First, here is a followup to the previous discussion on this blog about a psychological study which showed through an experiment how Kafka stimulates your brain.
As I noted in the comments to this post, there is more to this study than simply showing a relationship between the experience of the absurd and intellectual activity: a psychologist working on this project notes "We're so motivated to get rid of that feeling that we look for meaning and coherence elsewhere.... We channel the feeling into some other project, and it appears to improve some kinds of learning" such as mathematical understanding.
Another quote, just because I find this idea so fascinating: "Researchers have long known that people cling to their personal biases more tightly when feeling threatened. After thinking about their own inevitable death, they become more patriotic, more religious and less tolerant of outsiders, studies find. When insulted, they profess more loyalty to friends — and when told they’ve done poorly on a trivia test, they even identify more strongly with their school’s winning teams."
Here we find some interesting comments by former conductor Alfred Brendel who has recently retired and taken up writing. He talks about his revelation that life is "grotesque and absurd" -- but it's more uplifting than that, I promise! Includes an interesting perspective on Rachmaninov and classical music in general.
Roberts makes some comments on who should win the Nobel Prize in economics.
Arthur Krystal in the New York Times on "When Writers Speak"
And, for good measure here are movements 1, 2, and 3 of Beethoven's Piano Sonata 31 in A flat major, Op. 110 for two reasons: first, I've been listening to his piano sonatas a lot lately and find them absolutely amazing (particularly I've listened to no. 32 an uncountable number of times); second, so you can see for yourself about the end of the third movement and whether it inspires laughs, as Brendel says in his piece linked to above.
My apologies, but one more on classical music: Glenn Gould talks about how he plays Mozart in an age of "super recording techniques", etc., basically defending his unique artistic style. Only 3.5 minutes, highly recommended.
Gould, brilliant quote: "I think that all the basic statements have been made for posterity now, I think what we must do is try to find our way around these things [the super recording techniques and so on], try to find a raison d'etre, that is somehow different and yet still somehow right, that makes sense. I think if it does not, if it does not really make sense one must chuck it out and indeed I would have said that two days after having made that record had I not listened to it in a playback booth and thought it really is fun and it really does make sense and it really does say something about the architecture of that particular work then I would have chucked it out and gone back and done it as Hollywood would prefer."
Enjoy, and happy Sunday!