Saturday, June 21, 2008


Authentic experience. As Americans we are very excited by the idea of authenticity, possibly because capitalism yields so many cheaters that we are thrilled to find an authentic version. But cynicism aside, I turn to this idea because it seems to be as close as I can come to answer to the question that I have the worst answer for, "What kind of music do you write?" I generally will answer that it is good or that it is chamber music and solo music that combines with my interest in electronic music. But none of this gets at why or what kind of experience I try to create. In the best of situations, my music leads to an authentic experience.

I have been thinking about this because I just recalled that when in Seattle I went to the "original" Starbucks. I thought about what that location means now and what it must have been like before. Now it is a wooden room with piles of burlap bags arranged meticulously and rows and rows of merchandise and long lines of tourists (on my last visit 75% Asian) waiting to get an authentic Starbucks experience. Then I began to imagine what it might have been, first opening years ago, when the store would open early, long before the tourists arrived at Pike Place market, in order to fuel the workforce of merchants selling what they can to make their way. I started to think about Pike Place Market, towards the end and beginning of the day, when the crowds thinned out and the vendors packed up and were bantering among themselves about how they had done that day (either making enough or not). The conversation I would imagine was not so concerned with the image of authenticity that they were creating for the Pike Place Market place, but rather, had they made enough money and how they were making it through life. In times of poor sales complaints and in times of prosperity, celebration. This life of no health insurance, no retirement, no savings and plans simply to find a way to make it big is common to many people in many places. Many of these places are what are visited by tourists, who are hoping to find an authentic experience. The irony of course is that they will never have an authentic experience in such a situation, because they are not part of the fabric and are certainly not witness to the reality. They are simply a means of turning a quick buck so as to continue existing and when striking it big, celebration of a decadent and rejoicing nature. In a life sheltered from starvation and the real struggle to survive, not thrive! authentic experience that is sought in such places will never be discovered.

Turning back to my own work, I think of the concert that I organized on the occasion of my graduation from NEC. This evening was a concert combined with a dinner party. This certainly did not bring the participants any closer to the authenticity of struggling for daily bread, but rather, it brought then closer to what Socrates calls the absolute form of Beauty (I am just finishing The Last Days of Socrates). This was the right event for the people involved at that time, depending on the time and the people, the event changes. But, it is my hope that I am able to create meaningful moments in peoples lives, something that they will carry with them for a long time as a reminder of what an amazing and varied universe this is. It strikes me that the question of authenticity is not a matter of place or context, but rather of an ability to see. Seeing the world around oneself as honestly and practically as possible. After all, it is simply is and everything else is an invention of our imagination.


Blogger sarah said...

"it simply is" . . . it is! wait.. or is it?
you believe in the real, chris, bless you. maybe seeing is all there is. and seeing as 'honestly and practically' as possible has different measurements and requires different methods / processes for different eyeballs and brains and glasses prescriptions.
but I do agree! what how we see can and should be thought about, reflected upon, questioned, reshaped, perhaps submerged in a cup of hot starbucks coffee.
ok.. im not creating any sort of coherent point here.
but one think I feel strongly about as I walk around here (my here is Istanbul, but as you say, it will never be mine, since I am a supertourist), is that tourists ARE a part of the social fabric, and their positions in the social fabric continue to change. economic, social, and other strands perhaps cannot be conceptualized or visualized as separate strands.. they continuously shape each other.
besides.. in istanbul, i am tourist, filmmaker, grad student, teacher, friend, female spectacle, smoker (ahk!), futbol fan (? how did that happen?) and many other things that i have yet to discover... perhaps you are placing the tourist into a box.. and aren't we all tourists, perhaps even tourists of our own lives. perhaps your own website and blogs are in a sense, a way for your to replay or retour, reproduce.. you!

6/27/2008 11:08:00 AM  

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