Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Secret to Happiness (?)

Subtitled: Enlightenment is overrated, and I can prove it.

There have been all sorts of studies indicating that Bach uses more different parts of your brain than other, "simpler" music.

What bothers me is: there's never been one study proving that using more parts of your brain makes you happier.

Enlightenment is overrated, and I can prove it. You're in a tiny village in Italy. You make cheese. Your father made cheese, his father made cheese, his father's father made cheese ... the tradition goes back 800 years. You make cheese. That's Scenario I. Scenario II is: you've been listening to so much Bach that the reawakened parts of your brain are telling you you'd rather be an interior decorator. You quit the cheese business. No one in your family will speak to you. Rumors circulate throughout the village.

In which of those scenarios are you happy?

Who is happier, the person who has aluminum siding on his home, or the master carpenter-architect-artisan who is nauseated whenever he sees a house with aluminum siding?

The secret (?), however, is if somehow the person with more developed taste can find an environment in which he or she is supported by human beings around him or her.

In certain historic communities, no changes to the exterior of a home may be changed without expressed written consent of the town leaders. In other, more rural areas, wood is so plentiful, as are carpenters who deal with it artistically. To even find someone who knew how to install aluminum siding would be difficult, and the result expensive.

A musician, therefore, could hypothetically find happiness, if he or she simply found a place to live and work where the people want and maybe even expect good music. He or she could also be the pioneer who inaugurates a musical tradition. But I doubt he or she will experience much happiness in that thankless process.