Mozart died at 35 having composed over 600 compositions. I circle that age, 35, over and over again until I fear the pen will rip through the page. Why that number means more to me than the number of compositions underscores a simple reality about learning: we can’t stop ourselves from connecting.
It has been said that greatness in art is marked by the impossibility of imagining alteration. The story that could only have come right that way, the sculpture of which every contour begs contemplation, the music whose melody would fall flat were any one of its notes missing or moved—it is a quality that we recognize in such works as Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, or Michelangelo’s Pieta, or the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Whenever a discussion of time arises in the classroom, I often show students Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son and say, “This is time.”
Saturn was the Roman name of Cronus, the Titan who personified time and, fearing one of his children would destroy him, consumed them directly after they were born.