April 21, 2012 at 4:01 PM(Here is Part II, and here is Part III.)
I hate Anton Bruckner.
For the last two years, whenever I’ve had any spare time, I’ve been drifting through Grout’s History of Western Music and taking notes at the end of each chapter. I then listen to Youtube videos of the mentioned works and follow along with scores on IMSLP. Even though Grout succeeded in sucking nearly every human element out of his narrative, I’ve uncovered a lot of great pieces this way and put them into historical context. I’m a nerd and I’ve enjoyed the project. Always.
But this week…
Bruckner. For some reason, I hate this guy.
I don’t remember when I first heard his music. But I do remember the impression it left: what the heck?
It’s entirely possible I read about him before I heard any of his music. He was an insecure country bumpkin. His heroes were Wagner, Beethoven, tremolo, this rhythmic pattern, and Christ. He came to a Beethoven exhumation without permission and cradled the skull. And he was obsessed with teenage girls, even when he was old enough to be the girls’ grandfather, going so far as to keep a list of who he found physically desirable. I can deal with one or two creepy traits in an artist…because let’s face it, most of the great composers were creeps in one way or another…but Bruckner. He just takes the creepiness to a whole new level. For some reason literally nothing endears him to me. He seems like the great composer version of the lonely old guy who hangs around gas stations, mumbling things to himself and asking female clerks easily answerable questions. You know he’s probably harmless – maybe he’s even nice – but you have no desire to get any closer to find out.
I listened through the eighth symphony the other day while reading through the IMSLP score. I was twitching throughout the entire thing. The music repelled me - repelled me in a way no other music ever had. And I couldn’t explain why, which made me even twitchier. I GUESS MAYBE BECAUSE EVERYTHING FELT AS IF IT WAS IN CAPITAL LETTERS! EVERYTHING WAS LIFE OR DEATH OR BRASS OR TREMOLO FOR NINETY MINUTES STRAIGHT! AND JUST WHEN I THOUGHT IT WAS ALMOST OVER I LOOKED AT THE CLOCK AND SAW THERE WAS STILL AN HOUR LEFT TO GO OH MY GOD SOMEONE GET ME OUT OF HERE!
I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Fauré is my favorite composer, and the two couldn’t be more different. Bruckner is sun, Fauré is moon. Fauré is the wistful urban sophisticate who sums up delicate, ephemeral emotions in emotionally ambiguous nocturnes. Bruckner is the one who apparently can’t say anything worthwhile without a hundred-piece brass section blowing away for over an hour.
(A totally scientific comparison of what goes through my mind when I listen to Fauré versus what goes through my mind when I listen to Bruckner)
But I’ve been thinking about it, and realizing I’m not giving Bruckner a fair shake. Since I learned his biography before I had a chance to really dig into his music, I know I was biased against it from the start. Should what a composer did in his life influence what we think of his work? I don’t know that it should – so why does it? Personal life aside, why is his work so repellent to me? (Because I’m pretty sure I’d still hate it even if I thought he was a super amazing guy…) What exactly about his work is repellent to me? Orchestration? Harmony? Tempo? Lack of contrast? Everything? How can one person cry at one passage’s strength and beauty while I start cackling at its absurdity? Will I someday hear a Bruckner interpretation that I enjoy? How much of my hatred is the fault of conductors and performers? How much of my hatred is my fault? What exactly causes certain people to love certain styles of music, and others to loathe others? Could I ever – gasp – love Bruckner, if I invested the time and energy and resisted the ever-present urge to make fun of him?
Stop making me think, Bruckner! It was so much easier when I could just point and laugh at you.
So. This might be masochistic but I’m putting myself through the wringer again, re-listening to Bruckner 8 and live-blogging it, trying to answer some of those questions. I may even – and this is blasphemy – cut out the parts I don’t like, thereby adding my own wrinkle to the Bruckner Problem. I’m perversely curious as to what such a symphony would sound like. If in the future I use this project as evidence that I knew nothing at the age of twenty-two, so be it.
Do you love Bruckner? Why? Please convince me I’m a mean sixth-grade girl bullying a naive nerd, because there’s a part of me that wants to love Bruckner. Really. Honestly.
Do you hate Bruckner? Why? Help me understand this strange reaction I’ve never had before. Because, in case you didn’t hear yet, I hate Bruckner.
Do you have no opinion about him? That seems to me to be the most shocking position of all. How can an hour of this possibly evoke a “meh”?
