claire karoly: reflections

each semester for vocal performance class i have to prepare a self-evaluation. this time i had a little fun and used a template for a program (i.e. program for a musical performance, etc.) for my evaluation, complete with pretty fonts and pictures. it is available for your viewing pleasure below. all pictures by richard rossi.

claire karoly: reflections

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insults

It’s important to encourage musicians. One gets the maximum out of singers by not insulting them.
There’s no excuse for nastiness. For example, if a soprano leaves a production crying, or with a nervous breakdown, it’s just bad manners on a conductor’s part. Sometimes I get very angry when I see or hear about that. It’s a lack of humanity – Andreas Scholl

Amen.

a few thoughts for the day …

apparently, according to a youtuber, i am a dick. this is the first time, to my knowledge, that i have been called a dick. okay …

however, i also am apparently the owner of the sexiest toes in nor-cal, according to an admirer. go figure.

how is one to choose between the soundtracks for hair, hairspray, and godspell? (hair won out).

why, oh why, is borders not smart enough to keep a copy of the original broadway soundtrack of CATS on its shelf?

for once my memory has served me well. although i insisted that we already owned umberto eco’s the mysterious flame of queen loana, my mother proceeded to buy it. i was right.

i’ll never understand the concept of excommunication. period.

there is something oddly attractive about geoffrey rush.

macbeth done in kabuki style. bloody wicked cool.

why are spiders scary? i shall fear them till the day i die.

speaking of hot actors, sean connery falls into that category. yes, sean connery as he looks now. yes, yes, i know he’s 75+ … so?

fanfuckingtabulous … strive to use that sometime before you die.

i am very upset at my alarm clock … it interrupted my dream. tsk tsk.

pumice stones dry out my skin … but they do remove calcium deposits from pool tile.

i’ve been on summer break far too long.

why can’t there be an easy button for removing vocals from a song, so i can sing along to a song without having to compete with the original singer?

google earth makes me happy.

have you ever just stopped and looked into a child’s eyes?

cheers.

study for the understanding of the square

(i originally wrote this for my modern times class, therefore, i have broken my convention of writing in all lowercase in favor of academic standards)

Every time I journey to a modern art museum, an overwhelming mixture of bliss and frustration floods my consciousness. The eclectic assortment of artwork stimulates my mind, prompts a flurry of considerations, and resonates with my creative nature. However, a troubling question invades my enjoyment of the trip. What is art? What separates my juvenile scribblings from the canvases that grace the walls of our museums? My museum excursions often agitate this turmoil when I question the validity of the works displayed. Therefore, when my friend Nora and I drove to the SF MoMA on March 17, 2007, I anticipated a similar quandary.

For a brief moment, the atrium of the museum dispelled my fears as I admired the structure of the building. The open, circular space invited the visitors to explore, and hinted at the wonders housed within. Colors danced on the left, and simple, geometric shapes drew my eye to the stairway that leads to the galleries. After heading up the stairs, I turned into the permanent exhibition, “Matisse and Beyond”, and there, in confrontational orange and red, the challenge forced its way into my path. My opponent? “Study for Homage to the Square” by Josef Albers. I approached the painting, and attempted a greeting, despite my reservations. “Hello, Study. Your angular, warm colors are quite … flat.”

“Good lady,” he replied, “why do you insult me so?”

“I find myself skeptical about your reason for existence. I fail to find meaning in your presence here, even though I continue to stand here and gaze at your surface. You’re just a square within a square within a square within a square, with slight color variations. What makes you worthy to be here?”

“Well, why shouldn’t I be here? I’m a prime example of modern art.”

“Yes, this is true, but I don’t see anything special about you. What gives Josef Albers the right to create you, and claim that you are art? I assure you, I could paint squares all day long, with vibrant colors, and yet, I would be called a fool if I dared to call it art.”

“Ah, yes, but did you paint a square within a square within a square within a square, and call it art? No. Albers had the insight and inspiration to paint me.”

“Okay, I’ll grant you that, but I still find no satisfaction upon viewing you, and I do not discover any greater meaning or message. You’re just a bunch of squares.”

“Again I disagree…”

“Be quiet! No more of your prattle.” I turned away from the painting, feeling extremely silly and witnessing the level of my intellect dropping by the minute. If I could not discern anything in that jumble of squares, does that mean I am stupid? It hit me that maybe the reason these compositions annoy me so much is because I do not understand them, and that lack of understanding threatens me. I stood there, doubting my intellectual and philosophical abilities. More questions: Am I superficial? Can I not break the exoteric surface and explore the esoteric? Does a great enlightening message really reside within a block of orange paint?

I ran from “Study”, gazing at the other paintings as I tried to escape, but Yves Klein impeded my flight. Looming over me on the wall hung “IKB74”, a large canvas covered only in blue paint. Would the torment ever stop? Although, Klein provided a brief respite. Rather than a two-dimensional geometrical shape, IKB74 consisted of textured paint. I could accept that over flat orange, yet my question remained unanswered. What is art? The Oxford American Dictionary defines art as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”. Here lay my frustration. Where was the “creative skill and imagination” in painting a single, solid color shape? Yet, the SF MoMA placed many of these works in its permanent collection, and one hopes a modern art museum possesses a sane grasp on the concept of modern art. Therefore, I continued to examine my own perspective, but, at the time, my efforts produced no fruitful result.

