Beethoven is the god, and the name is a symbol; the tangible is the music. If I were to have said “this is music,” and generalised it with the sounds we hear, and with other music like pop music, then there would be no Master.
Yes, that is indeed a possibility; it is music for its own sake — and then it would carry infinite potential for degeneration:
Music for its own sake >> Entertainment, for self >> Recreation (which can be useful) >> Fun (where recreation takes on a form where I am the centre) >> The opposite of boredom; a connection with something at all, instead of disconnection from the world including myself, which is death >> Just a means of passing time, where anything else would do and anything really will do to pass the time, because nothing is required >> And therefore, emptiness.
From there, one comes to: If Beethoven indeed is a god, and the symbol of one, and the music is the tangible, can we extend the above idea to our gods, to “God”? The answer is a resounding Yes. Because:
(a) The idea of Beethoven as “God” might be innate to me, but that innate idea of God we all carry; and
(b) When the tangible is music, it blends with the ordinary, the “real,” with what we call life. Music, as has been explored by the intellectuals and as has been experienced every day by the millions, is the bridge between the sensual and the sublime. (That phrase – “the bridge between…” is someone else’s creation; I do not recollect the name.)
Yes, we can extend the idea. But what does that mean? What is it that is useful which emerges from the extension? It is this: To take oneself away from the idea that the symbol is more than the symbol; and hence, to take oneself towards the tangible. That transition is useful.
The example now is Beethoven and the music. When one is stricken by the symbol, one asks: What was that man’s childhood like? Is it a myth that his drunken father forced him into piano lessons, or is it the truth? Was there really a woman whom he called the Immortal Beloved? Did he frequent prostitutes at some stage of his life, or was he celibate to the point of his death? These questions have led to the matter of countless papers and chapters of books, of voluminous speculation, all of which is considerably less constructive than the question of whether one should, or can, or wishes to, consume food of Italian as opposed to Mexican cuisine for lunch.
When one detaches from the symbol, one arrives at the tangible: In this case, the music. After the Appassionata, one hardly needs to question what the man behind the music – two hundred years ago – ate. After the ninth symphony, one does not necessarily wish to know what kind of person the composer was. After op. 131, one scarcely cares whether there was a human responsible for those godly sounds we hear.
So often I have asked people, “Why do you care who the man was? – Why not just listen to the music?” The answer, I suspect, is the all-too-common petty interest in people, which in turn arises from the fact that it is easier to look at a person than to look at a thing. My humble submission is that, were one to genuinely listen to the Mastermusic, one would not care for the human entity behind it. The sublimity is present in the music; no-one need bother about the sublime nature, or otherwise, of the man – and whether this view of the man as Master is valid or not.