The Self Inflicted Wound

Writer Lewis Lapham recalls an old professor telling him that “education is a self inflicted wound”.

A self inflicted wound usually occurs when a person injures herself in order to take advantage of being injured. Within that metaphor, a person educates himself in order to take advantage of being educated. It’s done for its own sake.

Then there is the wound itself: a shock to the entire body. When we discover something incredible it digs into us deeply. A shock is sent through our worldview, ideals, and even life plans. Wounds are both painful and euphoric (ie: bodily chemicals being sent through body to numb pain, etc.). Education is difficult: we put our beliefs, our very selfs, on the line in pursuit for knowledge. The payoff, however, is something extraordinary.

In a sense, music is a self inflicted wound much like education is. The wound pierces the tough skin that protected us from humiliation, frustration, and alienation. What pours out is the beauty of what it is to be human.

Music doesn’t merely happen on us, we choose it. It’s self inflicted for a reason.

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