Thursday, 25 November 2010

Frankfurt adventures or Why it makes sense to see your favourite band in Schopenhauer's resting place.

Musica est exercitium metaphysices occultum nescientis se philosophari animi.
(music is an unconscious exercise in metaphysics in which the mind does not know it is philosophizing)

Originally I thought I would just write a pretty basic review going “omg omg omg they played Martyr and Annabel Lee and River Styx and I danced so much”, but that just wouldn’t even remotely cover just how much these past few days have meant to me. I know I get obsessive about music, I know it’s alienating to some, but I also know that there’s a lot of people who know exactly what it feels like. And it happens that one of the first times I read something that really resonated with me, was when I first came across Schopenhauer’s metaphysics of music. It was one of the first times (I can’t say first time, because that would’ve been when I read George Steiner’s Errata) that my obsessive love/feelings for music were explained in a way that made sense to me. And so, I find it incredibly fitting that I get to see the band that does this to me like no other (apart from Shosty, obviously) in the city where Schopenhauer is buried.

Something that has occupied me for as long as I
can remember is the question of why I (and many other) experience music so much more intensely that any other art, what makes it different? What is it about sound that can somehow bring forth such intensity of emotion? Although I haven’t yet found an answer that I find completely satisfactory, Schopenhauer’s descriptions and explanations of the musical experience come close..ish. Because he acknowledges the fact (in my mind) that music is experienced more intensely than other arts, and he places it above other arts for precisely that reason. He tries to explain what makes music so different, but here his metaphysics come in and thereby also the impossibility of proving his theory right (which he actually admits). Still, I understand what he’s trying to say, and he has certainly been a massive influence on my thinking, and thereby on my life. Here’s some quotes that I like (all from the third part of The World as Will and Representation):

“[Music] stands quite apart from all the other [forms of art]. In it we do not recognize the copy, the repetition, of nay Idea of the inner nature of the world. Yet it is such a great and exceedingly fine art, its effect on man’s innermost nature is so powerful, and it is so completely and profoundly understood by him in his innermost being as an entirely universal language, whose distinctness surpasses even that of the world of perception itself, that in it we certainly have to look for more than that exercitium arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi [an unconscious exercise in arithmetic in which the mind does not know it is counting] which Leibniz took it to be.“

“[…] Where the aesthetic effect is the thing we have in mind, we must attribute to music a far more serious and profound significance that refers to the innermost being of the world and of our own self. […] That in some sense music must be related to the world as the depiction to the thing depicted, as the copy to the original, we can infer from the analogy with the remaining arts, to all of which this character is peculiar; from their effect on us, it can be inferred that that of music is on the whole of the same nature, only stronger, more rapid, more necessary and infallible. Further, its imitative reference to the world must be very profound, infinitely
true, and really striking since it is instantly understood by everyone […]”

“[..] Music does not express this or that particular and definite pleasure, this or that affliction, pain, sorrow, horror, gaiety, merriment or peace of mind, but joy, pain, sorrow, horror, gaiety, merriment, peace of mind the
mselves, to a certain extent in the abstract, their essential nature, without any accessories, and so also without the motives for them. Nevertheless, we understand them perfectly in this extracted quintessence. Hence it arises that our imagination is so easily stirred by music [...]."

And this is precisely why travelling to see a band you love is worth it (especially if that band is Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, obviously). Because it's an experience beyond any other. Hearing songs like Martyr, Annabel Lee (I cried, couldn't help it), Beat the Devil's Tattoo, Half State, Ain't No Easy Way, Shadow's Keeper, Rifles etc. that is exactly what life is about. The high of hearing an unexpected favourite song (MARTYR) live, the anticipation of hearing good oldies (Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll, Berlin etc etc) that you know will make you smile and dance, the feeling that you are a part of something important, that is what gigs can give you. And of course, the feeling of community, the enjoyment of seeing hundred other people singing and jumping and dancing along, the finding each other in your love for music. Is there anything more beautiful? I think not. After the gigs I had this urge to hug everyone, but I was smelly and dirty and so was everyone else so obviously I didn't. But I can honestly say that nothing makes me feel happier than having experiences like those two gigs in Frankfurt. And no, I will never stop posting about how much music means to me, and no, I will not stop talking about Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. But I do think it's necessary to end this post with some BRMC music (assuming you have heard the ones I've posted here already). Put on your headphones, turn the sound up and close your eyes.

Beat the Devil's Tattoo (live)


The Line




    I'm writing my thesis on Schopi (haha), and even though I've just started to get acquainted with his ideas, what he says about music was one of the first things that completely hit me.

    And BRMC is my fav fav band.

    So I guess what I'm syaing is "approved" hahaha :P

    And I'm glad you had such a great time! It's been 2 years since they last came and siiiiigh I miss them so much.

  2. Great ! It's nice to read another kind of review :) 3 of my friends went to these shows and, just like you, they loved every minute of them.
    I must admit that I didn't know that Schopenhauer had said that about music, but we talked about music in a literature class a couple of weeks ago & ended up saying the same kind of things..

    and well gosh it feels soo good to see that you're not the only one absolutely obsessed with music & bands!
    anyway have a good day ! :D

  3. Schopenhauer it is, then! Would love to read more of it ^_^