notes/highlights/quotes.. while reading James Rhodes book (thanks Al)..
instrumental a memoir of madness, medication, and music
if we fetishise trauma as incommunicable then survivors are trapped – unable to feel truly known.. you don’t honour someone by telling them, ‘i can never imagine what you’ve been through.’ instead, listen to their story and try to imagine being in it, no matter how hard or uncomfortable that feels. – Phil KLay, vet, us marine corps
music .. provides company when there is none, understanding where there is confusion, comfort.. where distress.. and sheer unpolluted energy where there is a hollow shell of brokenness and fatigue
when there is knee jerk temptation to roll eyes.. at.. ‘classical music’..
i think of the huge mistakes i’ve made in past by lazily adopting the principle of contempt prior to investigation…
devijver assume good law – save energy
i know why i’m up so early so often.. it’s all because of my head. the enemy. my eventual cause of death… that makes me weep/scream/yell…
the premise behind the film.. is that music heals.. it offers a shot at redemption. it is one of the few things (non-chemical) that can burrow our hearts and minds and do genuine good..
i will use my backstory and minimal talent to …. and to try to make a diff to those who *don’t have a voice.. have no one to hear them- the ignored, belittled, lonely, lost, isolated.. the ones you see shuffling along in their own little worlds, heads down, eyes switched off, unheard and backed into a terrible, silent corner..
*not voiceless ness – fitting with your intro quote..
i believe that there is a slim chance that (commercial) success, coupled with attention, will finally *fix what is wrong with me..
go ing deeper: to fill our basic needs.. we need space/rat park.. and mech to facil chaos of regeneration.. ie: short/bit.. nothing wrong with you/us.. we need a nother way for 7 bn of us to live.. that’s all..
we shoult ‘look at me’ for long enough and then when people do.. we get confused/startled/moan about it.. shine a light on anything involving dodgy motives and it generally wants to crawl away in shame..
there is an addiction that is more destructive/dangerous than any drug.. and rarely acknowledged…. primary cause of entitlement/laziness/depression..pain.. it’s victimhood..
things that happened to me.. only i am to blame for things inside me that i despise.. clearly someone could only do those things to me if i were already inherently bad at a cellular level.. all the knowledge/understanding/kindness in the world will never/ever change the fact that this is my truth..
deep down. like most of us, still now at 38.. i have this empty , black hole inside of me that nothing and not one seems capable of filling…
we are all in a world of pain.. if it was ever any diff way back in the past, it has, by now, most certainly become normalised. and i am as angry about that as i am about my own past..
and that anger is the reward for being a victim..
..every addiction needs a pay-off, and anger and blame are the rewards that sustain me and keep me going on a day-by-day basis..
ultimately the reason i am so angry is because i know that there is nothing and nobody in this life that can help me overcome this completely. no relatives/wives/girlfriends/shrinks/ipads/pills/friends. child rape is the everest of trauma. how could it not be.. from age 6 to 10
it’s the best 30 min of my short life. and i felt things that all little boys ache to feel – invincible, adult, 6 ft tall. noticed.
the first rule of fight club is we never talk about fight club.. and i didn’t for almost 30 yrs.. and now i am.. because f you if you’re one of the people who think i shouldn’t
there is and inbuilt mech in our psyche that helps with that (nothing i can do can make it bearable/acceptable), and it is dissociation.
the most serious/long-lasting of all the symptoms of abuse.. know it can’t be right.. leave my body
and ever since.. like a pavlov puppy, the minute a feeling or situation even threatens to become overwhelming.. i am no longer there.. autopilot
key moments in my life are missing because of this….. all the more weird that i can remember over 100 000 notes in a piano recital.. al the more amazing that sat in front of a piano is one of the few places i am truly grounded.
as a kid dissociation was the only way the world could be vaguely manageable. if you don’t remember you can’t be terrorized by the past
goethe: architecture is frozen music
dang.. bach.. (the death, the copying in the middle of the night, the numbers ocd ness, the using music to cry out)
imagine somehow finding a way to construct the entire universe of love and grief that we exist in, putting it in musical form, writing it down on paper and giving it to the world..that’s what he did a thousand times over.. and every day that alone .. is enough to convince me that there is something bigger and better than my demons that exists in the world..
there will never can never be two identical performances of the same piece of music, even when you’re playing it twice yourself. there is an infinite choice of interpretation, and everyone has diff opinions as to what is the ‘right way’, what is respectful/disrespectful of the composer, what is valid, what is exciting, what is dull, what is profound.. it’s entirely subjective..
