Listening to zither, as I did in person for the first time a few weeks ago, or to something like the song “La Dispute” by Yann Tiersen, or to Sigur Ros, or Animal Collective, or Shugo Tokumaru, or Tchaikovsky, reminds me why I can’t live without music. My thoughts wandered tonight, my whole head drifted back through dark spaces of college basements, rooms, parties, the feeling of people’s faces, if not their actual faces—they wore their names and all the associations I have with those names, for better or worse, all the moments, little and long conversations we had, for faces. Something about the sheer mastery of the musicians, swinging their hands and arms about the simple instrument, and the inexpressible-in-words plaintiveness of the strings, I started thinking, as I sometimes do when journeying across my mind, when my mind is drifting in itself, about what makes life worth living, what defines success, how we consider ourselves accomplished. How do these people think of themselves? Do they see themselves as I see them, as masters? Masters of the universe. Can we really just make our own subjective claims to success, our own definitions of achievement? We’d like to think so. But what says that this or that institution, or even this or that person, or even this or that world, gets to say what makes someone or something “accomplished.” Surely we have to draw the line somewhere. My own answer is provisional, pragmatic, a bit lame maybe: We draw it where we can, when we can, however we want to, in agreement with standards that are themselves elusive and transitory but nonetheless implanted part of our instincts thanks to society’s putting them there, and a feeling. We know something is important when we remember it involuntarily, when we drift into our dreams at night, when we listen to music that makes us do those things.
I think sometimes falling asleep to music is not an insult to the art but actually a measure of how awesome it is. Can't being “put to sleep” by something ever mean being transported to some sublime other side?