Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More on Yuja Wang, and some thoughts on understanding

"'It's a very different culture of music education,' she explains. In China, I was very sure that if I did exactly what my teacher told me to do, I'd be good. But in Canada and the US, nobody told me what to do any more. It became like an investigative process, like detective work. So if I played Liszt, I would read Goethe's Faust and listen to Wagner operas. I'd go to museums. I'm trying to get the cultural background into my subconscious, so that maybe some of it will rub off." [CD Booklet, Yuja Wang, Sonatas & Etudes, Deutsche Grammophon]

Miss Wang is 21 years old. It is to be admired, the maturity of her approach - of her very personal approach - to music. It seems to me that her words point to a meaning deeper than just becoming acquainted with a specific "culture." It talks about culture as the manifestation of a way of existing; and, of course, Liszt's way of existence, of watching, understanding, and self-understanding, had to be in (at least partial) syntony with Goethe's, Wagner's; the way he thought, felt, in at least partial syntony with theirs. Just like our own modes of thinking, feeling, are shaped by, and respond to, the types of stimuli we receive throughout our lives.

You are what you eat? You definitely are what you consume. What you read and see and hear, is what, and with what, you think about and make sense of and decode the reality around you. Someone nourished by imagery that, more often than not, has sexual / sensual connotation (see the ubicuity of the sexual meaning in ads and music videos), will inherently look for the sexual /sensual in most imagery. Our brain, powerful as it is, has no other instruments, than what we provide it.
You are what you see?

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