These past two days and Sarah Howell have been very kind to this Blog. In these past two days I’ve had a lot of traffic, new Followers, and a whole lot of “Likes” for my “Onus of Creativity” and “Ice-Nine Days and Vonnegut Nights” posts. I want to thank you–all of you–once again for finding what I have to say interesting.
This Blog is evolving in ways I didn’t actually anticipate. Like I keep saying, it was supposed to be a Writing or Writer’s Blog with more stories than criticism and opinion. But you know, I really like my opinions. I like taking my experiences and knowledge and making new shapes with them: strange, weird little baubles that really just reveal what I think. Really, my Blog seems random–kind of like me–but I’d like to say there’s some underlying pattern that’s still in the process of making itself known here.
And you know, while I’d really like to think that at least I bring a writer’s sensitivities or sensibilities to my opinions here, in the end I just like to state them no matter what they might be.
There is one thing I’ve been thinking about lately. If you read my “Onus” entry, you’ll know that I referenced a TED Lecture by a writer named Elizabeth Gilbert called “On Genius” or “On Nurturing Creativity” in which she talks about the ancient Mediterranean conception of genius as being a spirit that passes through someone: that may or may not give them inspiration. Gilbert talks about treating modern genius like this: that–as opposed to purely being centred within a particular tormented individual–it can be a force that you can accept or reject on your terms to make your life more balanced.
Yet here is a question that has been plaguing me: what happens when you get the wrong genius?
Let me explain. A few times in my life, but one time in particular, I was asleep and dreaming. And within that dream I heard music. Now, I tend to write my dreams down whenever I’m not lazy enough and it was a very compelling, detailed dream. But here is the thing. I am not a musician. I was not trained as a musician. I do not have many–if any–of the tools to record, pattern, or create music.
So why did I get this sound? I tried copying it down in terms of rhythm. I will admit that I had some background playing the drums in elementary school and I even learned how to sing in a religious capacity. My family is a family of singers too. I also tend to listen to a lot of epic music: Classical, modern, Electric Body Music, video game soundtrack and just very eclectic things. So it doesn’t surprise me that some music has rubbed off in my head. I also admit that I am inspired by music and I collect certain tunes I like on Youtube.
But if we go by the hypothesis of the genius, why would it choose me–a non-musician–to make music in? I mean, seriously, the closest I can get is lyrical poetry which, while not completely removed, is really not ideal for its preservation. So do I tell it to go away when it happens? Do I adapt it somehow?
Today on the subway, I was continuing to plod through Lesley Chamberlain’s book Nietzsche in Turin. At one point she goes into some length about Nietzeche’s influence from Wagner: particularly how his form of opera informed the structure of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. From what I understand, Chamberlain seems to argue that Zarathustra is a philosophical opera in written poetic form. Nietzsche also had musical background and attempted to write music and–I believe–librettos as well. Wagner even called him a “failed musician.” I personally think that Nietzsche was one of the most irreverent but paradoxically serious artistic philosophers that we have in the Western tradition.
But did Nietzsche make something new? Did his attention to archetypes, to written leitmotifs and human cycles, and lyrical turns of phrase and conventions make what some have called “bad poetry disguised as philosophy” or did he make something else entirely: something unique in the nineteenth century? Did he make some kind of prototypical medium just as Wagner changed the operatic one: that branches out over several mediums to make something else entirely?
I suppose that is one way to interpret how a genius of music can influence a writer, but I don’t know. Maybe it was the wrong genius. But then I feel music inside of me too. I think it’s in all of us. ln fact, I think one of the most beautiful things about Musicals is that they are art forms that bring to the surfaces the rhythms and sounds that we hear and feel inside of us. They are tonal equivalents of words or brush strokes that can use to mimic our external and internal environments: and only a few people can capture and manipulate these tones well. I am not one of these: unless you count poetry which I don’t do often.
Still … music, by it’s very name is associated with the muses, the daimon, the genius. Music is also structured by symbols: by written notes that are very eerily similar to how mathematic symbols are structured. They are said to have a very similar rhythm. While I have considerable difficulty with math, at the same time I know that it is a construction of ancient symbolic logic and understanding while music utilizes it but has great intuitive and creative aspects.
I guess I really don’t know what to tell you. Maybe it was my left-brain trying to tell me something in my sleep, or my right and left brain-parts trying to tell me a story in a slightly different way. Or maybe I should have more musician friends who can record down something that I can at least hum before I forget it. It’s just really fascinating and I hope that if that genius didn’t find what it needed from me, it went on to someone else he could … or maybe, it did find what it was looking for. I’ll never really know, but maybe I have yet to see.