value.. can’t me measured..
memorize techniques: play 1/10 as slow.. play in dark room and visualize it
and so learning the piano is maddening because it is at once an exact and an inexact science; there is a specific and valid way to master the mechanics underlying the physical performance of it… and an inexact, ethereal, intangible route to find the meaning and interpretation of the piece being learned…
the only thing that came close to my worship of all things piano was smoking… this whole book could be a love letter to tobacco.. cigarettes and the piano are the central things in my life.. only things that will not, cannot, let me down..
tweet morning after reading this:
Rabih Alameddine (@rabihalameddine) tweeted at 4:34 AM – 13 Mar 2017 :
By Joseph Eid/AFP., Mohammad Mohiedine Anis, 70, smokes his pipe and listens to music in his destroyed bedroom in Aleppo https://t.co/lHm8Rm7Tm5 (http://twitter.com/rabihalameddine/status/841235931780669440?s=17)
the thing about smoking that they don’t tell you is how good it is at stifling feelings.. there is nothing as terrifying to a mentally ill person as a feeling..
good or bad doesn’t matter.. it still has the potential to turn our minds upside down and back to front w/o offering the vaguest clue how to deal w it reasonably or rationally….
to take us somewhere higher, where time stands still and we actually experience the concept of ‘interiority’ that he had spoken about and the inner worlds his music represents… this was music not for god or court; it was about feelings, about looking inwards, about humanity… ee cummings wrote..
….Beethoven lived that every day of his goddamn life..
we can – a nother way..
a word about time. because it’s important. space is nothing w/o time. time is a buffer. a safe space in between stuff happening. there is literally nothing as comforting to me as a completely empty day in my diary….the knowledge that i can be at home all day with enough time to do whatever i need to do. … it’s the reason i arrive stupidly early to appointments…
if there is enough time then i am safe..
needing six clear hours to do tow hours of practice is about right..
i am driven by a hundred thousand diff forms of terror.. terror of being criticised, of running out of time, of not being good enough, of getting things wrong, missing out on something, not being able to focus.. letting people down……
fear, masquerading as humility and commitment to the job at hand, is enough to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes
interactions are often simply transactions for victims of abuse. and sociopaths. that’s why diagnoses are so fucking difficult – autism, asperger’s, ptsd, bipolar, various psychopathologies, narcissism, all share so many core attributes in the diagnostic manual.. so take your pick..
shame is the legacy of all abuse. it is the one thing guaranteed to keep us in the dark,
and it is the one thing vital to understand if you want to get why abuse victims are so fucked up.. shame is the reason we don’t tell anyone about it. threats work for a while, but not for years. shame guarantees silence, and suicide is the ultimate silence.. it does not matter how much you scream at them, good will hunting style – it wasn’t your fault – you may as well say the sky is green. the only way to get thru to the is to love them hard enough and consistently enough… to shake the foundations of their beliefs..s and that is a task that most people simply cannot, do not, will never have the energy and patience to do…
i am many things. i am a musician/man/father/asshole/liar/fraud. but yes, most of all i am ashamed. and perhaps there is a chance that i am those negative things as a result of being ashamed.
the problem was i was sprinting marathons before i could even crawl… trying to play pieces that were so far beyond my ability…
literally the only thing in the universe i realised i wanted was to travel the world, alone, playing the piano in concert halls. the only thing. i would happily have died at 25 to have just a few years doing that. everything else was a distraction..i knew i was irreparably broken, w no real chance of a proper career or family, but this felt, albeit thru the funhouse mirror of denial and dumb enthusiasm, achievable..
*musicians were meant to be all shades of f-ed up, none more so than classical ones… **social skills very much optional.. it was the perfect career for me..
and the very saddest thing was that i knew at some level that i still wasn’t good enough.. i knew it..
and this is all of us.. dang.
how awful to have a passion so intense it dictates your every breath and yet to lack the moral backbone to pursue it.
i had found another best friend (drink) for when the piano was unavailable. and i used it whenever i could because it was like a magical elixir that made all the noise recede, made me feel 6 ft tall and indestructible, was the only thing that made my head quieten down a little, and was a guaranteed ticket out of my body and inner world w in 15 min
i was successfully anaesthetised every time i drank. and for that i will always, always, be grateful.
i’d see very quickly that doing pretty much anything other than pretending to be normal would have been a safer bet….. i’d long ago starting running away from myself and what was real for me, and by now i couldn’t change the course even if i’d wanted to.
