+OUTER LIMITS OF HUMAN POTENTIAL: AUTISM AND MUSICAL GENIUS

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015.  It is not the ordinary that defines the outer limits of human potential.  In the case I am highlighting here it is the mysteries of the outer extremes that affirm there is much we have yet to learn about the human brain.

You will find a link below to a video of a story about great disability paired with the great ability of genius.  It leaves me thinking about what an ability to focus could do without any impediment created by fear (including self-consciousness).

It would not be advantageous for the survival of our species to have our abilities paid for at the cost of this much loss.  Yet most of us probably do let go of degrees of what could be our own unique genius because we really are spread out so thinly as we disperse our energies by attending to so many signals of wants and needs within ourselves and others that we sacrifice dedication to focus in favor of multitasking our way through life.

Ours isn’t a wrong way to live.  But it is a choice.  Our ability to make our choices is our gift.  The man this movie is about has an entirely different kind of gift.

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I watched this movie spellbound and mesmerized.  What an incredible story!

The Musical Genius

DocuFilm (Focus 2006) Video

Derek Paravicini is autistic, blind, retarded, and yet, is a genius at the piano. He can play anything he hears just once. This report follows him to a major concert where he teams up with another genius pianist…with the same handicap.

“Born three and a half months prematurely, Derek Paravicini miraculously survived, but his twin sister did not. Technically, he died three times in the hospital and his eyesight was destroyed by an oxygen overdose. He has been left completely blind, partly autistic, can’t tell left from right and cannot count to ten, but despite his disabilities he has an incredibly acute sense of hearing, and is a musical genius.”

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Here you will find a follow up on musical savant co-star of the above movie – Another incredible story —

Rex Luther-Clark (at age 13) by “60 Minutes”

Notice in both of these shows the complications regarding emotions these musicians experience as described by other people.  Emotions.  What are they, anyway?  And where is it “written” that emotion is an integral component of music?  Does music itself exist separately from emotion?  Actually, from watching these musicians it appears yes, it does.

Yet I also notice that no specific mention is made in either documentary about rhythm and timing as they ARE essential aspects of music.  (This makes me think of prosody in languages, as well – including tone, pitch, pauses, inflections, etc.)  Is “emotion” anything more than a nuance of music itself?  Emotion – is it ALL that really matters in Beethoven’s piano sonatas, for example?

Is music primarily created of patterns (simple and complex)?  How patterned are emotions?  Is there pure music?  Are there pure emotions?  Are emotions essentially music?  Can music be deleted from emotions?  Can emotions be deleted from music?

(This line of thought could include “machine made” or “digital” so-called music – but I am not prepared here to pursue this thread.  I do know that, obviously, even in these circumstances humans are involved in these productions.)

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In Modern English:

Origin of MUSIC

Middle English musik, from Anglo-French musike, from Latin musica, from Greek mousikē any art presided over by the Muses, especially music, from feminine of mousikos of the Muses, from Mousa Muse

First Known Use: 13th century

Origin of MUSE

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin Musa, from Greek Mousa

First Known Use: 14th century

(Muse) (In Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.

The Muses are generally listed as Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flute playing and lyric poetry), Terpsichore (choral dancing and song), Erato (lyre playing and lyric poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Thalia (comedy and light verse), Polyhymnia (hymns, and later mime), and Urania (astronomy)

Origin of EMOTION

Middle French, from emouvoir to stir up, from Old French esmovoir, from Latin emovēre to remove, displace, from e- + movēre to move

First Known Use: 1579

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Certainly the discovery of music fundamentally “stirred up” both of the musicians in the above films.  Therefore, it seems to me, nothing but emotion MOVED them at the same time – simultaneously – to their discovery.  In the video about Rex his introduction to music through the gift of a keyboard on his second birthday is documented as having an immediate and PROFOUND impact on that boy!

A greater level of questioning would be to explore what listeners’ requirements are of musicians if musicians are expected to take responsibility for listeners’ emotions.

Do listeners demand a “relationship” with musicians?  Do listeners demand a “relationship” with the music?  Do  listeners demand of musicians that they reach into listeners and massage their emotions with the music they create?

If these are the conditions set for musicianship then must music itself be only a vehicle for emotional relationship communications based on “tonal” titillation of outsiders’ emotions?  If this is so, then do we demote music to the role of promoting a listener’s relationship solely with their own self?

How petty!  How demeaning of one of the greatest gifts known to humankind.

And yet, if music CAN be played without emotion is such music sterile, void and dead?

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Certainly cultures vary greatly around the globe in their tastes for music as do cultures within cultures.  My thinking takes me to tune, tunes, tunings and attunement.  Attunement is the basis of attachment in relationships as it is coupled with appropriate response to signals.

Do people tend to seek “attachment attunement” to musicians?  To themselves through the effect music has on them?  To a wider group of others also listening to the same music?  If this is true then music is a mechanism for attachment.  Because autism is considered to interfere with both emotional and social development, how is musical talent including outright musical genius affected?

Is there a subtle expectation that music somehow “save us” from being-feeling all alone?  Isn’t that the same thing that safe and secure attachment interactions do for us?  Isn’t being attuned to HOW we KNOW we are not alone?  Does music let us KNOW that we are human?

Through music are we connected to an infinite feedback loop that lets us know we are who we are (human) and we are NOT ALONE?  Isn’t that the same thing we want to know from the first moment we are born?  We are a social species.  Yet we are told that autism presents us with a variation – perhaps – of what being human MEANS.

Do we naturally seek a special kind of wisdom through our experience with music as it echoes back to us the very nature of our species as we have named ourselves?  We, the sole survivors of the genus Homo.  We, being modern humans who began to evolve 200,000 years ago.  We, being the subspecies called, Homo sapiens sapiens.  Sapiens — meaning “wise” or “sapient” ones.

Of course we would question the meaning behind being a savant – of music – or of anything else.

Origin of SAVANT

French, from Middle French, from present participle of savoir to know, from Latin sapere to be wise — more at sage

First Known Use: 1719

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Did humans invent music?  — “Did Neanderthals sing? Is there a “music gene”? Two scientists debate whether our capacity to make and enjoy songs comes from biological evolution or from the advent of civilization.”

Evolutionary musicology – Is “a subfield of biomusicology that grounds the psychological mechanisms of music perception and production in evolutionary theory. It covers vocal communication in non-human animal species, theories of the evolution of human music, and cross-cultural human universals in musical ability and processing.”

NOT to be confused with — Evolutionary music — !!!!!

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From the Centers for Disease Control site on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Data & Statistics

Prevalence

  • About 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. [Read summary] [Read article]
  • ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. [Read summary] [Read article]
  • ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). [Read article]
  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of about 1%. A study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%. [Data table] [Read article]
  • About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism. [Read summary]

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Here is our first book out in ebook format.  Click here to view or purchase –

Story Without Words:  How Did Child Abuse Break My Mother?

It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge.

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NOTE:  I am still stuck with this new version of the blog’s posting page that I do not like and cannot get out of.  It has refused to post or include my chosen tags:

adult attachment disordersadult reactive attachment disorderanxiety disorders,borderline motherborderline personality disorderbrain developmentchild abuse,depression,derealizationdisorganized disoriented insecure attachment disorder,dissociation,dissociative identity disorderempathyinfant abusePosttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),protective factorsPTSDresiliencyresiliency factorsrisk factorsshame

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