One more thing I've learned about myself in the last year. I tend to use a lot of self-deprecating humor and I sometimes extend that to others as well. There are certain things I say only because they are not true. I have to be careful, though, because if you repeat something often enough, you start to believe it. That's even true for jokes. I wonder how much I've started to believe some of my jokes and how much harm that has done. This is something I need to start paying a lot more attention to.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
I haven't had much time to blog for the last week or so, due to a confluence of factors. I don't expect that to change until the beginning of August. Until then, I recommend reading Copyfight and FurdLog for your copyright news, but you're probably reading both of them already. Among the things that are keeping me busy are rehearsals for Carmen, to be performed at MIT on July 31 and August 1.
The MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players are giving a concert performance of Georges Bizet's Carmen. It will be performed in French, with English dialog. Performances will be in Kresge Theater at MIT at 8 PM on Thursday and Friday, and tickets are $10 for the general public. The production should be quite good and I encourage everyone in the area to come see it.
One force playing an active role in the production that will not be mentioned in the program is the public domain. Carmen was written in 1875, putting it outside of the range of the corporations which want to restrict access to the past. The money that the group has not had to pay on licensing and royalties has been put to use on other parts of the production, including the orchestra and costuming.
But there's far more going on than that. Carmen is based on a novel by Prosper Mérimée. I don't know if that was licensed. Bizet, a French composer, used Spanish folk songs to give authenticity to the score, but like composers before and since, he mistakenly believed a popular song of the day was folk music. (I'm not sure what the distinction is. As a guess, popular music has a known author and an "official" arrangement. I suspect that the last generation's popular music may also be this generation's folk music.) The songs from Carmen have been widely used by popular culture since. Listing out uses of the music would be an interesting demonstration of the reuse of existing work in the creative process.
The daily rehearsals for the production are interfering with my time to do anything else, but the great music and story of the opera are making it worth my time. The fact that I can point to it as an example of the value of the public domain is an added bonus. Hopefully I'll see you at the performances. I may not have time to stay on top of the world of copyright between now and then, but I anticipate blogging more regularly again after the show is over.
My 30th birthday was yesterday. Coincidentally, over the weekend The New York Times ran an article declaring that 30 is the new 21 (cache). Apparently, the proper way to celebrate your 30th birthday is with a massive retrospective party, ideally involving a trip to Las Vegas or a rented yacht. Sounds great. Apparently these events cost $25,000 or more. That's a bit beyond my budget.
The Times reports that now that I have turned 30, I have reached adulthood. I wish I had gotten more than two days advanced warning on all this. I'm trying to live up to expectations, but I don't think I'm quite there yet.
Joking aside, I should take this moment to address four important questions: Who am I? What do I want? Where am I going? Why am I here? This last year has seen major changes in my life. About a year ago, I started thinking about a new career for myself that would tightly tie together music, technology, and law. I left my job six months ago to pursue that idea. I found that I was less interested in actually working on it than I had expected to be, but four months ago, I became involved in copyright advocacy, an interest that has been consuming me ever since.
I'm still not sure where I'm going with this, but I have some guesses. During the next year, I intend to turn the copyright advocacy that I'm doing on this blog into a paying job. My knowledge of copyright law and the many, many related issues of law, economics, and personal rights is not what I need it to be, and I expect to come to a decision on how to proceed. One obvious solution is law school, but I'm still not confident that that is the best direction for me.
Other things I've learned about myself this last year (not always for the first time):
I'm much more a thinker than a doer. I have an abiding interest in software development, for example, but that doesn't mean I should be doing software development. It's much more natural for me to apply that knowledge to understanding how things interrelate and to share that understanding with others. Rather than trying to minimize my tendencies to launch into unprovoked rants on technology issues, I should be trying to harness that.
I have frustrating motivation issues in many aspects of my life, but not, somewhat surprisingly, in all aspects. Copyright serves as the obvious example of a lack of problems with motivation. I wish I knew what the difference is. Beyond that, I hope I can learn to apply my motivation in some areas of my life to the rest of my life.
I have a crippling need to do things myself. To the extent that it makes me willing to things without support or involvement from others, it's a good thing. It means that I can decide to do things without worrying about how others will respond. If you follow me, good. If not, I'm still going to get what I want. The bad (really bad) news is that I regularly refuse anything that even resembles involvement from other people. A recent example is of slowness in responding to an offer for a freelance job. I eventually realized that my failure to follow up on the offer was directly tied to my need to reject assistance from others. This is blatantly stupid, because it's not about assistance. It's about networking. We both get what we want, and the person who came to me understands that better than I do.
This really throws a wrench into my understanding of myself. Related to my lack of motivation, I had concluded that when I fail to do things that I thought I wanted to do, that really means that I don't want to do it, and I shouldn't try to overcome that because it's a losing battle to get something I don't really want anyway. I can't say that anymore. There are clearly other issues involved that cause me to not do things that I actually want.
Fortunately, I seem to be learning to overcome this. The freelance work is proceeding, mostly because the other party kept pursuing it until I realized I was being stupid to not take it. It's making a difference in my personal life, too. A key part of that is learning to hear things as requests rather than demands. Another key thing (which I expect to be an ongoing struggle) is to recognize that involvement from others come from the fact that other people care about me. Accepting that involvement strengthens relationships, while refusing it pushes people away. I need to do less pushing.
Reading this list, you might think it's all bad news. The major things I've learned this last year are how screwed up I am. That's not how I feel at all. The empowering thing is that now when I'm frustrated with myself, I know what I'm working against. That piece of knowledge puts me ahead of where I was before. Beyond that, most of these realizations are directly tied to changed behavior. I'm learning what I'm doing wrong as a result of changed behavior that improves on my own sources of frustration. I've already gotten these things right, and all I need to do going forward is to keep doing them right.
I've occasionally told people why I like the music of David Bowie. Bowie's music seems to share my worldview. Pessimism abounds, at least on the surface. But transcendent, overwhelming joy lies in wait, suffusing life in light.
I I will be king And you You will be queen Though nothing will Drive them away We can beat them Just for one day We can be Heroes Just for one day And you You can be mean And I I'll drink all the time 'Cause we're lovers And that is a fact Yes we're lovers And that is that Though nothing Will keep us together We could steal time Just for one day We can be Heroes For ever and ever What d'you say I I wish you could swim Like the dolphins Like dolphins can swim Though nothing Will keep us together We can beat them For ever and ever Oh we can be Heroes Just for one day I I will be king And you You will be queen Though nothing Will drive them away We can be Heroes Just for one day We can be us Just for one day I I can remember Standing By the wall And the guns Shot above our heads And we kissed As though nothing could fall And the shame Was on the other side Oh we can beat them For ever and ever Then we can be Heroes Just for one day We can be Heroes We can be Heroes We can be Heroes Just for one day We can be Heroes We're nothing And nothing will help us Maybe we're lying Then you better not stay But we could be safer Just for one day
"Heroes" - David Bowie