In Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan, there is a passage about those scientists who are associated with the big ideas. These “brand names” of science share a certain characteristic for Taleb. They are “…the one who connects the dots, not the one who makes a casual observation”.

Taleb goes further, referencing Darwin as an example:

“…even Charles Darwin, who uncultured scientists claim ‘invented’ the survival of the fittest, was not the first to mention it. He wrote in the introduction of The Origin of Species that the facts he presented were not necessarily original; it was the consequences that he thought were ‘interesting'”.

With this anecdote he concludes that “[i]n the end it is those who derive consequences and seize the importance of the ideas, seeing their real value, who win the day”.

David Shields beckons for musicians to, as Taleb wrote, “derive consequences and seize the importance of the ideas” around them. There is such a moment in Reality Hunger where Shields throws down said gauntlet :

“Why is hip-hop stagnant right now, why is rock dead, why is the conventional novel moribund? Because they’re ignoring the culture around them, where new, more exciting forms of narration and presentation and representation are being found (or rediscovered)”.

Where there is so much to take in, within music and without, casual observations cannot cut through the noise. It takes thinking about the world we live in and deriving the consequences of what it means to be a part of a musical ecosystem here and now.

That is where the worthwhile musical endeavors have been and will be.


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