Life in a Faraday cage

A Faraday cage is a metallic room used to block out external electromagnetic interference. Named for some dead white guy, natch. Inside a Faraday cage, the outside world of wifi, cell towers, and radio doesn’t exist, and it’s completely electromagnetically quiet. A nontrivial amount of science is done inside of them.

Well, I seem to be needing a mental “Faraday cage” more and more as time goes on. The chatter and opinions of other people can be deafening to me, and the older I get the more I can’t stand the noise. This becomes a problem since music is (supposedly) about communication with others, and as I’ve already stated, I cannot stand the presence of others, and it’s getting worse with every passing year.

Again, I’m not sure how this will end up, but it is what it is. I like mental Faraday cages. They’re peaceful. 🙂

(I’m speaking metaphorically. If you think I’m actually wrapping my head in tinfoil, you’re very dumb.)

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The crap

I think a big part of the crap is that I’m just not that happy with other human beings as a whole. I can’t even say “recently,” because this has been a long, slow buildup of disgust, anger, and disbelief for some time. And let’s face it, music is communicative. It’s hard to want to do it when you really can’t stand people or being around them, and you are completely disgusted with almost all aspects of human nature.

I would still create music if I were the only human left on Earth — in some ways, it might be emotionally easier for me — but I have to admit, it’s very hard to want to do it when every time I look at a collection of human beings, I seem to see a troop of nasty, tiny-minded little chimpanzee wannabes who want nothing so much as to all pull on the same color jersey, define an enemy tribe, and forge out to dehumanize and visit violence upon them. And it truly is ground into us. Bred in, right at the DNA level. We won’t change anytime soon.

And no, I’m not talking about one particular kind of humans — of course nothing like you or your kind! Those other humans over there! (Irony, much?) All of them. Every goddamned one.

And I’m not talking about one particular event, either. Isn’t there always one? I’m talking every day. All the time.

This is another thing that’s been a long time in coming, since about the last decade or close to it. I’ve grown so repulsed by human nature that I really want nothing to do with it.

Therefore, why work so hard to achieve in a communicative art when I can’t think of any humans that I’d really want to communicate with, because I’m sick of their shit and even their presence has grown acutely painful to me?

I don’t know where this is heading. I hope it turns a corner at some point in my life, because I’ve only now reached the back nine, and I’d rather not spend the next couple decades in this universe with such a shitty opinion of those who are in it with me. But at the same time, a turd is a turd, and you can’t talk it into a diamond if it isn’t one.

I’ve just got a bit of thinking to do.

I think I know why.

I always say that I want to be in a good mood at the piano, that it’s a nice happy little island for me, and I don’t enjoy taking my crap to it. I’ve been quite crappy lately mood-wise, though. At the harp, I’m at too low a level to even expect myself to have Something To Say™ so I can just turn my head off and do arpeggios in various inversions and practice extremely low-level things that don’t require me to say anything or actually get something done. I’m just not in the mood for that right now. I don’t think at the moment I have anything that I’m interested in articulating through the piano, at least nothing positive, and again I hate sitting at it when things are shitty. It’s my happy island, and that’s how it’s going to stay. I just don’t have much happy at the moment.

First of the year

Dusty Strings Ravenna 34

We’ll see what happens.

This has been brewing for some time, and in retrospect, it’s been influencing me a lot regarding how much commitment I’ve been willing to give the classical genre when I know that there is just no way to make this work for me. I think it’s behind part of my hunting around for other instruments, my constant mulling over what kind of musician I am, what it means to even be a composer in a genre that barely acknowledges composers at all much less when they have the nerve to bring their tits with them into the studio, and as I said already, the way that the Haendel project sort of petered out at exactly the same time as I started contemplating the self-immolation of a male pseudonym under which to publish it.

You know, to give it a fair chance. Fair. Let that word sink in a little.

I don’t yet know what it’s going to be like to manage with the new limb instead of the old one, but … well, we’ll see.

BTW …

If you’re going to respond by informing me that the only reason for that 1.8% is because women like me decide not to write classical music, then you can go straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200. That isn’t what’s behind that 1.8% and you fucking well know it.

The end of the road

“Female composers account for only 1.8% of the works performed. When only looking at works from living composers, they account for 14.8%.”

Fuck you, classical music.

