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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I was reading a biography of da Vinci and although it was enjoyable, I found the constant appeal to greatness to be quite insufferable. It's not just a thing with classical music, it's ubiquitous.

Why though? Is it just human nature, or is it cultural? When I was visiting Thailand a few weeks ago, the way some of the monks spoke about the attainment of enlightenment certainly reeked of the same stench.

I possessed this kind of ridiculous attitude when I was 16, but at 23 I already find it remarkably ignorant and cringeworthy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You may come full circle in another ten or twenty years and start feeling some (certainly not all) things are great again. But yes, many are overrated. May you find something truly great that is underrated you can then champion.
It's not about things being "overrated" either. The discourse around that is equally tiresome and banal, it's just the other side of the coin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Shouldn't this be the opposite in some ways? Buddhist "enlightenment" requires self-denial, renouncing the world and turning inward whereas most European "greatness" (especially since the renaissance) is self-enhancement, "improving" or enriching the world and has an outward direction. So I think you are abstracting too much and miss crucial differences.


Trust me, this attitude is still as cringeworthy and sophomoric as you now see your stance at 16. Two opposites can both be wrong (and often are).
Of course there are key differences in the two. That was kind of my point; despite these fundamental differences there are still the same appeals which foster elitism and hegemony in both circles, at best it's just lazy discourse, at worst it's something a bit (not trying to exaggerate here) more sinister. I think it's just human nature.

Also say what you will but this attitude is not not sophomoric lol. "Greatness" is, by definition, sophomoric. And very tiresome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
it's interesting that people are so offended by the idea of greatness. why is that?
I wouldn't say I'm offended by it; quite the opposite actually. I just find it quite dull and uninspired. It smushes the qualia of everything onto a single number line, how ridiculous
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'm not really sure where you're going with this. Are you saying that da Vinci isn't great, or that the biography of da Vinci isn't great?

Lots of people think that what they embrace is "Great". Thai Monks are certainly going to feel that attainment of Enlightenment is "great". MAGA cultists think Trump is "Great". Catholics think the Holy Trinity is "Great". KKK-ers think that White Supremacy is "great".

Some Classical Music enthusiasts, like, for instance, BrahmsWasAGreatMelodist, think Brahms is "Great". It's right there in his name. Oh, right; that's YOU, isn't it?

Yeah, we all consciously and subconsciously all rank stuff in our lives. I think Dawn is great (not the sunrise, it's always way too early. I mean the dishwashing liquid; it's the best. The "Greatest").

Is Greatness Overrated? "I Aspire to Be Average" . . . said no one, ever. If given the choice, nobody aspires to be a five out of 10.
We rank things as a matter of convenience, or because we do not really understand them on a deep enough level to recognize their intrinsic value.

It's quite a useful abstraction when needing to choose a dish soap brand, not so much, for example, here on this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
I think what Brahms meant to get at, is there is no one thing that is greatness. It seems to be an idea applying to many possible things, under many different contexts, most which are still highly unknown in our history and will likely remain so for a long time.
The main issues I have with an appeal to greatness, are that it tends to invariably induce hegemony, monotony, artificial standards, and an echo chamber, not only in discourse but in standards. It's like peer pressure, sort of.

It seems to be used as a catch-all to describe things we like but either do not understand / do not have the wherewithal to attempt to meaningfully articulate on (a) an individual level or (b) as a society.

But I remain optimistic about this. I think and hope that as we begin to understand more about how the human mind works, and how our collective conscious evolves, we will develop much more nuanced discourse around our appreciation of people places and things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 · (Edited)
It’s seems the point of the thread is that greatness is a myth. Nothing anyone has achieved is any greater than anything anyone else has achieved. It’s just a myth.

I absolutely disagree. But I wonder what inspires such thoughts.
The point of this thread is to explore the psychology behind why people hold notions of "greatness" in their head, and translate these notions to their opinions and discourse.

I never meant to appear so dogmatic, though admittedly the OP was intentionally provocative
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
. One thing I do see, which can be dangerous, is people comparing themselves to others – a young composer comparing their music of someone much more experienced, for instance. This can lead to bitterness and disappointment.
When I make music alone, I am my only critic. I still request and respect the opinions of my audience (especially experienced musicians), but ultimately it's just input that I'll give an honest try, a source of ideas. I remain the sole arbiter. This can result in some very strange music.

When I make music with my band, it's a slightly different matter.
 
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