Saturday, May 12, 2012
Are sociopaths better than empaths?
When I studied music seriously, I spent a lot of time practicing orchestral excerpts. Excerpts are specific to a particular instrument, e.g. french horn or flute. They are passages from the standard repertoire that either feature the instrument prominently or are particularly challenging to play.
In music there are basically two types of technical difficulty: (1) idiomatic but intricate passages and (2) deceptively simple passages that, due to the inherent weaknesses of the instrument, are still quite challenging. The former are passages that play to the strengths or unique features of the instrument, for instance double or multiple stopping on a string instrument, glissandos on a harp, diatonic runs in the key of a woodwind instrument. These passages showcase the instrument at its very best and can make even an average player look like a superstar. The latter are passages that often were written by a composer without considering the particular difficulties of the instrument. They may require awkward alternate fingering to be performed successfully. They may be in a bad range of the instrument or require complicated breathing or sticking. They are not a vehicle for showing off, rather they are an attempt to mask the awkwardness created by vulnerabilities of the instrument.
I have intentionally avoided using the word "flaw" to describe the instruments. The truth is that no instrument is perfect. Instrument designers have improved upon the originals and they continue to make small improvements, but inherent in the idea of there being a "better" range, there must be a worse range. To make one passage easier to play, you must consequently make another hypothetical passage harder. There's nothing to be sad about. But when it comes to empaths talking about how sociopaths are an evolutionary mistake or sociopaths talking about how empaths are idiots it sometimes reminds me of how trombonists try to argue that their instrument is the best because they can tune to the exact pitch or string instruments arguing their instrument is the best because they can sustain a note for forever. I find those sorts of arguments to be quaint and in a way that reflects a particularly small view of the world.