Friday, August 17, 2007

Sweet Narcissism

It's as though I have never been blogging.

Why did I think this thing would be about anyone but me?

How did I never recognize this before? Why now?

I am not the most prolific blogger. I tend to vanish. I usually have a good reason at the time I stop - work and life and all that.

But there's also these nagging question - who's my audience? What am I looking for?

And sometimes I stop and ask myself - what am I doing with this blog? Why?

I know these are stupid questions. But I cannot stop asking them.

But now I believe I have the answer to what I'm doing here. It's the answer I have been dreading to accept since I began writing - I want to be known.

What's that you say? How can an anonymous writer want to be known? Well, that will change.

I would also like to distinguish wanting to be known for wanting to be famous, or wanting to be an authority. I want this to be another way to talk about things that interest me, the upshot being that what interests me interests others, and I get to hear from them.

The one thing I've always like about blogging is the communities that form, and the ideas that get exchanged in those communities, and how what you write helps to determine the communities that emerge.

This is absolutely nothing new to anyone, but for a long time, I have been at cross-purposes at this blog, trying to deny the personal side of blogging for something more, shall we say, objective.

But then I went back and read what I've written here. And I realised something. They're all personal. Even the ones that weren't meant to be.

And I suddenly feel myself inside that little box, looking for the way out. And then I remember what Rorty and Wittgenstein told me once in a really, really boring dream, and I give up looking, and I go back to reading Either/Or (you know which part I'm referring to).

So this is me giving up.

***

We bought a piano in January. I had not played the piano in nearly two years. This was due to the fact that the piano I used to practice on, one at a local church, was no longer local.

So the first time I sat down to play, I was quite good. Indeed, I felt as though I had never stopped playing.

You know, the body has this wonderful way of picking you up and letting you play well when you haven't played for a while, as though it doesn't quite know what's going on.

And then it remembers.

The next day, I was horrible. I remained that way for months.

But I got better, and I got to point where I could say I was better than I have ever been, and I stayed that way. My diet consists mainly of Bach and Beethoven, and I have one of those foolish plans to learn both books of Das wohltemperirte Clavier and all 32 of Beethoven's piano Sonatas.

***

Despite the fact that I have a music degree, and I have been paid to be a musician, I am really an amateur.

The instrument that got me in, the tuba, has long been abandoned, although it was the only instrument which I could say, until perhaps a few months ago, that I had some kind of control over.

On the tuba, there was a certain freedom, a bit of facility, like the point where you're learning a foreign language and you stop translating - you just respond in the language, and you don't think about what you're saying. This was nice back in the day, but I don't play the tuba anymore.

However, sometimes, this happens to me while I'm playing the piano. I'll be playing something like the 19th Fugue from the first book of Das wohltemperirte Clavier, and suddenly, I can play the damn thing. I can make one voice sound a bit heavier, and I can phrase.

Do you know how nice it is to hear something in your head, and then begin to hear it on the outside? It is everything.

Indeed, it happened today. After I wrote everything above this sentence.

So perhaps, as an amateur, if I can't have an audience to hear me play, perhaps the audience who reads my writing will help me become a better musician. I think that's what I meant about being known. Being held accountable, and being accounted for.

3 comments:

eusebius said...

Nice post, Otto. It really resonates with me. I have been playing piano forever and I have a master's degree in performance, but I still feel like an amateur most of the time .. and I think that is a good thing. Keep playing and going for that experience! I know what you mean about blogging vs. life, too. I'd better update the damn blog :)

absurdity miner said...

"Do you know how nice it is to hear something in your head, and then begin to hear it on the outside? It is everything."

What a great way to describe that feeling! I'm eager to read more of your writing, and hear your playing too!

Otto van Karajanstein said...

Thank you!

I hope I didn't sound as though being an amateur was a bad thing.

I always struggle with my I'm blogging in the first place. I think I understand why now - so people like you come out and we can have a conversation about something we have in common.

It's nice.