Dude, that's some strong stuff. Then again I disagree with about three-quarters of what you ever say, so... I personally can't take refuge in this argument because a lot of my favorite pieces are modern.
"Just turn it off as soon as you can. Don't knowingly go to concerts that include Bruckner. If you are caught, just fold your hands at the end."
Butttt. Then we get into the issue of, what riches will you miss out on if you give up on something on the first couple listens? And another interesting point...I personally would be applauding like crazy, if only for the musicians that have to slog through that. Their poor sweet shoulders. Also I love the idea of "not willingly" going to Bruckner concerts - it implies that I might be kidnapped at some point and forced to sit through Bruckner 8 lol.
Tom - definitely. But Beethoven was, too. When talking about Bruckner, people often mention the Nazi connection; but it hardly ever comes up in conversations about Beethoven. What's the difference between them?
Does anyone think it's safe to say that Bruckner might be the most divisive composer of his era? I wonder what the ratio of people-who-love-him to people-who-hate-him is.
I don't think all 20th century music is bad but there is a historic and notable link between Bruckner and certain composers in successive generations that produced more Bruckner-ish crap.
My 20th century favorites include Prokofieff, Bartok, Stravinsky, Britten, Kodaly etc. Of course I like the retro composers of the 20th century like Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Barber, Vaughan Williams, Copland and many others as well. I think that Berg is a shrieking genius.
But a discerning reader like you will detect some notable omissions who are fully in the Bruckner tradition of bombast and bathos.
Eric, I love that idea, but...how does it apply to music?
(I love the Imperial March).
I don't believe I read anything anti-Christian in her post. The complaint was about his music being overblown, and matters pertaining to his biography. I would say that these are indeed fair game for a composer who has been dead for more than a century. Making personal attacks on young musicians who haven't grown to love his music yet is more troubling to me. There is after all something to be said for growing older and wiser. It would be easy to despise most composers for one reason or another. Beethoven driving his newphew to the point of attempting suicide with a pistol. Brahms and Schumann both for breaking off engagements and leaving women broken hearted. Wagner for being Wagner, but that won't stop me from listening and being awestruck by their music.
Keep two things in mind. First, these are the opinions (just. opinions.) of an unschooled 22-year-old amateur violinist who cheerfully acknowledges she is better than absolutely no one, written in a casual medium in a flippant tone, meant partially to entertain, partially to provoke. (And it has certainly done the latter...wow. Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your thoughts on this admittedly touchy subject. I've gotten so much out of it already, and I can't thank you enough. I mean that.) Second, I am not suggesting that anyone agree with me. In fact, I'd be delighted if they didn't. I am merely setting forth my own very possibly irrational thoughts and biases and being totally honest in doing so. The genesis of the entry was actually frustration that I can't hear the beauty you hear, and I want to know why. What will it take for me to hear it? - or am I destined never to? In the course of attempting to explain why I dislike him, some of my unflattering opinions were necessarily stated. (Hence the sentence - "Convince me I'm a sixth-grade bully." Unfortunately, I'm not convinced by an insinuation that if I don't hear the beauty, I have a soul in need of salvation...)
Otherwise, we (and anyone else who wants to, I guess!) can continue the discussion in PM. I might not get back to you for a while, but I will eventually. And if you choose not to write, sorry we weren't able to communicate and, if anything, come to an agreement to disagree. I sincerely mean that.
I was not that excited about this piece the first time through, but it grew on me as we rehearsed it, especially with the chorale. Since I joined an orchestra that plays with a full 80+-member chorale on occasion, I've started to appreciate choral music more than I did previously.
All the voices together, give me chills.
I would also add, that this particular Mass is tonal and dramatic and doesn't have bizarre harmonies or dynamics.
I like this particular piece, but I've decided to remain agnostic about the rest of Bruckner. I'm pretty sure if I delved too deeply (i.e. as deeply as you have) into the biography I would start hating him too, and that would seep over into my feelings about the music. And I don't want that.
The word 'hate' in relation to any artistic judgment is a concern. When a writer as sophisticated and sensitive to language as the op uses 'hate' in the context of her personal taste, it seems out of place--wrong kind of energy, wrong level of involvement. Hatred should be saved (if used at all) for life-and-death issues, not preferences in sounds. And, having shot her bolt so thoroughly in this blog, what can possibly be coming in "part 2"?