there is a horrible irony in knowing that i spent most of my life running away from the things that would ultimately save me (honest, truth, reality, love, self-acceptance) because i believed they would kill me
i was on autopilot
if there is a career designed both to feed self-hatred of unimaginable proportions, while also stroking fragile egos, working in the city fits the bill… i was.. a parody of everthing bad about the rat race and the human race..
begging for rat park
and here’s another cool thing about abuse – the body never forgets. so i could run as fast as i liked, distract myself as much as possible, but every f ing day i was practically sh ing myself with anxiety
despite knowing that this was not me, that i was incapable of a relationship.. and so i asked her to marry me. because that was what you did after 11 months with someone, that is what normal people did, that would balance out the crazy in me, that would add a layer of ordinary to my life
dang. marriage\ing et al
i’ve honestly no idea what i was thinking, beyond that rather sad hope that if i continued to do what normal people did then i would somehow become normal
it is a challenge to write about this stuff w/o wanting to punch myself in the face again and again until there’s nothing left. but it is what it is
there is nothing i will experience in my life that will ever match the incandescent atomic bomb of love that exploded in me when he was born.. i did not understand the word ‘perfection’ until i held him in my arms… but for me there was a flip side..terror.. i had been handed the most precious thing…and in my core..i knew i was fundamentally incapable of meeting that responsibility..
you can leave a marriage, quit a job, sell a home, justifiably walk away from your friends, family, exes, rehome a pet.. but a child.. a biological extension of your very soul? there is simply no escape from that..
there were so many messy things that had happened to me in my life that i had been too short-sighted, lazy or scared (take your pick) to clean up before he came along. and because of that he had an intro to this world that was harder than most….an infant having a father who had not even remotely conquered his particular brand of crazy does not have a father.. *decided to create life before being absolutely certain that i had the skills necessary to do that responsibly is an almost unforgivable transgression and yet that is exactly what i did
*man..who hasn’t ..? who’s every abs certain they’re ready.
i had a list of qualities i wanted to embody as a father..: strong, available, ever present , patient, secure, married, loving. i fell far short on all of them save for the last one..
the ones that matter are embodied in loving him.. no fear in love..
he’ll never have to worry about doing a job that ‘looks right’.
he will only ever need to consider doing something that makes him laugh, jump up and down w excitement and want to tell the whole world about… the only thing that i want for him, much more than academic or financial success, is to be relentless in his pursuit of laughter and joy.
imagine 7 bn with this luxury/love.. because none of us are free if one of us is chained..
i want him to know the secret of happiness. it is so simple that it seems to have eluded many people. the trick is to do whatever you want to do that makes you happy, as long as you’re not hurting those around you.
not to do what you think you should be doing.. not what other people believe you should be doing..
but simply to act in a way that brings you immense joy..
and there is nothing i will not do in order to help him achieve that..
then help me James.. has to be all of us.. short bp
dang to all the track into’s.. the musicians.. the lives.. the things we keep doing to our human being ness.. and so resonating
the plus side is that he and i bonded intensely. i mean..yeah.. *it’s unhealthy, but i lived and breathed him in 24 hrs a day.
i could not get enough of him. to this day, the happiest, most profoundly peaceful moments of my life have been holding him, fast asleep, a satisfying weight in my arms..
by proxy he was not going to steal my son’s childhood .. and that was my fault. and that pain i could not handle. he took my childhood away from me. he took my child away from me. he took fatherhood away from me..
the selfishness of the victim is the hardest thing to tolerate and treat with compassion.. we are idiots.. it is nigh on impossible to love us.. we push and push until we finally get what we want.. more victimhood..
the lights were going out and i had no clue why or how to stop it.. i looked for a way out that didn’t involve homicide or suicide. and all roads led to music.. they always do.
grigory sokolov.. managed again and again and again to use the notes of a piano to reach into your soul rip out whatever was in there, shake it about, polish it, take it for a ride and then put it back again in a way that just fit a bit better.. he had been my musical crack for a decade..
how much easier things would be w/o my head
the removal of choice is one of the greatest terrors you can inflict on someone
and yet we do it to too many at age 5.. in a most .. civilized .. way
i was told to take meds.. the first pharma i’d had in 11 years. when i refused, i was forced to swallow….this new hospital was a whole diff kettle of mental. it was incredibly meds-friendly. i was basically muzzled with chemicals and left alone for the first few weeks.. getting high after more than a decade drug-free was unpleasant, scary, overwhelming.
