Saturday, 29 September 2012

Formula for success

10 years ago in the year 2002 (yes we do Maths here too), Eminem partnered up with Dido to produce this haunting and entertaining record:

He created a formula for success- pick a talented singer (e.g. Dido, Alicia Keys, Skylar Grey) or if you can't find a talented one pick the next best one i.e. Rihanna. Get them to sing a chorus/hook and get a genius rapper (e.g. Nas, Eminem, Dr Dre, Immortal Technique) to pen the rest of the piece and voila. Fast forward to 2012:

This is the song which inspired this whole post, we were playing "name that song" as a starter to a Music Database lesson. I suddenly realised how beautiful/catchy but also formulaic it was.

The same can go with cooking. If cooking fish, just add garlic, samphire, olive oil and black pepper. In the oven 180°/Gas Mark 4, cover with foil and you're done (N.B, put the samphire in for the last 10 mins). If you can't hack samphire, try it with lemon/lime and a bed of root vegetables (Pick 3 from: onion, potatoes, carrots, courgettes, aubergine). If you minus one ingredient from the above, it won't work.

This also applies to dance or any creative physical pursuit e.g. Rhythmic Gymnastics. Guaranteed, if you pick any physical activity which involves creativity, Japan and Korea will have an individual or team in the top 3.

More Mr Miyagi here

First let's deal with Japan, why is it that a population with such deep traditions and conservative approaches to life do you get such creative performers? Well to start with a dancer from Ichigeki once remarked that in Japan, 出る釘は打たれる。 "The nail that sticks up get's hammered down". And perhaps it is this strict level of conformity in society which means that those that make it through all the hammering will be truly extroverted, creative and completely outside the box. In addition to this, an old teacher friend, Scott explained that in Japanese the word Hobby can be translated as: 趣味. However, there is no plural, i.e. there is no word for hobbies. It is not in the culture of many Japanese to have more than one hobby and this culture is partly defined by language. So you pick one hobby and you dedicate all your time to it and become world-class at it. The last sentence pretty much sums up life for Korean men too. Korean conscription means that if you want to be good at a performing art/sport, you have to do it before your 21st birthday (Conscription starts at 18). This is why young dancers and performers go to work 9-5 and then in the evenings (sometimes from midnight to 6am) they practise. Few countries have this same dedicated culture that pervades the entire young male population. Incidentally, any activity that is synchronised/requires structure will always be won by a communist state e.g. Russia/China. That's culture for you.

But is it good? Is all this specialisation and obsessive perfection good for your sanity? I'm not sure. The rewards are massive, but so is the pressure. What are your thoughts?

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