“Mediocrities everywhere, I absolve you”
The subject of this thread, as you may well know, is Salieri’s final message in Milos Forman’s monumental Amadeus, the (fictitious) story about Wolfgang Mozart as perceived by one of his contemporaries, Antonio Salieri. In the film, Salieri was tortured by having to witness the infantile and cocky Mozart excel in every aspect of classical music, the one thing that Salieri had devoted his entire life to. It drove him mad. In the end, it subjected him to admit and embrace mediocrity (I'm sure going nuts helped him on the way).
Salieri’s words have been ringing loud in my ears over the past few months. It's not that I'm struggling with mediocrity. Rather, I’m struggling to even pass as mediocrity. All this may sound like an ode to woeful self-pity, but don't get me wrong - I like to see it as my inner self seeking first contact with the outside world.
You see, for all his moral lapses, Salieri's character really had nothing to be ashamed of. At the end of the day, he had devoted his life to what he loved: music. I wholeheartedly admire people with that ethos, the spirit of doing what you want to do deep down, regardless of whether you end up surpassed by a Mozart one day. The journey is as important as the destination.
The last episode of Irrational Interviews, part two of a chat with Guillermo del Toro, revolved around Guillermo and Ken Levine being confounded over how people waste their short lives on doing stuff they’re not passionate about. It struck a highly resonant chord with me. Moreover, I recently had my first encounter with Ayn Rand’s writing to boot. While I dislike her narrative style and certain philosophical convictions vehemently, her point about work ethics and the value of creation hit home to the point that I had to wrestle off a bout of self-contempt.
Even then, in spite of all these discoveries and momentous sensations, I still confine myself to a padded box of meaningless conformity. Not only am I not brave enough to stick my neck out, I don’t even know what I would stick it out for and how I would go about doing it. In my world, beer is drunk not brewed, culture is consumed not created, and a job is a job is always a job.
So you - the Guillermo del Toros, Ken Levines, Milos Formans and Certises/Elysiums of the world - where do you draw your ambition, your resolution and your courage from, to discover and nurture your passions and thereby do your own existence justice?