Oh my God, why did I even think this was a good idea?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s hardly an artist whose life is so full of particularities to talk about, it’s just, oh man, Satie is in a different sphere and I’m just afraid my article won’t make him justice. But hey, “fortune favors the bold” so I’ll give it a try.
What I was looking for and what I found
If you’ve been reading my Music Crisis section you know it’s really about solving a very personal problem: music fatigue. When I find something I love, something that will make my brain produce happy chemicals, I’ll listen to it obsessively until I kinda “waste it”. In reality, it never does waste since it’s always going to be a source of good memories, and revisiting it will be rewarding, just not that often.
So this puts me again in the tiring and often inconvenient task of having to find something new. See, now that I decided to talk about Satie I’ll dare to say the following: some especially unhappy people will likely develop obsessive tendencies toward topics that trigger valuable moments of happiness. Satie was a rather unhappy genius, who treasured food and drink like few other things; he would spend all his money inviting his friends to dinner, as that procured him some happy moments among the very unhappy years of his life. Me, I listen to music, I discover music and find things that touch deep regions of my mind and soul: some of these regions store pain, others store violence, hope, beauty, and some host rather unknown things that I’d like to explore even if I can’t put my finger on them.
Oftentimes, I don’t know what I was looking for until I find it, hence in a more general sense, I’m looking to feel something as I find life very boring typically. When I found Satie, I realized what I was looking for was rest, putting my mind at rest and allowing myself to feel complex things but in a simpler manner. I know, LOL.
Satie’s music does that, and of course, I’m listening to it as I write this (I always listen to the music I’m writing about, it’s yet another way to experience it). Satie is a pioneer of minimalism, this makes his compositions magical and relatively easy to listen to; he seriously intended to innovate and step away from the Romanticism of the 19th century, and create a sort of poetry with this piano, along with other interesting concepts like “Furniture Music” which we would know today as “ambient” music.
Through the minimalist eyes and hands of Erik Satie, I also come to be acquainted with some of the most marvelous music I’ve ever listened to (besides Satie’s own):
- Ludovico Einaudi
- Phillip Glass
- Yann Tiersen
are just a few names that come to mind, albeit unforgettable names I treasure in the wing of my heart that stores beauty.
Watch this if possible
This short video I posted is a trailer to the “Satiesfictions: Promenades with Erik Satie” documentary.
Now there’s a lot on Satie, being an eccentric and talented character with much influence in music history, I’ve already targeted a couple books where much of his personal journals and comments from contemporaries are captured. But this documentary, besides tackling the daunting task of informing us about the man’s life and personality, does it in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and very much dignifying of the person he was, which is going further than the artistic aspect most would focus on.
Now I didn’t use the word “daunting” lightly here, Erik Satie was a rather mysterious man, not easy to understand. You can feel it in his music, you can really feel it; this was a man who dealt with much distress as it came to his own existence and purpose, a man who reached out for a reality deeper and brighter than the one the society of his time presented to him. In doing so, he managed to reach us generations later, while like many unique geniuses, most people of his time failed to see the treasure before their very eyes. Or maybe they where just a painful ingredient to completing the full picture of a man who, by knowing himself deeply isolated and misunderstood, decided to build a monument to his own genius through his work, even if only he would see it and understand it for what it was.
Hello, I’m picking this up after quite a few days from the first publication, and I’ve been wondering what exactly I’d like to communicate in this article, if don’t give it a scope it may extend forever because the very nature of its subject is infinite; so I believe the first part of this post introduces quite well my concern about the activity of thinking, and how important it is that we engage in creating new ideas and concepts intentionally.
The motivation behind writing about this is really simple: I’d like to be the person who starts conversations, who asks questions, and proposes topics that will stimulate others to think. Now, this might actually sound easier than it is; if you read my last article, you will find that my point of view is that most people believe they’re thinking, while they’re really just reacting, and there’s a world of difference between the two.
A lot of what we do on a daily basis is the product of learning, a blend of experience and knowledge, both imposed on us by the official education programs and also chosen willingly according to our circumstances and interests. I don’t believe that choosing between “A” or “B” by digging into our memory or past experience is equal to thinking, countless experiments on conditioning show rats also do this, and you haven’t seen a rat write a book or create a new non-fossil fuel, just to provide a bit of a hyperbolic contrast.
