Monday, December 19, 2005

On Music And Happiness

The president of Iran has banned Western music, including classical music, from Iran's state-run television:

Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has banned all Western music from
Iran's state radio and TV stations — an eerie reminder of the 1979 Islamic revolution when popular music was outlawed as "un-Islamic" under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Elsewhere, presidents spy on their own people, the climate is warming and AIDS strides like the Evil Prince across continents.

On the other hand, happiness makes us successful and happy....:

Happiness, rather than working hard, is the key to success, according to research published today. Cheerful people are more likely to try new things and challenge themselves, which reinforces positive emotion and leads to success in work, good relationships and strong health, say psychologists.

The findings suggest that happiness is not a "feelgood" luxury, but is essential to people's wellbeing. What is more, happiness can also extend across an entire nation, with people in "happy" nations being more likely to have pro-democratic attitudes and a keenness to help others.

I don't really believe that it's possible to study happiness like that, because the very definition of happiness is hard to compare across people and there are too many problems in trying to assign causality this way. But there is a lot to be said for plain simple respect towards human beings. That is a good basis for happiness or joy or at least a peaceful life. Respect towards AIDS sufferers would make us work harder to guarantee treatment for every one of them. Respect towards the American people would stop illegal spying on their lives. Respect towards the Iranian people would let them listen to Beethoven or Mozart when they are tired and need refreshment.

But respect is not the flavor of this decade. Rather, fundamentalism is the new black. Fundamentalism makes me very unhappy, as you may have noticed if you have read this blog before. Fundamentalism may well be the main reason I write publicly.

But I would write for myself anyway, because it makes me happy, because I feel an internal wind, a breeze of something that flows through me, not from me, and I happily go along with it and interpret what it feels like in my writing. It's like opening some mysterious gate to a world that can't be described, though happiness is as good a term as any for it.

Music can do the same thing: pick us up and take us away, make us larger and more open, calm us and nurture us.

Is that why it must be banned? When will these fundamentalist weirdos feel happy? When we all are nothing but little machines controled by some central authority, whether god or not?