The title of this post refers to a song that has been viewed on Youtube nearly 400 million times (more than Beethoven or any other classic, even rock). The song is famous for being terrible. Just like when people stop or slow down down to view a terrible accident, people are drawn to terrible things. This song even has parodies -one of them has been seen by nearly 10 million people. How can one parody something that is already terrible? I leave you to figure out.
This song made me think about about levels of creativity and what it does for the creator’s popularity. Creativity can be of a low order, be mediocre or it can be brilliant. It attracts an audience at either ends- terrible things are popular and beautiful things are popular too. Both expressions set a standard for the creator, i.e. if you can created a song called ‘What does the fox say?’, the people will expect a worse song next time otherwise they will be disappointed (this might explain why the parody is doing so well). On the other hand, if you have done something wonderful, people expect something even better the next time. But not mediocre things. No one cares about anything in the middle. No one talks about mediocre things. So what does the fox say? It will agree with Martha Graham who said, ‘The only sin is mediocrity.’
PS- Between being known for something terrible or mediocre, I prefer to be at the other end of the scale, i.e., making beautiful things for its own sake (although if it attracts popularity, I shall not complain!)
I practice architectural design that is based on low energy principles- materials that use little energy to manufacture, materials that are from recycled sources and can be recycled and buildings that are low maintenance and need little energy to run. Low energy appears to be something that gives the building long life.
Hearing about an Indian actor, Abir Goswami, who sadly died today aged 33 after having a massive heart attack on an exercise machine in the gym, I think low energy works for human beings too. My Uncle, whose first death anniversary falls today, was a ‘low energy’ person- he practised yoga, not the gym, he ate and spoke slowly and calmly, living and enjoying every moment. He lived up to an age of 96, looked no more than 60 years old and died peacefully in his sleep. He used to say, “Hurry and worry are the worst things in life.” There is a theory that we have certain amount of life energy and if we use it too quickly, then we fall ill or our bodies fail in some way. That is why we have to rest when we are ill and often feel rejuvenated after such a forced rest. Indian yogis who are reputed to live for around 100 years, practice meditation and yoga- both of which are low energy activities. “Hurry too much and you will miss the boat”- so goes the saying.
With all the slow movements such as slow food, idleness, tai-chi, etc getting very popular today and even medical research supporting the view of slowness, I am convinced that going slow helps us all. No matter how much faster your latest computer or telephone may work, the ultimate processor, i.e. your brain, will always work at a certain peak speed and will often slow down in moments of concentration. Being slow is not the same as being lazy- my Uncle was always busy doing things that mattered to him, i.e. using his life energy purposefully. Slow induces calmness and tranquility that I associate with water, so I made up with my son’s help this haiku to help me remember to slow down and enjoy the moment-
Still, Life, Open Water- slow
Your tranquil head
Flows down to follow your heart