Rivers Cuomo's Harvard Application Essay

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According to the Village Voice, it can be found here...


http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=1480919&Mytoken=20040726091420

manuel (manuel), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 00:02 (seventeen years ago) link

Wow he was really hung up on the commercial end of things, wasn't he? He sounds like Jeremy Enigk or someone now. Getting down with his spirituality and shit.

AaronHz (AaronHz), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 00:33 (seventeen years ago) link

yeah this is just silly. I do find the concept of his strategy to become a songwriting machine interesting though.

Zach Ayres (Z_Ayres), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:15 (seventeen years ago) link

I assumed it was a joke! No? Really?! God I hate Weezer ("Hash Pipe" excluded).

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:18 (seventeen years ago) link

hsh pipe exclude wtf!@!

Sonny A. (Keiko), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:23 (seventeen years ago) link

as i mentioned in the other weezer thread, what a fucking loser.

Francisco Monar (fmonar), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:31 (seventeen years ago) link

http://www.kdmtek.com/pics/36d8d9a0.jpg

Ian c=====8 (orion), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:33 (seventeen years ago) link

eh, "hash pipe" has a decent riff and a nice descending vocal line in the verse. small pleasures.

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:48 (seventeen years ago) link

I eagerly studied a wide variety of traditions including the mystical poetry of Hafiz, Rumi, and Kabir, contemporary spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle and Leonard Jacobson, and ancient texts such as the Tao Te Ching. In accord with my understanding of these teachings, I abruptly dropped all of my business responsibilities and hard-won power, and isolated myself once again. I fasted and lost fifteen percent of my weight. I took a vow of complete celibacy. I gave away or sold most of my possessions, my house, and my car and lived in an empty apartment next to Rick Rubin’s house for the rest of the year. I moved to settle outstanding lawsuits and reconcile myself with enemies. I apologized to many people. I volunteered six days a week at Project Angel Food in Hollywood, preparing meals for people with HIV.

I don't even have to make a comment here.

AaronHz (AaronHz), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:50 (seventeen years ago) link

I've done all that shit, where's my fucking parade and my emo groupies?

Gear! (Gear!), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:54 (seventeen years ago) link

At Rivers's barren apartment, probably.

Ian c=====8 (orion), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:57 (seventeen years ago) link

http://www.totoro.org/emo/images/emo-groupies.gif

Gear! (Gear!), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 02:59 (seventeen years ago) link

So this girl I used to date was really scared of the cat bus in Totoro. I should have known right then that it wasn't going to work out.

Ian c=====8 (orion), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 03:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Maybe this is a moot point and I'm just ranting for the hell of it, but how can a more than reasonably educated (Harvard!) man of 34 never have read Tao Te Ching or Rumi before, regardless of whether or not he previously avoided spirituality? I'm not "spiritual" and haven't gone to university and am ten years his junior and blahblahblah, and I've read those and the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita and the Prophet and Siddhartha and....just out of intellectual curiosity, which I guess he lacked because he was too busy with his crybaby bullshit about the sales of Pinkerton, the only Weezer album I would piss on if the master tapes were on fire, incidentally.

I mean come on you can read Tao Te Ching in like 15 minutes.

AaronHz (AaronHz), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 03:35 (seventeen years ago) link

as boring as that "essay" is, the comments left about it by his fans are just as bad if not worse, ranging from the sycophantic

"wow, you're brilliant."

to the rim-jobbing sycophantic

"I find this so enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring just from reading this. 'The teachings of Rivers Cuomo'... heh. Your writing seems similar to that of not only Nietzsche but Descartes and Hume."

WTF. Yeah, that essay is SO similar to Nietzshe, Descartes, and Hume. Hell, as long as we're name-dropping, there's even some Barthes, Derrida, Locke and Spinoza thrown in for good measure.

Joseph Pot (STINKOR™), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 03:50 (seventeen years ago) link

Not to mention the spelling is SERIOUSLY over-the-top. "Allot" (for "a lot"!) "River's."

roxymuzak (roxymuzak), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 03:52 (seventeen years ago) link

I wonder if Ethan Hawke's books read something like this...

