Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SCI and the Upward Spiral

Whew! I just got back from a whirlwind weekend in Dubuque, attending my regional conference for Society of Composers, Int'l. Good drive, good time. I flew the last time I went, leaving Grand Rapids to puddle-jump over to Chi-town, then another short up-&-down to the cornfield that serves as the Dubuque airport. I spent as much time going through security, waiting on the plane, and transferring at airports as I would have on the road, so I decided to simply drive this time. I didn't have to rent a car, and I could take all the shit that I wanted. Anyway! I presented a paper while there ("Metaphor and Allegory in Song Lyric Construction"), and I heard TONS of great new music. It's so enervating to be in a crowd of people like that: all there for the same purpose, to share their newly-created works. There's no hassling, no infighting, to real sense of competition…something I rather like about composers, by the way. That lack of competitiveness. That's not to suggest that we DON'T compete (in composition contests, primarily), but overall I sense that composers lack the gene that makes performers so uptight about auditions & such. There just isn't a lot of cattiness amongst us. We're all very supportive of each other, with positive things to say about our collective creations, and at the end of the day we (speaking for all of us, I guess) all walk away with a sense of accomplishment. I know that I personally spoke with half-a-dozen or so composers whose music I really enjoyed, exchanging business cards and asking if I might acquire their works for additional performances. It's a real feel-good environment.

Which brings me to the upward spiral portion of our program. 'Cause, y'know, I'm sick to death of negativity. I read the news yesterday (oh, boy) about how we're all getting more & more divided, with more lashing out at others whose ideas don't mesh perfectly with our own. The author of the article suggested that, upon a time not so long ago, most of us wanted objectivity in our news reporting. These days, with 24-hour news the "norm," objectivity is out the window and what "sells" is that thing that panders to what we already believe. The Conservatism of FoxNews, the Liberalism of MSNBC, and Rush Limbaugh and Arianna Huffington and Glenn Beck and Chris Matthews…we've become a society of enraged talking heads (shouting heads?) with no chance for any sort of meeting-of-the-minds. Most of the time, we seem to be mindLESS, soldiering on, rank-&-file, adhering to whatever belief system is fed to us by those we already agree with.

*sighs* I'm just real tired of it. Trolling anonymously around various blogs, I happened upon a commenter who suggested that the middle of the road was a hell of a good place to "get run over." That really sums up what I view as the current social mindset, maybe not what we as individuals believe always, but the collective mob mentality that serves as our Culture right now: keep Left or keep Right, and anyone in the middle is like a possum in the headlights of traffic speeding recklessly from BOTH directions. But…isn't the middle where MOST of us live, MOST of the time? I'm no Ted Kennedy…but I'm no Ann Coulter either. I'm not Anne Murray…but I'm also not Opeth. See? Middle of the road. Doesn't mean I'm a fence-sitter…I have definite ideas, opinions, you know how it goes. But I'm fairly moderate, and really, aren't most of us? I can't give hard numbers - probably no one can, it's impossible to study - but I just get this sense that almost all of us are live-&-let-live middle-of-the-roaders. Heck, that's who gets the most attention in big elections, ain't it? "Middle America." Nobody goes up and preaches to the hard-core Libertarians in New Hampshire…what's the point? Same goes for easy-livin' potheads in sunny California. They're the extreme, and preachin' to the extreme only gets you so far.

Gah. *scratches head irritatedly* What I'm getting at is this: I'm tired of feeling like there's nothing but negativity and aggression in the world…in MY world. I don't need to be "Mr. Happy All The Time," and I also don't want to deny my own emotions…that way lies madness, no? What I want, instead, is to believe that I can drive out the demons of negativity and hostility…exorcise them, if you will. ("The power of Christ compels you!!!") I'm done trolling hate-fueled blogs, and I'm done cursing the slow motherfucker in the passing lane…these things are unimportant to my life. I'll focus on what IS important - family, friends, the sunny damn day out my window right now - and maybe that glow of positivity will radiate outward, a sort of goofy, New-Agey pay-it-forward of good will. A virtuous circle, instead of the vicious one that threatens to surround us all.


Blogger Steph said...

I cut down on my news drastically when I went back to school, and it helped a lot. I still follow what's going on, but in a pretty cursory fashion. I'll be your seek-the-positive buddy. Especially since winter is coming and that always brings out the negative mopester demons around here.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Animal said...

Thanks. Now my mental image of "negative mopester demons" looks like a horde of Huckleberry Hounds!


1:11 PM  

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