It is unusual for the echo of an orgasm to reach thousands of miles away, but such was the case of a woman whose spasms and screams during a musical concert in Los Angeles made headlines this week in Argentina and around the world.
Behind the ecstasy is a mystery. The woman's identity has not been made public. She hasn't jumped at the chance to become famous on social media. There are doubts as to whether he actually responded to Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony with "a loud full-length orgasm," according to one of the witnesses, or whether, as some have speculated, he had fallen asleep and awoke with a spectacular startle upon hearing a particularly volcanic score of the work's second movement.
Well, se non è vero, è ben trovato. But I prefer to believe that it is true. If it's a case of fake news, I'll swallow it, happy. No, I'm not about to confess that music makes me orgasm. But I'm sorry I can't do that. I would be proud to possess such an excess of sensitivity. Now, hairs on end: yes. Not a poem by Shakespeare, not a painting by Picasso, not even a goal by Messi assault me with more sensory force than the music of Tchaikovsky or, among thousands more, that of Billie Holiday, Mick Jagger or Amy Winehouse.
Neither the plastic arts, nor the literary arts, nor the football compete with the musical arts, which are above all other human creations in their ability to arouse emotion. If I were told that for the rest of my days I would have to limit myself to enjoying only one artistic expression, if I had to choose, I am clear that I would discard words, painting and – with great regret – football. I would stick with the music.
I thought about it just this week, even before I heard about the orgasm that shook the world. On Monday night I was in front of the TV exploring the gold mine that is YouTube and after seeing Bertrand Russell talking about an encounter he had with Lenin, and David Hockney explaining Van Gogh, and an interview from the sixties with Brigitte Bardot, and a collection of Messi's greatest hits, I pique with the controller in a performance by Anna Fedorova of Rachmaninoff's piano concerto number two.
Listening to the young Ukrainian pianist play the second movement of Rachmaninoff's work transported me to I do not know where, but far, far away from the daily banalities that haunt us or the imperishable human cretinism manifested today in phenomena such as Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin.
If there had been someone next to me he wouldn't have noticed that I was feeling something that combined orgasm with what I suppose would be an encounter with a divine appearance. The seizures were not physical but mental; The screams did not come out of the mouth, they echoed in the soul. My silence contrasted with the tide of sounds that entered my ears and flooded my brain, erasing all thoughts other than the second movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff's piano concerto number two. And, yes, of course, my hair stood on end, that human reaction so uncontrollable and so mysterious to the presence of the sublime.
Now, beware, no one thinks that my tastes are limited to the elite of classical music, of which I really know little (although I know enough to believe that Beethoven's fifth, seventh and ninth symphonies are absolutely unsurpassed as inventions of human ingenuity). I'm also moved when I make the YouTube jump from Fedorova to Phil Collins playing 'In the air tonight' live; to the splendid, recently deceased Tina Turner giving everything in Amsterdam with her anthem 'The Best'; 'Everlong' by the Foo Fighters at Wembley; the "white Zulu" Johnny Clegg singing 'Asimbonanga' with Mandela dancing beside him, Mandela declaring at the end of the song that music gives him, more than anything else, peace.
The truth is that I know much more about literature than about music. In my humble way I have dedicated my whole life to collecting and selling words. But I surrender to the composers and the singers and the virtuosos of the piano, the violin and the guitar. (I forgot to mention Paco de Lucía among the jewels available on YouTube. Look it up.) Also surrendered one of the great writers of all time, the Polish Joseph Conrad born, I just discovered, in Ukraine.
In the preface to his book 'The Negro of the Narcissus' Conrad writes that music is "the art of the arts". Why? Because it transcends all languages and cultures, because no knowledge is required to interpret it, as is the case with literature or painting or sculpture. Because, as Conrad explains, "the artist appeals to that part of our being that does not depend on wisdom – he appeals to that which in us is a gift and not an acquisition and which is therefore more permanent, more lasting. It appeals to our capacity to enjoy and amaze ourselves, to the sense of mystery that surrounds our lives; our sense of compassion, beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of community with all creation that is in us – and to the subtle but unshakable conviction that there is a solidarity that unites the loneliness of countless hearts, the solidarity of our dreams, our joy, our sadness, our aspirations, our illusions, our hope, our fears – the solidarity that unites all men and women, that holds humanity together – the dead with the living, the living with the unborn."
Buff! Almost music, these words, right? Almost the second movement of Rachmaninoff's piano concerto number two, or that of Tchaikovsky's fifth symphony. But not even Conrad arrives.