Beethoven by Shane Koyczan

Created by Mark Ashworth

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38 slides

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Beethoven
Shane Koyczan

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Listen
his father
made a habit
out of hitting him
see

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some men drink
some men yell
some men hit their children

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this man
did it all

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because I guess all men
want their boys
to be geniuses

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Beethoven
little boy
living in a house
where a name meant nothing

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living in a house
where mercy had to be earned
through each perfect note

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tumbling up through the roof
to tickle the toes of angels
whose harps
couldn’t hold half the passion

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that was held in the hands
of a young boy
who was hard of hearing

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Beethoven
who heard
his father’s anthem
every time he put finger
to ivory

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it was not good enough
so he played slowly

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not good enough
so he played softly

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not good enough
so he played strongly

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and when he could play no more
when his fingers cramped up
into the gnarled roots of tree trunks
it was
not good enough

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Beethoven
a musician
without his most precious tool
his eardrums
could no longer pound out rhythms
for the symphonies playing in his mind

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he couldn’t hear the audiences clapping
couldn’t hear the people loving him
couldn’t hear the women in the front row whispering

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Beethoven
as they let the music
invade their nervous system
like an armada marching through
firing cannonballs

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detonating every molecule in their bodies
into explosions of heavenly sensation
each note
leaving track marks
over every inch of their bodies

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making them ache
for one more hit
he was an addiction

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and kings/queens
it didn’t matter
the man got down on his knees
for no one

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but amputated the legs of his piano
so he could feel the vibrations
through the floor
the man got down on his knees
for music

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and when the orchestra played his symphonies
it was the echoes of his father’s anthem
repeating itself
like a brok-broken recor-brok-broken record

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it was
not good enough

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so they played slowly
not good enough

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so they played softly
not good enough

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so they played strongly
not good enough

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so they tried to mock the man
make fun of the madness
by mimicking the movements
holding their bows
a quarter of an inch above the strings
not making a sound

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it was
perfect
see
the deaf have an intimacy with silence
it’s there in their dreams

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and the musicians turned to one another
not knowing what to make of the man
trying to calculate
the distance between madness and genius

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realizing that Beethoven’s musical measurements
could take you to distances
reaching past the towers of Babylon
turning solar systems into symbols
that crashed together

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causing comets to collide
creating crescendos that were so loud
they shook the constellations
until the stars began to fall from the sky

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and it looked like the
entire universe
had begun to cry
distance must be an illusion

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the man must be
a genius

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Beethoven
his thoughts moving at
the speed of sound
transforming emotion into music

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and for a moment
it was like joy
was a tangible thing
like you could touch it

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like for the first time
we could watch love and
hate dance together

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in a waltz of such precision and beauty
that we finally understood
the history wasn’t important

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to know the man
all we ever had to do was
listen.
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