Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

So, I’ve been thinking about what I really am hoping to achieve with this blog and I’ve narrowed it down (admittedly maybe only a little)

  1. I really do want to improve my writing. I want to be understood by other people, to learn how to transmit complicated ideas succinctly
  2. I want to transmit ideas I find cool, interesting or useful. My version of ‘cool’ is probably not to everyone’s taste but well maybe it will enlighten someone
  3. And by doing this, I’m hoping that I’ll understand the ideas better and also become more productive and creative. I want to make writing part of my everyday life. 

So not too much to ask then?

I am currently reading ‘I am a strange loop’ by Douglas Hofstadter and his preface has clarified something for me.  I really REALLY want to be able to write well. 

By well, I mean I want to be able to transmit complicated ideas in ways that people can understand easily. I’d also quite like to be entertaining but I suppose that’s probably I whole different kettle of fish.

This has come, not only from reading the beginning of this particular book, but also from my determined attempts to get good marks on essays and also my reading of interesting but rather obscure papers. It’s so frustrating to know that there is an interesting idea in there somewhere but before you can even get to not understanding the idea, you can’t understand the sentences by which it is being communicated. 

So please, PLEASE, if you have an idea of or advice on how to write better, tell me! Here’s to future academic and artistic development and a commitment to Hofstadter’s “religion” of clarity, simplicity and concreteness. 

I play the cello. At the moment, quite badly. But I used to practice and play a lot so I used to be quite a lot better. But one thing I have never understood is the general .. obsession? …persistence? of Mozart.  Mozart’s music reminded me of my primary school teacher commanding us never to use the word nice. For me, that’s what Mozart was “nice”. Fairly pleasant, but still somehow generic. Your typical classical music. I felt that once you’d played one piece you’ve kind of played them all.

However, I am always keen to learn new things and I especially enjoying seeing things that have become commonplace in a new light. So, off I trotted to a Mozart workshop. I was really just looking forward to playing my ‘cello in an orchestra and maybe to learn something about Mozart.  I was even up front with the conductor,
“Mozart’s not really my thing.” I tentatively declared. You have to be tentative with conductors. In my experience they tend to be passionate people and dissing their pet composer can be dodgy. But she took it well and asked why. To my “It’s kind of boring” response, she confidently declared:
“Well I can fix that!” which gave me hope.

She was right.  By the end of that day I was somewhat thawed.  Still a few bits and bobs bored me to death, but the requiem… WOW!  I had also talked myself into playing in the pit for a production of ‘Amadeus’.  By the end of rehearsals and 4 performances my thoughts on Mozart and my week are:

  1. I now think that the requiem is amazing, beautiful, wonderful… This is especially odd for me as generally choral works leave me cold, but there we are.  Other things, not so much but they are growing on me to (if I’m honest). 
  2. I’ve also come to realise that I’m still pushing things away from myself, not letting myself be overwhelmed or emotional.
  3. Musicians are odd.  Maybe not generally, but at my university, they are odd.  They are either ecstatically happy but actually sad, or ecstatically sad but actually happy, or pretending to be interested in something that bores them silly.  I don’t know which of these speculations is closest to the mark, maybe a combination of all of them and a thousand more (the usual case with human beings).  Anyway, by the end of the week of performance I felt deeply uncomfortable. I think they’d be much happier and much better musicians if they listened more, tried more and were more honest with themselves and others.  Really, I felt that I had to re-explain myself all week and I’m not sure whether that’s because they weren’t listening the first time or whether they actually just didn’t get it or what.
  4. Passion, in the form of music, or interest, or just plain honesty is vastly undervalued.
  5. ‘Amadeus’ would be so much better reinterpreted as unrequited romantic love.  Mozart straight and thus unavailable. Salieri in love and pissed off that he’ll never get anywhere with Mozart.  It would be much more interesting and would have been less awkward to watch four+ times.  Well for me anyways, gender and sexuality fascinate me.
  6. I should always trust someone when they say “I can fix that”.  Even if I know they can’t, being proved wrong is always educational.

Anyways, this has been an unenlightening and somewhat tangential post about Mozart.  But really, the requiem… *sigh*

I am interested in clashes, unexpected convergences and divergences.  I love the iterations of ideas and how they can flow and change and be conceptualised differently.  How one experience can change your life, or how one conversation can make you see the world and your place in it completely differently.

I love placing two bizarre and brilliant things next to each other and realising that the combination is even better, even more interesting.  I love stereotypes and fixed ideas because that means that just around the corner, there’s a revelation coming.  Nothing that simple could possibly be accurate, so you are maybe just one step away, one heartbeat, from discovering a whole new world that looks and smells and feels exactly the same but in fact is so different you can hardly remember the old one.

I love science and maths and ideas and proof and experiment.  I love music and emotion and personal expression and those things you just can’t explain.  Most of all I love people.  Their brilliance, their idiocy.  Their pure diversity and range.  We are all muddling along, lives increasingly connected and tangled.  Somehow, somewhere, it seems to me that we lost something important, the understanding that people and the world around us are interesting and need to be engaged with.  Not over a computer or through a TV set or facebook but out there!  Out there where bad things happen and people get hurt and things aren’t shiny and well lit and beautiful like films or TV programs.  Out there, things aren’t always good.

But, I think, if you shut that all out and pacify your anxiety about the things you can’t control and don’t understand with the inane, then you’ll miss out.  And maybe things will never be awful… but they’ll never be great either.  You’ll never understand or discover or experience anything but second hand emotions and second hand lives.

I think it’s time to look lively and grab life while there is still some life to grab.