Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Create Peace Through Inception?

"Inception" is a movie based on the premise that if you plant an idea deep enough in someone, it will change or alter their behavior.

Yesterday, I posted about this study showing how facts don't alter anyone's opinion about anything.

Recently, I asserted that music is an ultimate way to create peace. What is my evidence? How did this whole line of thought begin?

It began on a ship in the dead of night.

A Ray Bradbury dead of night. (In "Something Wicked This Way Comes," the description of 1am. Not so bad. 2am. Getting later. 3am. The dead of the night. 4am! I don't remember the details, but there was always something so delicious about the progression of the dead of night.)

So, I, having retired early, was now up and wide-eyed at 3am, dressed in black casual slacks and shirt, creeping down the corridor, saying hello to the night crew with their mops and vacuums.

Peeking into the night club, I looked around to see if the partiers had gone to bed. They had. The bar was now dark and empty. Too dark to work in. I pushed the secret button to "late night," and a glow settled over the gleaming black Yamaha grand, freshly tuned but showing its constantly pounding wear.

I probably played through a few of the pieces I was composing, at the time. And then, at some point, I went into my zone. When I'm in the zone, I pace. I talk to myself. I go up and down the aisles, bumping into cocktail tables. (The night crew all think I'm funny. They pretty much leave me alone, at first, until they get used to me and we end up making a choir together.)

Finally, I sat down and looked at the piano, thinking about the current foreverwar, and why war happens. And how sad it all is.

The image that came was simple. It's one we actually witness and experience every day of our lives.

I saw a huge room. It was filled with people of every type of cultural, political and religious division.

And they were all listening to a beautiful piece of music.

And it was perfectly still. Perfect stillness. And peace.

I thought about how religious and political figures, currently in the media, are all saying they want peace -- and how ironic that all of them think the only path to peace is by creating war and violence. As if "peace" were some physical shoreline just over the horizon, and "war" is a living creature, or a big storm, a physical obstacle getting in the way.

This same moment hit me when I was playing John Lennon's IMAGINE piano in Gabi and Alec Clayton's front yard. How the music from this instrument created this space of perfect peace.

Can you go into foreign territory and create peace?

It's exactly what the gay men's choruses do, for instance, when they go to a small town, like the San Francisco group did this past year, on the Freedom Tour.  

But how do you do it on a macro scale? If all the soldiers in the Middle East, for instance, start singing the same song, will they stop fighting? Remember the stories of the Civil War and WWI soldiers who, at night, were so close, they could hear each other? And sing Christmas songs together? Even cross the lines and share a drink with each other? How warm and fuzzy are those stories, those moments of shared humanity.

And yet, the stories end the same way. The next day, they continued slaughtering each other.

No. I'm not naive.

But what I do know is that when people who normally don't sit in the same room together are all joined together in song, it changes things. It makes you realize that peace is not a foreign destination. It's an achievable reality. For a little while, at least.

But maybe there are ways to extend those moments.

In "Inception," they plant the idea through dreams, and insist that it won't "take" unless it's deeply implanted. In real life, we can't jump into dreams, but we can create them, and by creating music along with those dreams, we can not only implant the idea of peace, but create peace while doing it.


~ Sil in Corea said...

I agree! Music DOES have "charms to soothe the savage" in all of us. There's a strong aversion to harming folks who have sung with us, even when the orders from the generals say "Shoot to kill."

sonia said...

Inception is one of my favorite movies ever. The concept of inception is engaging, as it is both elegant and unfathomably vast, and the narrative of how that plays out in the characters is rich and profound. I was moved by the intricate interwoven structures of shared dreaming, the emotional depth of the multilayered performances by an accomplished cast, all accompanied by breathtaking visual settings, and mind-bending kinematics that were as beautiful as they were astonishing.

And, to underscore your comments about the transformative nature of music, the soundtrack for Inception is powerfully and uniquely moving. The soundscapes are an expansively varied yet integrated expression of the scenes. Subsequent listening reveals additional nuances. Here's a video of a live performance at the premiere by the full ensemble, revealing how inspired the musicians are in the moment.

You have so much great music in you as well, and I continue to enjoy what you have composed and joyfully anticipate much more to come.