Okay Einstein, You Have a Point.

Being sick, to me, is equivalent to being incapacitated. As I’m sure it is the same for others.

Frankly, being sick sucks.

It’s not the feeling of a runny nose or the damned insistent coughing or the feeling of not being able to do anything. Practicing is out of the question because I cough every time I take a breath, and writing tends to be an even more painful experience because I can’t find the will-power or strength to write a coherent sentence.

I write run-ons.

Though, one good thing about being sick is that it affords me the time to catch up on some much needed reading. This past summer, I taught myself how to speed read. Tangent: speed reading is a horrible way to describe it only because in today’s society we associate speed readers with freaks of nature. No, speed reading is a way for me to bypass the handicaps of our educational system where, literally, our reading skills stop developing after third grade. Let me rephrase that, how we read hasn’t progressed passed a third grade level; however, our understanding of the English language coupled with an ever growing vocabulary, does.

That’s only slightly unimportant right now and holds little barring to my subject on this dreary late afternoon.

I’ve been reading, or plowing, through tons of books lately. It started as a search to quench my appetite for intellectual stimulation; an attempt to absorb and learn as much knowledge as possible. I can’t say it’s really working but my path to enlightenment has been rather interesting…and hilarious, quite frankly.

You have to remember I have ADHD; I get off topic quite a bit and rarely make connections between my subjects. Then of course, add in a little delirium (my favorite kind of spice) due to the onslaught of a cold and you have a recipe for a D- minus paper in English class.

Kiddies, don’t follow my examples, learn from my mistakes.

And so, in my feeble attempts to get back on track, I further digress into the realm of incomprehensible dribble.

The one and only good thing about being sick is that I can finally indulge in the magnificent world of “reading.” My latest book, or well for the past two hours, has been a bit of a bore, but I’ve gained some wonderful insight. It’s from Albert Einstein’s biography (or an attempt at) on Mozart’s life, “Mozart, his character, his works.” It’s been a rather bizarre read but it’s fascinating how, unlike other musicologist and scholars, Einstein speaks about Mozart as an individual and less like a freak-of-nature/prodigy/genius (that he invariably was).

Einstein is probably the first author that puts the two-and-two together, building Mozart as man versus a machine and not portraying him as an inanimate object. That and Einstein’s witty repartee on Mozart’s life, at times, is rather comical.

Now, I KNOW that Einstein is no music scholar, duh, but I respect Einstein for his literary intellect and knowledge, he goes far beyond what I feel other scholars accomplish.

Maybe it’s because he adds his own opinions, maybe that’s why I like his writing on this particular subject matter. I know all too well how scholarly authors are taught (beaten and bludgeoned seems more appropriate) that their opinions are nothing more than a hypothesis sans a scientific data and have no business in scholarly writing.

Regardless, I found this little tid-bit in Einstein’s book rather refreshing and wanted to share it with everyone.

Here’s the original, “Thus in a deeper sense it makes no difference exactly what dramas he knew, since a genius of such caliber gains both stimulus and experience even from mediocre or poor plays.”

Einstein, at this point, is discussing Mozart’s fascination with drama and plays, previously referring to Mozart’s affinity for Shakespeare.

Mozart attended many of these plays on a regular basis as a child with both his father and sister. What is so compelling is how Einstein says, “…gains both stimulus and experience even from mediocre or poor plays.”

Even though Einstein is saying that a GENIUS would find inspiration in the mediocre or poor performances around them, he isn’t saying ONLY a genius. I find this to ring true even for those who don’t bare the crippling label.

It’s true though, we ARE inspired by both the good and the bad. And, you know what, if you take a moment to step back and reflect, you’re more likely to be inspired by the mediocre performances than the good ones.

If we all had this capability, to look passed the mediocre performance and get past the mistakes, then our own self-worth and creative output would be of a more pure and connected nature.

Maybe, though, if we continually accept mediocrity we would have never been able to reach new musical plains that have pushed the bounds of performance.

I don’t think Einstein is saying that, nor am I going to press the subject. However, I think many of us have such high expectations that we lose site of our greater purpose as musicians.

We can’t see the art if we’re always looking for the mistakes.

Ah, what do I know, I’m sick.

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One response to “Okay Einstein, You Have a Point.

  1. I totally agree. Many people are so critical of themselves and others that when it comes to enjoying the music…they don’t and it shows. Music is the life that we breathe into it and to suffocate it with over-criticism is not only annoying but unnecessary.

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