is not something that people do when they are in a good mood, safe, secured, with plenty of money and time on their hands.
Art, every form of art and creativity, is not a pastime.
Art is life. Without it, without art, life makes no sense, is indifferent.

How would it be, if we lived in a world without music, cinema, books, painting or dance?
How would it be, if we lived in a delusion-free world, with no dreams and no imagination?
How would it be, if we lived in a world without love?


There is so much hatred around us, so much death, so much blood, so much oppression.

The answer to all this blood isn’t more blood.

The answer is joy, happiness, creativity, love, art.

It is to give, despite deafness, misery, pressure.

Whatever you have, whatever you can, take it out of you, come a little closer to the man who is standing next to you and bring them to the light, too.

And never forget, no matter how low you fall, no matter how low you feel that

This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure


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Translated by Alexandros Mantas