Just got back from the Dream Theater concert at the Warfield. As a final encore they played “In the Name of God” from their latest album, Train of Thought (which is surprisingly good, up there with Images and Words and Scenes From a Memory), which pretty much showcases all that’s cool about DT: awesome monster riffs, glorious singable choruses, jaw-dropping technical proficiency. It was a fitting ending.
I went by myself, and I found myself reveling in the anonymity. Surrounded by unknown faces, I felt free from expectation, abdicating the responsibilities of a social creature for one evening.
I had the opportunity to go to two other concerts this week (Vienna Teng’s release show for Warm Strangers, and Mahler 5) but for various reasons had to miss both. Phooey.
You might wonder why I write so much about music, why I’m so obsessed with it. The answer is: I don’t know. I have no idea why it does these things to me. It’s strange … in my life, blessed with an amazing amount of good fortune, yet inexplicably — and inextricably, it sometimes seems — fraught with delusions and neuroticisms, music appears to be a unique companion: one that speaks to me in my own voice, with words that I have neither the eloquence nor the understanding to say myself.
On the drive home (borrowed my brother’s car), a kind of interesting analogy occurred to me.
In evolutionary biology, there’s a concept known as Zahavi’s Handicap: a negative characteristic endured by a male of a species to advertise that he is “man” enough to handle it. For instance, a peacock’s huge tail feathers are a real detriment to his safety — but by surviving with them, he is showing the females that he is such a good mate that he can survive even with some gargantuan ostentatious feathers sticking out of his butt. Antlers (especially when they get huge and cumbersome) are sometimes viewed as another example of Zahavi’s Handicap. If the handicap is honest — in that it really is costly to live with — then females tend to respond positively towards it.
Anyway, so a long time ago, in one of my first entries in this journal, I wrote about how annoying it is that so many girls like assholes. I offer my usual disclaimers: a) before you vehemently deny that such attractions occur consistently enough to be stereotyped, I can provide you with friends of mine who explicitly acknowledge such a preference, and other friends who implicitly acknowledge it, at least based on their choice of boyfriends :) b) and before I am accused of whining — as a purportedly “nice” guy who is just bitter that I don’t have whatever it is it takes — I will say that I’ve been lucky enough in my life to have met at least some girls who are sensible about realizing the values of “nice”.
Blah. Okay those disclaimers are ridiculously overwordy and unnecessary, and obscure my main point, which is this: being and asshole can be thought of as an example of Zahavi’s Handicap. Basically, the guy is saying, “Okay, I’m going to be a dick, which certainly will be detrimental in all other aspects of my life, but I’m such a studly guy that I can handle these detriments. So: I’m being a dick just to show you that I can be a dick and get away with it. Give me some sugar, baby.”
(Okay, that last sentence is copped from Army of Darkness. But the rest is serious!)
And girls buy it, because they’ve been trained to by evolution over the last zillion years.
So this is probably all a load crap, but it’s fun to think about :).