The intellectual component of finding one’s best niche in the world is self-knowledge. This includes knowledge of one’s strengths and weaknesses, along with ones interests and dislikes, and how well one might fit into a field of endeavor.
- Elton John, Me (Henry Holt and Company, 2019): “ . . . the man’s hard-won self-knowledge is what the book’s really about.”
Film and Stage
- Vanya on 42nd Street, a “marvelously realized adaptation of a play about people wondering what they’ve done with their lives”, this play about “privileged, luxuriantly introspective characters” this adaptation “reduces Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ to its bare elements: loneliness, wasted lives, romantic hope and despair”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Sometimes an artist captures himself in performance, as if to say “this is who I am.”
- Keith Jarrett, “My Song”, from the album of the same title
- Astor Piazzolla and the New Tango Quintet, “Tango: Zero Hour” (Neuvo Tango: Hora Zero): Piazzolla called this album his finest. I will take it quite beyond that: this is the best tango album I have ever heard, by far, a masterful display of the playful-seductive rhythms and sounds of the tango.
- Maxim Vengerov, “The Road I Travel” album
- Dave Burrell and David Murray, “In Concert” album: tracks include Punaluu Peter; Hope Scope; Gallad for the Black Man; Intuitively; Teardrops for Jimmy
- Dave Burrell, “Windward Passages” album: drawn from Burrell’s life, this music is an ode to a young man coming of age.
- Laurence Dale, “Airs d’Opera” album
- Howard Alden, “Take Your Pick” album
Pianist Dollar Brand Xahuri (Abdullah Ibrahim) has offered several albums that express his view of himself and his heritage,
- “African Sketchbook” (1972)
- “African Space Program” (1974)
- “The Children of Africa” (1976)
- “African Marketplace” (1979)
- “Echoes from Africa” (1979)
- “Africa – Tears and Laughter”
- “Ekaya” (Home) (1983)
- Good news from Africa
- “African Piano”
- Party time – compilation of tracks
- Hasaan Ibn Ali, “Retrospect in Retirement of Delay: The Solo Recordings”: “Ali was prolific in his own sweet way when he sat down at the piano, as much on his choices of standards as on his spontaneous and previously-composed material”
The time will come / when, with elation / you will greet yourself arriving / at your own door, in your own mirror / and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat. / You will love again the stranger who was your self. / Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart / to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored / for another, who knows you by heart. / Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes, / peel your own image from the mirror. / Sit. Feast on your life.
[Derek Walcott, “Love After Love”]
That crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,
Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.
No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, 'O sea-starved, hungry sea.'
[William Butler Yeats, “A Crazed Girl”]