Accumulation of the Imperfect

There’s a really intriguing moment of music in reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. Kafka Tamura is being driven by Oshima, who puts on Schubert’s D Major Piano Sonata.

When Kafka prods him about why he listens to Schubert as he zooms around in his sports car, Oshima answers poetically:

“That’s why I like to listen to Schubert while I’m driving. Like I said, it’s because all the performances are imperfect. A dense, artistic kind of imperfection stimulates your consciousness, keeps you alert. If I listen to some utterly perfect performance of an utterly perfect piece while I’m driving, I might want to close my eyes and die right then and there. But listening to the D major I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of – that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging. Do you know what I’m getting at?”

If there’s any more poignant an explanation to listening to different performances of a piece…

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