AaronHz (AaronHz), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 03:54 (seventeen years ago) link

Joseph you left out the best part of that guy's post:
I would almost rather read a book by Rivers Cuomo, the philosopher, than hear any music of any kind.

AaronHz (AaronHz), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 04:03 (seventeen years ago) link

"you are a surprising individual... you remind me of siddhartha."

AAAHahahaha! Help, I can't stop reading these inane fan comments!

tortured artist/celeb-->white guilt-->spiritual epiphany-->cliché

Joseph Pot (STINKOR™), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 04:09 (seventeen years ago) link

If you want to destroy my Satori/pull my finger as I walk away etc.

AaronHz (AaronHz), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 04:18 (seventeen years ago) link

Rivers Cuomo, the philosopher

ugh

Joseph Pot (STINKOR™), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 04:29 (seventeen years ago) link

What a twat.

Sick Mouthy (Nick Southall), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 07:35 (seventeen years ago) link

you can find a lot of the unreleased stuff he's talking about in the multimedia (mp3s) section at www.weerez.com

it's true that he communicated and shared a lot of his material with fans, they named the 'Maladroit' album and helped with the song selection etc. Not sure whether it worked. One thing's for sure, there's a lot of weezer material out there that's never been released or not very well known outside fan circles.

thomas, Wednesday, 4 August 2004 10:57 (seventeen years ago) link

WHY IS HE STEALING ALL MY HALF JAPANESE GIRLS

Holy Crap! Typhoon is Coming!!! :O (ex machina), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 11:21 (seventeen years ago) link

The inevitable "Why do you care?" question comes up (and I'm not even a fan of Weezer or anything).

VengaDan Perry (Dan Perry), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 12:10 (seventeen years ago) link

He sounds like tedious company.

shookout (shookout), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 12:14 (seventeen years ago) link

what is a grown man with tons of money doing on a site full of teenage female weezer fans?

Holy Crap! Typhoon is Coming!!! :O (ex machina), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 12:26 (seventeen years ago) link

Scoring

Andrew Blood Thames (Andrew Thames), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 13:28 (seventeen years ago) link

The Teachings of Rivers Cuomo: Alienating your Audience via Relentless Namedropping

thorJESUHOY (Thor), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 13:41 (seventeen years ago) link

Rivers by the numbers (my count):

Number of sentences: 89
Number that start with "I": 50
Total use of the word "I": 116

Now, I understand he's writing about himself here, but c'mon. Didn't he have to take composition his first go round at Hahvahrd?

frankE (frankE), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 14:00 (seventeen years ago) link

that should be: Total use of "I": 107

frankE (frankE), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 14:02 (seventeen years ago) link

Did he get into Harvard, btw?

Andrew Blood Thames (Andrew Thames), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 14:06 (seventeen years ago) link

He did indeed. And he joined the choir and Dan and he could have sung together!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 14:08 (seventeen years ago) link

CORRECTION: He auditioned for the group I sang in after I graduated and got NEGGED.

VengaDan Perry (Dan Perry), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 14:09 (seventeen years ago) link

Nekkid?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 14:11 (seventeen years ago) link

NEDDED! Sorry.

Andrew Blood Thames (Andrew Thames), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 14:12 (seventeen years ago) link

I've heard of neducation but please.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 14:57 (seventeen years ago) link

Maybe he'll join that snobby little cult the Harvard Lampoon and start writing for bad sitcoms.

shookout (shookout), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 17:05 (seventeen years ago) link

Maybe he'll have to go to Yale, and then he'll join the Skull & Bones and the next Weezer album will be called I Know What George's Nutsack Looks Like.

Huck, Wednesday, 4 August 2004 17:16 (seventeen years ago) link

"I studied the lives of Napoleon and David Geffen."

This made me giggle for some reason.