However, the torment of that room ceased when I entered the room containing Clyfford Still’s paintings. After the bombardment of squares, here something abstract called to me and resonated with me. While no figure or apparent subject of the paintings could be found, their simplicity greatly impacted me, and a new dialogue arose. I approached “Untitled”, which Still painted in 1951. Its crude visage pulled me in, and what first appeared to be a decrepit black canvas revealed its secret to me. Embedded within the rough black paint, a magenta line forced itself into the foreground. If I had not been so attentive, I would have missed it. This fascinated me. How could this simple black rectangle, after my colored square nightmare, bring so much contentment? What separated it from “Study” who I argued with previously? Still demonstrated the fine line between what I considered to be simplistic genius and idiotic sparseness: the brilliant little details that speak for the artist. In “Untitled”, I met a bold individual breaking out of the dark oppression of society. Although the blackness still shadowed him, his magenta light began to break the surface. As I studied “Untitled”, I realized this nameless canvas was me, struggling to make sense of my philosophical studies in high school and follow my true essence, rather than succumbing to the path my teachers, parents, and peers wanted for me. This sliver of hope stretching across Still’s painting was my decision to cease placing importance in my paper appearance: my grades, my GPA, the number of honors and AP classes I took, the endless list of extracurricular activities. This simple line highlighted the hard choice to not pursue Biology as a major, and instead take the risk of a Vocal Performance major, a choice that I had avoided out of fear, but that I later learned was essential for my fulfillment. All this spread out in front of me, captured in a line.

“This is art,” I concluded. How could something that provoked such a response not be appreciated? This caliber of composition deserved a place on a wall in the SF MoMA, without a doubt. As I continued through the museum, I turned away from the squares, and marveled instead in the power of those abstract, minimalist paintings that stirred up my passion. However, I later discovered that I still did not answer my question. What is art? The answer stood there waving its arms at me, and yet my frustrated blindness blocked me from noticing. The solution was in the question! Foolishly, I ignored an essential fact. My enemy “Study” and I shared a common thread: our question. I entered the SF MoMA wishing to know how “Study” could be considered a work of art, and I cut him off in our discussion. If I had permitted him to continue he would have explained, “You fail to find the meaning in my squares because you cannot see past your disbelief. I have the same question as you. What is art? My squares simply serve to pose that question, and challenge the common conception our society has about art. So, you see, we have more in common than you think.” And then I would step back, reflect for a moment, smile, thank “Study”, and experience a new SF MoMA, full of squares that embody my search for truth. Therefore, I face you now, a square within a square within a square within a square, primitive yet bold.

the simple feeling of … me

i wrote this for philosophy in may 2006…

The Simple Feeling of … Me

Ken Wilber, a wise philosopher, can ramble on and on about this tradition and that tradition, and this diagram and that diagram, and allow all his thoughts and musings flow from within him into the text of one of his many books. I, an eighteen-year-old high school senior, can read word after word about this tradition and that tradition, and study this diagram and that diagram, and allow the text of one of his many books to flow from the page into my already cluttered mind. This is an exchange of ideas, but it’s awfully… boring. Not only is it uninspired and monotonous, it is also completely one sided. Ken Wilber, as much as his writings are insightful and intelligent, might as well put down his pen and cease to publish books. I, as much as I am insightful and intelligent, might as well close his book and let it rot in a dusty corner. For what is the point of philosophy if I approach it like a textbook? What is the value in cramming word after word into a brain that’s already overflowing with other useless information? Why should I even bother to turn the page … unless I make the book my life?

It is time for passionate philosophy. It is time for Ken Wilber to compose his countless works on philosophy, and for I, an evolving individual, to peruse the pages of his mind, respond to them, and apply what I glean from him in my own life. Wilber notes, “To have any meaning at all, philosophy must sizzle with passion, boil your brain, fry your eyeballs, or you’re just not doing it right” (139). As I see it, there are two approaches to studying philosophy. The more common method can be found in almost any classroom today. Walk into a classroom and I will not even have to explain to you the approach of which I speak. As the teacher drones on, students stare blankly at the walls, or pierce holes into the windows with their piercing gaze. A drizzle of drool rolls down a girl’s chin, while another girl slowly collapses in her chair until her face becomes best friends with the textbook lying on her desk. This is, as I fondly call it, the “zombie method”. A student merely stares at a textbook with mechanical movements, and in the same robotic state repeats the “absorbed” facts on exams. Outside of the classroom, this zombie state is broken, and the valuable information shatters with it.

The second approach, and much more beneficial of the two, can be explained by a foreign language class. My downfall in language was approaching it with the “zombie method”. I stuffed one vocabulary word after another into my aching head, and zoned off in class as Señora Arias gave her lecture. The “zombie method” proved very effective for written exams; I was able to regurgitate the information that I had stared into memory. However, once this information was placed on paper, it stayed there, and was never found again in my brain. All subjects, but especially foreign language, require the “immersion method”. A student who is enthusiastic about learning the language, and immerses himself in the language is more likely to learn the language well and be able to use it orally because he has experienced it rather than just stuffed it in his head for a test. The road with the “immersion method” may be difficult due to the pressures and trials of speaking in a different language, but through his mistakes and experimentation, the student eventually learns the ins and outs of a foreign language and can use it effectively.