The Age of Data
I said at the end of my previous article that I believe conditions for humans are way better in this day and age in general than in those of past centuries, but somehow that doesn’t seem to reflect in the average individual’s potential. This is something that haunts me as I’m a strong believer and promoter of the liberation of human potential; but the thing is, what makes the individual stronger, tends to make the externally-imposed organization unreliable and unpredictable. This is to say, individuals concerned with developing their capabilities consistently are a threat to Status Quo; if you just think about how we’re currently organized as a system, people who spend the most part of their lives working, sleeping, and consuming data in a monitor for fun/entertainment are a sort of “gloomy ideal” of a human being, as they keep the machine in motion.
And don’t get me wrong, tour my blog and see that I’m a consumer of such goodies myself, I love playing games, I use my cell phone to search for art, I read other bloggers from time to time, and so on. If there’s the capability of accessing this wealth of information and having a good time with your digital gadgets, why not?
But let me ask you something: is this a part of your life that you enjoy daily, or is this basically your entire life?
If the honest answer is the second one and it causes you discomfort, I want to say it without any type of judgment, I want you to keep reading this section of my blog, I want you to be on my team because you’ve been held captive and you have enough guts to acknowledge it and seek freedom. See, people are meant for so much more; even if you’re consuming this content, this is raw, difficult-to-digest stuff; this is not meant to be viral, what I write is for people who are looking for more from this life than just cheap crap served to the masses by media, like feeding pigs. I’m not talking about funny memes and nice stuff that makes us laugh, those are part of keeping things human, keeping sanity, I’m talking about toxic ideology, propaganda, and artificial needs imposed on us.
I’m not mad at consumers, I’m mad at very smart and arrogant people who feel they get to idiotize a whole generation and get away with it, and this is something I aim to fight.
A Historic Tension for Compliance
I gave up the idea of making these couple of articles a perfect “manifesto” of my own posture concerning society because there are too many black holes, and knowledge gaps and simply because I believe shaping our own worldview is a constant effort that requires openness to change and, of course, to admit your own ignorance and mistakes.
But that doesn’t subtract from the effort, as a matter of fact, I believe it dignifies it. You see, I will not comply with the twisted “new-internet-ethics” of “cancellation” and people who think they have the right to crucify you by finding that little post, tweet, interview, etc in which you said “x” and “y” and that makes you worthy of punishment. This is immature bullshit, and I believe is just another emanation of a society that’s descending more and more rapidly into a collection of angry mobs and mindless collectives. Individuals change, we all change, individuals think, individuals learn things, experience new things, and then based on that, they add to their understanding of things around them. Do not submit yourself to that type of bullshit.
What does it all have to do with thinking? Why so emotional, man?
Because everything that I am antagonizes the modern-day deception and massification of “thought”. And this is not new, manipulation of masses is probably as old as the first civilizations that attained some sort of “modern central government”, I mean think about it, how do you achieve real population control? How do you take over 5000 individuals (thinking about a hypothetical, very small, ancient society), manage to put them to work on the same objective, and embrace a set of beliefs? You really need to work on it, need to work on a set of ideas that by observation of the culture surrounding you, you understand can potentially provide a common framework that’s relatively easy to adopt by a large number of people. It doesn’t matter not that all of them are on board, once the largest part is brought to compliance, most of the non-convinced ones will simply follow because taking their stance now is going against the flow, and that doesn’t typically end up well; in previous ages, those “deviants” from generally accepted culture ended up as outcasts of some type if they were not strong to cause trouble, and executed if they were actually capable to bring others along with them against the prevailing order.
Welcome to “Humanity Organized to Accomplish Civilization – 101”. It’s been, of course, a lot better in some stages of history than in others; the more authoritarian the leaders and the more compliant the masses, the worse it gets. It’s not the same to be, for example, a hippie in the U.S 70’s rebelling against war in Vietnam as being a Cathar in medieval France; two types of rebels with significantly disparate amounts of risk both in quantity and quality.
