not exactly an outsider

Eileen and I finished sorting and filing music in the choir room yesterday. It was quite a relief. I went to the organ area and checked for stuff I might be leaving behind. I believe my replacement begins this weekend, so it’s nice to gather up everything I’m planning to take with me and get out of the way as much as possible. I found some Bach that I definitely wanted. I also brought home my harpsichord toolkit and a gong.

Now all that’s left to bring home is my harpsichord and my marimba.

I celebrated with a real gin martini (and several more drinks) and put a few more items on my Friday night pizza.

Earlier I had a good meeting with my therapist. I found myself struggling to come up with a clear short description of the book Gods before Men. This is ironic because I have read it twice and Kunzru’s ideas are having an impact on me.

I’m referring to more than just that book. I plan to read all his novels but I’m also working my way through his 2020 podcast season of Into the Zone and following him on Twitter. It’s hard to define my attraction but I am enjoying learning about his take on many subjects.

I chatted with Dr. Birky (my therapist) about being an outsider. This is not the first time I have talked to him about this idea.

It occurred to me this morning that so far in his book, The Outsider, Colin Wilson has not used a musician as an example of an outsider. The section I read this morning was about Van Gogh. Previously he has used characters in fiction by Hemingway, Sartre, H. G. Wells, Camus and other real life people like T. E. Lawrence. Wilson was writing in the 50s and his thinking about this stuff would probably be different if he was writing in this century.

Either way, what’s important to me is not his ideas about being an outsider but my own evolving notion. Maybe “outsider” is the wrong word. But there is a pattern in my life and the life of my Father and his Father of not quite fitting in or meeting expectations of our chosen fields.

In my own case I feel like this stance has a strong redemptive side. I am a sort of outsider because the better colleagues and friends perceive me the less likely they are to invite me into their lives and circles. This feels redemptive because I’m pretty certain they (and I ) would benefit. But I need the invitation before this would be appropriate.

Plus I definitely do not see myself as an outsider in the arts.

I am drawn to beauty especially in music, poetry, and ideas. But, my experience has been that people in these areas usually have a prior criterion before granting credibility. This criterion boils down to fitting in and often, in my case, appearance.

I find this hilarious. In the age of the internet, I still have tons of access not only to works of art but information and discussion about them. This is despite not approaching my life work in a way that is obvious and acceptable to many if not most others who share my interests.

My eclecticism probably works against me. But of course it’s as aspect of myself that I value and enjoy. When I was young someone cautioned me about being a “jack of all trades and master of none.” Thankfully I didn’t take this little bit of advice. I think a good solid intellectual curiosity combined with an interest in craft and analysis has served me pretty well up this point. I’m certainly not a “jack of all trades,” but I do have a wide range of tastes and interests, often wider than other people I have met who also like music, poetry, and ideas.

If this isn’t correct, it is at least the way it seems to me. In addition I find that when humans are excluded from inner circles of art something in me questions it. I think this is because when I find art (music, poetry, and the like) successful and most beautiful there is a basic connection to what it means for anyone to be a human.

This is what I like Christopher Small’s concept of musicking: music as a verb which incudes many human activities that contribute to it.

So it doesn’t exactly feel like being an outsider when I find the things that give my life meaning are basically inclusive instead of exclusive. In fact it feels redemptive and rewarding.

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