Saturday, August 30, 2014

Path-altering Songs

I've been fascinated by the Zen belief that most important decisions are to be made within 7 breaths. Of course this rich historical Philosophy is not urging us to rush our decisions. Rather, what it contends is that our first reaction to important decisions, which happen in 7 breaths, are usually the ones that we make and spend the rest of our long decision process for convincing ourselves of. This is not some magic happening in our brains, or attributing some metaphysical importance to our instincts. The decision that we make in the first seven breaths are actually the manifestation of our long time thoughts that have been "boiling" for a long time. 

What I have experienced in the last few years is that songs or everything related to songs are excellent facilitators of becoming aware of such decisions that we have made but not were aware of. When I think of few important decisions I've taken in the last few years are all associated with a song that made everything clear all of a sudden.

I decided to become a vegetarian (ultimately a vegan) after listening to Meat is Murder by The Smiths for the first time, one late summer night at our Levent apartment:



Heifer whines could be human cries
closer comes the screaming knife
this beautiful creature must die
this beautiful creature must die
a death for no reason
and death for no reason is MURDER

I decided that I wanted to live my life with someone worth living it with, and I had to work for it by listening to First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes one late summer afternoon by the lake in Berlin:



So if you want to be with me
With these things there’s no telling
We just have to wait and see
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck
Than waiting to win the lottery
Besides maybe this time is different
I mean I really think you like me

I decided that I have to let my ego go to enjoy my relationship with my wife after I listened to Kommst du mit in den Alltag by Jetzt! (this is a almost as good Blumfeld version):



Death to the consequences,
Long live tenderness!

I have decided to value fairnesss and kindness in all my relations after listening to I Know It's Over by The Smiths (this is a painfully good Jeff Buckley version):



It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind

Finally, I've come to accept my deamons as a developer and product architect after reading these words by my long-time prophet Lou Reed, poetic but not in a song form:

“It simply requires a very secure ego to allow yourself to be loved for what you do rather than who you are, and an even larger one to realize you are what you do. The singer has a soul but feels he isn’t loved off stage. Or, perhaps worse, feels he shines only on stage and off is wilted, a shell as common as the garden gardenia. But we are all common as snowflakes, aren’t we?”

(source: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/lou-reed-gardenia-and-snowflake)

I felt I had to write these feelings down after reading about a great interpretation of Wittgenstein's work in the Prospect Magazine:

“People nowadays,” Wittgenstein writes in Culture and Value, “think that scientists exist to instruct them, poets, musicians, etc. to give them pleasure. The idea that these have something to teach them-that does not occur to them.”

(source: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/regulars/ray-monk-wittgenstein )
   

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