The Ghostly Specter of Success

by Juliana


I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the role of music and art in our lives. Faced with the constant capitalist push to buy and sell, make something and then make more, I too often find myself arguing for the worth of art in today’s society. This is not just a matter of claiming that art is important, and it is, but of claiming that it is important in ways that cannot be quantified when it comes to the bottom line. This type of reasoning too easily disperses like a ghost when one tries to pin it down.

I was happy to see a recent article in the New York Times supply me with more ammunition for my arguments. The article links musical practice to certain habits of thinking that have proven invaluable for many of the most successful people among us. Not only discipline and the link between music and math that are often cited, but also qualities such as listening, working well with others, and the creative patterns of thought that are able to bring disparate ideas into congruence. Oh, and the nearly obsessive drive to achieve whatever end goal is put forth. Evidence like this ought to remind us that creativity is a skill just as necessary to our survival as food and shelter, and the pleasure gained by that cultivation is a happy byproduct. In my book, the bottom line is accompanied by twinkling triangles and booming double-basses.