And, this is where I’m trying to get at: I’m old enough to understand certain things won’t really change, and work with them (this is the type of thing that make you lose followers, f.y.i):
- Percentually, there are a lot more compliant, than non-compliant people in any human system that’s relatively stable. This should be obvious.
- A lot of these compliant people are not very smart, while fewer others are.
- The non-smart ones, behave most of the time as animals would: stimuli – response. They won’t even entertain thoughts that question their reality, the adequateness of the system or set of principles they live by, etc. This is your core mass.
- The smarter ones may have their doubts, and their moments of questioning, but by all means, they also have a desire to function within society and end up adopting culture out of necessity and sometimes out of fear.
- Then we have the deviants (hi I’m Josué, nice to meet you): The deviants are interesting because they end up leading others or being eliminated/neutralized.
- A deviant analyzes a lot, and is far more conscious of their identity, individuality, and expectations.
- A deviant is also very analytical of the society and culture surrounding them.
- They will take actions based on these analyses, as their very nature doesn’t allow them to become a compliant person, at least not for long.
- The actions they chose to deal with their nonconformity, will determine the impact and fate of this person in their culture. There are many variants and I will not dare try to explore them all, but let me mention some I believe are interesting:
- They’re shunned by those immediately around them, and, not able to withstand it, seek comfort in self-destruction, they blame themselves for not being acceptable.
- They engage in a form of resistance, whether that be membership in a countercultural group or militancy in such a movement ranging from expressing themselves through the arts to vandalism or terrorism (using these words as per our mainstream interpretation of them).
- They engage in an extremely hard personal crusade to be the one who calls the shots and end up becoming the oppressor. Yes, deviants are the ones that end up subduing people, because that’s where their quest for power takes them. That doesn’t mean everyone in power has these attributes, some have inherited privileges and are educated by their deviant parents to be the continuation of the story, no way around it; and this is as shitty as it gets, I do believe it’s better to be ruled by a natural deviant than by a weak successor who’s really just a weak compliant sheep holding power by inheritance; this is a major flaw and modern leaders should avoid it, it’s far too primitive and eventually clouds the achievements of the deviant who attained power by merit.
- Some, get to infiltrate the smart people (mainly deviants, but also smart-compliant people) through the dissemination of their thoughts and become thinkers and thought leaders; many of these have been persecuted, incarcerated, and put to death (we call them “intellectuals”), depending on a mixture of their circumstances, their decisions and I guess, chance. There’s a random element to things, as hard as it is to admit it.
Do you think this is grim and negative? Read Machiavelli.
No matter how charismatic, no matter how loved, no matter the image of justice they may show you, leaders are deviants. Compliant mass follows deviants, and deviants are people capable of taking the hard decisions, sometimes for the greater good but most of the time for their own continuation in power or benefit. I don’t think there’s a way around it, there’s a subtle difference between a psychopath and a natural leader, and some of the worst things in human history happen when both these traits are developed in a single person with a lot of supporters.
Kinda Political, isn’t it?
But even if you swear you’ll never get yourself into a political discussion or even less, a political occupation this concerns you, and it’s highly related to the amount of thinking you do versus the amount of ideological vomit you spit out given an opportunity to engage in discussion.
See, here comes my positive thinking in the midst of these harsh realities expressed: I do believe even the people in the core mass are capable of choosing well, given the right leader with the right narrative effectively engages them, I believe people can follow a course of action that can bring about a more peaceful, relatively just society. But this depends largely, on whether or not the smart people (deviants first, and pulled by them, the smart-compliant) are willing to step up and develop their role in their own time and culture.
If you feel this sounds like a conclusion, it is, unfortunately. It also means there will be a part 3 of this article, and this time I promise this will be the last one, or at least it will be the last publication of the same title, the topic will always be around this section of the blog, evidently. The last part will deal with what I believe can be done by deviants to help shape a society that’s the most balanced and acceptable for the most people; beware of utopias, it will always be unjust, masses will always be more in number and will be easy to fool, real leaders will always be narcissistic, some will be better narcissists than others and only people who are capable to think outside their own culture can effectively influence that these forces remain in check. Don’t despise the masses, they’re the very object of dispute between thoughtful, positive leaders and psychopathic megalomaniacs.