Talent Explosion (Talent Explosion), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 17:17 (seventeen years ago) link

I like how he blames Nietzsche for how much he's started sucking. My alternate theory: the whole reason Pinkerton was so great is that it really honestly sounds like the record a guy like him would write during an awkward freshman year of college. Which, of course, is exactly the kind of thing you disown immediately afterward, because it's incredibly embarrassing. He should have stuck it out there -- if he'd kept on with such an honest collegiate track, by the time he was a senior we'd have gotten some sort of pseudo-experimental Mouse on Mars collaboration out of him.

nabisco (nabisco), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 17:19 (seventeen years ago) link

haha nabiso otm

I'm glad there has been three threads on this.

theycallmetator, Wednesday, 4 August 2004 18:22 (seventeen years ago) link

btw heres what rivers has been listening to:

ABBA, am Radio, Bach, Beach Boys, Beatles, Bee Gees, Beethoven, Billy Joel, Burt Bacharach, Chet Baker, Chopin, Dusty Springfield, Fate's Warning, France Gall, Francoise Hardy, Joao Gilberto, Kate Bush, KISS, Metallica, Mozart, Neil Diamond, Nirvana, Oasis, Ozma, Prince, Puccini, Schubert, Schumann's "Dichterliebe", Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, The Cure, Van Morrison

theycallmetator, Wednesday, 4 August 2004 18:23 (seventeen years ago) link

no wonder Weezer sucks

Holy Crap! Typhoon is Coming!!! :O (ex machina), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 18:24 (seventeen years ago) link

nitsuh, please write me!

Yanc3y (ystrickler), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 19:46 (seventeen years ago) link

Argh, he alphabetized "The Cure" under T and all the solo performers by their first names. Assclown.

St. Nicholas (Nick A.), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 20:15 (seventeen years ago) link

Argh, he alphabetized "The Cure" under T and all the solo performers by their first names. Assclown.

In Rivers' defense, he probably just cut-and-pasted a playlist out of a stupid mp3 player that doesn't alphabetize intelligently. Like, I dunno, every single one of them (except for the most recent version(s) of iTunes which are smart enough to disregard articles like "the").

martin m. (mushrush), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 20:29 (seventeen years ago) link

However, not in Rivers' defense, he really needs to broaden his musical horizons. And I don't mean by throwing all of the most common classical composers into playlist of equally likely contemporary pop musicians, cause he's already done that.

martin m. (mushrush), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 20:31 (seventeen years ago) link

dude france gall is not an obvious contemporary pop musician~!!

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 20:56 (seventeen years ago) link

i don't get why people are so worked up abou this.

latebloomer (latebloomer), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 21:03 (seventeen years ago) link

I think you have misinterpreted.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 5 August 2004 23:22 (seventeen years ago) link

oh was it in reply to the "stealing Japanese girls" post before it, not the thread in general? sorry.

Joseph Pot (STINKOR™), Friday, 6 August 2004 00:03 (seventeen years ago) link

St. Nicholas, I bet I can find you at least three dozen Harvard undergrads, grads and MBAs who not only cannot properly put a list in alphabetical order, they also can't properly punctuate a sentence or edit a piece of text. Those kinds of prosaic skills are all too uncommon in the highly educated. Believe me, I've worked under enough of them to know.

phil d., Friday, 6 August 2004 01:04 (seventeen years ago) link

I can't imagine caring enough about Rivers Cuomo to unleash this amount of derision on him. He's had about as much impact on my life as something that's had absolutely no impact on my life. It's like watching a room full of people bitching about Charo.

I'm also deeply amused that people think that going to Harvard automatically means you have perfect grammar and are super-eloquent but that's a completely seperate thing.

VengaDan Perry (Dan Perry), Friday, 6 August 2004 01:30 (seventeen years ago) link

I guess my point is that a good percentage of ILM threads tear bands/musicians to pieces. I mean practically the whole forum begs the question "Why do you care?" so it's kind of a moot point. Why bring it up in this thread and not the Black Eyed Peas one, which is just as brutal. I don't know him personally nor do I have anything against Weezer. It's just a poor essay written by famous person who has apparently surrounded himself online with people constantly telling him he's brilliant and genius. Charo, on the other hand, has yet to enter the ring of pseudo-philosophical essay-writing as far as I know.

