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Psychobiography, and in particular psychobiography-by-diagnosis, really gets
on my nerves. Diagnosis is a useful tool in the practice of
psychology/psychiatry, certainly -- it allows one to create a simplified
model of a person (or an aspect of the person anyway) and thereby help them
more effectively. But as a biographical tool? What use is simplification in
trying to create a picture of a life? I haven't yet (and admittedly I am
still young...) managed to create anything resembling a neat, consistent,
coherent concept of myself, my own beliefs, and my own priorities -- to
think I could do this for someone else seems the height of arrogance. And
these psychobiographical diagnoses are often given with such a tone of
authority, too...as though to say "this is how you should understand this
person, end of discussion."
I find this especially problematic with post-mortem psychobiography, since
the person in question is no longer able to challenge the propositions made
about them. Any competent psychiatrist should see the problem with this
approach, as a diagnostic session always involves interaction with the
patient himself, a process that often leads to considerable insight.
(I expect a forthcoming detailed rebuttal of this argument from S.F. Lemming
On Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 10:15 AM, Houpt, Fred <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I am not sure (because all my sheet music is at home) exactly which
> piece he plays on the television studio spot. For me it is so charged
> with power and very satisfying.
> On one of the CBC English spots (on the web site link I gave yesterday)
> there is a clip of a GG documentary and in it you get several "experts"
> chime in on what they figure GG had. There is the guy who figured it
> was aspergers (sp??) syndrome and a psychiatrist said it was mental and
> emotional stuff. Who knows.
> I think so called experts make much too much of how artists sway and
> move and bop at their instrument. Did these same experts decide that
> Oscar Peterson must have had a problem with his mind because he hummed
> like a buzz saw, all throughout his career? Who cares if they do that?
> Listen to how he rips up the keys and gives you goosebumps. That's what
> is important. Who cares if they drool, have their eyes roll up into
> their skulls. They just might be caught in an updraft of creative
> Maybe these so called experts have never felt ecstasy at playing a
> musical instrument? How else is a person supposed to "look" or appear
> when they are in an ecstasy? Calm and subdued? Honestly, we should
> honor and respect our musical performers and just let then howl. I can
> still hear Keith Jarrett as he pounds his feet, shouts, howls and
> screeches his way through the immortal "Koln Concert". A rendition that
> his admirers feel is his very best and still moves the heart deeply.
> Perhaps what we GG fans need to do is to re-educate the critics and open
> their eyes to other possibilities? The human condition, when it
> encounters music, just makes us act differently. Think of all those
> African tribes that drum themselves into a total frenzy, often enabling
> many of them to enter high shamanic states of trance. What of it? Are
> they freaks? Ok, I'm in a froth now so I better stop.....
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com
> [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Brad Lehman
> Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:03 AM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re:
> Yes, well played. It really gets him sweating, too: how hot was it in
> there with the lights and that coat? I think it's kind of funny how GG
> swings around so much...and the cameraman tries to keep him in the
> I put on GG's later recording of this piece after watching the
> television version. It's much slower, taking two minutes longer. What
> a difference! I like the drive of that televised performance better.
> It's not really "late" Beethoven; B was only 31 when it was published.
> Same year as the so-called "Moonlight" and a bunch of other sonatas.
> Brad Lehman
> Houpt, Fred wrote:
> > The first sample on this page "homme au piano" has Glen playing a late
> > Beethoven sonata. It is simply spine-tingling. Listen for the power
> > of the fast sections, contrasted with the most loving and delicate
> > aria notes of the solo (voice), sung (played) with such pathos. It is
> > a movement to die for and I've never heard it more super charged and
> > exciting.
> > In a word "wow"
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