The same applies to philosophy. Ken Wilber fears that too many people use the “zombie approach”. He writes,

The one thing I do know, and that I would like to emphasize, is that any integral theory is just that – a mere theory. I am always surprised, or rather shocked, at the common perception that I am recommending an intellectual approach to spirituality, when that is the opposite of my view. Just because an author writes, say, a history of dancing, does not mean that the author is advocating that people stop dancing and merely read about it instead. [. . .] An integral approach to dancing says, take up dancing itself, and sure, read a book about it, too. Do both, but in any event, don’t merely read the book. (140)

Ken Wilber wants us to not only read his book, and other books, about philosophy, but to integrate what we read into our daily lives. Rather than following the “zombie method” and just staring at his book, he wants us to follow the “immersion method” and surround ourselves with the application of his wisdom, as well as what we formulate from his writings in our wisdom. Philosophy is not a dead subject. It is not an area in which I can just read a bunch of pages in a book, declare myself well read in philosophy, and then just continue with my life. I might was well just chuck the book in the wastepaper basket, or use it as fuel for a fire. Fuel for a fire – that is what philosophy is. Reading Ken Wilber, and other philosophical texts, is simply the fuel to aid creating the fire of truth and knowledge in my life. Ken Wilber provides an integral theory, and an integral theory, by virtue of its name, must be integrated into life. It’s not meant to just sit upon the page to be admired and then cast aside when the day is done. Philosophy is an active study, one in which the student not only reads the text, but also thinks about what he has read, responds to it, and then uses this tool called knowledge to live his life. The emphasis is application, not mere regurgitation.

Ken Wilber also uses the simile of a map to explain his theory. He explains, “[My books] are simply maps of a territory, shadows of a reality, gray symbols dragging their bellies across the dead page, suffocated signs full of muffled sound and faded glory, signifying absolutely nothing” (141). Studying philosophical texts is just a starting point; it’s up to the individual to make something of it. The “gray symbols” are not going to “drag their bellies” off of the “dead page” and hold my hand as I cross the street of my life. Instead, they’ll slap me across the face to give me a little wake up call, and then let me on my own to take charge of my own enlightenment. Wilber continues, “Please use [maps] only as a reminder to take up dancing itself, to inquire into this Self of yours, this Self that holds this page and this Kosmos all in a single glance. And then express that glory in integral maps, and sing with passion of the sights you have seen …” (141). We are to use Ken Wilber’s books, and other philosophical texts, merely as a foundation and starting point for our own integral philosophy. He’s providing the slap across the face; we need to acknowledge it and take the initiative to apply the knowledge we realize in his writing.

I find this to be analogous to music. A phrase I hear often from choir directors or orchestral conductors is that the group is performing the piece like “notes on a page”. Rather than breathing life and interpretation into the music, the performers fail to find passion in the performance and simply play the funny black dots and symbols that are scattered across that silly set of lines we call a staff. They treat the sheet music as an end, rather than a means to reach the end that is passionate, inspired, purely beautiful music. Music that is played in that manner falls short of its true essence; it lacks the passion and emotion of a musician that dissolves the barrier between him and the written music.

This leads me directly to a teaching of Ken Wilber. He asserts “there are no boundaries in the universe. Boundaries are illusions, products not of reality but of the way we map and edit reality. And while it is fine to map out the territory, it is fatal to confuse the two” (143). Therefore, a musician that separates himself from the music and treats the notes on the page as the song is living an illusion. Only when he dissolves the barrier between the sheet music and himself can he produce the music that is full of life and passion. This introduces the idea that Wilber calls the Primary Dualism. He explains, “We cannot hear the hearer, smell the smeller, feel the feeler, touch the toucher, taste the taster – similarly, we cannot see the seer. But we think we can – just that is the problem, and just that is the genesis of the Primary Dualism” (144). Our downfall is that we separate the seer from what it is seeing, and from that springs the Primary Dualism. The passionless musician exhibits this – he separates himself from the sheet music he is viewing. Wilber argues, however, that there is no boundary between the two, and therefore, there is non-dualism rather than dualism:

This is what happens: the Seer, the THAT IN YOU WHICH KNOWS, in actuality is not separate from what it sees – it is what it sees, for the knower sees a thing by being that thing; as Saint Thomas Aquinas stated, “Knowledge comes in so far as the object known is within the knower.” This page, for instance, is identical to that in you which is reading it, or as William James expressed it, “The paper seen and the seeing of it are only two names for one indivisible fact.” (144)

Rather than the page of sheet music and the sight of the musician being two separate and disconnected objects, what is labeled as two is actually one union. In the act of seeing the sheet music, the musician is in union with the sheet music. Instead of just looking at the sheet music, and seeing it as an object separate from myself, I must step back and see myself in union with the sheet music, so that there is no boundary between myself and the odd page of black dots sitting on my music stand. However, I must also take care not to identify with the sheet music. I am not the sheet music; I am simply in union with the sheet music. When I view it in this manner, the unity between the sheet music and myself allows a passionate and true music to be created.

