Our voice in what we listen to

I remember the mixtapes (actual 20th century tapes) that we crafted for that special someone. They were full of thought, of effort, of emotion, of anticipation, of love. A compilation is a sort of creation. It is not a list, it is more than that. It is a language. A pile of words placed in a particular order. Those words and no other. Those songs in that order and no other.

In quoting others, we cite ourselves.

Julio Cortazar, Around the day in 80 worlds

When we listen to music we are not only absorbing what another soul expressed some time ago, we are also expressing ourselves, as elegantly articulated in this blog. The music we listen to is also an expression of our inner state of mind. By identifying what kind of music connects with our soul at a particular time, we may have a glimpse of what is going on within us. I guess it would also work with a poem or a painting, but music has a way of piercing though our rational mind without asking for permission and with no apologies offered.

Music allows us to let go of our rational mind. But not every piece of music gets through to our soul. And even if a piece does get through in the evening, it may sound completely alien to us the following morning. The music is the same, but we aren’t. Or rather, the currents swirling at the bottom of our unconscious are not in the same mood.

How much of the music that is produced comes from the individual unconscious, the individual soul, and how much from the collective unconscious? Same applies to writing. How much of what I write, good or bad, actually comes from the collective unconscious? To what extent am I expressing the content that maybe all of us have inside our unconscious minds? Maybe the basal substrate is the same and it just differs in the way we express it. We just imprint our individual seal on the outer package…

It is nice to think that art, at least part of it, comes from the collective unconscious. To think that the cathedral in Burgos was at least in part contributed by our common unconscious mind… or Caravaggio’s paintings, or Shakespeare’s plays, even Jung’s studies. Similarly, we should also claim joint authorship for the major shameful acts of humanity, including the two last WWs. If we share a common subconscious substrate, that applies to both the zenith and the nadir of humanity’s achievements. We all share the blessed as well as the evil features. How could we not…?

All those artists felt an urge. An urge to do something, to say something. And they did. Where did this ‘urge’ come from? It could only come from the unconscious, possibly from the collective unconscious. And why did it (It) push them to act in this way? We sometimes feel these impulses as if we needed to do something, as if it were essential for our lives, bigger than our rational minds. And so did they, the saints and devils of human kind. They pushed humanity in one direction or other, sometimes in seemingly opposite ways. Were they opposite, though? We don’t question the impulse. We just obey the higher unconscious power, regardless of whether we might be religious or not. We feel it’s right. It still amazes me that we define ourselves as rational animals. We use logic to analyse, not to make decisions.

There is no such thing as my world. Not even my inner world. It is not mine alone. It is ours. I can retreat there. Think I am alone in my cave, my castle, my palace, my dungeon. But I’m not. I couldn’t be alone even if I wanted to. I am somehow connected to other human beings, subconsciously. Acceptance is the key of the second half of life. As Jung explained, we spend the first half of our lives building our individual shape, separated from the rest, and the second half we live inwards. It is difficult for an introvert to accept we are all connected. We are usually selective with our acquaintances, let alone our friends. Now we have to be connected to everybody? Well, yes, because we are part of a whole. And the whole is not whole without our little contribution.

I know I repeat myself. I am not just a clone repeating what others said before me. I am becoming the clone of the clone…

I just want to end by thanking you for sharing your time and thoughts this year. Merry Christmas and I wish you all a peaceful and balanced New Year.

I won’t leave you with a compilation, but if you can spare 10 minutes, I suggest you listen to this motet by Thomas Tallis, called Spem in Alium (hope in another), which is just out of this world.