"Ooh-eee-ooh, I look just like Krishnamurti..."

Joseph Pot (STINKOR™), Friday, 6 August 2004 04:24 (seventeen years ago) link

Charo's Wissenschaftlehre is pretty good reading, though.

||amateur!st|| (amateurist), Friday, 6 August 2004 04:28 (seventeen years ago) link

"The Work of Guitar in the Age of Mechanical Kootchie-Kootchie-Kootchie"

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 6 August 2004 04:29 (seventeen years ago) link

I can't imagine caring enough about Rivers Cuomo to unleash this amount of derision on him. He's had about as much impact on my life as something that's had absolutely no impact on my life. It's like watching a room full of people bitching about Charo.
I'm also deeply amused that people think that going to Harvard automatically means you have perfect grammar and are super-eloquent but that's a completely seperate thing.

-- VengaDan Perry (djperr...), August 6th, 2004.

OTM.

latebloomer (latebloomer), Friday, 6 August 2004 04:30 (seventeen years ago) link


Charo's Wissenschaftlehre is pretty good reading, though.

-- ||amateur!st|| (||...) (webmail), August 6th, 2004 12:28 AM. (amateurist) (later) (link)

There's an interesting chapter on Heidegger's concept of vorhanden followed by a smoking cover of "Proud Mary."

||| (amateurist), Friday, 6 August 2004 04:33 (seventeen years ago) link

Tractatus-Logicootchie-cootchie-cootchie

Joseph Pot (STINKOR™), Friday, 6 August 2004 04:39 (seventeen years ago) link

What the hell does get you into harvard then if not eloquence?

I mean, fuck.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Friday, 6 August 2004 07:34 (seventeen years ago) link

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

AaronHz (AaronHz), Friday, 6 August 2004 07:39 (seventeen years ago) link

Things that can get you into Harvard:

1) High test scores & good grades
2) A large number of diverse extracurricular activities, particular if you hold leadership positions in them.
3) Great rapport with your interviewer.
4) Legacy.
5) Fame.
6) $$$$$.
7) Sports recruitment.

VengaDan Perry (Dan Perry), Friday, 6 August 2004 12:29 (seventeen years ago) link

Also:

Why bring it up in this thread and not the Black Eyed Peas one, which is just as brutal.

The funny thing is I was about to!

VengaDan Perry (Dan Perry), Friday, 6 August 2004 12:29 (seventeen years ago) link

i've edited books by ivy league professors that are gramatically challenged.

||amateur!st|| (amateurist), Friday, 6 August 2004 13:33 (seventeen years ago) link

um...

common_person (common_person), Friday, 6 August 2004 14:10 (seventeen years ago) link

My post about misalphabetizing his music list was not an attack on his musical tastes, it was an attack on someone APPLYING TO GO TO HARVARD AND NOT KNOWING THE PROPER FUCKING WAY TO PUT THINGS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER.

Not knowing... or not caring about something that fucking trivial?

My name is Kenny (My name is Kenny), Friday, 6 August 2004 18:58 (seventeen years ago) link

Rivers Cuomo - Too Cool for the Alphabet.

St. Nicholas (Nick A.), Friday, 6 August 2004 19:08 (seventeen years ago) link

STONE ALL HARVARD PEOPLE

(for real)

(ow)

VengaDan Perry (Dan Perry), Friday, 6 August 2004 19:16 (seventeen years ago) link

The alphabet is totally trivial. It's only like THE CORNERSTONE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION.

St. Nicholas (Nick A.), Friday, 6 August 2004 19:27 (seventeen years ago) link

TS: the alphabet vs alphabetical order

VengaDan Perry (Dan Perry), Friday, 6 August 2004 19:30 (seventeen years ago) link

The alphabet would be much cooler if it wasn't in alphabetical order.

