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I used "normal" as a point of reference that still needs to be
considered. I thought of it when I recalled how much lambasting GG took
over the years. Mind you, he was his own worst enemy as far as a
"public" image of himself goes. He did not shy away from freakish
behavior, like wearing a winter coat in summer with gloves, etc. So
sure, he knew and we all knew that he had eccentricities. I think that
in general most of us are a bit wary of eccentrics. Like to look at
them from across the park but if they start moving towards us we grab
the kids and say let's get out of here. Some but not all of this
reaction is cultural, some just based on our inherent fear of
strangeness and of non-recognizable behavior. We are put off kilter, we
are put out of our narrow comfort zone (to quote a current mantra) just
by being around others who do not immediately conform to our sense of
sameness. I am currently reading a book that refers to the role of the
Reptilian brain part in our lives. Without going into tangential
details, suffice it to say that some but not all of our reactions to
"others" is deeply buried in our psyche. I also believe that we can
grow accustomed to something not familiar very quickly. We humans adapt
and make room for otherness.
There are those who would argue that GG's ecstatic relationship to music
was the normal and our very muted and subdued reactions the abnormal.
For example, we admire (to some extent) the freedom of a little child,
who roams about in an unrepressed manner, freely and deeply reacting and
tasting life without intellectual/mental filters. As we grow older we
repress those initial child-like ways of living as we succumb to
conformity. That's the gist of the idea. I am reminded of Wordsworth's
Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
"..... Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended; 75
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day."
This extraordinary work [above is just part of the larger poem] greatly
summarizes the points I have been trying to make and Wordsworth does a
better job. Finally for now, another Wordsworth poem which nicely
dovetails into this riff:
My heart leaps up when I behold
MY heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began,
So is it now I am a man,
So be it when I shall grow old
Or let me die!
The child is father of the man:
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety
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