I find it important to return to the beginning. Now that I have realized the fallacy of the Primary Dualism, and an integral philosophy in which I can transcend the barriers created by my socialization, I must remember to integrate this into my life, just as I discussed at the beginning of the paper. This is not something that happens overnight. I will struggle to continue to implement this philosophy in my life, and I will rejoice when I do. Blood, sweat and tears. Laughs, smiles, and craziness. The natural flow of up and down. It’s all emotion, it’s all passion, it’s philosophy in motion. It is the simple feeling of … me.

snippets

to continue the postings from the past, here are some selections i’ve deemed important from my previous blogs…

to begin, a full entry from back in february…

so last night i had the good fortune to attend a recital at the mondavi center in davis, ca. i had been looking forward to last night for the last couple of months. i got so lucky. i found out about the recital after the tickets had already sold out, but my mom called the mondavi center, and they had a cancellation, so we were able to get tix! for those of you who don’t know, joshua bell is one of the most amazing violinists in the world, and being a girl who is absorbed in music, as well as a violinist myself, having the opportunity to see him in concert was major for me. there aren’t even words for how i felt. i was shaking throughout the whole concert (what is it with musicians named josh that make me shake? josh groban does the same thing – it’s all about per te *sigh*). so i didn’t know what was on the repetoire. i didn’t even look ahead of time. i was just so psyched and thankful that i was seeing joshua bell in concert. side note: if you haven’t seen ladies in lavender, go rent it now! judi dench gives an unparalleled performance, and the soundtrack, done by joshua, is so breathtaking, i wanted to lock myself in a room and just practice and practice until i could play like that.

another side note: me and violin. i took violin lessons from fourth to eighth grade. played in the sacramento youth symphony a couple of years. i had gotten back in for a third year, and it was the summer before my frosh year in high school, and one day i just had a huge nervous break down, completely spazzed out, freaked out, and quit playing violin on the spot. no more lessons, no more symphony, no playing period. i was so stressed because i was doing a million things and i had school and my straight a student reputation to maintain, and i never had time to practice anymore. it got to the point where i would wake up saturday morning, practice ten minutes, and then go to my lesson (which, amazingly, i somehow managed to do that and actually improve – just imagine how much i could have improved if i practiced everyday!). it had gotten to the point that playing violin was a chore and a job rather than something that came from the core of my being and being something that was just a part of me (like my singing is today). i couldn’t enjoy it anymore because i was so suffocated by everything i was doing. so i broke down, cried, yelled, screamed, let all the emotion out, and quit. i will always wish i hadn’t done that. the violin sat in my closet a couple of years, and then i began to yearn for it again. i remembered the days when i played, and how much joy i got out of playing, and how i had connected with my violin like it was a person, and i had that longing to play again (i have to credit josh groban and joshua bell with part of this desire to play again – after hearing josh sing i was pushed to take risks and follow my heart – i have always been a very academic girl because i’ve been pushed by my mom to do well in school, but deep inside me it’s been the music that has been the true me, and the music is how i express myself best, and josh helped me see that, and so i started finding musical and creative outlets and taking the risk of failing in a musical career because i realized that being a musician is something i need to do because it comes from my essential nature – that has led me to choose musical theatre as my college major – joshua bell really helped also with the violin aspect because of his collaboration with josh on “mi mancherai” and hearing the voice and the violin together touched me and awakened me to my true self). i took the violin out of the closet and began to play again. i played and played and played. and all the memories came back. all the feelings. all the emotions. as my fingers ran over the strings (speaking of strings, pirastro obligatos are amazing – i will never use dominants again gosh i hate dominants) i felt at home. i felt like me again. i wasn’t that forced person, a girl trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. i was just me. for junior/senior luncheon, my friend panda and i performed “mi mancherai” – she did vocals, i did the violin and joined in vocals on the chorus. being able to perform again and have that rush – it was so amazing. there are no words for how i felt. it was just … right. so now i play on my own time. i play in the orchestra at the local all-guys high school (sadly my school doesn’t have an orchestra). i’m not planning on a violin career, but i definitely want to keep it up as a substantial hobby. if i ever go out and do my own music and become a solo singer or have a band or something, i’d like to encorporate violin into the music. i have an electric violin now too. don’t have an amp yet, and i want to get better strings (it’s all about the obligatos i’m telling you!) , but it’s fun to play around with. when i get an amp and other equipment i’d like to experiment. of course, the electric violin i have is really cheap. it was under $100. but it works. i’d like to invest in a better violin and electric violin. a viola would rock too. i was actually planning orginally on getting an electric viola and then teaching myself the clef. i figure the mechanics are the same as the violin, just one extra string to learn and a different clef. but the viola was more expensive. someday i’ll do that. self-teaching is hard, but definitely a rewarding experience. i self-taught myself a little piano on our upright at home. waht can i play? hhmm – hava nagila, battle hymn of the republic, when the saints go marching in, star spangled banner, pomp and circumstance, and the first three bars of josh groban’s “remember when it rained”.

but anyway … i’m supposed to be talking about joshua bell and jeremy denk! went to the recital, had pretty good seats, couldn’t see any facial details (i wish i had brought binoculars!) but at least i could see! and i could hear! man i could hear! first thing that jumped out at me when i read the program was bartok! bela bartok – where do i start with bartok? bartok was one of my fav composers to play when i took lessons. i love the sound, and he kind of has a connection with me, because i’m of hungarian descent on my dad’s side of the family. (another side note: we’re singing a couple hungarian choral pieces in choir this year! and we’re doing them in hungarian, not english! woo hoo!) then right after bartok i saw prokofiev! prokofiev! gosh bartok and prokofiev in one night! add rachmaninoff and i’d be set for a couple of decades! i did my music history report on prokofiev – i just had to write on him after the sac philharmonic did one of his works – that just left me absolutely stunned and awestriken! so yeah, i knew this was definitely going to be a spectacular recital.

