Elderism #31

December 16th, 2008

In the current issue of Esquire, composer Philip Glass–who doesn’t like the word “minimalist” applied to his music, but who cops to writing “music with repetitive structures”–talks about how experience trumps expectation:

“People always ask, ‘Is it what you thought it would be?’ And that’s a very interesting question because once you hear it in the air, so to speak, it’s almost impossible to remember what it was you imagined. The reality of the sound eclipses your experience. The solitary dreamer is wondering: Will the horns sound good here? Will this flute sound good there? But when you actually hear it, you’re certainly in a different place. The experience of that is my god.”

And then the 71 year-old goes farther, suggesting that not only do artists’ and athletes’ expectations of their work get erased by the work itself, but that, if these artists and athletes are really “in the moment” and laboring hard, they can’t remember the experience, either:

“[W]hen you’re really consumed with the act, the witness just disappears. And for that reason when someone asks, ‘What was it like?’ you can’t remember, because the person inside of you who does the remembering was otherwise occupied.”