You know what it feels like?
Handing Lawrence Olivier, or any brilliant actor, the Academy Award for “Best Original Screenplay.” Or calling a brilliant new actor “the next Rod Serling.” No, they’re the next Jack Lemmon or Meryl Streep. (I spoke too broadly before when I said someone like that is “not the next anybody.”)
Sometimes people on the street may confuse the two, complimenting an actor on the words chosen for a given character. But for people within the industry or very close to it, or for someone like Roger Ebert, to confuse the two is inconceivable.
And yet critics and others that should have a far better understanding of the difference between Lawrence Olivier and Rod Serling make similar statements in the world of music. Like Charles Babbage, “I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke” such a statement.
How can someone or anyone really in any position in the classical music industry confuse Olivier and Serling? How much of this type of thing is correlated causally with the general re-creative cast of classical music for the past century and a half? In any art, both such skills are required; after all, no one would even remember who Shakespeare was if there didn’t exist people who could make his words come across naturally. How can an insider to any art not appreciate the complex foundation underlying any artistic performance on such a basic level?
In a way, I think writing is almost a cheater’s way to approach music. To be able to pull other people’s ideas on and off like clothing and inhabit them as if they were natural to you — and especially to do this when on a time constraint or when one is being recorded — is hellishly difficult. Put plainly, I can’t do it. I never could do it well. And I’ve realized that the more I write, the less I am able to do it. Even for pieces of music that I could once play decently, I’ve lost the ability to keep my head in the space needed to stick with their dots and make that music rest naturally in my fingers. It may be that confusing actors for screenwriters strikes me as so greatly peculiar only because it pretty much renders me musically invisible, especially since I have begun to lose whatever musical “acting ability” I once had.