and it was. i could go on and on about the music, but i don’t think i’d be able to do it justice with my words. instead, i want to talk about the body. music is not just sound waves. it’s something that comes out of your entire being, meaning that you employ not only your hands when you play the instrument but your entire body. it is a joy to watch a violinist that plays with his body, and joshua did that to the highest extreme. this is where i’d like to start talking about jeremy denk. jeremy was the pianist that played with joshua, and while everyone makes huges hype about joshua, i think jeremy deserves equal praise. it wouldn’t have been a recital without jeremy playing alongside joshua. so back on the topic of body movement, joshua and jeremy had this energy between them that was just amazing to watch. it was like they were one unit, playing with each other, one moving into the other, and at the same time contradictory forces warring with one another. it doesn’t get better than that. haha i just remembered there was a point in the concert where joshua was so into his body movement that he actually jumped, and his feet left the stage. he was a couple of inches off the ground! now that’s what i call a violinist! and jeremy was so aggressive on the piano! he reminds me of lucia micarelli, another violinst who played on josh groban’s tour. when she plays “nocturn/bohemian rhapsody” she attacks her violin. she is brutal with it! bow hairs start snapping and fly through the air on the end of her bow as she plays! but it’s that aggressiveness that makes her art beautiful. and it was the same with jeremy. i hope he comes out to sacramento or san francisco again cuz i’d like to hear and see him play again. *sigh* oh and ysaye – had never heard of this composer, his piece defintely came in first as my fav of the night, followed by bartok and prokofiev.

after the show joshua and jeremy came out to sign programs. gosh i was so nervous. these masters of music were right there breathing in front of me! but joshua was a sweetie, smilled at me when i talked to him, even obliged my crazy request to sign my josh groban shoes. i got jeremy’s signature in my program – i would had asked him to sign the shoes too except he really has no affiliation with josh groban – i have josh groban’s siggy on the shoes, as well as chris botti, who opened the vegas show, and tim curle, who does percussion on jsoh’s tour, and now i have joshua bell, who contributed to josh’s closer cd. jeremy, if you ever do something with jg, i’ll definitely hunt you down and add your siggy to my shoes! later when my mom got her program signed i went and took a pic with the two guys, one arm around each. the pic was bad quality cuz it was my mom’s camera phone (still kicking myself for not bringing my camera), but hey, it works!

next, another length, but shorter bit. this was my college admission essay…

In my philosophy studies, of the many teachings that resonate with me, the one that stands out the most is that of Plato. He said that our world is a cave, and that all we see are just shadows on a cave wall, or illusions. The way to find truth and reality is to leave the cave, no matter how painful that may be. This is very evident as I look back upon my life.

My life has been a journey to achieve academic excellence. My mom has always pushed me to excel in my studies and be top of my class, and I was successful in that endeavor in middle school. If it ever appeared that my grades were going to slip from an A to a B, she got extremely upset and displayed her grave disappointment. Once, in fifth grade, I got a C plus on a test, and my teacher was convinced that I had problems at home, because that was so out of the ordinary for me. My life has been an attempt to look good on paper. I was convinced I was a failure if I did not.

However, there is more to life than my transcript. It took a lot of prodding for me to realize that because of my socialization. Ink on a paper means absolutely nothing if I do not have the knowledge to show for it, or the desire to acquire the knowledge. That being said, I made the decision that I was not going to take classes just because they would improve my GPA or my academic standing. My peers were astounded that I chose not to take APUSH or AP Spanish. They concluded that since I am smart, I should be taking those classes. However, my interests do not lie in history or the Spanish language. Instead, I took challenging classes in areas that intrigued me, such as Biology 2 Honors, Pre Calculus Honors, and Philosophy Honors (an un-weighted course). This choice means that I will not be number one in my class, and perhaps maybe not in the top ten, but that is not what matters. My belief is that I should excel and work diligently for my education and personal growth, not for letters on a piece of paper.

This realization prompted a drastic change in my plans for college. Before high school and for the first couple of years, my plan was to study biology and do the pre-med track, a choice that pleased my own interests as well as the interests of my mom and all the adults who expected great things from me. They saw a successful future in studies that were academic and guaranteed to get me somewhere. However, this past year, through my experiences and reflection, as well as this new philosophical school of thought, I realized that my true passion has always been music. I breathe music. I grew up with an appreciation for many kinds of music, and I participated in music through singing, violin, and hand bells. Most importantly, when I am singing, it takes me to another place, and it serves as a vehicle to explore myself deeply.

It was my favorite singer, Josh Groban, who really gave me the whack of sense I needed to find myself. My user name on the Friends of Josh Groban fan site is sono la mia canzone – it is Italian for “I am my song.” Those words embody my life. Music is a wonderful form of self-expression. That’s what drew me to Josh. When I heard him for the first time, I was flooded with such passion and emotion, all being poured out to me by his voice. I can hear his soul when he sings, and those strong feelings have such an effect on me. When I saw Josh perform in Sacramento, Concord, and Las Vegas I was shaking the whole time because I was so overcome by his true self flowing through his voice. That is what makes him special, and I strive to do the same in my music. Music has always been my greatest love, but I was so afraid to pursue it as a major in college. After hearing Josh and seeing how an ordinary teenager can do something extraordinary because of love for the art, I have been inspired to major in music and complete the pre-med requirements. I want to share my song with others. I recognize that the path will be difficult, but I am willing to devote all my energy to be successful, because I value being myself and doing what I love.