St. Nicholas (Nick A.), Friday, 6 August 2004 19:31 (seventeen years ago) link

Q, W, E, R, T, Y, U,
I, O, P, A, S-D-F-G-H,
J, K, L,
Z, X, C,
V, B, N and M

Now I now my QREs
Next time won't you type with me?

VengaDan Perry (Dan Perry), Friday, 6 August 2004 19:33 (seventeen years ago) link

"He's had about as much impact on my life as something that's had absolutely no impact on my life."

I don't know why that's the funniest thing I've read all day, but it totally is.

Rick Massimo (Rick Massimo), Friday, 6 August 2004 19:37 (seventeen years ago) link

He's had about as much impact on my life as something that's had absolutely no impact on my life. It's like watching a room full of people bitching about Charo.

upon re-reading this I actually see you point and agree. before I read this essay/thread I really had no negative or positive connotations associated with this guy.

still a crappy essay though. D+

"Why bring it up in this thread and not the Black Eyed Peas one, which is just as brutal."

The funny thing is I was about to!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *deep breath* OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Joseph Pot (STINKOR™), Friday, 6 August 2004 20:10 (seventeen years ago) link

four years pass...

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/sites/default/files/Copy%20of%20DSC_0022.JPG

roxymuzak, Sunday, 30 November 2008 23:41 (thirteen years ago) link

hipster fashion preview for 2k9?

Adam Bruneau, Monday, 1 December 2008 04:11 (thirteen years ago) link

Since the essay is no longer up at Myspace...

What I’ve Been Up To Since I Left School

Weird Science
After the initial failure of my band’s second album, Pinkerton, I decided not to return to Harvard in the fall of 1997, instead setting out on a mission to develop creative methods which would allow me to be more consistent as an artist. Above all, I wanted to cure myself of the Romanticism which I believed was to blame for my failure.

Throughout 1998 and 1999 I engaged in hundreds of song-experiments. I filled notebooks and cassette tapes. I drew graphs, tables, and charts. I studied other writers’ methods. I took hundreds of pages of notes on the creative process, mostly from Nietzsche, but also from Goethe and Stravinsky.

At first, I maintained a social life, playing and coaching soccer and continuing my classical piano studies with Bruce Sutherland. Eventually, however, I became more and more isolated. I unplugged my phone. I painted the walls and ceiling of my bedroom black and covered the windows with fiberglass insulation. I disciplined myself to an extreme extent. My goal was to purge myself of all weakness so that I could write “perfect” songs as reliably as a machine.

Most of the time, I believed that I was optimistic and happy. The song-experiments, however, produced music of less and less joy and, occasionally, I would fall into despair. At one point, in September of 1999, I actually gave up my mission and decided to go back to school, sacrificing my music career indefinitely. I contacted Dean Thomas Dingman to gain admittance, but learned that I had missed the registration deadline by two weeks. I could only move forward with the music.

I struggled on for two-and-a-half years in all. I finally concluded that such intense focus on musical perfection was only scaring off any real inspiration I might have had. I needed to broaden my focus onto a more practical, tangible goal, in the hopes that music would start to flow in service to that goal. Nietzsche’s “great”men—Julius Caesar, Cesare Borgia, and Napoleon—found their genius through practical action, on the battlefield, in the pursuit of worldly ambitions. They were not locked away in a study like me. I decided to follow the example of these men, step onto the battlefield, and pursue “World domination”. I hoped that this goal would spark my creativity. .

World domination in terms applicable to me meant commercial success. Commercial success, I believed, simply dictated making the most of what I had, musically, and becoming active with my band again, and making an album and touring. I swallowed my creative insecurities for the sake of that success and revealed my songs to close associates in early 2000. Their positive reactions led to rehearsals, which led to performances. We discovered that during our long absence, we had only become more popular. Our “failed” album, Pinkerton, was now viewed by many critics and fans as great. With momentum behind me, I kept writing. At the end of 2000, we entered the studio to make our long overdue third album.

