northtemple journal of design  ~  August Issue

Beethoven's Heiligenstadt Testament: <br/> A Study in Capability vs. Capacity

Reflecting on perhaps one of the greatest works of Beethoven’s career, Cameron finds an answer to the question, “What does it take to go from good designer to great designer?”

posted by Cameron Moll on Monday, Aug 18, 2008
tagged with design, beethoven, capacity, good v. great design


Great thoughts, and comparisons. I love the quote about thinking being a skill. I think it is a skill we all have, it’s just that not all of us take the time to master it. I think in general the world under estimates the power of our minds.

On a side note, I love how ya’ll made the subtle change of making the “of” a serif italic instead of the sans serif italic. I think it made a HUGE difference, infact the way it was before was bothering me…

I look forward to seeing what else happens to this section of your site. Also I am looking forward to the printed versions.

Ya’ll have really revolutionized ya’lls site. Now it has moved from a place of sharing, to an educational home.

Great job Cameron.

comment by Shane 1 hour later

Beethoven’s genius was irrepressible and overcame the limitations of his hearing. I mean that music just had to get out onto that paper, one way or the other.

Not all of us have this impetus but I agree that hard work can produce the goods, perhaps drawing out of us capacity we didn’t think we had.

Beethoven’s last major work, Quartet No. 16, Op. 135, completely deaf, suggests it was only death that could suppress him. But I think the beautiful slow movement hints at the struggle involved.

comment by Rich B-S about a day later

Cameron, your last sentence reflects what I was thinking about this morning; “What will I do today that will actually make a difference?”

“Good designers are inhibited by a myopic view of their current capability, whereas great designers recognize their capacity to produce great work extends far beyond the limits of their capability.
Thank you for sharing this! Sometimes a designer needs to be reassured that he can achieve more than his current capabilities. I look forward, with anticipation, to the next issue!

comment by Ryan Botha 2 days later

Thank you for this article… very timely, and inspiring… I am looking forward to more articles.

comment by Aaron Irizarry 2 days later

Is this an intro for the next speaking engagement?

comment by Marko Dugonjic 3 days later

Actually, this served as an “outro” at a recent speaking engagement.

comment by Cameron Moll 3 days later

Oh for goodness sakes, heroic “I’m a tortured genius” white man nonsense. I must make a difference to the world! The world is better for having me in it! It must be! Puh-lease, you middle class idiots.

comment by Markov D'Lusian 14 days later

The web is always on the go, hasty and restless, same with the nowaday world. It’s not like the age of Beethoven anymore. He was recognized and sung for hundreds of years because he lived against the common will yet speak for it. He was the star, he only needed to be himself. Designs are usually made for a specific reason rather than sheer inner motivation, and let’s face it, most of the time, work for money. A great master of DESIGNER that would be honored for a few hundreds of years? I dun thinkso

BTW what’s the difference of a visual designer from a pure-blood artist?

comment by Yang Yang 16 days later

this is beautiful Beethoven is beautiful.. how can we design a more accessible world so that everyone’s capacities can be accessed? many people with capAbilities plus disAbilities are exiled b/c our human designs exclude them.

comment by eila 45 days later

I would go so far as to say, if you can imagine it, you can become it. It’s easy to say, “he’s a great designer” because everyone else says it, but can you truly feel, truly see what makes him great? Is it the honor of the world that truly compels you? Once you know what you want to become, finding the path there is relatively easy.

comment by Andrew Thompson 119 days later

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