Sorry for the no-show post last week, I was on vacation.
German philosophers have a reputation for being depressing, and it’s easy see why when they’ve got a nihilistic heavy-weight like Nietzsche on their team. But while pretty much anyone can quote Nietzsche (sometimes without even realizing it) not as many people know Arthur Schopenhauer. A 19th century writer, Schopenhauer did nothing to break the ‘German-philosophers-sure-make-you-want-to-cut-open-a-vein’ stereotype: his philosophy was a purely pessimistic one, purporting that desire could never be fulfilled, only negated.
But everybody’s got to have something that makes them happy, even a sourpuss like Schopenhauer. For him it was music. Not opera, not folk songs, but just pure instrumental music. To Schopy music in its ‘purest form’ represented the purest expression of ideas, the closest the external world could get to expressing man’s abstract inner thoughts.
As a writer, I often think about Schopenhauer’s take on music. I often listen to music as I write. Sometimes I do this for very base reasons, like to get my blood pumping and psych myself up for another round of writing (the Mortal Kombat theme is my go-to song for this. In fact I’m listening to it as I write this blog post). But more often than not it’s because the song has meaning to me and relates to the story in my mind. It’s not as simple as say, listening to a song about cowboys while writing a western. For me it’s more about how the mood of the song captures something that I’m trying to express in my work. For example, I recently finished a novella that was largely inspired by the sense of unease I get when I listen to ‘I Am The Walrus.’ Lately I’ve been listening to MGMT’s song ‘Electric Feel’ on repeat as I try to find a way to translate the smooth elation I feel whenever I hear that song. Often I will get an idea from a specific lyric, but more often it’s the music itself that gets to me. I like it when a song can make me feel something so deeply that in turn I want to figure out how to express that same feeling through a totally different medium.
And with that note, I should get back to writing.