Therefore, because of my philosophy teacher, Mr. Cheever, and the influence of my favorite singer, Josh Groban, I have realized that I am most at home when I am singing. It is the best way for me to express who I am, and tell what I am feeling to the world. Instead of taking the path others expect of me, I’m going to take the path that is best for me. I am going to college for myself. No matter how hard it may be to turn against the desires of others and fulfill my own deep desires, it will pay off in the end.

an essay …

Ageless

Amidst the chaos and calamity of children at play, a young girl walked through the trees in solitude, alone in an environment stuffed with stimuli and gleeful screams. Her long, graceful fingers, accented by gnarled fingernails, tugged at the branches as she climbed into the bush house, shutting herself away from the cold, cruel air as she watched the leaves that flutter violently across the horizon. The foliage separated her from her classmates, intensifying her isolation, yet shielding her from further social harm. She curled up in the cramped, awkward place as a single tear rolled down her downy cheek. She could never be one of them. She would never belong. She would always be in this hardened place … alone.

Six years later, a gangly, towering teenager standing five feet ten inches tall conversed with her history teacher on the blacktop. The sun radiated off the asphalt, kissing her pale skin as she vocalized vibrantly. Adolescent females strode arm in arm past her, not even turning to smile, but the rejection simply bounces off her back. Instead, she immersed herself in the discussion, hands slicing the humid air as she revealed another excitement in her life. Her teacher watched intently as she spilled her most precious thoughts with the natural flow of a glistening stream. Passion stirs inside her in this exchange of ideas, and she relaxed in her skin, for she knew she found her place. She could never be one of them. She would never belong. She would always be in this different place … separate.

She always felt older than her peers. Entering kindergarten the fall after her sixth birthday, her years surpassed those of her classmates, automatically making her the old one in the class. Her height failed to project her true age. In middle school, many strangers questioned her, “What college do you go to?” to which she replied, “Um, I’m not even in high school yet,” cheeks burning and blushing as the words jumped shallowly off her tongue. However, her isolation from her classmates formed the adult she grew into at an early age. With no outlet to participate in normal social activity, she turned to the only remaining people who truly listened to her: the adults. Only they accepted her. Only they understood her. Only they welcomed her into their world. And so she did what any girl in her position would do: she converted to their side. Never again would she be rejected. Never again would she fight a barrier. Now she would always be … at home.

Reborn in her newfound acceptance, she relished the attention and embraced the opportunities, surrounding herself with these mature beings, and subconsciously morphed into one of them. All traces of her teenage personality evaporated, and soon she possessed the interior mannerisms to match her exterior appearance. The gap between her and her peers stretched until the teenagers disappeared into the sunset of her child life, and the sun rose on her adult life, bathing her in the glory and satisfaction of discovering her natural self. From participating in a church choir frequented by a demographic no younger than forty-five, to expressing herself on stage as a mid-twenties mother, her transformation into an adult manifested itself with an ease she never found as a child. She was one of the adults. She could finally belong.� She would always be in this natural place … surrounded by love.

She lies in front of you today, her story crying out in the ebony ink emblazoned on this page. Misunderstood yet revered, isolated yet accepted, she fulfills her role as a teenager but lives deeply as an adult. You notice her sitting alone on a planter, scribbling her latest inspiration, approach her and inquire, “How old are you?”
“I’m old. I’m young. I’m ageless.”

more from spring 2006 … two unrelated topics in one post!

being non-conformist is simply another way of comforming. so don’t rebel against society simply because you want to be different from everyone else, because in that you’re just fitting right back into the system. remember that.

i don’t know why i’m choosing to rant about this today, since i’ve ranted about it in person many times before, but the theme of my blog seems to be random little tidbits, so i’m going to say this: you willowy, beanpole, emaciated, stick thin girls who bitch and moan about how fat you are and count every single calorie because you fear that you’ll gain, heaven forbid, an ounce – if you are fat, then i am morbidly obese. i’m 5’10”, 150 lbs, and wear a size 12 dress. yes a size 12. (okay so by sme miracle my prom dress is a 10, but that’s beside the point). a 12 is considered in most stores and size charts now to be plus size. if you saw me, the last thing you would consider labelling me would be plus. i’m somewhere between average and slender. so i have a large build. my bones are larger than other girls. i have broad shoulders, a wide rib cage all around, and wide hips. i’m not fat. and you definitely aren’t. so please, stop being so blind! okay i’m done now.