Imperial Aspirations
The Green Album was released in May of 2001, going on to sell over two million copies worldwide. We toured extensively, playing our biggest concerts ever. We performed on Saturday Night Live and at the MTV Movie Awards. The album’s success at radio and MTV, and in foreign markets wherein we had had no previous success, seemed to me to validate the approach I had taken with myself and my art. I became the opposite of the unconfident hermit I was in 1998 and 1999. I believed that my band would become “the biggest band in the world” and that I was the man to lead us to that destiny.

I sought to cultivate the same ruthless practicality in my business that I had achieved in my music. I studied the lives of Napoleon and David Geffen, Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, and contemporary texts on leadership and management. I gradually took over all of the business responsibilities from our manager and managed the band completely by myself. My performing, writing, and recording continued but were now joined by my business activities, all of which together I viewed as converging on the one goal of “world domination”. I read books on business and negotiating. I hired a staff. I reformed our operation, renegotiated contracts, and consolidated power. I found it easy to gain ground in negotiations because no music businesspeople wanted to “play hardball” with “the artist”. Furthermore, I believed we were able to grow with integrity, as I could make informed choices, seeing for once exactly how the business worked.

However, I also steered us into many bitter battles, including two lawsuits and many other very tense negotiations. For example, in order to demonstrate our independence from the record company in the new age of digital media, I shut them out of the making of our fourth album, Maladroit. We financed and produced the album entirely ourselves, sending hundreds of copies of the finished product to press and radio—but none to our record company. The record company could only watch on the sidelines as the first single quickly climbed the charts, and the fans downloaded the promotional copies off the internet. At this point, we had what I believed was optimal leverage, and we renegotiated our contract.

Ultimately, however, Maladroit was not the big hit that it had threatened to be, selling only about three-quarters of a million copies. I had succeeded in improving our financial arrangement, but not in making a hit album. The record company blamed my shenanigans for the downturn in success.

Many fans also criticized the music. They heard both Maladroit and The Green Album as being “mechanical” and “emotionless”. I tried to evaluate the criticism objectively but I had a difficult time. I had crushed my faculty of self-criticism in 1998-2000 in order to make a comeback. I could not tell if my current predicament was just a classic case of an audience lagging behind the development of an artist (as in the case of Bob Dylan when he went electric) or if I had I really “lost something”. I reacted defensively, calling the fans “little *****es” in an interview with Guitar World magazine. Now the fans were unhappy, the record company was unhappy, my associates were unhappy, and I was unhappy. Most importantly, little Jeffrey Parsons in Burlington, Iowa was unhappy, deeply unhappy. I did not know what could be done to change that. Jeffrey was the one who wrote the lyrics to Pinkerton. I owed him the world - he demanded the world - but I couldn't deliver.

I fell into a life of ego and vice. Deep inside, however, I was having serious doubts. I asked myself, “Is my life really supporting the production of the music I know I am capable of creating?” I had to admit that music no longer gave me the feeling of sublime ecstasy that it once had. Although I had already written another large pile of songs for our fifth album, I put all plans to record on hold. There was a revolution brewing in my mind, soon to be triggered by the man we had hired a few months earlier to produce the album, Rick Rubin.

Renunciation
In February of 2003, Rick gave me a copy of Daniel Ladinsky’s translation of Hafiz’s poetry, The Gift. After overcoming my initial aversion to all things spiritual, I decided to read some of the book because I trusted Rick so much. Henry Mindlin, in his introduction to the book, says:

Hafiz wrote hundreds of ghazals [or love songs], finding ways to bring new depth and meaning to the lyrics without losing the accustomed association of a love song…He explored different forms and levels of love: his delight in nature’s beauty, his romantic courtship of that ideal unattainable girl, his sweet affection for his wife, his tender feelings for his child…his relationship with his teacher and his adoration of God.

