But cell phones hadn’t been invented yet! (A Beethoven eccentricity)

As recently as ten years ago, it seemed strange to see someone walking down the street talking to no one visible and gesturing. Everyone wondered about whether that person was really all there. Since then, of course, we have gotten used to cell phones.

Nowadays, we still might meet people who talk out loud and make gestures and don’t have a cell phone. We can still wonder about them. Are they crazy? Or maybe just an eccentric genius? Here’s how Gerhard von Breuning described Beethoven in 1825:

Beethoven’s outward appearance, owing to that indifference to dress peculiar to him, made him uncommonly noticeable on the street. Usually lost in thought and grumbling to himself, he not infrequently gesticulated with his arms as well when walking alone. When he was in company, he spoke very loudly and with great animation and, since whoever accompanied him was obliged to write down his answers in the conversation notebook, the promenade was interrupted by frequent stops, something which in itself attracted attention and was made more conspicuous by the replies he made in pantomime. . .


But cell phones hadn’t been invented yet! (A Beethoven eccentricity) — 2 Comments

  1. I remember moving from rural Montana to Philadelphia. The first time I went in the city I was stunned to see many well dressed people seemingly talking to themselves. I had never seen or heard of a blackberry device. I mentioned this to my son saying “My you really have some well dressed nots here.” He asked what I meant and when I told him he burst into laughter and explained what a blackberry was.

    • Thanks for stopping by. I was in Chicago the first time I encountered someone walking down the street talking on a cell phone. I knew what it was because I had heard of it. But by that time I had already encountered an obviously psychotic woman several times interrupting her loud muttering to yell at whomever her eyes rested on. Or was she perhaps a genius?

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