It is a fantastic work, Mozart’s Symphony 25 in G minor
(listen to the work on youtube) Completed at age seventeen, the work was criticized as having too much feeling and not enough style, too many notes, and just too angry. Critics are generally full of their own opinions, that’s how criticism works. It’s hard to be critical if you don’t believe in your own opinion. That aside, I would posit that the real thing that outraged the concert goers and critics of the time was that Mozart basically said “fuck off, I’m expressing what I feel, and I really don’t give two shits about how it’s supposed to be done, or about your opinion….” my paraphrasing is, of course, a guess, but I’d bet it isn’t far off the mark.
I’ve grown old and few things make me actually give a shit to any real degree anymore (more on that another time), but self expression is still one of them. I believe in its power, not only to exorcise the demons/angels/puppies/whatever that dwells within, but to shake the foundation of the establishment, and the establishment doesn’t care for that unless your self expression aligns with it. Establishment demagogues are fond of rabble rousing, until such time as the rabble are rousing against them, then they howl “foul” in their outrage that someone else might have a different opinion (showing they are still just another facet of the establishment). Establishment demagogues and similar view the self expression of others as too unfair, too full of feelings, too angry, etc…. Sound familiar?
One quick aside about social media and the role it plays in self expression, it’s largely irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.
I mean social media is a fantastic place for anyone to self express, and I think that’s a good thing. That said, you wade through post after post about the pb&j someone had for lunch, their latest colonic experience, or any number of other pretty much pointless bits of drivel. Some will disagree, but I don’t think this has anything to do with self expression. It’s herd mentality, your peers are doing it so you follow suit, sharing inane shit about your day, posting pictures and videos of kittens, Russian drivers, or some celebrity’s ass. Is that really your self expression? Should I actually look at these things as the best you have to offer?
Hardly. Nor do I think that’s the point, I’m not sure social media has a point, at least not that is clearly defined at the moment.
It has it’s uses, and certainly self expression is one of them, but all one’s individual posts, shares, and so on, is that self expression…? I wouldn’t think so. Ask someone under twenty about this phenomena, as they were born into and grew up in the world of social media, their opinion on the issue, like it or not, probably holds more truths than an old dragon like myself, regardless of how much I embrace technology or grasp what potential may or may not be there. They already know things I sometimes struggle to learn. Just my two pesos….
Back to Mozart and his Symphony 25…. so, one of the things I get from the piece is the wild cacophony of life and death organized into a listenable form…. It frequently conjures up visions of the twitching hands of a newly dead corpse, time-lapse images of things decaying, and things that grow and thrive in said decay….in me…. not saying that anyone else should get that, it’s just my experience. And how does that in any way have anything to do with Mozart’s self expression? Everything. I suspect one can argue that Mozart’s self expression couldn’t possibly have anything to do with me, as I wouldn’t even be alive for a a couple of centuries or so.
That’s precisely the point, though. It wasn’t that he was writing to/for/about me and my visions of charnel heaps sprayed with the colors from innumerate flowers growing amidst their foetid mass, he was self expressing to the world from that point forward, and of course he did that to share with others…. Otherwise, why would he have bothered to share it, write it down, and eventually get an orchestra to perform it? He wanted to share that self expression with others.
I will argue that sometimes one does self express literally for the self. You need to get something out from your in…. Dancing alone with no one around to see, writing a story or a piece of music that you never share, sculpting a dust design on the dark side of the Moon, these are all potent examples of self expression just for the sake of it, just for yourself.
Most self expression as I’m defining it is not like that. It involves creativity, execution, and an audience of some kind.
In order for some forms of self expression to work or be validated it is necessary that someone aside from the creator/generator of the expression bear witness to it. The candor of such witnessing, that is, whether or not the witnesses enjoy, dislike, become apathetic, grow violent, seek a solace of worms, is again irrelevant. The potency of such expression lies in the witnesses that are transformed by the expression, even by a little, as the expression becomes, at the least, a catalyst, a harbinger of change, a weapon for fighting one’s own battles, of learning to better express one’s own self.
What is the value in perpetuating the self expression of your self or another, of giving it a new spin, reinterpreting, reimagining, repurposing it?
That is part of the great mystery, but a worthy part to pursue. In the same way that things like atoms exist, that electrons, neutrons, and protons interact or don’t, that fractals have such beautiful and sometimes eerie self similarity, that the gravity of unseen things influences so much of our Universe, so are the things that are spawned from each of our minds. It is truly unfathomable how some long distant descendant of ours might interpret the howling of a punk/noise/avant garden artist, but I suspect it’ll be more poignant than how they interpret kitten videos or monologues about your latest colonic experience.
In the coming days, consider the various ways you might really self express.
Perhaps through music, visual art, martial arts, auto body, flower arrangement, massage, tattooing, body piercing, sex, cooking, stand up comedy, philosophy, mixing cocktails, the list is a long one…. it’s not about the activity, it’s about the intent. Intend to express yourself, really express, not just regurgitate what you did or had for lunch… m’kay, that last bit might be a bit too graphic, but you went there, right…?
Anyway, really find a medium through which you can self express, really express. If it’s gonna be a post on social media, make it count. Sound off about something you’re passionate about, something controversial, or something truly close to your heart.
In fact, let the heart be your guide here. When I say let your heart be you guide, I’m not insinuating just positive love vibes or tree hugging (though if that’s your trip, rock on), I’m talking about really expressing, thinking with and from your heart. That might be anger, it might be painful, it might be jubilant, or ecstatic, or a colorful reminisce of a drunken talk you had with an old friend long ago that left poignant marks…
Your heart might encourage you to quit your job and join an expedition to Antartica, fucking do it….
Your heart doesn’t believe, it knows. What it knows may not be what everyone else knows, and that’s fine… it’s telling you, conversing with you, about your own truth. If you can’t do it today, then dream, and ponder, open your mind up to what your heart is saying, figure out why you’re not doing it, and within that you might also come to realize, you don’t really want to join an expedition to Antartica, but you love the idea of it… great, start writing, singing, drawing, etc., about it…
Express yourself… in the words of one of the great philosophers, “Be water, my friend….” Flow baby, flow….
Your mileage may vary.