Wow, I'm impressed, that is such a scholarly approach. That is "lifelong learning" in the hear and now (sorry!).
You said that "Grout succeeded in sucking nearly every human element out of his narrative..."
Is there a similar history that is equally comprehensive and highly regarded that also captures the human element?
@Tim, "Maybe I'm still bitter about [Vivaldi] sending four concertos against a much more worthy one by Mozart last month."
I believe it was Mike and the Mechanics who sang, "It's the bitterness that lasts."
The word has vastly different connotations to different people. It certainly has had different meanings in different parts of my life. When I went to a small private conservative elementary and middle school, we were forbidden to use the word. It was as dirty as the f-bomb. But what happened was that we all still said "hate"...we just used code for it. "I strongly strongly strongly dislike algebra," we said; we could get away with that. After I graduated, I realized how *stupid* that had been. Making us say "strongly dislike" didn't make us love algebra (on the contrary, not being allowed to express the depth of our antipathy made us, I think, hate it even more). It didn't do a darn thing about anything - what had been the point? I started viewing using the word as being honest.
Nowadays the usage of the word between me and my friends has evolved even further. We use it constantly for things as diverse on the hate scale as "I hate that so many people live in poverty and can't get a decent education" to "I hate when a Justin Bieber song comes on the radio." Would I feel comfortable using "hate" in an academic context? Heck, no! Would I feel comfortable using it in a relaxed low-key medium like a blog? Well, obviously. To me blogs are places where we should strive to act the closest that we can to how we act in real life. Blogs are us, unvarnished, in all our raw unedited contradictions. We can't take that attitude in academic writing, and for good reason. So if I'm going to write about music in a blog, I want readers to feel they've just heard from me, and alas for better and for worse, that's who I am and how I talk at this point in my life. And actually at my age in my world with my friends, "hate" is a pretty mild word.
Also...would this blog have gotten half of this scintillating discussion if I'd opened with "Pardon me, but I personally have a mild dislike of the music of Anton Burckner"? ;)
Part 2 was going to be the liveblog but...I'm thinking a synthesis of the jist of all these replies would be vastly, vastly more interesting. Thanks all. I've read all the comments and appreciate each and every one, I'm sorry I don't have time to reply to each one individually...
"Is there a similar history that is equally comprehensive and highly regarded that also captures the human element?"
I haven't heard of one but I'd love to know. I'll probably stick with Grout till the end since I've only got maybe five chapters left, but I'd love to start the process all over again with another book and compare and contrast how the history and repertoire was presented.
I have no views on Bruckner, don't know any of his music and find the Hitler comment irrelevant. The fact that Charles Manson was obsessed with The Beatles doesn't mean I am going to throw their CDs away.
But I've listened to a lot of other pieces on Youtube and not hated them. In fact, I get ninety-nine percent of my music through crappy laptop speakers (not by choice, but laptop speakers are better than nothing), and I love way more pieces than I don't like. Still, you're definitely onto something... There may be something to the power of the live sound that one doesn't get at all in a recording.
However... I love the Bruckner Marian Anthems. Short choral anthems we sung in the Chapel Choir. And I know my Father loved the Bruckner Symphonies. Maybe it's time I had a second listen too!
Eric - Bruckner probably hated you.
"Emily, You could have used the word 'hate' a bit less often."
I wrote above in the comment section why I used the word hate. In this medium at my age in my particular circle of friends, hate is a chameleon of a word, capable of expressing a vast range of emotion, and personally I don't feel it's a bad or unproductive word. I don't regret using it. Maybe later in life I will. But permit me my blunt honesty now - and give me something to push back on in my thirties and forties. This is a time of life when I should be brash and bold - because from here on out I'll only get older and wiser, and no doubt quieter. ;)
"Guilt by association is also not an argument. I believe that Hitler and Stalin liked Beethoven, too. Does that make Beethoven creepy?"
I agree about the guilt by association when it comes to politicians co-opting music for their own purposes. Read up above, I actually defended Bruckner against the Nazi charge and wondered why Beethoven isn't slapped with it more often. The central portion of Alex Ross's book The Rest is Noise is quite interesting in this regard; he traces how music was used throughout the twentieth century to support totalitarianism and fascism. I am sure he will go even deeper into the subject in his new book on Wagner.
"BTW Saint Saens was much creepier. Is that a reason to hate his music?"
