Friday, December 11, 2009
So Much for the "Chouchou de Paris"
From Richard Cross's wonderful article about the conversion of pianist and composer Hermann Cohen. I love that one of the monkeys on his back as a novice was . . . coffee (I'm down with the malicious wit part, too).
When Hermann presented himself at the Carmelite convent in Agen he brought a great deal of emotional baggage with him. Here was a young man who only a short while ago had been a dandy and dilettante. He had bad habits to overcome: a malicious wit, a tendency to backbite and gossip. He was addicted to gambling, he smoked, he took snuff, he loved coffee. What he faced was bare feet in the winter, rising in the middle of the night for prayer, total abstinence from meat, fasting throughout the year, sleeping on a board without a mattress, long periods of silence in a small cell, and no keyboard during his novitiate. So much for the "chouchou de Paris."