and something from my week of ranting about homosexuality haters…

okay so i have a few more things to say. i’ve been confronted with the “bible argument”, to the extent that the individual even questioned by belief in the writings of the bible. this requires an explaination. there are many ways to view the bible, and many people that use the bible to support anti-homosexuality sentiments view it literally and read it with a twenty first century mind. they fail to bracket their modern mind and ignore the context in which it was written. i read the bible philosophically, as esoteric christianity. i will admit that there are many passages in the bible that, when read literally, state that homosexuality is wrong, however, it is important to remember that the bible was written two thousand years ago, and society and its beliefs were much different then. it was a patriarchal society. views of science (in fact, there really wasn’t science then) were very different – example: mental illness was viewed as having demons. it is impossible to argue with a person that uses the bible to back up their argument because they are stuck in a place where it will take much more than a simple conversation for them to evolve out of their exoteric tradition and read between the lines of the bible and read it in context to find the greater truth. also, the bible was written by man, and as sad as this is, man could have used the “word of God” to support his beliefs. when the bible was written, homosexuality was viewed as a choice, just as comitting adultery or murder is a choice, and therefore was easily lumped into the same category with the same punishments. today, homosexuality is not viewed as a choice (okay some people do, but not all) but rather something the individual is born with – they are wired to be attracted to those of the same sex. another point to remember is that atthetime the bible was written, sex and marriage were for procreation. procreation is definitly not an issue now- we have plenty of people, and the technology to be alive. written from a procreation stance, of course homosexuality was put down in the bible, because it went against procration. my point is, everything that is written has a person’s beliefs and ideologies projected into the text – it’s just human nature. as far as reading the bible literally, well then, there are a lot of things the bible says we should be doing that we’re not, and things that we are doing that the bible says we shouldn’t, so if the bible should be followed literally and god wants everything that’s written literally in the bible, then frankly, we’re all screwed. i read between the lines and philosophically. was the feeding of the five thousand really a miracle in which suddenly all these fish and loaves of bread appeared? no, a boy was willing to share his food, and others followed his example, and soon everyone was able to eat. did jesus come back in a mortal body? no, he had transcended time and space and returned in a cosmic state in a body unlike yours or mine. the important thing is that god became human so that by jesus’ example we might become god, and he died as an example, because humans could not accept his teachings, and then he rose, enlightened. if you don’t like the message, kill the messenger.

okay i got it all out. please continue with your normal activities.

a selection from a philosophy assignment…

something i wrote recently for philosophy … this is a selection from my paper

“A phrase I hear often from choir directors or orchestral conductors is that the group is performing the piece like “notes on a page”. Rather than breathing life and interpretation into the music, the performers fail to find passion in the performance and simply play the funny black dots and symbols that are scattered across that silly set of lines we call a staff. They treat the sheet music as an end, rather than a means to reach the end that is passionate, inspired, purely beautiful music. Music that is played in that manner falls short of its true essence; it lacks the passion and emotion of a musician that dissolves the barrier between him and the written music.

This leads me directly to a teaching of Ken Wilber. He asserts “there are no boundaries in the universe. Boundaries are illusions, products not of reality but of the way we map and edit reality. And while it is fine to map out the territory, it is fatal to confuse the two” (143). Therefore, a musician that separates himself from the music and treats the notes on the page as the song is living an illusion. Only when he dissolves the barrier between the sheet music and himself can he produce the music that is full of life and passion. This introduces the idea that Wilber calls the Primary Dualism. He explains, “We cannot hear the hearer, smell the smeller, feel the feeler, touch the toucher, taste the taster – similarly, we cannot see the seer. But we think we can – just that is the problem, and just that is the genesis of the Primary Dualism” (144). Our downfall is that we separate the seer from what it is seeing, and from that springs the Primary Dualism. The passionless musician exhibits this – he separates himself from the sheet music he is viewing. Wilber argues, however, that there is no boundary between the two, and therefore, there is non-dualism rather than dualism:

This is what happens: the Seer, the THAT IN YOU WHICH KNOWS, in actuality is not separate from what it sees – it is what it sees, for the knower sees a thing by being that thing; as Saint Thomas Aquinas stated, “Knowledge comes in so far as the object known is within the knower.” This page, for instance, is identical to that in you which is reading it, or as William James expressed it, “The paper seen and the seeing of it are only two names for one indivisible fact.” (144)

Rather than the page of sheet music and the sight of the musician being two separate and disconnected objects, what is labeled as two is actually one union. In the act of seeing the sheet music, the musician is in union with the sheet music. Instead of just looking at the sheet music, and seeing it as an object separate from myself, I must step back and see myself in union with the sheet music, so that there is no boundary between myself and the odd page of black dots sitting on my music stand. However, I must also take care not to identify with the sheet music. I am not the sheet music; I am simply in union with the sheet music. When I view it in this manner, the unity between the sheet music and myself allows a passionate and true music to be created.”

i’m sure i have more writings on my computer that i should dig up and post on here, but i’m sure this is enough to keep you busy. 🙂

verse

i’ve decided that it would be fitting to post selections from my past blogs (bloodywickedclaire on xanga.com and sonolamiacanzone on blogger). therefore, onward ho to the poetry!!!

body and mind, one, two, and three all written summer 2005. untitled written my sophomore year of high school for an english class. the cannibalistic coroner was written in the style of chaucer’s cantebury tales during fall 2005 for an english class.

