Book Review: The Philosopher’s Touch: Sartre, Nietzsche and Barthes at the Piano
Three philosophers at the piano, each possessed by music, playing often (and with varying degrees of excellence). Three philosophers whose choice of music and style of playing deepen our sense of them as human beings. They play to think and to get away from their lives as thinkers, to become swaying, tensile bodies pressing fingers onto keyboard, sight-reading scores (mostly romantic, Chopin, Schumann, Ravel), pouring themselves into the expressive intensities of musical gesture and sound. What they seek is absorption in a medium which synergizes their thought and personality with its rhythm and measure. They want to exit the world of the thinker while also retaining its broad strokes.
Although the writer of this gem of a book (full of beautifully written incident, readable during a short plane flight) does not pursue it, the picture of art found in it accords with the writing of Roland Barthes, one of the book’s protagonists.