Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Raison d’être: Music, All the Way

At a very young age I knew what kind of music was congruent with my nature and what was revolting to me. I know what music I absolutely like and what turns me off automatically. My tastes were clearly defined early on when it came to music. I did not sense such a clear definition when it came to other things, however. They took time and experience. Music, however, much like the music-playing Socrates observes in Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, does precede all. Incidentally, I was listening to Placebo, Verdi, Alanis, Kid Rock (don't know what that phase was all about but I did go through it.), Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Puccini, and a heck of a lot of Stereophonics when sorting through Nietzsche at that point.

I tend to think that in order to produce qualitative work, and more generally, to live qualitatively, one needs to find the source of energy necessary to feed one's pursuits. As Larry David observes in Woody Allen's Whatever Works, whatever it is that works, that's what works. I'm often asked about the kind of music I listen to as I'm rarely seen without my iPod and I tend to answer the question in a somewhat non-committal way quoting genres as my playlists are updated constantly. I tend to say things like, 'Oh, a ton of Indie. Bach, Verdi, Wagner. Right, Indie, a ton of Indie!'

One thing I know for sure is that I cannot be without music. Lots of it. Music informs, most unequivocally, everything for me. I use it to journal my most meaningful moments in life. When I am asked to pinpoint moments in time when such and such happened I usually give my trademark answer, 'I'm sure it happened at some point and if it was worth remembering, I'll remember it.' I'm the kind who recycles much as I need to make room constantly for new input. People who function like me cannot help but operate this way. To be information-bound is not a choice. It's how one is by ontology. I am therefore I collect information. And music is the best tool to index one's knowledge.

What I keep learning in life over and over again is that my experiential understanding of intimacy is closely connected to my organic relationship to music. Intimacy, sans music, is no intimacy. Ergo, my closest relationships in life are, and there are no exceptions here, music-informed. Music, for me, serves a very functional role. I can go back in time and connect events by relying on my playlists. Another thing I do habitually is recycle playlists I used to play in the past. This way I can recall events that are related to the specific tracks. When I do so I can remember where I left this or that item that I had forgotten about or worse lost, when a certain someone's birthday is, what anniversaries are worth remembering, et al.

I'm not the type to write a journal as I don't care for emotionalizing and mythologizing one's past. I'm much more interested in the present and the future. So, the closest I get to a journaling experience is a revisiting of past playlists. Playing Led Zeppelin, The Stones, the Doors, the Beatles et al, is what it feels to be vintage to me.

Music is not a choice for many. It simply isn't. It is, rather, a necessity. It is public knowledge that I have gone through a number of iPods. The expense is not only justified, it's sense-based. Music feeds one much like, and at times more, than actual food. So, cost is inconsequential. And, you see, a music lover, a true music lover, gets this. It's never about the gadget itself or one's love of neophilia. It is entirely about that which the gadget can do for you: allow you to visit and revisit a whole lot of music and, by association, a lot of experience.

And denying one of music is like denying one one's own nature. Music is not just entertainment. At least not for me. It never was and it never will be strictly about the entertaining value. I know I cannot think well and clearly without music. And clarity of thought is as indispensable to me as music. Music allows me to get into a zone where the mind can explore in an untethered and unvexed fashion. Music allows me to figure things out, it allows me to compute and cogitate. It's bizarre and amazing how the brain works and how music does what it does to it.

The people I love best and do the best with are those who share my philosophy on music. And I don't have to wax too philosophical here yet again but I can quote such folks as Plato and Nietzsche to validate my answer. Music, generally speaking, is not just about having a right to possessing tastes. I do consider it to be another human language that manages to dig deep into the human soul the way human language simply cannot. I ought to know a thing or two about the latter. I've studied, what 12, 14 languages at this point, and none of them, not one, allows me to express and 'get' things the way music can. So, music-playing Socrates as Nietzsche describes you in Birth of Tragedy, I completely agree with you. Both cognitively and, in this case more importantly, experientially.
And that is my raison d’être.

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Anonymous said...

Hmm. I've often thought about how much easier some stuff is to figure out when I'm listening to music. There's something about the effect of music on one's thinking....
"...experiential understanding of intimacy is closely connected to my organic relationship to music. Intimacy, sans music, is no intimacy."
Ode to music, indeed!

Anonymous said...

Also, Kid Rock, I get it. I thought his album 'Cocky' was pretty good. Haven't heard much else since then, though. Had that same phase. Kid Rock and Puccini, now that's a combo....

James said...

Music is the ultimate language, no doubt. I enjoyed the bit about music v. languages. Just like words refer to certain things, tracks on a record do the same. I dug it. Thx

Will said...

The 'music-informed' smile at the record store says it all.
Of course, the Socrates and Nietzsche bit was cool, too. :)

Anonymous said...

Leave it to you to discuss Kid Rock, Socrates, and indie rock in the same place and make sense of it! :)

JJ said...

Do you consider music as having paralinguistic traits then?

Liam said...

i get it. i honestly do. my life has revolved around music many times. it has informed my choice in jobs, lifestyle, fashion, friends, travel, etc. i consider it just as driving a force as sex. thank humanity for music.