Alan Duff: Listen to the song of the invisible man

Step out of the shot and let it be about someone else for a while - it’s not always about you.
Real Housewives is not really real, duh. Photo / Bravo
Real Housewives is not really real, duh. Photo / Bravo

Noise. This world's way too full of noise. The airwaves, the internet, social media, television, radio, movies, all a clamour with silly, shrill, facile opinions loudly expressed. Noise, too much noise. Everyone shouts now. Subtlety is stupid - you've got to be heard, read, seen; made to feel like you count.

This is the age when nobodies suddenly have power. A total obscurity becomes an overnight viral sensation. Restaurant trolls bag a restaurant out of business, reduce a cafe's turnover by half, all because they were in a foul mood, the order took too long coming. Or because they could.

No-one's glad to be alive any more. A long-distance flight sucks now because you're not in business class. The way of life of the rich is accessible to us in newspapers, on videos, via Facebook. So we're no longer satisfied with what we have and what we deserve.

Henry Ford first empowered the average Joe by making a car affordable. In the world of now, just having an opinion is empowerment.

But isn't life good enough with a decent job, a house, car, annual overseas holidays, the right to vote? What if we just shut up now and again, smell the coffee, contemplate everything good we've got?

I'm writing this to a selection of Chopin piano pieces. It is magnificent. That's the only opinion that needs expressing. It is sound but tranquillity, a poetic quiet, a free journey into that part of the mind where emotions quietly dwell and reflection is everywhere for the silent taking. No voices are needed. A complete absence of noise, away from the interconnected world of immediate gratification which is no longer enough: Someone has to die, or at least have the crap kicked out of them, verbally. Or an ego inflated.

Musical geniuses like Chopin gift us self-insight first, then light the way to universal understanding. Their musical "voice" subsumes our minor, petty own. No, I'm not drunk or stoned writing this in the middle of the night. It's 1pm and I've just finished lunch, with a reasonable day outside. I just felt like some Chopin. Luckily I have quiet most the time as I'm not part of the cacophonic, "listen-to-me" thunderous roar which makes me cringe.

Some - it may now be the majority - will not shut up and sit still so as to "hear" the orchestral silence. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm going on a bit. But some - not the majority - will get my point: Shut the hell up. Stop thinking the world is about you. Just stop talking, texting, tweeting, Facebooking, whatever it is people use to self-obsess.

Subtlety is stupid - you've got to be heard, read, seen; made to feel like you count.

It ain't always about selfies. You don't have to be in every picture. Just shush. Step out of the shot for a while. The Kardashians will still be there in their monetised, preening asinine glory. Your favourite celebrities can manage to survive without your expressed opinion on their perceived qualities or lack thereof. Real Housewives is not really real, duh.

Ask the plumbers who unblock a sewer pipe. Ask any fly on any wall if one second of this virtual non-virtual reality is truly real. Those loud-mouthed dudes on television and radio, you really believe they're stars? Pause, people. And consider in silence what is true and meaningful. It sure ain't this shallow, puerile nonsense of "to he go the spoils who is loudest and most controversial". Come on now.

The great Chopin was playing his own compositions at age 6. He soared and took the planet - well, certain parts of a certain class - with him. He was dead of tuberculosis at age 39. He outlived his era many times over and is still widely admired. How do you think he would have fared in this selfie, narcissistic age?

Here's poet great, Pablo Neruda: "For my life, give me all lives, give me all the sorrow of all the world, and I will transform it into hope." He didn't say give me your dollars and make me rich, or give me undeserved celebrity status and I will transform that into a private jet, a mansion, and bling for your hourly salivation.

He said - and I quote: "Give me the daily struggle, for these things are my song, and so we will go together, shoulder to shoulder, all men."

And to give you pause for thought, "... my song unites them; the song of the invisible man who sings with all men".

No more need be said.

- NZ Herald

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Alan Duff

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