Really, we’re done.

This isn’t a sudden decision although it may look like one. And I imagine there are people out there who have read my blog who will jerk back in surprise to learn that I’m a woman. Yes, I am. A big part of the reason why I haven’t been that forthcoming about it is because:

  1. I know that my natural style of expression tends to read as male anyway. Well, it reads as “male” if you think I’m a man. If you know I’m a woman, then it reads as “mega-bitch.” (You’d have better chances if you were just nicer and more ladylike!)
  2. 1.8%. Or sorry, a whopping wonderful 14.8%. I’m so pathetically grateful! Stockholm Syndrome is so pink-n-sparkly.

Any woman composer who tells you that she hasn’t been kept up nights with the lead weight of this on her chest is lying to you. (No, not performers. Composers.) Should I publish my music under my own name? Should I use a male name?

1.8%, people. Yes, a male name helps a great deal. Genius, despite what we’d like to tell ourselves in our most pollyanna moments, is not always recognized for what it is.

But this is soul-destroying. This is like giving birth and being forced to tell your child that it must never tell anyone that you’re its mother.

I’m really and truly done defining myself as a classical musician. I’m also done worshiping male composers at this point, even the ones that I like. Even my favorite Georg Frideric. I’m really done. Yes, I like his music, but the last thing these (or any) dudes need is one more woman banging on about how very brilliant they are.

I’m done with classical music as a composer. I am now officially new age or folk. And this means that I finally have to bite the bullet and get myself that lever harp. Woman folk harpists have a lot more room for advancement in what is a far more niche culture, although I’m hardly giving up the piano. It’s too useful a tool. (Well, I also want to have more money in the bank before I grab myself a good-sized lever harp, so it may be a few months timewise.)

But I will go where I can make progress. Sorry, but I’m almost 50 and that means I’m done with this throwing myself on grenades bullshit. I will no longer be kept up nights agonizing over whether to tell anyone that I actually wrote the music that I actually wrote and what damage it will do to the music itself if I dare to get girl cooties on it. I have, as Ernest Hemingway called it, “one and only life,” and no one has the right to expect that I will waste it on things that cause me pain and keep me awake, as I’ve been for months if I’m at last — at last! — honest about it.

Least of all, me.

Again, this isn’t a sudden decision brought about by getting pissed at one link. This is the culmination of months of agonizing back-and-forth. I remember a long Soundcheck interview with Tori Amos — another classical refugee — where she explicitly stated that she knew and was told that she would be crippling her career if she wrote classical music since there was no room for women composers in that world. In fact, I think it’s been a big part of why the Haendel project sort of just … stopped after the third aria intro. It’s hard to fire up your enthusiasm for getting knocked up when you know you’ll have to warn your kid to tell everyone they’re not yours.

Well, being crippled sucks. I’m not crippling myself. I’m not living like that. I want to go to bed at night happy with the music I’ve written and at least somewhat confident that it will be judged on its merits.

1.8%. Holy fucking shit. (Oooh, but it’s a whopping 14.8% for living composers! Woo-eee! I’m fucking drowning in equality. Maybe in another century or two, we’ll reach 25%. I’m dizzy with the possibilities.)

I suppose it’s all because women just haven’t learned how to write music yet, the poor dim little dears. When they bring themselves up to men’s level, I’m sure the boys will be perfectly happy to welcome them into the club!

Or maybe it’s because I’m just such a huge mega-bitch and I’m not nice and ladylike enough about that fucking 1.8%. I suppose all women composers since the dawn of time have just naturally been horrible ball-busters, and all the men have been sweet, accommodating darlings.

BTW, if you want to witness a litany of asshole behavior, read a detailed biography of any male composer in history. It’s the inevitable, predictable difference between:

  • “Sure [MALE COMPOSER] was a raging asshole, but he’s still remembered and revered today because he was a genius.”
  • “Sure [FEMALE COMPOSER] was a genius, but she’s not remembered and revered today because she was a raging asshole.”

(Where “raging asshole” in the second case means either “didn’t respond to that 1.8% with a dough-faced snivel of resignation” or “once deviated from utter perfection where someone could see.”)

And don’t anybody dare try to tell me this doesn’t happen in precisely 100% of cases. It damned well does.

Fuck them, and fuck their club.