Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 – “Choral”: IV.

So today and yesterday went really oddly.

On Wednesday in Calculus we did a final study-through for our test of Triple Integrals, their applications, etc. In German we listened to the middle segment of the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. I learned that Beethoven’s entire (not literally, but it was a priority) point of writing that symphony was so he could put Schiller’s lyrics from his ode An Die Freude (English: To Joy, more commonly as ‘An Ode To Joy’) to music. We listened to it because Schiller and Beethoven were both German.

Everyone knows this song, but I had a particularly strange association in my head with it. At the climax of Episode 24 of Neon Genesis Evangelion (‘The Beginning and the End, or “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”‘) there is a scene in which they use quite possibly the most dramatic part of the entire symphony, located in the fourth movement, for the background music.

So when I hear that piece, I think of all the epic drama entailed in Evangelion and how it all builds and mounts to that moment in the story.

I was so taken by hearing it again that I found it on the internet, and after a few more times listening through it, I decided I wanted the entire symphony. I told myself that if I studied really hard for Calculus that I’d purchase it the next day off iTunes.

So I studied and studied. I ended up staying up later than I’d intended, and Hank was snoring. Oh, so, so loudly. I somehow rationalized that if I bought the piece I could play it while I slept, and block out any noise he may inadvertently be making in his sleep. Then the fire alarm went off.

We all filed outside into the cold. When we came back, Hank left to go hang out with someone. But I still had the symphony piece. So I listened to it going to sleep, and when I woke up, and on my way to my test.

As I was beginning my test, the music was running through my head, the adrenaline was pumping, and I was ready. As the test wore on though, I had a horrible realization: most of what I had studied did not make up the bulk of the test. The study sheet had been something of a ruse on my professor’s part, for whatever reason, and I was now thoroughly screwed.

But the music continued. What I had been using to build up to some sort of gargantuan mathematical triumph was now sounding my own imminant defeat at the hands of Calculus. That’s when it finally dawned on me, what the entire point of that scene in Evangelion was:

There is no triumph in that show. Things go horribly awry at the end. So atypical of standard television programming, but so entirely characteristic of the human experience, which I think was the entire point. A person’s life does not being slowly, and advance in beautiful symphonic progression; it moves in jumps and starts suddenly, without any indication. It does not build to some amazing, triumphant climax of victory, but more frequently instead builds only to dissolve into total chaos.

I realized this in the middle of finding the area of a half-sphere using spherical coordinates.
It was simultaneously an insightful and resounding thought, but also quite mortifying, given my situation.

Like I said, these past days have gone really oddly.