i couldn’t leave, i couldn’t stay, i couldn’t think, speak, act, dream, imagine, i was stuck in some weird, big-pharma-sponsored circle of hell. and there was nothing i could do to escape…
kosta (was the system not me) and
getting the ipod of music..he had filled it up w gigabytes of music. and everything changed.. .. i swear i had some kind of spiritual epiphany then and there…
it felt like i’d been plugged into an electrical socket… it shattered me and released some kind of inner gentleness that hadn’t seen the light of day for 30 yrs..
how although i was responsible for my life.. i was not to blame for it..
anyone at all who, were i to see them walking towards me would make me want to cross the street to avoid them, went on the list…
it was a bit of a relief to allow myself to resign as general manager of the whole f ing universe and simply wander around as a part of it for once. i think they call it ‘humility’.
let go of the things you have to cling to..
this piece as some kind of musical homage to his dead wife, and imagine that, putting into music something that words cannot express and taking us on this journey of grief until the very end when he leaves it up to us the performer to decide if we want to finish on a major/minor..
i will never forget those few short days where everything on the outside disappeared and all that mattered was the music, the piano, somehow playing notes written two or three hundred years ago by some mad, genius bastard of a composer out of his mind with grief or love or both.
we were with our respective weirdness and baggage, like two developmentally stunted kids creating a safe place to get to know one another in a world that still felt slightly overwhelming to both of us.. and it was lovely
love – on way he does concerts… talking in between like he did with Denis…
the classical music industry caters to a fraction of a percentage of the populatioN… run by pompous, archaic wankers who seem to take a perverse kind for pleasure in keeping ‘proper’ music as the privilege of an elite few who they deem wealthy enough (and therefore intelligent enough) to understand it..
there are just so many issues/complications/difficulties w classical music. as a genre it seems to have becomes the musical equiv for cranking – crying while wanking because you’re so ashamed of what it is you’re thinking about.. classical music has to stop apologising for itself..
feel free to substitute the word (?) ‘classical’ for highbrow, intelligent, worthy, more profound..most of the people involved in the classical music world act as if it is all of those things anyway..
the other big problem w this bizarre, eclectic and locked-in world is, of course, the people involved, the majority of whom put the ‘ass’ into ‘classical’.. these fall into four distinct categories: performers, gatekeepers, record label execs and critics.
the people behind classical music seem to have lost sight of the fact that the composers themselves were.. the original rock stars..back them it meant really bad hair, some form of vd, mental illness and poverty.. who would have pissed themselves laughing at the ideas about performance that the classical gatekeepers of today are so rigidly stuck to .. they were basket-case geniuses, and were they to come to the average concert today and see the prices/audiences/presentation/pretension surrounding their music, they would be f king disgusted.
having audience applaud the speaking as well as the playing.. hearing laughter in a classical concert .. seemed to confirm .. this was a good direction.. finally doing what i had dreamed about doing forever..
rip up the rule book and just do what feels right… it was about reaching as many people as possible w something that perhaps they hadn’t yet heard and doing it in a way that made it accessible and comfortable for everyone..
truth for me at any rate is that the sexual abuse of children rarely if ever ends in forgiveness. it leads only to self-blame, visceral, self-directed rage and shame
i have an in built terror that good things will slip away. that unless i control things and drive them and micromanage and obsess and worry and push and chase, they will not happen. and there is nothing so destructive to a career (life) as that.
listen to stories of patients then pick fitting songs to play for them..
there are not seven stages of grief. ..
why does everything have to be boiled down into bite0sized, manageable, understandable chunks? are we that f ing stupid and incapable of living w/o definitives or corners or edges..?
supposed to ness
there was just one long stage of hell….. occasional moments of peace…
the most helpful thing i learned was to experience painful, shameful feelings but to drop any kind of storyline attached to them. in the past i’d feel shame or disgust or self-hatred, and as i felt those things i’d narrate them in my head… now i learned, slowly , to simply sit and notice them with curiosity, no labels, stories or judgment..i would just see where in the body they are gathered (invariably the heart or stomach), watch them, experience the pain, sit with it..
and before long, something wonderful happened.. i somehow made a connection with the me that existed before that gym teacher…i realised that i wasn’t bad or toxic…
permission to stop being a victim and contribute something deeper to my world.. something that can grow by attraction rather than promotion because it works.. it needs no hard sell. no sell of any kind…
sounds like Christian on elevator pitch ness..
