The things we do, in the sense of doing them well, are the things we do intuitively. That comes through to me on New Years Day playing old Beatles songs. The songs themselves are intuitive, meaning that they can be played, at least in basic form, with some ease. Hard to resist singing along with them, the inhibitions settling away. They are not far away from Irish music, from the music of folk people, and indeed the songs roots in Skiffle music are undoubtably related. Liverpool is not far away from Ireland, a major town--with a shipping trade--of the Irish diaspora. Part of the joy of playing Beatles songs, indeed with lots of music, is the possibility of amplification, which takes the acoustic instrument and allows it a new dimension.
But one finds himself surprisingly capable over the old songs. A study of chord changes, the chorus, the bridge... all one needed was a bit of encouragement. Like most things. The creature innately good at it.
So there I was, playing, going through a little repertoire, having moved the amp upon to a TV stand, the old TV placed next to the new one, ready to wheel out. The usual things people play, accessible songs, u2, a Pogues song, etc., etc., but when I had a glass of wine, the talent largely went away. Interesting observation. I'd thought a glass of wine helped an Irishman sing, and maybe it does in the sense of giving him some Dutch courage, but the ability and the desire immediately dampened. Maybe I was just done playing, having tied in fifty years of musical history together.
And what are you left with the next day? A bit of a headache, a dryness in the mouth, a thirst for water, a sense of having frittered away the night into a numbing of the alone time. I mean, I did have a great chat with my aunt. And really there's not much to do on New Year's Day but watch football on TV, if you're not invited somewhere...
But what would I have done if I hadn't had that first sip of wine to dumb all the intuitive stuff down. Well, you cook dinner, yeah, I did suddenly find myself pretty hungry all of a sudden, and I'd played through a good part of the old repertoire, covered my fifty years of music history...
There's a Christian lesson in there somewhere, though, about using those intuitive talents. Like, take making love--we're all pretty good at it it. You start in one small place in one small way and that leads to the next step. A hand, a kiss, a revealing of the body, the touch of skin... We all know how to do that, and maybe that's the nice surprising thing about it, that you find, oh, someone else knows how to do this, to bring pleasure, and it all leaves you with a lot of faith in things. Things do work out sometimes. Stay positive, and they will.
And when you meet someone special and special things happen, well, that's a sign. But I'm afraid I look at these things like happy relationships from the outside now, and maybe it serves me right, for my sins. Because I drank too much, thinking that was the thing to do back in college, and without realizing it I was hampering my intuition for all things I really wanted, all the nice things... My God what an idiot I was. Not a day goes by I don't think of my stupidity, my mistakes, and sometimes I put a big effort into rationalizing my mistakes to take away the sting of my errs.
And when you're an artist you are so because you are intuitive sort of a person. Meaning that just about everything you do you do out of intuition. You write a paper, you enjoy the things another person writes, you get the stuff Jesus and Buddha were talking about. You find a job that, yeah, is simple and intuitive, not complicated, just gotta do it. That's how I ended up in the restaurant business. It's simple and intuitive. Well, everything is. Standing in front of a classroom talking about the things that interest you--to me that's what education should be about, something simple like that, but now it's all too complicated.
And that's Jesus for you. Incredibly intuitive. The sort of person he was, or, rather, is, in the world. No problem at all being Jesus. Born into it. Easy. Best lecturer ever.
Yeah, you know, so you say your piece, and then you get tired, and then you take a nap, and then, move on to the next thing.
But when things happen to the intuition thing, oh, it's just the very worst sort of a thing that can happen, because then you don't know which end is up anymore, and people saying one thing but meaning another it's like, where's the truth? Why would you lie to me? Why would you make me call into doubt my own judgment? And the artist is out there on the edge of intuition, so this is particularly painful for him. It's like a shipwreck. Dashed against the rocks. The worst kind of fog comes over you and you don't know which way to go anymore, left or right...
It hurts quite badly, actually. And this is why, I suppose, artists are alone sometimes, like, left alone, or sort of forced to go it alone. Because they have this intuition where no one else does. I guess this speaks of why we were created as unique separate entities. That our intuitions would naturally bridge the gap between us all, such that we might even be shocked, "you were thinking that too? that's what I was thinking!'
Maybe that's the shock of Shakespeare. Like, that's exactly what I was thinking, I just hadn't put it into such words... Or not even thinking, but feeling, on some deep level. Amazing stuff.
I guess that's my main battle, my main meaning in life. That you can only really act on the deepest sort of intuition, that none of the rest can really matter so why bother with it.
But anyway, that's the real joy of life, discovering you can sing, hearing your voice through the amplifier with the guitar, playing, actually playing, a Beatles song. And then the emotions take care of themselves, and I could get sad over a lot of them, but, I don't, I look at them as moving forward, more or less. Great feeling. Beats numbing yourself. We all have talents to share. Maybe that's the meaning I've been looking for, like, some tangible talent I had within me, that couldn't be cut short, you know, in the way writing can be, for whatever reason.
And that's why I love literature, the moment of poetry. There's an intuitive understanding of something going on, deep in the words, maybe deeper than that, and the reader can only grasp at it through his own intuition, and that's why you have to mull these things over, to let your inner gears work, to dream over them, to drill down into the subconscious body of understanding things.
That's why I loved that girl so much. There was this silent intuitive understanding going on between us. I guess she got mad at me for not, like, as they say, acting, 'acting,' on it enough. Sad thing. And she was right to be angry at me. But she told me so many outrageous things to my face, I, I don't know what happened, like I got mad at her for besmirching such a thing, for being so mainstream, so unmystical, as it seemed to me at the time. I should have jumped on her whenever I could, but, yeah, you know people at that age...
But it's the same thing, like, with higher education. You have your dreams, your ways of reaching an understanding of something, a process that should be praised, that Robert Frost would have praised, I think, knowing a bit about him and his college teaching method. The modern academy is forced to think you're an idiot, like, if you take too long, or if you're like Hemingway's fisherman bringing something very big from way far out in the Stream, just out of some intuition that you are sensitive enough to hear. A classroom should be like a council of poets all sitting around, and that's the way Benjamin DeMott ran his. Each one has an access point, a reference, and a good teacher can kind of hypnotize people into reaching into their deeper understandings, and say, like when reading a moment in Updike, "yes, it's about sex!" Young people are a little timid around such blunt realizations, I guess. But when people come along, and you know, quickly respond, oh, I know what's going on here, I think they usually fall pretty short of the mark of a full understanding. And Demott's point to us was that we were incredibly sensitive readers, capable of fined tuned understandings of, say, what Emily Dickinson is saying... That's what I learned in college. Not sure how it translates to the real world, Doctor, but I'm trying.
(Maybe the reason why we drink wine is to fit in with Caesar's empire and all the temple business guys. When we have Jesus within, who is the wine himself, not in need of any.)
Yeah, the lyrical outburst of The Beatles, to me it represents the consciousness of the Universe able to look back at itself, a wonderful moment in the last century, an awakening. Tunes you could keep with you, hum along with, in your head.