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Monday, January 31, 2011

Moly on Musicians

Moly on Musicians
Maybe he misspoke.  I know that can happen, so if that is the case, please disregard this post.  But if he really meant it, I am beginning to think the whole realm of self-discipline is alien to Stefan Molyneux.  This is a problem for someone who claims to have the final answer for secular ethics, philosophy and morality.  Anyone with sound moral and philosophical underpinnings knows that committing to a goal and sticking with the focus and effort needed to  achieve that goal is nothing that should be disdained or ridiculed.  He certainly does not get joy that the achievement of a hard fought goal brings to a human being.  This blind spot is, by far, Moly’s biggest failing in his understanding Ayn Rand.  
It is around 10:10 where he offers up his disdain for the discipline any musicians need to become a musician. Specifically: Moly said,
"I have a huge amount of disdain and contempt for mere manual dexterity and competence. If a robot can be programmed to do it, it ain’t a big f**king deal.”

He goes on with more commentary and more profanity on how easy it is to ‘tinkle
some keys’. 
Here is the link.
I can play a little guitar. My wife is pretty good at the piano. Regardless, any musician (or non-musician for that matter) knows that if you want to be a musician, the first and most fundamental
step is to get some serious command of that manual dexterity thing with your chosen instrument. My (defoo’ed) son is much more than a casual musician. I promise you that he is brilliant. When he plays, it is a pure pleasure to listen.  I am in awe of his talent and creativity. But in the beginning, (all those years ago) his first challenge was to understand the music on the page.  Then it was translating the page to the instrument.  Then from sound into music.  It was mechanical and faltering at first. Then better. Then better. In other words he did the hard, disciplined tough work to become a musician.  Then he became stylish.  Then creativity started.  He interpreted pieces of music.  He developed his own pieces.  I am pretty sure my son will tell you the work needed to maintain his manual dexterity is never
ending and inextricably linked to style, creativity and everything else musical.  
Is this commentary really necessary?  Doesn’t everyone know this as a matter of experience and common sense? I suspect we just got Moly at a bad moment.  He can’t possibly really believe this.   I will end where I started.  If this is the case, Moly may want to correct the record.  

As a ‘by the way.’  There was no tiger mom type discipline needed for my son.  It was entirely his decision to get into music.  I even fought him a little when he first asked to take lessons.  I wanted to make sure he was committed.  He was.  He was persistent and persuasive.  Once lessons began, it was all in for mom and dad.  Never once had to suggest that he practice.  He set his own schedule and kept to it.  We were glad to support with time, encouragement, finances and such.  It was actually a pure pleasure.  Our son taught us about other types of music that we would not have pursued without this experience.   It worked out for all concerned.   


  1. Stefan,

    This might (very likely) sound like an odd one...but: In fiction,a vampire won't enter a house unless invited.Also perhaps in fiction,NWO types are required by their code of ethics to disclose publicly what they are going to do before they do it.I've had an association with a person who demonstrates this type of approach for a while now.The extent to which he plays hardball only became fully evident to me recently and the area in which he operates is of importance so I have a growing conviction he is one of these types.Is there a name for such people and this philosophy? I'd be interested in any response,thank you. Steve

  2. As a musician I was insulted by that video. The thing is, music and art like anything else is a learning process. You can't compose good music unless you know your scales. And you can't learn scales without playing them over and over until you've memorized them. If a kid says he wants to play the piano, his parents should help him stick to it. How they "should" do it is beyond me. I'm only 19 so how should I know?

    I don't know a whole lot about parenting, but I did have a Chinese friend in high school whose parents were worse than this. It's a rough situation.

  3. A parent has a solemn duty to push their child. And still give them emotional and intellectual space to be themselves and enjoy life. As a parent, you can go too far. You can not go far enough. That is the debate. Moly is deeply clueless as to what the debate even is. He is carrying on about cognitive development.

    As to the disdain for what it takes to be a musician, well to use his own phrase, he is the perfect ass clown of ignorance.

  4. I haven't been following this, but I caught the comment about musicians on LIMI and wow, just wow!

    I'm a musician and I have experienced the hard work and joy in learning a musical instrument. I don't know how to express this verbally, but I will try; The sum is greater than all the parts, but ALL the parts must be there. A robot may be able to play a sequence of sounds but that doesn't mean that a melody is created. Without manual dexterity, which involves more than the fingers, the ability to create music is severely limited and lackluster. Just listen to any "lazy musician" butcher a great tune.

    What kind of philistine would say such a thing!

    What next? Will he express contempt for the rules of "mere logic" in a philosophical debate on FDR? Oh wait, he has already done that by his actions.


  5. Everyone here is missing the point. Merely being competent enough to play an instrument isn't that special; Like stephen said, we can program robots to do the same. That's why forcing a child to play a particular musical piece perfectly isn't an accomplishment. Learning an instrument well enough to be able to create your own music is another situation entirely.

  6. I see a few points of discussion:
    1. What is right and wrong for parental pushing of a child.
    This is a never ending debate that Moly has abdicated due to his utter lack of understanding of the issue. I have high hopes for Izzie in helping him grow in this area. His parental instincts will grow as she grows. If he can avoid a nervous breakdown as he discovers what a buffoon he has been, he will likely do fine as a father, just like the rest of us.
    2. Is it reasonable for Moly to hold that manual dexterity is no big blanking deal and that he has nothing but 'disdain and contempt' for such?
    I think this may have been an 'over the top' comment. But if he meant it, he has proven his ignorance on this second point of discussion.
    3. Is achieving manual dexterity on an instrument an accomplishment in and of itself? I dissagree with you on this one. I think being able to cause an instrument to make even the simplest bit of music is something of an accoumplishment. Certainly it isn't something to ridicule.

  7. The stated objective of this site is to reveal the moral corruption of Stefan Molyneux. A post about his ideas about musical ability? Are you serious? You are really pulling at straws here.

  8. Responding to Steve on the subject of being invited in. Very insightful. The first step in 'thought reform' is getting that invitation. As soon as anyone invites someone like Molyneux into their brain's living room for a chat, they are willingly giving away some of their capacity to make independent decisions. Moly becomes the ultimate arbiter of all matters. Right and wrong is reduced to whatever Moly says it is.

  9. Yes, please, everyone go to Mr. Molyneux's website and spend as much time as you can listening to what he, and others, have to say. "Government" is the cult. I recommend the book The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose as well. Here's hoping you give up the delusion of "government," and embrace liberty.

  10. An example of the good part of what Moly is doing. Exposing the over reach and even the lack of any need for govt. I am very sympathetic with this part of his message. As a reply to the poster here, do be careful. You seem to be on the precipice of falling for the Moly Con. That is taking the leap from Govt is a cult and evil to the the next step. As in: reason people accept the govt as a form of authority is that they were raised by crappy parents. The only way for you to find true freedom is to break from your family. Assuming that you have NOT defoo'ed, do please realize that you are holding this view of govt evil while maintaining a relationship with your parents. If you have already defoo'ed, do please let us know.