But I like Saint-Saens' music, independent of his biography. I understand it and appreciate it. Look...in this blog I'm trying to understand the relationship I have between composers' biographies and their music - trying to discern a pattern in my thoughts. Right now it seems if I like their music, it doesn't much bother me what they did in their life - if I don't like their music, I'm often enlightened by learning about their life (Shostakovich comes to mind). But Bruckner is the only one whose music I don't like AND whose biography makes me uneasy. And those two things feed into each other for some reason. I'm not saying this thought process is logical, at all. It isn't. But it's there. And I'm trying to understand why. Hence the blog.
"Perhaps you just don't like Brucker's long lead ups to huge climaxes followed by...cosmic silence? Or Brass Choirs? Or violas? Or The Christian Mass?"
Yeah, don't much care for brass choirs, unless they're sprinkled few and far between (although I found the multiple brass passages in Greenstein's Acadia, which I wrote about earlier this month, incredibly moving, so...). I'm a violist myself so I'd be self-hating if I didn't like them (then again, I'm a violist, and isn't self-hatred what we specialize in?). I don't mind masses... I'm on record as saying that as if I have the luxury of choosing the music I'm going to listen to as I die, I'm going to pick the Faure Requiem.
"If you want to have a discussion about Bruckner's music, perhaps bringing up some specific issues would be more constructive than the ad hominems."
I did. I set forth as possibilities why I don't like his music the brass, the bombast, the tremolo, the orchestration, the harmony, and the tempo, among other things.
"Why is it a sign of creepieness to have Wagner, Beethoven, and Christ as heros?"
It's not; that was my broad overview of his biography before I zeroed in to the specifics I thought were creepy. If being a country bumpkin is creepy, then I'd be calling myself creepy, too, as I've used that label to describe myself multiple times.
"In case no one in the modern PC world has noticed, the history of Christianity and Classical Music are rather closely connected."
I don't know that anyone is disputing that...least of all me.
"And Bruckner liked to look at pretty girls? The Horror! I just finished Blair Tindall's Mozart in the Jungle (which ought to be required reading for anyone interested in classical music). Seems lots more goes on in musical circles these days than in the time of Bruckner (and, yes, I experienced some of it, some quite unpleasant, in my early professional youth). So unless there are specifics, could we skip the innuendo, please?"
What I personally find disturbing (and of course your mileage may vary) was the fact he didn't just like to look at them, he *kept lists of them.* Granted, this is the Victorian era, things were different, women married younger, oftentimes to older men, etc etc etc, but it seems that he gained a reputation for unnerving women and possibly their families; Wikipedia says that he was investigated for impropriety, and although he was exonerated, he decided to focus on teaching boys to avoid future issues. (I'd like to hear the source and full story behind that but I have no Bruckner biography at hand.) Personally I would have been terrified if I'd found out my teacher - my *teacher,* someone I put into a position of trust and power, who I make myself vulnerable for intellectually and often emotionally and physically - was keeping a list of girls he found attractive. I'd be even more terrified if I'd known I was on it. It's the list in and of itself, not any inappropriate contact, and we know for certain about the lists; they're not innuendo. Maybe this is a male/female divide in perspective. Think back to your teenage years. Would you have felt totally fine if, say, hypothetically, Bruckner had preferred boys and you had been on the list? I'm guessing you would feel uneasy, uncomfortable, vulnerable, victimized...creeped out. Then multiply those feelings because of the power difference between a Victorian professor and his teenage female student. The comparison's imperfect, but maybe that will help you understand a bit where I'm coming from.
As Emily noted, "he was obsessed with teenage girls, even when he was old enough to be the girls’ grandfather, going so far as to keep a list of who he found physically desirable. "
If you don't understand the creepiness of that kind of obsession, we can't really help you.
Yeah, please, go ahead! I'm so happy we can part on civil terms (I think?). :)
"I sincerely think that you are missing something in Bruckner's music."
I totally agree.
"In any case, perhaps one person's 'bombast' is anothers' Amazing Grace...and tastes may vary over a lifetime."
"Also, is that a sufficient reason to Hate a composer's music??"
No, I don't think it is, but it doesn't help when you don't like his music to begin with.
"I don't know how far anyone wants to go on the real topic we seem to be discussing, i.e. sexuality and music."
Which is actually probably the single most interesting topic I know of.