(body and mind)

my first breath is in vain.
in my bed lies a twin, the loved one.
i am weak, dependent, neglected.
we reside side by side.
as you thrive, the epitome of strength,
i struggle to hold on to any
scrap of breath you spare me.
you know me, but you ignore me
for your only truth is the tangible.
i sit in darkness.

my feet make their advance. you, the fountain of beauty, offer your hand.
i am lesser, obsolete, but appreciation has grown,
not because of love, but because of need.
you need me to be complete.
i am just thankful to see the sun,
my skin pale from being locked away so long.
you watch me, writhing in pain,
as the light licks my cheek.
i look into your eyes.

your fingers stroke my cheek. you embrace my value, you hold me to the highest esteem.
they talk about us, whisper about our bond.
we are a scandal, they can’t handle us.
you stand up for me, make me proud,
defend me from their scorn.
we are a couple ridiculed by the world.
they can never understand the depth we possess.
it is beyond them.
i hold you close to my bosom.

you won’t listen. i don’t see your eyes anymore, you always conceal them.
we still share a room, but never a word.
i try to get through to you, show you the truth.
you shun me and run off with them.
they used to look down upon us,
treated us like traitors to our kind.
now they hold you up, praise you as righteous.
you’ve turned on me, left me shivering in the cold.
i dissolve into darkness.

the door opens. the night floods in.
you’re leaving me forever.
we’re not compatible, not agreeable.
you walk out that door,
a stake driven through my heart,
feet striking the cold pavement as it begins to rain.
without a second thought you leave it behind,
leave me behind.
i collapse inside.

you collide with the asphalt, just a body, no more, laying in a pool of blood and tears.
i watch you for awhile, the ground drinking your emptiness.
i watch you depart, take a breath, my last,
join you in your grave.
we died side by side in the darkness.
you the body, me the mind.
when you walked out that door, you closed our life.
you sealed our fate and left us to perish.
for the mind cannot live without the body,
nor the body without the mind.

(one)

drowing in darkness
you see no light
but i urge you to breathe
and not give up without a fight

surrounded by shadows
and blinded by fear
it must surely seem
like the end is near

but if you just hang on
and reach out in the dark
you may find there are those
upon whom you’ve made a mark

so just hold on a little longer
and i’ll save you from your cell
and then you will see
there is a way out of hell

(two)

a simple word
and you are mine
it seems absurd
all it took was a line

i can pick at the threads
of our intricate web
but I’ll never figure out
the word that was said

all I can know
is you made an impression
and now time will show
you are, always, my obsession

(three)

your eyes can see
but your heart is blind
to the words you wrote
that made you mine

those very same eyes
that captured my gaze
and the heart i admire
that brings me back all these days

will you ever have the sight to see
that each time you write, my heart you take
or will you forever embrace the darkness
that shadows you from the advances i make?

if only i could open your heart
and give it light to see in the dark
i’ve tried to forget, to abandon my quest,
but your manner and smile have made their mark

so this my prayer is that you’ll see
and leave behind the obscurity
come to my side and hold my hand,
and love me forever, for all eternity.

(untitled)

Sorrow’s pain digs her claws into my heart,
her grip is juicing me of all my life.
I fall under the weight of my sadness,
the burden of despair is her last gift.
And then his voice extends its loving hand,
and wipes away the tears that scour my face.
The wings of song give me the strength to fly,
and music’s touch relieves me with her kiss.
No more can sadness hold me in her power,
for I have strength of song to raise me up.
And as he sings I see a shining light,
the darkness is forever gone from here.
O may I sing and help a falling soul,
as once I was until I heard him sing.

(the cannibalistic coroner)

There was an old coroner from Boars Hill
Who would eat until he was quite past his fill,
But his meals were not of a regular life,
Instead he would eat that which came under his knife.
He enjoyed the pancreas soaked in curry,
And shoveled arteries down his throat in a hurry.
A rich man’s blood he’d enjoy in a cup,
And he liked his ovaries cooked sunny side up.
Broiled lungs filled his taste buds with glee,
And he insisted on having kidneys with tea.
One day he examined a particular bloke,
Then proceeded to serve him to his surviving folk.
They enjoyed his muscle marinated in thyme,
Never suspecting this terrible crime.
His heart was served on a glittering platter,
Surrounded by his grey matter.
When they departed his house that night,
They thanked him for the great delight,
And to this day they’ll never know,
That their kinsman was the star of the show.

a few musings

a couple of my thoughts for the day…

in response to a classmates remarks concerning education of empathy, and how many successful individuals are not empathetic…

This makes me ask, “What is success?” Society can have some pretty
screwed up ideas about who is successful. I think that a person can be
very successful by society’s standards, but be superficial and hollow,
and not have learned anything of value other than how to manipulate
society for their benefit. This is similar to the student who learns how
to get As, but does not actually learn anything in his classes because
he is so focused on the grade rather than his education. He does not
absorb anything from his classes. Is he successful? By society’s
standards, yes, because he has a stellar grade point average, but I do
not believe he is successful. Therefore, it is very possible that there
are individuals in our society who are “successful” and not epathetic,
but they have learned nothing of value, and have not been enriched by
what education offers them.

in response to a classmate who believes that empathy is not an important quality to have, and who states that “If we spend all our time trying to figure out how others feel, we inevidably [sic] forget how we feel.” …

I believe that part of understanding how we feel comes from
understanding how others feel. There are so many texts that tackle this,
but here’s one I was able to find readily:

“Your soul is so close to mine
I know what you dream.
Friends scan each other’s depths;
Would I be a Friend, if I didn’t?
A Friend is a mirror of clear water;
I see my gains in you, and my losses.”

from “Your Soul Is So Close to Mine” by Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Rumi notes that two people who are close to one another have a
connection in which one can see himself in the other, and vice versa.
Empathy works like this. Through understanding what others think and
feel, you can understand yourself. Maybe this does not work for you, and
I’m spouting off for no reason, but this is the way I understand my world.

just some things to think about…