I was struck by the connection between all these different forms of love. I recognized that the feeling of sublime ecstasy I once got from music was just one more of these forms of love.

I had an epiphany: if the feeling these mystics get in union with their God is analogous to the feeling I used to get in union with my music, then their teachings for how to achieve their union should likewise serve to instruct me how to achieve my union. A whole world of spiritual teachings opened up to me for the first time since, as a child, I had decided that I was an “atheist”. I now read these teachings as coded instructions for how to connect with my musical creativity. For example, when Hafiz says, “Self-Effacement is the emerald dagger you need to plunge deep into yourself upon this path to …God”, I read it as “Self-Effacement is the emerald dagger you need to plunge deep into yourself upon this path to Musical Creativity.” Like this, I just replaced the word God wherever I saw it. I had discovered a new path. I believed that this path was what I had been waiting for.

I eagerly studied a wide variety of traditions including the mystical poetry of Hafiz, Rumi, and Kabir, contemporary spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle and Leonard Jacobson, and ancient texts such as the Tao Te Ching. In accord with my understanding of these teachings, I abruptly dropped all of my business responsibilities and hard-won power, and isolated myself once again. I fasted and lost fifteen percent of my weight. I took a vow of complete celibacy. I gave away or sold most of my possessions, my house, and my car and lived in an empty apartment next to Rick Rubin’s house for the rest of the year. I moved to settle outstanding lawsuits and reconcile myself with enemies. I apologized to many people. I volunteered six days a week at Project Angel Food in Hollywood, preparing meals for people with HIV.

Balance
Thus, my life made another extreme swing, as it has many times, at least since I was a teenager. I have been sometimes a tyrant, sometimes the most frustratingly passive person you have ever met, sometimes a socialite, sometimes a hermit, sometimes a rock star, sometimes a student. I have had little inner stability.

During this latest swing towards spirituality, however, I started a practice at Rick Rubin’s suggestion which may help me achieve some balance: meditation. I was averse to the idea, initially. My goal in trying all the crazy experiments in my life has always been to improve, maintain, or recover my connection to music. Meditation, it seemed to me, would rob me of the angst that I believed was an essential precondition to that connection. With little to lose, however, I took the chance. I experienced immediate benefits.

The technique I was drawn to is called Vipassana. It is taught around the world at over one hundred centers. (Go to www.dhamma.org for more information.) I started the practice fourteen months ago, attending seven ten-day courses and serving as a volunteer at two. Since then, I have found that the areas of tension in my mind—the fear, the anger, the sadness, the craving—are slowly melting away. I am left with a more pristine mind, more sharp and sensitive than I previously imagined possible. I am more calm and stable. My concentration and capacity to work have increased greatly. I feel like I am finally much closer to reaching my potential.

I now live in a small but comfortable apartment. I feed myself adequately. I took a class at USC this spring, “The History of Literary Criticism”, and enjoyed it very much. I take private lessons in music composition once a week from Bruce Reich, a professor at UCLA. I still volunteer, once a week, now at the West Hollywood Food Coalition, feeding homeless or otherwise disadvantaged people. Most pleasing to me is that, month by month, I have watched my creative flexibility growing. The music I have created over the last six months has brought me much enjoyment.

I am returning to Harvard in the fall. Other than that, I am wide open to whatever else comes my way…

Z S, Monday, 1 December 2008 04:22 (thirteen years ago) link

that's an interesting read if occasionally painful

No HOOS need a steen whoppin (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Monday, 1 December 2008 05:04 (thirteen years ago) link

I find it amazing that he wrote a good couple of alternative albums when young, then allegedly wrote thousands of songs before releasing shitty records for years to come.

skygreenleopard, Monday, 1 December 2008 06:11 (thirteen years ago) link

I studied the lives of Napoleon and David Geffen, Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, and contemporary texts on leadership and management.

oof

battered beauties (get bent), Monday, 1 December 2008 06:40 (thirteen years ago) link

http://images.bestbuy.com/BestBuy_US/images/products/9107/9107067.jpg

^^ should be called "six sigma" amirite

battered beauties (get bent), Monday, 1 December 2008 06:51 (thirteen years ago) link

http://www.metalsludge.tv/main/modules/subjects/pages/ExposedWeezer.jpg

for my money, it's all about pre-epiphany cuomo

chocolatepiekid, Monday, 1 December 2008 12:43 (thirteen years ago) link

Is that really the same essay? Because why would a Harvard application essay be about what he did after he left Harvard?

