Mozart's Brain, Too - Confessions

Mozart’s Brain, Too


Wim Baren

This is a Shakespir edition 2016

Copyright June 2016

Westminster & York, Ltd.


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[Occasionally, you’ll find me writing something which may be only tangentially related to the theme of creative writing. It is even less structured, and may seem a bit undirected. It’s supposed to add to that cloud of characteristics of being human which contributes to this thing we call ‘creative expression.’

This is one of them…]

Numbers. Science. Facts. Logic.

Did you know, we use not one, but four distinct number systems?…

Each one, and all its legal operations, is enclosed in a larger, more comprehensive system. Each is self-sufficient for its allowed operations among its elements. So, for example, the system of whole numbers has allowable ways of combining any two elements which can never produce another element which is not itself a whole number. (Division is not one of these operations, believe it or not…)

I won’t bore you with other exciting gems of this subject. Seriously, though, it’s easier for me to see why people might become enamored with math – like Fermi and his Last Theorem, or Leibnitz, the co-inventor of calculus – and its marvelous structures for their own sakes.

So why do I mention this when it’s creative writing I’ve spoken of in all my other broadsheets?…

Because it’s one of those little factoids which made up almost all of my preferences of thinking when I was growing up (an event, by the way, my friends tell me they are still waiting in faint hopes for signs of…)

I didn’t know it, but my earlier years were filled with a focus on subjects and things which reflected certainty. Math is one of them. The physical sciences are others. All very straight, very linear, with no ambiguity or messy organic curvatures to.

I was very literal in my outlook on the world, and my understanding of it was equally parched.

For the longest time I couldn’t figure out things as amorphous and shifting as ‘relationships.’ Nor could I easily perceive things like ‘emotions’ and ‘core values’ and intangible human stuff you can’t easily quantify. So I ignored them pretty much altogether. One result was I had a lot of acquaintances, but precious few friends. I liked sports, but of the individual kind, like swimming. I hated basketball and other team sports, not wanting my performance dependent upon others’ efforts, fearing they might fall short. A relay was about the closest I got to enjoying something like a ‘team’ effort.

I only recently came to see that I was watching Life, insulating myself from it, not embracing it.

And so my early schooling was marked by two things – a toleration without interpretation or much inquisitiveness of the world which was around me, and a partiality for the things of the imagination which, to put it bluntly, were escapism into science fiction and science fantasy – uncomplicated characters and relationships, and almost zero romance. (Note the word ‘science’ in both genres…)

Maybe some of this pulls a familiar string or two within some of you. Or maybe not…

I sailed along through public grade school like this, not seeing anything I might be missing. But at that time and age, all my schoolmates were freely on the phone every day with the girls in our class. (Regular telephones. No cell phones were around then. I know, it’s hard to imagine such a primitive world. This is a long time ago, folks!) This bold calling back and forth was something I was petrified to do, fearing I’d make a complete fool of myself – I was almost incapable of initiating a conversation with a girl. I did not date very much at all, and not at all before I was about fifteen. Yeah.

And so, my passion became swimming, which I started competitively at five, and got totally immersed in as I grew older.

Of course it got ridiculous. At one point, for three days a week I was going after school by train into New York City and working out at the New York Athletic Club. I was going, on three other days, to a local YMCA to work out with their team. On yet another day, I was picked up each week and driven to another local pool under a third coach for a small group workout.

That all was nicely wrapped up when I was able to go off to a boarding school which had a national-class swim team, and I could swim to my heart’s content there. Every day. Within walking distance from the dormitory.

I spent hours in the pool, doing just about anything I felt like, when I wasn’t in the middle of a workout. By the way, some of those became really serious when I went to college and then did Masters Swimming later on – like 40 miles, or 70,000+ yards, a week. Heavy stuff in the deepest part of the competitive season. And it did not count the land exercises and weights workouts and conditioning…

Ever go underwater in a pool and just push off backwards from the wall, using only your arms, to see how far you’d go? Or push off with just one leg and see how far you’d glide. By the time I’d amused myself over many seasons doing stuff like this, incidentally streamlining my posture in gliding, I could push off the wall and with one underwater pull, travel about eighteen yards before gliding to a stop. That’s, like, two-thirds of a 25-yard pool’s length. It gave me an advantage off the walls in races which I only belatedly realized.

I went to college. They had a world-class swim team. Several Olympic champions were among my teammates. Wow, what an honor to swim with them. Heaven on earth. And their stroke mechanics and skills were so beautiful to watch. The better they were, the less effort they seemed to exert even at high race speeds…

Now, everything for me was still mechanical, linear, dry and factual, non-emotional regarding the heartstrings. Excitement, yes, at swim meets, and feeling the adrenaline pumping through as I got up on the blocks, or started a race from the water (it’s the ‘done thing’ in backstroke). It was intense.

