I just read your latest post which was very interesting. I do however have something in the back of my mind which I know is there yet it’s early on Sunday morning and I can’t quite get it to form into an idea so this is why I am emailing you and not just leaving a comment I hope you remember I and my partner (Jade) are musicians so this topic is one that is very close to our hearts on a daily basis trying to break into the music industry.
The idea I would like you to think about is that striving for greatness is something we do all day long, as the closer we get to it the better our chances of making it in the industry become. I know you may disagree with this assumption but it is point we can aim for so we are not totally lost in the dark. You can be the best shot in the world but if you do not know where the target is you’ll never hit it. By greatness I merely mean better than most other musicians out at the time. There is however a problem, and that is “society” in order to have the equipment we need to pursue our dream we also need a house large enough to put that equipment in and thus need to be part of society as it stands now. This means we have to pay bills and council tax and be part of the Monday to Friday human race to get by and obtain the tools we need to help us strive forward. Once you put all of this into the equation it is very hard to just “enjoy the game of life” without the winning. I do not think we can be the judge of perfection or greatness ourselves as if you can do something that others can’t it is not you that think it is great. Only people that can’t do it do. I do see musicians that I think have greatness but i’m sure they would not agree.
So as I said, I didn’t really know where i was going with this and can’t think straight to put it into context that you would understand but hopefully the idea is there and you can elaborate on where its going.
If I have totally missed the point of this thread please accept my apologies. As I said it is too early for me to be thinking deeply.
Technical Greatness, Popularity And Personal Greatness
I understand what you mean by it not being a fully formed idea, I have let this post sit for a week because I wasn’t sure that it made sense. But I think your comment makes perfect sense and would be a valuable comment to add to the conversation, if you don’t mind me adding it to the post?
I think there’s something like a see-saw point. Where the ‘greater’ your talent is, the easier it is to sell. But there is still a certain amount of marketing that needs to happen. There are two factors to being successful as a Musician. The first is being skilled enough and the second is being popular.
If we look at Contestants on the X Factor, we see people who reach a level of popularity that is out of proportion to their talent. Then there are greatly talented performers that don’t find a message or story that captures other people’s imagination and so they have to keep plugging away.
The thing is that greater levels of technical skill doesn’t necessarily translate into greater popularity, because it takes a more refined ear to appreciate. I have a friend who is a successful Musician and we were discussing this once and he said that some of the greatest Performers were very technically limited. From memory, I think the examples he used were Nirvana and Bob Marley, but their performance made the best of their limited technical range.
I’m also reminded of Joseph Campbell explaining what has puzzled many, namely why Greek culture was so much more complex and technically advanced than that of the Romans. His explanation was that the Greek Artists grew up in a smaller society and knew everyone that they needed to deal with. Whereas Romans were living in a much more spread out civilisation. And so the Artists that were most recognised and most popular were the ones who were out at parties, meeting and selling themselves to the Decision Makers. Whereas the ones that worked on developing their craft and reaching more technical excellence, remained unrecognised.
For me ‘greatness’ is wider than being great at a particular skill. It is about being more fully yourself. It also includes the way that you fit in the day to day concerns and demands of living. It is the whole skill of living within constraints.
That is what a game is. It is easy for us to develop a mental framework that insists the world must look a certain way. And if we insist that the world has to match our vision, for us to be happy, then life can easily become hard and dis-spiriting. Yet if we approach life in a spirit of openness, without a fixed idea of what a good and bad outcome is, then any outcome can be advantageous and enjoyable.
The constraints we face, are really stimulation for us to adapt and refine our thinking to a more evolved, clearer understanding of how life really is. A level that is far deeper, broader and interconnected than our physical eyes could ever perceive. And the greater the constraints are, the greater the potential for freedom and exhilaration when we see what the game really is.