What it’s about

From Ken Robinson’s 2001 book Out of our Minds: Learning to be Creative…  Robinson’s work circulates on the internet primarily in the form (as far as I can tell so far) of a ted.com video.

I’m not reading the book for its commentary on music; of all the texts I’ve found that address the future of learning and education on the planet, I think this one is the most honest and practical.  I recommend it highly if you have an interest in the economy, child development, learning, the future, and anything in between.  But Robinson also happens to include this, a story about Gustav Mahler that may well be my favorite commentary on art.  Ever.

“Composer Gustav Mahler was sitting in his studio completing a new piano piece.  As he was playing, one of his students came into the room and listened quietly.  At the end of the piece the student said “Maestro, that was wonderful.  What is it about?”  Mahler turned to him and said “It’s about this.” And he played it again.  If the ideas in the music could be expressed in words, there’d be no need to write the music in the first place.”