Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Class, Discipline, Confidence

So, am I correct about this, that classical discipline can be summarized as the practice of restraint all across the board? Tricky, this thing called Classical. The objective seems to be to "tame the beast", but by teaching us to be indifferent to the things we (think we) love and hate--in other words, the objective seems to me it's to become opinionless (numb) and learn to accept everything, to be an empty vessel for any and all experiences as if you're better off not connecting at all to your physical sensations except to focus on the task at hand, the discipline itself. I don't know if I like this as a philosophy to be applied to human relationships and existence. Something in me, perhaps my nature, cries out. I had to run because they were trying to make me eat peas, and think I like peas. I understand it's a ritual that's meant to teach moral behavior about self-restraint (among other things), but it's not how I feel everyone should have to live, and if they don't, they shouldn't have to be seen as "common"--and yet this is how I think caste system is born. All it takes is a feeling of superiority to reign without anyone protesting against the notion that some are better than others because they somehow have more class. What is class?

In ballet, we learn to contort our legs to the point where our knees are unnaturally turned outward. In classical music, students are encouraged to learn pieces of music they don't like (music that goes against their nature or will?), in case they end up liking them as they learn them (which often happens). The mind might say no but the hands say yes (because the piece fits the hands and feel good to play): something like that. Such a discipline certainly helps expand our experience and taste which is a noble thing--however, it can also go overboard and limit people who'd rather play other pieces of music during their lifetime, and I also see people who often don't get the chance to do what they want because of strict adherence to rigid methodology. As you might have guessed, I like to steer my life as I see it, and like to tailor my lessons to what I'm there to (and what I pay to) learn. In the end, my body was made for certain instruments over others, and I'm glad I chose to split from the rigidity I was no longer enjoying in exchange for freedom to listen to, perform and eventually write music I loved for no reason except I just really did.

For me, perfume should be pleasurable to wear and smell, and that "pleasure zone" might be a lot sweeter than what's considered appropriate, that being the opposite of gauche: classy. After all, classicism tells us no one should want to be common, and who wants to smell like someone of a lower class? But what if a high class smell wasn't really that good-smelling to you? Would you still wear it because it sends out a message about having class? How would you feel about applying for one job position and when asked what your goal was, you answered and they gave you the closest proximity to the opposite of what you wanted, just to teach you a valuable moral lesson? How would you feel if your music teacher turned a cold shoulder the day she realized you two had disimmilar tastes and she wanted to "encourage" you to want to strive (strife is of utmost importance) to be "better" or better yet, the "best"? It's easy to ostracize people without trying when you feel confident about having class and can use that confidence as a standard to measure others' worth or place in society by (winner VS loser--dualist). To feel confident shouldn't mean you CAN do something if you don't want to in the first place (can = good, can't = bad--again, this is dualist or comparative thinking, or black and white).

Incidentally, classical means it doesn't like change, so you get another kind of discipline besides the literal going against nature in physical practice thing: you may also inadvertantly learn to dislike (or feel foreign to) anyone who has opinions and feelings of their own (and different from yours which is correct), as these are seen as selfish, hateful ways of being, to rebel against "nature" which was never nature. Worse yet: having a mind of your own is seen as "common"! There's the crux of why many people don't dare rock the boat. We might have a long way to go before we can accept each other's ways but at least we're talking now.