Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Too Much "Talk"

On Dragnet, supposedly one of the detectives used to cut witnesses short (maybe he did it only once, but it has gone down in the TV pool of memories)

"Just the facts, ma'am."

And someone once said in my hearing, and I often remember it:

A detective can't cut off a witness like that. If he doesn't listen to everything, he might cause the witness to omit some fact that turns out be essential to solving the case."


In this internet age, I'm beginning to think we have far too many opinions, too much chatter, too much talking and reacting and blabbing,

but not enough thinking, pondering, meditating.

Well... maybe the writers are thinking. But why? Is X of X blog writing because he/she now has a contract and has to write something everyday, and it ought to be relevant and attract an audience?

Or is X writing because he/she has really given this topic a lot of thought and felt his/her thoughts OUGHT to be out there for everyone else's benefit?

Let's suppose that I am X (actually, I'm one of many Xs, and so far I'm not all that widely read, so I guess I'm not all that relevant and attractive, so far.) Why am I writing? Is what I have to say all that important, useful, valuable? Ultimately, how much is what I'm writing going to help anyone save his soul? I mean, that's the big issue isn't it (for a believer at any rate) saving one's soul?

I hope to eventually help support my family with my writing, so I have an underlying motive for getting read. Does that undermine the value of what I write, in that I write to get attention, so that someone will click on one of my Amazon links and I'll eventually get 50c or $2.49 when that someone buys a book?

Why did Beethoven write the Ninth Symphony? Was it to make a living? Or was it because he had all this danged music swimming through his head that he just had to get out there on paper and into the hands and lips of musicians and the ears of an audience? Was it to glorify God who put the music into his head?

Would the world be a better or a worse or a pretty much the same place if Beethoven had been a candle maker instead of a composer? Well, we now know what we would be missing, but if he'd never written a note, or played a note, how much of a difference would it have made?

But that's just a rabbit hole (and that's a reference, I believe, to Alice in Wonderland, so what expression would I use if Lewis Carroll had not written that book?) because Beethoven DID compose music, and he DID have his unique impact on the world.

Salieri composed too, and he had an impact, but a much smaller impact, some might say not the impact he deserved to have, but if Salieri hadn't composed, most of us would not have noticed. And there are possibly millions of people who have existed since the time of Beethoven who never heard a Beethoven melody or chord (and yes, in my mind, there are uniquely Beethoven-ish chords.)

But I'm not Beethoven, nor am I a Stephen King or a William Wordsworth or a Charles Dickens or even a Michaelangelo. I'm just a mediocre musician, a mediocre choir director, a mediocre writer of fiction and poetry and commentary. No one, probably, needs to read or hear anything I've written. And I think there are a lot of other people out there who are writing stuff that no one really needs to read.

Maybe it shouldn't be so easy to get one's works "out there."

Saint Paul had to write on papyrus or parchment, with ink and pen, or dictate to a scribe who used those materials. Others had to inscribe cuneiform onto clay or lead tablets, and Beethoven had to write with a pen or pencil on paper, as did Thomas Aquinas and Victor Hugo. Now we have word processors and lulu.com and Amazon.com with Kindle and Readers and Tablets. And how much of what is getting "out there" really worth our time and attention? Is much of it changing anyone for the better? At the very least, is much of it leading to real thought, self-examination, growth in goodness? Or is it simply confirming something we already believe, or contradicting something we hold firm and will not change?

Here's an irony. I read something by Simcha Fischer, and it lead to my writing this. So, I agreed with much of what I read, and it led to these thoughts, yet something in what I read made me question the value of what she wrote, and the value of what her commentators wrote, and here I am with no solid answer.

Beethoven might not have thought all that highly of his work. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. Same with Hugo and Wordsworth. I don't know. maybe they all thought their work was valuable and had to be read, heard, seen. Maybe they were on a mission.

Still, the world is different. Many more people possibly are going to experience Beethoven because of the internet than would without it, as well as Simcha Fischer, and possibly me, but also a lot of real schlock and garbage.

So, this wasn't very brief and I don't think I've come to a conclusion. But I've been thinking, and I hope it makes someone else think too. And most of all, I hope that Beethoven and Hugo and Simcha and Wordsworth and me somehow help someone else have a thought that contributes to the saving of his/her soul.

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