Why I Am A Writer

DANIEL ADLERWhen I first heard that Brandenburg Concerto, I must’ve been in my crib, freshly fed off my mother’s breast. And lolling there, in the early autumn light I felt the rapid pleasure that my parents must have felt the year prior, that primal urge from heavy-veined leaves ripening, ripening and falling, that incited them to conceive life. In my crib I must have felt some of it; some of that embrace of life that has kept the lamplight glowing, the flowers blooming, the ewes birthing and the grass growing, all of it hot love on the fly, uncertain, unnecessary, albeit a very product of the earth turning and the wind blowing. I was privy to that feeling when I lay in my crib after having been fed from the breast, partially desirous, aware, always aware of something ineffable, some sense of passing time and new beginnings. For a baby, this sense, imparted in part by sunshine, was aggrandized and aggravated, like an itch in the middle of my back, by the Bach.

The Bach was that feeling. It became linked to my conception of it, because of my own situation while listening, and also because Bach felt the same way when he composed it. Undoubtedly. He saw his children, remembered his past, sought discovery and admission into a place outside the enlightening storm und drang. He represented an ineffable turn of the world, an exemplar of what could be done by humankind. And he reached it, largely in the Brandenburg Concertos. In the Brandenburgs he reaches this sentiment largely and not fully because we can understand what’s going to come next — we are ready, willing to ascertain the next notes, the rise of the violins, the harmonious flutter of the flutes and the graceful dropping crescendos of each melody. He defines this sentiment fully in the fugues. In the fugues, the perfection of life plays over itslf and we can only listen and try to comprehend the overlapping magnitude of life and all it encompasses. In the Brandenburgs Bach tries to capture life, but in the fugues he creates it. But in his miraculous attempt at capturing life he imparts it unto others and that is hard enough to do. Beacuse he mimics the vernal closeness of the sun, the growth and bloom of flowers, the peak and descent of life, the veiny brown leaves fluttering from wind and blowing into forest to be trampled, decomposed and birthed again. I felt this upon that warm September day, as the doily curtains blew from the open window. Summer still felt with us; it was no longer sweaty or lurid, but peaceful; and with a modicum of sensibility, I felt change. And what change it was! For I had lived now, had been born and now was growing, expanding, moving. Each crescendo carved new grooves in my soft brain, each graceful note opened channels fallow and virginal and in a tumid exhumation of the history of life, I know why. It was a feeling I couldn’t register; I didn’t yet have the faculties, but I knew it existed, felt it there. And each time I heard it after that I felt the same way until I knew that the feeling had always been with me, before birth, before Bach. Bach had first given me the inkling that it could be defined.

And so I grew, knowing it, understanding it more and more, seeing it, feeling it, wanting it, craving it, until I came to understand why Bach needed to tell me about it. The afflatus came as a result of life itself, it was unaffected, unattempted, felt, practiced, understood and explored. It became apparent to me from that age that humans could be the greatest instruments in this feeling because they could define it. They could try to describe it and the ones who did the best job, after having practiced, understood, and explored, theirs would be best understood by the many. So well understood that even a newborn baby could listen and begin to understand.

Perhaps it occurred to me then that such a life is the most revelatory, that it is the deepest, most exploratory way to live and that it is also the closest way to divinity. Any misgiving could disrupt and hamper the search, could corrupt the afflatus. Impossible to attempt halfheartedly, this is an entire lifestyle, a soulful longing. This is me.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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