"But I do not think that it is an original thought that one reason there are so many 'nerdy' male composers is that they thought that their artistic and emotional outpourings might make them more attractive...to one or the other, or the other sex. (Maybe there are more than three, but it's been a long day and I forget...) To some that may seem 'creepy.' To others it might seem a primordial drive (see Peacocks in the Encyclopedias)."
It doesn't matter to me. If I wouldn't want to be on that list, I find it to be creepy behavior and the man who indulged in it creepy. Period. It's a subjective thing, but it's where I draw the line personally.
"Of course, women would NEVER do anything to attract male attention...."
Don't tell my wife though.
When I was a bit younger than you (probably 15 or so) I sort of hated (or rather disliked) Webern. Maybe I thought he was a bit of a joke. He was a bit of a Nazi too, I understand.
However, many years later I do now admire him very highly as a composer.
I'm not a great Bruckner fan either, although I have heard some music that I quite like. Yes, the fourth symphony is OK.
He did sometimes lack talent in the counterpoint department. But I never hear God in his music. But then I never hear God in any music. Can one hear something that does not exist?
I've a bucket a water ready to throw on the new flame war!!
I believe YPO did Bruckner a little while ago. With a good teacher, one can be brought to like any respected piece of music, as YPO eventually did. Though I think its perfectly fine to "hate" someones music. Honestly, if anyone disagrees, they can get themselves a cookie.
Peter Charles: Ignoring the fact that I believe in God, I do hear God in music. Bach said all music should give glory to God, and I'm pretty sure Mahler 2 does so well. Your 'bucket of water' is pretty useless if you make comments like that.
As a feedback, I too feel the word "hate" in this context weakens your message, as it seems to be used just to provoke. In fact this is the only reason why I passed the whole blog without reading it for so long until I saw all the responses and thought there might be something worth reading. Again, just a frequent visitor's little feedback for a wonderful writer.
you are a naive sixth-grade girl bullying an extra-ordinary musical giant.
I didn't say "call" me a sixth-grade girl; I said to "convince" me I'm one. There's a big difference. I remain unconvinced. Because actually I've been told I'm a very sweet girl. :)
Once again - I read all the comments - and I appreciate all of them - even though I am (shockingly) doing things besides monitoring them, so I only have time to respond to a choice few. Part II is in the works but I need for the flow of comments to stop before I can actually start serious work on that portion. Which isn't to say don't keep commenting; by all means go ahead and do, if you want. But Part II won't be up until they stop. Because I want as big a sample size as possible... Thanks all for taking the time to engage with me!
As far as Bruckner the man is concerned: He must have been a tormented human being, tormented until he reached the divine moments in his music, and yes, sometimes you'll have to be a bit patient and wait for the next one for quite a while, until the conclusive pattern leads into it. Bruckner had all the time in the world and didn't feel pressured by the possible impatience of his listeners.
Furtwängler, who was a great Bruckner expert, said when comparing Bruckner to Mahler: 'Mahler only has questions, but Bruckner has the answers.'
All that is written on this blog to make Anton Bruckner look like a pedophile is irrelevant nonsense, and it shouldn't detract from his great value as a composer. There have been great composers, who were brothel frequenting syphilitic's and homosexuals in their private lives and nobody cares about it. This is the way it should be when a person has more to live for than his sexual activities.
Since Bruckner was striving for beauty in his art, he wouldn't have been unaware of beauty in young women. As far as I am informed, he only made one unsuccessful attempt to marry a young orphan, presenting her with a copy of a Schubert song a heartfelt gift. He was rejected by her and felt deeply hurt. In contrast to Wagner, it would have been morally unacceptable for Bruckner as a devout catholic to live wit a women out of wedlock. As a matter of fact, he died a virgin and suffered through out his life from his suppressed sexuality.
Bruckner was quite clumsy in his manners (completely untalented for small talk I'd imagine) and thus unable to attract women and he was also afflicted with another vexing disorder. Witnesses noticed, that he had a compulsive need to count all the leaves of a tree. I would imagine, this 'mad thoroughness' might have been the very reason, why he wrote out some "compulsive" lists of attractive young girls. (today men take shots on their mobile phones instead. Is this more acceptable? I think it is far worse)
Every other middle aged man who lived in the 19th century, would have been permitted, even expected to take a very young wife and Bruckner was no exception to this. What made him different to other mature men, was the circumstance that he didn't experience fulfillment in love in his younger years, and therefore kept pursuing the ideals of his youth.