The implications are huge, whether you care about power dynamics or not, since being a free thinker in a culture that’s extremely homogeneous and effectively indoctrinated can be a living hell.
How often do you think you think?
Don’t worry, the whole article is not gonna be some stupid tongue twister, my aim is, as a matter of fact, that the article won’t be stupid at all, but all the opposite.
So it’s a serious question, I’d like to invite you to stop for a moment and let it sink in, try to come up with an answer.
Now, perhaps this is not you, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of people presented with this question wouldn’t hesitate much in saying: “well, every day, I think every day at every hour, it’s just something I have to do”, and I believe 90% of the people would be wrong.
Yes, it is true, that human beings are conscious and self-aware; moreover, we’re capable of abstraction and pondering ideas and concepts that don’t necessarily have an immediate material manifestation. By exercising these capabilities daily, we’re able to work, obtain what we need, and make decisions; but this is not the kind of “thinking” I’m asking about.
Since I wouldn’t like to start a language controversy over the semantics of the word “thought”, I will define what it is for me, and let’s just use it as a convention throughout the articles in this new section so that we avoid getting into the weeds with petty discussions. To think is to intentionally engage in the construction of an idea or concept, through the resolution of one or several problems or inquiries.
Now the word “construction” is key here because thinking is not the same as learning and not the same as deciding or acting. Thinking is creative, it deals with asking questions and seeking to resolve the problems posed by those questions, thus creating something new; that something new could range from something like forming a personal opinion about a subject, or resolving a lack of understanding you had concerning a specific topic by arriving at your own conclusions (not merely adopting those of others as communicated through books or media), up to actually creating a more complex project, idea or invention as the result of the consecutive resolution of problems or inquiries.
Why is this important?
I hope you’re asking yourself this question, it means you’re thinking. So to avoid taking that privilege away from you, I will not answer this question for you, rather, I will tell you some of my own thoughts about the subject:
- Kids are more likely to think frequently than adults: There’s a quality in kids which naturally makes them think frequently, a rather incomplete picture of life and the world. We’ve all been kids and we’ve all been exposed to the fact others are making decisions for us, telling us what’s right and wrong; when we’re little kids that typically leads to that annoying “why” stage where we need an explanation for everything, and once given, the new statement just leads to more questions and the cycle repeats. When we’re growing up and are pre-teens or teens that leads to what adults typically call “rebellion”; so it’s a deeper questioning of our surroundings, of our parents who become the cause of much distress and disagreement, yet remain to be the people providing stability and opportunity (terrible exceptions exist, I’m talking about how things should be); teens feel frustrated and sometimes deceived, the world is not as they parents told them and their body chemistry push them to discover it by themselves. Both kids and teens have in common that they’re aware they don’t have the full picture, they haven’t experienced living by their own means and fully being responsible for their needs and actions and they have the figure of adults who somehow seem to shelter them and provide them the knowledge they need (kids) or hide things from them and limit their wild exploration (teens), I believe teens from healthy families can actually experience a blend of the two since I’m not implying a teen would always hate their parents, they’re just naturally inclined to defy and question what’s established.
- Why are adults gradually losing their habit of thinking?: I’m formulating this as a question on purpose, I don’t claim to have the full answer, but I do believe this to be true, and increasingly in this day and age. It’s difficult not to incur in “common places” while analyzing this, and summon concepts such as “the system” but take it with a grain of salt if you must; I do believe much of the industrial and technological age mankind is living in detachment from the natural challenges of our species. We’re educated to be a part of an order that’s externally imposed, somehow already figured out by our ancestors and illuminated bringers of civilization, people who evolved from tribal and barbaric times of unheard cruelty, health issues, lack of opportunity, and hardships unthinkable to the typical smartphone-bearer of our time, to bring forth a brave new world of cities, electricity, medicine, transportation, human rights and a life which, while not without its own challenges, can be demonstrated to be more comfortable and welcoming to the human race than in previous centuries. If you think this is sarcasm, you’re wrong, it’s not (ok some parts are just mocking the idealistic depiction presented in the mainstream, but for the most part there’s data that demonstrates the average human is doing a lot better!). That’s the interesting part, if I take a look at the historical account of what previous centuries looked like for humans, I’m grateful to be born in 1986 from a working-class family, in most past ages that condition would have doomed me to early death or having to take a way more violent path to achieve something in my life.
