Meandering Thoughts on the Ego

CoffeeTime is flying by, and we’re already nearing March of a year that feels like it only began a week ago. I’ve been working on Red Star’s latest animation this month, in a very different music style to my normal orchestral/sound-designy schtick! ‘Tis alway nice to have a challenge.

Next month brings with it more new and lovely challenges: preparatory work with Slung Low for the music of The White Whale and the V&A’s Venetian Masquerade exhibition starts in earnest. I’m also putting together a pitch for a film (keep your fingers crossed for me!) and I’m talking at the next Hack Circus, themed ‘This is Reality’. I’m not entirely sure what my take on it is, but ideas of controlling perceptions of reality through music and sound feels like a decent starting point. But, who knows, when I finally get a mo to really sit with the topic it could go off in another direction entirely…

These interesting articles graced my RSS feeds of late; all seem to be a bit ego-themed for some reason (maybe it’s all the yoga, you know, enlightenment, ego-denial and that):

How to be alone

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I like being on my own, and I know that I’m not totally unusual in that (although I don’t know anyone personally who craves quite as much alone time as I do).

However I do understand the notion of having to distract oneself once you’ve found yourself a little cocoon of quiet. A good book, facecrack, a walk somewhere… it’s almost like the ego needs a purpose, that it makes you a bad person if you’re not doing anything, not using your time up deliberately, somehow. I used to vehemently be this person, ‘don’t waste a second’, be efficient (ok I still am a bit like this) but I also now revel in the not-doing. Checking out. Brain break. Staring into space.

I do wonder if there’s a grain of truth to this article but maybe the hyperbole has taken over for book sales purposes?

Why I love my ego

It’s funny but in this business (music, film, making new stuff and selling it) you meet so many different types of egos, but mainly you come to realise that they are useful things, these egos, in order to function in such a culture of ‘self’. Even I’ve described the business as selling oneself, and became enamoured with the notion of personality branding for a while.

What’s nice about this article is that it goes against the grain of ‘the ego is bad’ and in order to be happy/attain enlightenment/be a good person you have to get rid of the ego. It occurred to me during reading that, evolutionarily, the ego is there for a reason – as a mental construct it must have helped keep us alive as a species, and that really it’s just a tool, neither good nor bad: it’s what you do with it that counts.

When it’s working properly by building you up and deflecting projectiles, it’ll protect you from whatever crap the universe throws at you and, by providing context, help you notice and appreciate whatever awesomeness the world sprinkles upon you. Rather than the other way around. And yes I do like to anthropomorphise quite a lot.
Hidden hierarchy in string quartets revealed

Here’s another story I can shoehorn into to my ego-themed post (even though it doesn’t reference it explicitly): in one quartet, the lead violin does her own thing and everybody else follows; in the other, timings are democratically altered between the four on-the-fly. As an ex-perennial second violinist I can tell you it is NO fun whatsoever (ok, it is a little bit) playing in the former when one of the other instrumentalists is a bit of a diva and ploughs through relentlessly ignoring any communication with her colleagues (and it’s not always the first violin… ok, it usually is) in comparison to the latter.

I can guarantee that these balances of power spill over in to the rest of the groups dealings! Looking back on it like this, clearly my ego might have taken a bit of a battering during time in the field; classical music performance can be a brutal arena. It’s just like Black Swan. Except without the tutus.

Also I’ve been on a bit of a caffeine detox for the last few days which may explain why I didn’t come to any of my usual searingly insightful conclusions. Sorry ’bout that.