Only look at the wonderful Lippi Madonna in Florence, and you'll find yourself touched by a beautiful young women seen through the eyes of an aging man, a painter. I hear moments of 'musical virgin worship' in Bruckner's music and these are the moments that move me the most. Personally I have no problems with Bruckner's conduct towards women. I only acknowledge, that it might not suit the climate of our age of 'bourgois correctness'
Please don't make the mistake and picture him as a Josef Fritzl like existance (that is the Austrain guy, who kept his daughter as a sex slave for 20 year in the his cellar)
I find that disrespectful.
Bruckner was reported to have an innocent childlike character and was notoriously shy and polite. Once he stood in front of the orchestra to conduct one of his own Symphonies. He smiled at the members for a moment and said:"Gentlemen, after you'
I addressed this subject in more detail up above; my problem is with the lists, not any lascivious actions Bruckner took (actually, almost certainly didn't take). I also urge guys who haven't yet thought about it in this way to imagine that you're 17 and that you have an elderly teacher. You find out he's kept lists of the boys he finds sexually attractive. You're on this list. Multiply whatever you're feeling due to the difference in power between the genders in the Victorian era. Is it still a beautiful dynamic? If it is, cool; we just have different perspectives. If not, you have a taste of how a female might feel in the same position. I think we all have different definitions of creepy. Mine is more liberal than others'.
I spend quite a bit of time reading about composer's personal lives. I'm no expert but I am familiar with the personal lives of all the musicians you cite. I often get to tell stories to professional musicians that they haven't heard before. Hence my observation that all great artists are creeps in one way or another. That being said, it still doesn't keep me from feeling uncomfortable about what Bruckner did by keeping lists of his students. I may understand the impulse intellectually (i.e., "all men are like that", "he was sexually frustrated", "he worshiped virgins"), but emotionally I will always feel uneasy about it.
Thanks to this blog and these comments, I've learned some about how I personally engage with history, especially when it's negative. It's been a comfort to finally be able to articulate certain ideas. I'll be discussing this point further in Part II.
I see no indication that "I Hate X" blogs are going to become commonplace. I certainly am not going to make a habit of them; I never intended to. I actually think if you read my past work you'll find my criticism to be, if anything, too subtle and too tentative.
I knew you were not a sixth grader. But somehow it sounded right in this case. Musical appreciation comes in all different time and manners. I have listened to classical music for over 50 years and I can tell you that some music didn't come easily to me. I know & love quite a bit, still there are tons I don't know and maybe don't want to know. But somehow the music I care now did come. So maybe forcing is not a good way I think. Wait for their turns to grab your attention and to steal your heart while enjoying what you already know and love.
You'd be surprised, I think. Of living artists, 90% of my idols are men. On the whole, I get along very very well with older men - of the people I feel the closest to, the majority of them are older men. I actually get teased by my friends for my propensity to form unlikely bonds and friendships with older men. (They're all entirely platonic, you understand.) That being said, I do think you might be picking up a part of my own identity that I'm still coming to terms with. I don't feel comfortable discussing that here and I feel it would add only minimally to the discussion in any case. But do keep in mind what you see as man-hating may be something else entirely. That is all I will say on the topic.
I hear you, Sam. Thanks for the clarification. I look forward to the wisdom age will bring. Actually I look forward to being able to write a scathing critique of this very blog. That's my dream. Everyone needs something ridiculous from their youth to push back on. But right now, it's honest and it's real.
This will probably be the last time I comment on the blog unless something really egregious comes up. I feel I've clarified whatever I can to the best of my abilities. From here we get into some really thorny, touchy, deeply personal issues that have less to do with Bruckner and aesthetics and more to do with Victorian culture and human sexuality. Which are very worthy topics, just not appropriate for this blog. So if you comment after this and I don't write back, it doesn't mean I don't appreciate it - or that I'm not reading it - just that I personally feel the discussion has run its course, and I have nothing more to add. I need to clear my mind of the topic; I've been thinking about it too hard for too long, and I don't want to overthink things too badly and say things in public that I'll regret shortly. Thanks all for being patient with me - it means the world - you're all so kind and thoughtful - I hope the discussion has been half as profitable to you as it has been to me. Keep an eye out for a two (or three; haven't decided yet) part follow-up essay if you're so inclined.
And if anyone wants to continue the discussion via private message, be my guest.
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