Alan Watts – Life is Music

Music as an art form is essentially playful, you say you “play the piano”, you don’t work the piano. Why?

Music differs from say travel, when you travel you are trying to get somewhere. And of course we, because being a very compulsive and purposeful culture, are busy getting everywhere faster and faster and faster; until we eliminate the distance between places. I mean, with modern jet travel you can arrive instantaneously. What happens as a result of that is that the two ends of your journey becomes the same place. So you eliminate the distance and you eliminate the journey, but the fun of the journey is to travel, not to obliterate the travel.

So then, in music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition, the point of the composition.

If that was so the best conductors would be those who play fastest, and there would be composers who wrote only finales! People would go to concerts just to hear one crashing chord, because that’s the end!

Same with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room, that’s where you should arrive, the whole point of dancing is the dance. Look at the people who live to retire, put those savings away; and then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left, more or less impotent; they go and rot in an old people’s senior citizen’s community. Because we’ve simply simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line.

We thought of life by analogy, with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end; and the thing was to get to that end, success or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But, we missed the point the whole way along, it was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.

That existence is musical in nature.

-Alan Watts (Original Source Unknown)



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