profound problem with industry is that it takes the focus off creativity and places it instead on ego.. classical music has become about appearance..money making.. dressing up.. pomp and prestige.. rather than simply being of service to the music…. surrounding industry… classical music awards ceremonies are rife with it. dire, evil, despicable horror that have nothing to do with music at all..
these guys are totally responsible for the very things they are complaining about..
when i wrote about this stuff…. much of feedback asked for solutions…..my solution.. play what you want.. where you want.. how you want.. and to whom you want.. et al.. make it inclusive, accessible, respectful, authentic, give it back to whom it belongs.. don’t let a few geriatric inbred morons dictate how this immortal incredibly wonderful god given music should be presented.. we’re bigger than that.. the music is too..
tour.. make albums.. w group of incredibly talented musicians who can and will take part in q&a’s w audiences, who will engage them and intro pieces, .. give free master classes and talks.. share opinions honestly.. do what can to further musical ed in this country… i know sounds a little utopian.. but i will..
imagine 7 bn doing their art like you’re saying.. call that school.. call that life..
relationship… if you can get rid of your ego, it’s simple. if you can’t , it’ll never work. but the one thing abundantly clear is that the problem is you and never the other person..
it amazes me how many people love being unhappy… about their bodies, sex lives, relationships, jobs, careers, families, homes, holidays, haircuts whatever.. our whole cultural id is centered around not being good enough.. constantly needing things that are shinier faster smaller bigger better…
guarantee long lasting relationship: 1\ you’re wrong.. the biggest killer in any relationship is point-scoring.. rumi: somewhere out there beyond ideas of right and wrong, there is a garden. i’ll meet you there… 2\ give … be kind
only ever two bad weeks away from a locked ward
music can shine a light in to places where nothing else can.
that great musical genius lunatic schumann tells us ‘to send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist’. i think it’s the duty of all of us, no matter what we do to fill our time.
and as long as i’m honouring that, then even if i don’t make it i will fall asleep happy
on legal issues.. in addition to pulling the book, there was to be a potentially indefinite gag order imposed that would stop me from speaking or writing in any medium anywhere in the world about the sexual abuse i had suffered and its consequences; my mental health issues and treatment, my self-harm, suicidal thoughts and attempts……. the judge not only found in our favour but struck out the entire claim stating .. no cause of action, nor should their be one..
back to court.. lawyer’s argument.. by publishing a truthful account of things that had happened to me many years ago, i intended to cause harm to my son. this idea was so absurd and abhorrent to me that i could hardly believe the court could take it seriously
four months in permanent state of anxiety waiting for decision.. finally.. judgement came thru.. we had won..court wrote:
every justification for the publication.. a person who has suffered in the way that the appellant has suffered and has struggled to cope w consequences of his suffering in the way that he has struggled, has the right to tell the world about it..and there is a corresponding public interest in other being able to listen to his life story in all its searing detail..
legal costs around 2 mn.. toll on health both physical/mental was huge..
200 lb man who for five years pinned me down and half spat, half whispered to me that bad things will happen if i told anyone.. well f you… i’m going to tell the world..because you can’t open a newspaper today w/o yet more vile revelation of the sexual abuse of children on an industrial scale.. because if it took me, with my stupid f ing privilege, my famous friends healthy bank balance, semi public voice, and full on psychiatric team of experts over a year to finally be allowed to speak out and only then after hearings in the high court, court of appeal, and the supreme court, thousands of emails, legal bundles comprising four thousand pages of dense statements and arguments, and hundreds of thousands of pounds, then what the hell kind of chance do others …have of being heard..
we read about things like this and we think ‘how awful’ and then wget on with eating our cornflakes, but no one really wants to look beneath the surface.
solution beneath the surface.. a nother way.. we can’t not…
i don’t want to be writing about this… but neither do i want to have to keep quiet, or even worse, feel as if i should keep quiet, when there is so much about our culture.. that allows/endorsed, encourages/revels in the sexual abuse of children..
we think shouting loudly will absolve our collective guilt and change things for the better, we point fingers and form lynch mobs.. yet what we need to do is open our eyes fully and simply not tolerate this, rather like we’ve done and continue to do so effectively w homophobia and racism..
em forster wrote that a beethoven symphony was ‘the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated the ear of man’. goethe called architecture ‘frozen music’. classical music has been around for centuries because it has an unceasing, infallible and soul-shattering ability to take all of us on a journey of self-discovery and improvement
if you have been affected or triggered by any of the issues in my book and need help or advice then please go to rainn (rainn.org), nami (nami.org), or samaritans usa (samaritansusa.org) to get support