It is already well-established that music as a complex combination of various vibrations affects human organism in a plenty of different ways. Depending on the kind of music piercing a human body, it may piece, enliven, liberate, capture. Music is an alternative medicine, a drug for a human mind, which may have either positive or negative influence. Hence, one should be extremely careful while treating oneself with this metaphorical pill.
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The unquestioning devotion of the protagonist to the classical music, Beethoven in particular, is being observed in The Soloist. Globally, classical music in its sense has always been known to adjoin the listener to some transcendent understanding of the world order, the feeling of integrity with the Universe and enormous delight rising up from the sound signal in the cerebrum to the innermost parts of human essence.
Locally, one must have already heard about the instance of Mozart’s effect, when a series of experiments have been held in order to investigate the results of brain activity under the influence of Mozart’s musical compositions. Indeed, music is a powerful tool. Nevertheless, it demands scrutiny and skill in order to use it reasonably and effectively.
In terms of considering music a drug, we should therefore regard the second main figure of the book as an absolute addict. Being inextricably intertwined with Nathaniel’s mental illness, the boundless love to music has formed his world outlook. Exactly love generated the idea of the omnipresent music, which can also be traced on the pages of The Soloist. Exactly love made Nathaniel overlook all the faults of society he took quite inactive part in.
Music surrounds a human throughout the time and space; one should only take a notice of how fascinating the ‘language of God’ is. “Heavenly Father, shine the light on brother Nathaniel that he may speak with Your voice tonight” – relates Graham Claydon, implying that music is the Lord’s product, and the player is the Lord’s ambassador. [Lopez, 2008]
Regarding this, one should mention the Steve Lopez’s ‘religious’ ideas of the book. The great ground of the religious views has been moved in The Soloist. The latter implies the issue of human-God transformation and the issue of responsibility, which can be explicitly outlined by the quotation by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed”.
Indeed, for the reason of power humans may be mistaken for gods, however, the book suggests a change in further development of the relationships between Steve and Nathaniel. They come to stand on the same level, being equal, being friends. For them there is no longer a master and a puppet, but the two rather different individuals, who got together in terms of mutual understanding and support.
Moreover, there is either no matter whether one is mentally ill or not, whether one is affluent or not – Steve is flabbergasted about the way Nathanael is deeply involved into music, Nathanael in his turn admires how Steve arranges everything. They both are the same in willingness to enjoy the free play of life.
And, we may clearly state that for Nathanael this joy could have hardly been possible without being mentally ill, only people entirely concerned about the very one issue (it may either be called ‘fanaticism’) can be so immensely devoted to it, “believing without question”. [Lopez, 2008]
The world admiration and integrity have lead Nathanael to live on the streets. He wanted to feel the endless love of the city to him, he aspired to feel freedom, escaping from the ‘suspicious’ presence of his relatives. Another considerable factor is that Nathaniel was extremely keen on imitating the life of his favorite composer Beethoven. And, last but not least, this was a matter of natural social exclusion, which moves back the deprived – both physically and mentally.
Freedom, which Nathaniel experienced on the streets, has been interrupted by the ‘mentoring’ of Mr. Lopez, who, while becoming his own advantage, subjected Nathaniel to some kind of solicitation, intrusion. However further, Mr. Lopez has been considering all his actions as a way of support, help that Nathaniel needed.
There we can obviously trace the Steve’s internal conflict – and, actually, this conflict may be transferred to the majority of humans – which lies in willingness to help and incapability to do this. The realization of uselessness of his actions and attempts lead him to the realization that far not everything needs alteration.
Steve Lopez has been striving to change the world, Los Angeles in particular, for the better by helping at least one of the homeless acquire ‘normal’ way of living. The book has various descriptions of the city, the progressive urbanization and stable profit, advanced high-tech and machinery, which have become its values. The deprived people, unlike technology, are being less and less cared about. The author forces a reader to muse on the original identity and whom it is better peculiar to.
We observe the individual of Nathaniel constituting both faults and perfections. He does not belong to the averages, he has his own values and phobias. His main wish does not go further than admiring classical music in somebody’s and his own performance. Music is the sense of his life, the replacement of any other natural joys, the replacement of family and relationships.
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The whole world means music to Nathaniel and he lives, creating pleasant sounding on his two-string-violin. Such people are naturally excluded, but they do not need and do not have to strive for inclusion for they are ‘things-in-themselves’.
Lopez, Steve. The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music. CT: Putnam Adult, 2008.