Friday, January 08, 2016

Happiness, Patience, & Banjos

Here's wishing all a (late) Happy New Year.

I'm currently wrapping up a multi-book review of some recent introductory books to ideas about happiness and the good life for Teaching Philosophy. I have joked that, paradoxically, this project has not been conducive to my own happiness. (But perhaps it's made my life better?)

Just as the fall semester was ending, I received a very positive report on my manuscript On Patience from the publisher's anonymous reader. I will be making a few changes, and if all goes well, the book may be published later this year! Stay tuned.

January 3 was my second banjo anniversary. I made a video of the tune "Last Chance" to commemorate the occasion and to document my progress, posted below. The general consensus is that I'm making good progress.

It's been an interesting, if obsessive, journey. (I spend a good amount of time practicing. But that's the only way to learn and improve.) I've learned a lot about the history of old-time and Appalachian music, all of which was pretty much new to me when I started learning to play. However, there's something about all of it that speaks to me--among other things, the DIY spirit of the music and the diversity of banjo styles (if all you know is Dueling Banjos, then you're missing out on the expressive range and stylistic possibilities in this peculiar drum-on-a-stick). The are also several things about folk traditions in general that contrast quite interestingly, from a philosophical point of view, with "high art" music such as the classical tradition. So it's been interesting to read my musical learning onto the reading I've been doing in the philosophy of music (where some but not all authors seem to forget about, or dismiss, folk music).