- But you’re not answering the previous bullet point!: I told you I don’t claim to have the full answer, but here’s an attempt: if we enter adulthood with a relatively decent job, or career and are able to make a relatively decent standard of living by ourselves it’s indeed possible that a false realization of “completeness” or at least being close to getting the “full picture” of things will come rather early to us. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m talking about a “Maslow pyramid” having its foundations prebuilt for a lot of people, and by no means am I saying this will be enough, as a matter of fact, the price to pay for this is an unnatural void and anxiety that begins to cause social phenomena unseen before the advent of this more comfortable age of mankind. The fact that there are places in the world in which people still gather and hunt their food, don’t have access to what we consider “basic utilities” and that the degree of “civilization” we’re talking about here is not entirely universal yet, allows for contrasting and deriving certain concepts; like that of a system. We tend to judge such populations and villages and societies as primitive, disorganized, and backward, and if we look at it through the lens of what our education programs teach us, they are. But each of these individuals in a village is key to the survival of the group and they know themselves to be; failure to spot a predator, to remove poisonous elements from the food or crops will do huge damage to the whole group. The same cannot be said in the huge city, where adding or removing an individual seems of no consequence, pointless.
- You’re still not answering and now started talking about civilization: I’m sorry, bear with me and it will come together. Back to losing the habit of thinking and its relationship to adulthood: once you feel you got the basics right, you’re able to provide for yourself and maybe even a family, you’re safe in your job, have a place to rest and no immediate threats to your life (that you’re aware of), it’s easy to let your guard down; it seems that somehow this is life and it’s kind of OK no need to further complicate things. And by the way, I think this can happen in our industrial/technological society as much as in the primitive one, let’s not idealize either!
Whereas we may have a false feeling of:
“I figured it out: study, get a job, advance in the job to get more shiny things, shiny things get me perks others don’t have “hurray me!”, maybe built a family (dogs possibly nowadays), maybe build a business (entrepreneurial types), maybe grow old and retire in comfort, maybe I don’t even think that much in any of this shit and just follow the script…”
Maybe in the village, they have something like:
“It is the way the elders taught us: nature will provide the hints and opportunities, we need to seize them. We need to read the rain, the sky, and the forest and we will be prepared, we need to respect the forces of nature, the prey and predator equally and be like the tree that takes from the earth what it needs and provides fruit and shelter to the other beings in exchange. This is what I need to teach my children, we need to breed children who understand these things, and the people will continue to inhabit this land that should be our blanket when we join our ancestors”.
But the truth is, neither the city person nor the village person is entirely right; there are more things, and when you prioritize your anxiety for understanding and completing the picture, over that inner feeling screaming at you that there are missing parts of the puzzle, that’s where you begin to think less and less frequently.
An artificial conclusion
I must, at this stage finish this post, simply because I’m tired and need to refresh before continuing with this topic. So this is an artificial conclusion for the time being, but I want to leave you with an idea: “the more is resolved on our behalf, the less we’re challenged with immediate, tangible problems, and the more our problems and concerns become of a cultural nature (borrowing from Maslow, at the top of the pyramid are aesthetic needs, self-image needs, transcendence needs and those needs that are more concerned with meaning other than with survival, security or quality of life), the less we individually develop our own ideas”.
Now, as I said before, I think this age of advancement and wider access to basic services and solving basic needs is a great place to be, but I don’t see that most humans who are in this position are living up to the possibilities that such a privilege should provide. Why is this? Why is it that instead of becoming more advanced thinkers, we’re neglecting thought and replacing it with something else?
I’ll leave this for you to think about, if you do, I would have accomplished a lot today and I will be very comfortable in my current pyramid position.