You will recall that last week I wrote about how my musical handwriting had become more sophisticated over the many years, along with my skills.
I want to hammer some of that point home today.
This is the autograph manuscript of the Symphony No. 10, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He was around the same age I was when I wrote that feckless little piece featured in last week's post. It was not in any way his tenth symphony; it's just the tenth to get numbered.
Plus, of course, it wasn't even near the beginning of his career. He'd been composing since he was five. He wrote his first opera when he was eight. Sure, this early stuff is pretty jejune, as we say in these parts, but dang, Willis, the boy could write. It just poured out of him, perfectly.
If you've ever seen the play or movie Amadeus, there's a scene in which Constanze, Mozart's wife, takes some of his music to the court composer Salieri in an effort to get her husband a job. She cautions Salieri that she has to take the papers back with her, because these are the originals. He is stunned to realize that these aren't "clean copies," they are the only copies, i.e., Mozart just wrote it all down straight from his head without any evidence of ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS or SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION.
The scene itself is fabricated, but its point is true: Mozart could do that.
As the estimable Dogberry says, "Comparisons are odorous." You and I are not Mozart. We don't have to be Mozart. Through Lichtenbergianism, we are freed from ever even trying to be Mozart. You and I are free to screw it up, to waste reams of electrons (or paper, your choice) in getting our work closer and closer to some kind of presentability, never mind perfection.
Remember this the next time you are stressing out because you can't do it as perfectly as whoever it is you think is doing it perfectly: no one can do that.
Only Mozart can do that, and he's dead.