As I followed Erica and Harold through their conversations, activities, thoughts, and experiences I ran into a section of the book, “The Social Animal,” that gave my unconscious pleasure. It is a portion that discusses music and art. Certain patterns of music, David Brooks explaines, produce warm swellings of happiness in us. The science behind this says that we are drawn to patterns but excited by surprises. For example, “…Beethoven would establish a clear rhythmic and harmonic pattern and then manipulate it, never quite repeating it. Life is change, and the happy life is a series of gentle, stimulating, melodic changes.” (349)
In the same way studies show that there are patterns in art which are appealing to a large number of people. These pieces of art include, “…landscapes with open spaces, water, roads, animals, and a few people.” (350) According to evolutionary psychologists these landscape paintings trigger something in the human psyche that corresponds, “…to the African savanna, where humanity emerged.” (350)
And now, let’s move to a statement we find at the end of this book when Harold is dying with Erica by his side. Brooks states, “Other people see life primarily as a chess match played by reasoning machines. Harold saw life as a neverending interpenetration of souls.” (376)
Isn’t this one of the paramount questions in a human’s life…are we only lumps of mud making choices solely based on instincts and firing neurons or is there something greater happening, something that is interwoven with a bigger picture? When our neurons fire and our endorphins are stimulated by art and music is this only a trigger in our latent emergence memory or is there something at our “core” that is reacting to a higher creative force, which many would call God?
There doesn’t seem to be a question that we have emotional reactions to certain pieces of art and music, but why? Brooks explains that these pleasures are unconscious. When Harold is dying he is removed from self-consciousness, consciousness and now in a place where questions are answered and where his “core” is supreme. He now understands that life is a “…neverending interpenetration of souls.” (376) When one soul creates something that heals another soul, is this only the instinctual need of a “social animal” being creative in order to connect with another? Or is there such thing as divine inspiration? One word I heard a lot growing up in relation to certain singers was “anointing” i.e. “He/she has an anointing on his/her singing.” One might say this about some friends I knew when I was younger and their music. Attached to this writing is a video of them, the Clark Brothers, now Sons of Sylvia (their Mom’s name) on American Idol. I get goose bumps watching them perform. Did you? If you did, why? What is happening in life with our “interpenetration of souls” with our sharing and giving and creating? Are we only reasoning reacting machines or is there a higher deeper wider wild creativity happening?