Monday, October 1, 2007

How Much Would You Pay for Beethoven's Hair?

I recently discovered the LifeGem. As a culture, we've tried to cheat death in so many different ways, that it makes sense that something like this would come along. For a mere $3,500, you can order a .2 carat diamond made out of a bit of your loved one (and for $20,000 you can get a full carat to show you truly cared for your loved one). "How does this happen?" you might ask. LifeGem takes a lock of hair you provide and, using a carbon capture and purification process, turn that hair into a diamond. That's right, a diamond made out of bits of people (soylent diamonds, anyone?). Instead of putting Aunt Maude on the mantel, you can wear her around your neck.

As if that isn't strange enough, to publicize their business, LifeGem recently auctioned a diamond made from Beethoven's hair on Ebay. Originally they wanted to auction it for $1,000,000, but I suppose since it was one of three in the world, fans could only muster $202,700 for it.

This cult of Beethoven that began in the Romantic period shows no sign of abating. How is it that a short, grumpy, deaf man who lived in Vienna 200 years ago is still held up as the pinnacle of our artistic heritage? I'm not denying that Beethoven was a brilliant composer, but it fascinates me how every composer since has felt bound to either confirm or deny Beethoven's influence on their work. He is regularly heralded as the greatest composer of great composers by people who quite possibly have never heard any of his music completely as he wrote it. Entire websites are devoted to locks of his hair. And now some lucky winner is going to get to have Beethoven around his or her finger. It is truly an intriguing phenomenon.

Does our obsession with the cult of celebrity have no end?

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