Black Seinfeld (HI DERE), Monday, 1 December 2008 15:27 (thirteen years ago) link

Or rather, was the premise behind this thread completely off from the get-go? (I never read the essay the first time, either.)

Black Seinfeld (HI DERE), Monday, 1 December 2008 15:28 (thirteen years ago) link

Did he not go Back to harvard?

Mark G, Monday, 1 December 2008 15:30 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm pretty sure it's a readmission essay to Harvard. He finished up his degree there just a few years ago. What's confusing is the last line, "I am returning to Harvard in the fall." That's a pretty confident statement, if his admission status was at all in doubt!

Z S, Monday, 1 December 2008 15:44 (thirteen years ago) link

i just took it as your typical end-of-essay projection of confidence

No HOOS need a steen whoppin (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Monday, 1 December 2008 18:59 (thirteen years ago) link

As far as I know, you typically don't have to do a readmission essay. Once you've been accepted as a student, you can come back and finish your degree pretty much whenever you want to (I know a dude who ended up being 81-95 after dropping out due to horrific grades and building money as a slumlord for 13 years). They might ask you "why do you want to come back?" but I don't think re-admittance hinges on it.

Black Seinfeld (HI DERE), Monday, 1 December 2008 19:02 (thirteen years ago) link

I could not tell if my current predicament was just a classic case of an audience lagging behind the development of an artist (as in the case of Bob Dylan when he went electric)

francisF, Monday, 1 December 2008 20:47 (thirteen years ago) link

he's a classic case all right

francisF, Monday, 1 December 2008 20:48 (thirteen years ago) link

Yeah, "Beverly Hills" was too far ahead of its time for us to fully grasp

skygreenleopard, Monday, 1 December 2008 22:18 (thirteen years ago) link

I can't believe no one caught my hilarious addition to his essay. I guess it's a testament to the absurdity of some of his sentences that the bogus ones don't really stand out that much.

Z S, Monday, 1 December 2008 22:45 (thirteen years ago) link

I can see the absurdity and pomposity, but it's basically a noble, honest-seeming essay. He doesn't elevate himself so much as examine the manner in which he knows he elevates himself (while also elevating himself, but that seems inevitable). I find it hard to "create" without struggling with a conflicted sense of my own greatness/failure, so I can accept his descriptions of the process at face value. I guess I only mean that I can relate, though I'm not a Celebrity Rock Artist.

4 sentences, 3 beginning with "I", 6 uses of the word "I".

contenderizer, Monday, 1 December 2008 23:39 (thirteen years ago) link

I volunteered six days a week at Project Angel Food in Hollywood, preparing meals for people with HIV.

ive volunteered here, place is dope

♪☺♫☻ (gr8080), Tuesday, 2 December 2008 01:01 (thirteen years ago) link

1P3 volunteering thread

roxymuzak, Friday, 5 December 2008 22:04 (thirteen years ago) link

five years pass...

I studied other writers’ methods. I took hundreds of pages of notes on the creative process, mostly from Nietzsche, but also from Goethe and Stravinsky.

Stravinsky influence really shows in "Hash Pipe".

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 20 March 2014 00:05 (seven years ago) link

"Island in the Sun" lyrics could be ripped straight from the pages of "Faust".

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 20 March 2014 00:06 (seven years ago) link

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0e/Goethe_%28Stieler_1828%29.jpg/486px-Goethe_%28Stieler_1828%29.jpg

You can't find the words to say
All the things that come to you

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 20 March 2014 00:07 (seven years ago) link


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