Friday, March 01, 2013
"Music Rules the World": Proposed conclusion for Chapter 1 of my "DADT-3" book
In my first DADT book, I didn’t cover the brief friendship I had that “lost semester” at William and Mary in 1961 with a student from California who was quite versed in classical music, and had shared my interest in collecting records. He claimed to have composed some symphonies, and actually played a piano reduction of a classical-style piano concerto for me in one of the piano practice rooms at WM. He thought that all “real music” had ended with Beethoven, and claimed that no one should even perform Beethoven until he was 30. His “heart” was with Mozart. I had played one of my early compositions, a classical style “sonatina” (rather like Clementi) for him. He claimed to have memorized it from one hearing and played it for friends back in California at Christmas break (shortly after my expulsion at the end of November), when he came to visit me in Arlington (in the middle of a southern snowstorm) at the end of January for semester break.
I had taken piano lessons, continuing with my second teacher after my first teacher died of cancer when I was in ninth grade, until I graduated from high school in the summer of 1961. I was reasonably good at performance, and could play a few of the Rachmaninoff Op. 32 Preludes. I had made some credible efforts at large scale composition (a 30-minute piano sonata in the 11th Grade, which I performed in a private concert at least once). I would continue that after my expulsion with another Sonata largely written out in 1962. I also had a very good ear for all the major later classical and romantic and some modern repertoire widely played at the time (when Mahler was beginning to be appreciated). It was at least credible that I could made music “my life’s work”, as my piano teachers had somewhat encouraged, even if the first teacher had insisted that I grow up to become a “normal boy” (and presumably not an overly self-absorbed sissy).
There was plenty of pressure for boys to go into science – and I thought I was pretty good in chemistry (although clumsy with the lab work already). The year I entered WM, the Berlin Wall went up; in 1962, while I was a patient at NIH (as I discussed in Chapter 1 of the first book), the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. In time, the military draft (for the Vietnam War) with the controversial student deferments would come into play (as discussed in Chapter 2 of the first book). I could reasonably believe, as I entered William and Mary in the fall of 1961, that it was possible and even desirable for me to pursue both. Others have tried to do this, such as teen composer Tudor Dominik Maican, who entered Indiana University in 2007 to major in biochemistry instead of music.
Did I lose whatever chance there remained to pursue a musical “career” with the expulsion from William and Mary? Maybe. What matters here, though, is that any such opportunity would have used the existing “system” to perform and get one’s compositions published and performed. It would not have followed the “do it yourself” model of self-promotion now so well known in ther “Internet Age”. I’ll come back to this notion in Chapter 3.
There was ample pressure on me to learn to do all the “manly” things, because other people would need me to do them for the good of the family and community, not so much because I would need thme just to make a living. I have an impression that there just wasn’t enough space in my brain (or time to get good at) the practical things like changing a tire or your own oil – and be good at things where, even given the systems of the time, I could excel publicly.
There was also pressure to balance my own desire to excel in something with what would be needed in a relationship. After my “second coming” and when I was going to the Ninth Street Center in New York (Chapter 3 in the first book), someone asked me if I would be OK with a relationship in which I “made a home” for someone (I was seen as “feminine subjective” in terms of the “polarities discussed in Chapter 3) while that person went out and got the glory with his “piano Sonata”. (There is no time machine to hook up with today’s “young talent”.) I would say, no: I needed my own voice. I didn’t want to cling to someone. I thought I needed my own public presence and sense of success first.
As for my “yielding” (or “yang”) personality, I believed that the emotion I felt when listening to romantic music and contemplating the heroes of my world (even at a fantasy level), constituted real “feeling”. One could just stop there, at second base, and let the baseball “bounce over”.
Or consider this. I recall, when I was about nine years old, my parents said they were considering adopting a sister for me, about six. But I never heard about this again. But they obviously wanted me to learn “family responsibility” for others before I expected to go somewhere on my own.
Being alone and being “together” with someone promised to be an endless cycle, even when I “came out” the “second time”. Because of the way the world had demanded sexual conformity as I came of age, I came to buy the idea that I needed m own independent self first, and it needed a public entry of its own. For years, I thought I would accomplish this “through the system”, that is, “getting published”. Eventually, I would learn that one had to “create the system”.
I had already developed a vivid system of “feeling”, largely from music (perhaps “In the Moonlight”), as an internal experience, before I could actually apply it to people. I was already “who I was” before sexual orientation came into play. It was the “self” that mattered; relational life was an option, an afterthought. That would sometimes change once I was on my own, but I always needed to keep my own personal Urbana alive. I could never afford to invest all in anyone else. Children or not, the buck would stop with me.