(Re-post of a piece I wrote a couple of years back – included here again just because I think it’s important to remind folks from time to time to recognize and believe in their talents – and practice their art)
A person who has learned a subject without the benefit of a teacher or formal education; a self-taught person.
Upset, angry or depressed with whatever “earth-shattering” event misrepresented by the main stream media, sane citizens can be driven to heights of hysteria, jumping off the ledge of sanity from even passive participation with other social media outlets. And it is one colossal waste of time. It seems there are better things to do than become so incensed with the biases, lies, hypocrisy and manipulation from the media, that an App for an ambulance service needs to be added to your mobile tracking device. What the “left” is saying, what the “right” is advancing is, for the most part, hollow and worthless.
The adage holds true – we are just people – people who have strong opinions, beloved philosophical beliefs and are social beings who want to be informed and involved. Yet we are also people who, individually, have unique talents, unbelievably creative gifts that remain stagnate, tepid and unused.
Why not take the blandness, the ugliness and uselessness of main stream and social media manipulation and the energy given to it and funnel that energy toward developing the creative gift(s) you might have? Whether your gifts are in music, art, writing, acting, film-making, cooking, gardening, wood work, metal work, photography and so many more, the possibilities of developing your art, your craft and your creative spirit are limitless.
Think it can’t be done? There are an abundance of Autodidacts who tell us differently.
A few of the notable ones are:
- Ernest Hemingway – American author and novelist. Primarily self educated post high school
- George Bernard Shaw – Playwright. Quoted as saying, “I did not learn anything at school”.
- Frank Zappa – Musician. “Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts. Some of you like Pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read.”
- Frida Kahlo, painter, who is best known for her self-portraits.
- Henry Ford – Founder of Ford Motor Company, who did not attend college.
- David Bowie – Musician
- Jimi Hendrix – Musician
- Frederick Douglas – Editor, orator, statesman
- Malcolm X – copied a dictionary word for word while in prison for 7 years to expand his vocabulary
- Jean Michel Basquiat, painter and graffiti artist.
- Frank Lloyd Wright – Architect
- …a more extensive list of Autodidacts can be found here
The point here is to advance the hope that people might believe more in their talents, in their abilities, in their creativeness, and shrug off and abandon the continual negativity and ugliness that we’re bombarded with daily, upsetting us to the point of being consumed with that which really doesn’t matter.
As H.L. Mencken, the early 20th century American journalist, satirist and cultural critic said,
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” H.L. Mencken
Along the path of self-education you might find you are inspired enough to get more formal teaching in your craft, or maybe you find a learned individual in your area of interest and study with them. You may even advance enough on your own to continue with your self-education and who knows what you might produce along the way.
Sir Edward Elgar, as an English composer, was mostly self taught. He read books, studied manuals on playing the organ, and read every book he could find on music theory.
“The young Elgar, therefore, had the great advantage of growing up in a thoroughly practical musical atmosphere. He studied the music available in his father’s shop and taught himself to play a wide variety of instruments. It is a remarkable fact that Elgar was very largely self-taught as a composer – evidence of the strong determination behind his original and unique genius. His long struggle to establish himself as a pre-eminent composer of international repute was hard and often bitter. For many years he had to contend with apathy, with the prejudices of the entrenched musical establishment, with religious bigotry (he was a member of the Roman Catholic minority in a Protestant majority England) and with a late Victorian provincial society where class consciousness pervaded everything.” excerpt from Sir Edward Elgar – A Short Biography – by Ian Lace
To highlight what beauty and wonder came from Elgar’s self-teaching, studies and creative talents, a performance of one of his most famous works – “Nimrod”, from his Enigma Variations, is included below.
Tonight’s musical offering: (One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed)
Edward Elgar – Enigma Variations – Variation IX (Adagio) “Nimrod” – Sir Colin Davis
(the piece begins very quietly)
Photo Credit (Cover): Sarah Derritt (a self taught photographer): http://www.unsplash.com/@sarahderrittphotos
Photo Credit: Unsplash.com/@jeztimms