Thanks to Facebook I clicked through to an article shared by a highly admired musician, educator and former tutor on the theconversation.com by Peter Tregear. I had absolutely no idea who Peter Tregear was, or is, but among other things he is a music academic and the Head of the School of Music at the Australian National University, so not insignificant in the world of music and education at least in Australia. The comment attached to the Facebook post suggested that his arguments about the state of music education in Australia could just as easily be applied to the UK; the old country rather than the new one, but having read the article and associated comments on the crisis in university level music education, it was clear that all involved were unaware of the wider systemic problems. It might be that music and humanities are at the sharper end of the squeeze, but the discussion misses a wider point - university education is a business and therefore subject to the market forces of supply and demand, yet in almost all areas of university education these days, and particularly the humanities, there is more supply than demand, which is resulting in a glut of graduates waving degrees. It’s not that tertiary music education needs to change its tune, it needs to change concert halls.
Perhaps I haven't actually failed yet, perhaps I am still in the process of failing. When you get to a certain point in life, you start to realise all that has past, looks at others and sees their successes, recognises your own missed opportunities, start to have regrets that were never present when you were younger and comprehends that many dreams that are held in the heart will never, can never, actually be achieved. You asks yourself, for all that I have done, what have I actually DONE?! Maybe nothing. Perhaps that discerning moment is marriage, that willing loss of freedom that means you can't chase dreams in quite the same way, or fatherhood, that appreciation of your mortality that youth doesn't see, or perhaps it's just getting old, and understanding the pressure of passing time. So I thought about why we have dreams and why we often fail to realise them.
Living in Japan one always lives with the knowledge that there will be earthquakes, it sits on the junction of five tectonic plates, yet they were easy to dismiss, despite wonderings about the "big one" coming up in conversation now and again. Occasionally the ground would shake and one would say, "it's an earthquake", but it would pass and life would continue on much as usual. It was just another part of living the Japanese life.
Last year saw the end of an era in TV with both Lost and 24 coming to a close. These were probably two of the best, controversial and, indeed, polarising shows of the last decade, but where as Lost was pure hokum, 24 had it's fair share of real world parallels. In fact some say it's popularity could be said to have been a result of coming so soon after the tragic events of 9/11 when the air was full of talk of conspiracy theories and terrorists. And while 24 was undoubtedly influenced by real world events it has also exerted some influence on reality itself. The US Army, reportedly, had to call the show's producers to request they toned down the use of torture on the show as it was having a negative effect on new recruits.
It seems that a recurring theme in these thoughts of mine has to do with religion and morality. In a sense the tails of morality and religion are very much entwined in the human desire to understand this existence, and as such, so is philosophy too. Last time I actually managed to write anything, I was pondering the perennial problem of Evil, which has plagued philosophers and theologians for millennia. Not that there are any easy answers to the problem, but one conclusion that I came to, and I am certainly not the first, was the need for a morality that was not based on any external authority from metaphysical beings, but hammered out by us mere humans.