Sep 25, 2012
The revival of the 1976 Philip Glass opera "Einstein on the Beach" was a one time only event that due to the age of the performers was stated wouldnt happen again. It was also a good chance to track my recovery. Before the concert I would hear a voice (auditory hallucination) stating "now you are going to meet Einstein". I was aware of course that this was a delusion. The problem is it was clearly seperate from what had occured before because every time it happened my hand would make a physical motion of shaking someone's hand that if stopped would be physically painful (these changes occur during episodes of atypical catatonia, the specifics of the neurological disability I have are still in clinical study). The concert space I went to (with a family member to assist) was more than helpful as regards disability accomodations I needed (of course I contacted them first to inform them which is the best thing to do if you need disability accomodations anywhere).
Anyway back to the concert. The idea of minimalist music was not invented by Philip Glass but he became the most noted name (this was at the time, his compositions after that changed in style). The creation of the opera has an interesting history. Much of this information is online elsewhere. The most interesting part (that is less discussed) is the libretto (which is not sung in conventional operatic style) most of which comes from the poet Christopher Knowles who has autism. It would to many people sound random in nature. However what you could pick up from it was repetition of what would have been on the radio at the time (echolalia) and word fixations. I encountered the same concerns when I first had the manifestations of schizoaffective disorder.
The subject of Albert Einstein was not plot based but in some manner focused on his decision (as a pacifist) to voluntary disclose the means to build an atomic bomb to the government at the time. One could see that in light of what might have happened he clearly made the right decision. One could also see that far beyond him the creation of this idea lead to what later became a global nuclear arms race which he himself was clearly opposed to. What is more important to me was his ability to make such a decision in a clear light as well as of course his work to not just advance but in many ways initiate nuclear physics. However his life had other aspects as well such as difficulties in interpersonal relations. It has been speculated that he may have had a psychiatric disability (I wont post the links to the articles because they although fact based dont have a disability positive tone, also the idea of a "savant" is a myth that in itself is stereotypical and derogatory). In fact a friend of a relative had met Einstein (without realizing it). They were in an elevator with what they thought was a homeless man that unnerved them. In fact they were told later it was Einstein. So as with historical figures who were diagnosed with (known) psychiatric disabilities he had aspects of his life that he could carry on with very well. And other aspects that were impaired. So it is not as simple as overcoming a disability but as being able to cope with it, note where it effects your life and to do so often treatment is needed as well as talk therapy.
Some of what Einstein theorized is not something a person could understand literally. The idea of space and time being the 4 and 5th dimensions can be understood scientifically but are not within the human mind as space and time are something we accept as a given. However of course everyone knows what space are time are. That would not be true if a person has a disability that affects space time perception. When I encounter episodes of dementia (which has been noted as the criteria in study tardive dysmentia) and atypical catatonia I lose space time awareness and cannot process or comprehend the idea of time. Unlike mania (which of course I experience as well) where I feel sped up it seems like everything around me is sped up because in reality my thought process and ability to perceive things slows down. I also cannot process the concept of every day tasks such as picking up objects or washing dishes. Anything that falls down (simple items such as change) will seem like it "flew at me" (this can be a common tic like utterance I have). However what I have is responding to treatment but as there are continuous breakthrough episodes and my psychiatrist is trying to help me be able to be part of a clinical study for transcranial magnetic stimulation which is FDA approved for treatment refractory depression but has shown in tentative studies to be helpful for schizophrenia, tardive dyskenesia and in some individual studies catatonia (regardless of cause).
When Einstein gave a speech at the 1939 World's Fair as it had started raining he made what either was a joke about it or scientific notation (or both) by saying "its only water". What we note besides being a scientific phenomena is also something we emotionally respond to. Every thought we have is an exchange of synapsis by neurons in the brain. However its of course a lot more than that. The blunting of the emotional process I experience has a variety of causes some clinically complex. Experiencing emotions can set off movement disorders or atypical catatonia. However there are common causes as well (I have never been able to state directly refer to the name of my psychiatrist or any of my other doctors as well as some other people, this is a negative symptom of schizophrenia). All of this overlaps.
The concert was an indescribably amazing experience. As it was a co production with the performance artist Robert Wilson the stage sets and lighting and basic effects could easily convey ideas with a short statement that were profound and in some cases somewhat disturbing. The way to listen to minimalist music is not to approach as something to consider as each segment as a whole but as an experience. One can relate this to the continuing metaphor as part of the stage set up of a train (relating to the theory of relativity, you can note this for yourself if you take a train, if two trains are going at the same speed they appear to be still, if two trains are traveling in different directions they appear to be moving faster). When boarding a train the main concern is to get to the intended destination, not to concern yourself with each stop. This had been the main concern in my life both literally and metaphorically. Life had come to a halt, metaphorically in that I wasnt doing much and as regarding trains in that I could physically could no longer use them because of dystonic spasms and atypical catatonia. Recently I had used the train more times to go to the city to museums. And of most importance to go to my psychiatrist last time. Something that hadnt happened in the 4 years since I became what was at the time physically homebound due to advanced tardive dystonia. What was working on the tardive conditions, atypical catatonia as well as standard mental concerns and exactly how was something my psychiatrist and neurologist could decide. The fact that it was happening was what was crucial. Life was moving forward again.