If You Don’t Have A Piano, What Do You Have?
There is a pianist who has been forbidden from playing at a concert.
In protest he is carrying a dead deer on his shoulders, from time to time rolling it on the ground or up a hill. He will carry this deer until he reaches the doors of the city, and play piano there.
I can’t remember why they won’t let him play—it’s a matter of government—but the man’s got to have some authority to have this many news vans following him around.
Nobody asks him where he got the deer.
What an artist, people say.
I’ve heard people call a guy who set fire to a piano on the beach an artist too, so maybe it’s not the person that makes the artist, but the piano.
Which begs the question: If you don’t have a piano, what do you have?
Maybe this is why they don’t let the pianist play.
He’d be wildly popular, his music new and unfamiliar.
He’d probably play on the strings of the piano, not the keys.
He’d start a movement from the inside out, where he’d draw on a history of teachers, pulling them out from under the hood of the piano, gutting the instrument.
He’d start with Van Cliburn, who learned to sing piano from his mother long before he even knew how to play it,
and she learned it from Arthur Friedheim, who learned it from Franz Liszt, who in turn
studied under Carl Czerny, who himself was a student of Beethoven.
And Beethoven was taught music in the mud,
his teachers radiating from the palms of his hands in an eclipse of sound.
And this is why people say that a man carrying a dead deer on his shoulders is a dangerous artist, because a labor of love has history.
Why else would a pianist put so much faith in animal sacrifice?
Although, granted, we don’t know if he killed the deer or found it that way.
But the point is that a labor of love was loved long before anyone else got there.
For all I know, the pianist is still trudging uphill, wearing his muse like some burdensome, antlered scarf. I’m sure he looks ridiculous, like a peacock.
Did you ever hear the story of the peacock?
The story goes that when the world began the peacock was ugly.
It was ugly, but it could fly, and it would fly over everything and cry at how beautiful everything was. In the end the peacock got his wish to be beautiful, but at the price of becoming flightless and having limited mobility. Like a glorified turkey.
But maybe not.
People tend to dismiss the aesthetics of things under some sense of superior morality.
Like you would read a book in a font you didn’t like.
Maybe the pianist just wants to give us our bread and circuses.
Maybe he’s attempting alchemy, trying to breathe music into the dead deer’s fur.
Maybe he’s desperate.
Or maybe he ends up sitting around his house like Liberace, keeping himself secret and doing anything but play piano when he isn’t at a concert,
the huge gaudy things gathering dust like Christmas ornaments,
the faceless piano player crying all the way to the bank.
Luisa Aparisi-França is a Spanish Brazilian American from Miami, Florida. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Florida State University and has a deep interest in the use of comics as language learning tools. She is currently obtaining her TEFL certificate in order to teach English abroad.