But no getting in touch with real personal feelings. They were things I experienced, without reflection, without thought, without learning. Even the most wonderful stories and novels I read as part of my growing up and my literary education and amusement did not ‘capture’ me, and I never knew it. Wasn’t this how everybody enjoyed their readings?

My education included a stint in Viet Nam, and from there a graduate degree in Business Administration. I’d let my computer sciences degree become fallow from lack of use.

Skip way ahead now, and come to 2013. All along the way, I’d pursued factual, dry business activities with large (e.g., IBM) and small employers and then set out on my own as a consultant to several industries, dispensing implementation help rather than nostrums on strategy. Liked doing things and helping others see what they could do also, with the right tools.

But I decided to ‘retire’ from active consulting – stopped the travel, the rapport-building for pitch presentations, the being on-site to work with the folks (who might have been skeptical about the ‘help’) and the follow-up with the client in a professional capacity. And stopped all the other administrative stuff that goes with maintaining a practice. (Why do they call it a ‘practice?’ Does it ever get beyond practice?…)

…Because I’d gotten an idea. An idea for a story. Because I’d read tons of history and found it fascinating. Didn’t matter what history. Almost any period and culture was of great interest. Sweeping panoramas of civilizations’ rises and falls, intense bits of historical fragments around a brilliant event or person (Napoleon?…) of some kind, things like that.

And I really began to appreciate classic novels. Trollope, Tolstoy, Gaskell, Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, H, Ryder Haggard, E. R. Eddison, William Morris (Now there’s a renaissance man if ever there was one!…), Edgar Rice Burroughs, and others too numerous to list here, but whose names you probably know, and maybe have read.

And I began to see much more deeply into the romance of them, more than I ever thought. And I actually felt myself getting emotionally swept up in the human passions painted through them. And I finally got an idea for a story, The Crimson Emperor… (No, no way, this is not an ad!…)

It took me a year to read up on the time period, and to make a ton of notes. And the story just grew in the telling. But here’s the thing I found most marvelous about the whole effort…

I found writing the scenes of intense emotions among the characters was like opening a floodgate to all those things I’d ignored or never allowed myself to experience. And the more I wrote, the more aware of, and sensitive to, these rich emotions and feelings I became. At times, I’m sure I was drowning in melodrama. Maybe so, but the sensations were still exquisite, and I could not shut them off. They persisted, and spilled over to affect me as I listened to the kinds of music I love best, and saw the kinds of scenes of heartwarming humanity we see portrayed by ordinary people doing extraordinary things for others. Indeed, they affected me at the mere sight of Beauty in any form. And it has lasted, and grown as a kind of Muse of Sensation.

And that’s what this gift of inspiration to be a creative writer so late in my life has brought – a permanent sensitivity to, and keen appreciation of, all those things in life and the world which are of greatest beauty. And how I can capture these and express them through the songs of language…

You’ve been really patient, if you read this far. Hope this catharsis has not taxed your good will. It’s free, though, and a gift. Take it for what it is. May your inspiration never dim…


About The Author, Wim Baren

Wim Baren is the pen name of the author, who has had an abiding fascination with history and the many things throughout it that are so incredible that they could not have been made up.

The author attended an eastern college and then served in the nation’s armed forces for three years in Viet Nam, a very green place with, at that time, a high metallic density to the air.

From there, he realized that his technology education at college was already obsolete, and went to a small business school where he learned all about strategy and business and finance, and entered the financial services business, in which he labored until he realized that people wanted not so much advice as they wanted help on actually getting things done that they wanted to get done.

He turned his hand to consulting in project management, became an independent consultant, developed professional education courses in projects and risk and leadership, even a software learning application (!), and generally made as if this were his final career choice.

But it wasn’t.

And since I’ve turned my hand to authorship, this little work, among other offerings, was a quick brainwave that I thought I could share with others who might like a little literary confection, coupling the worlds of the real and fantasy.

Feedback (What you really think, but please keep it polite, respectful, as others would do for you) is really welcomed from you, as well as your recommending this little opinion to your friends and family, and neighbors, and passing strangers.

Reach me at [email protected]

I’m proud to have all my works on Shakespir.com, where you can easily get at them. Or to them.

See my Shakespir author profile at https://www.Shakespir.com/profile/view/Barent

Mozart's Brain, Too - Confessions

  • ISBN: 9781310650239
  • Author: Wim Baren
  • Published: 2016-06-02 16:35:07
  • Words: 2067
Mozart's Brain, Too - Confessions Mozart's Brain, Too - Confessions