Schrodinger's Cat

By dean

     There once was a cat. There was once a really cute cat. His name was Snoogums. And his owner was named Schrodinger. Erwin Schrodinger. So one day Erwin (or "Erwin" to his friends) decided that it would be a worthwhile idea to take Soogums, stick him in a box, throw in an unopened bottle of poison gas, and shut it tight. Well, it was 1926. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

     Schrondinger's point was this: whether or not the bottle opens -- and Snoogums is poisoned -- depends on whether or not a radioactive atom decays. Therefore, until one flung open the box to see what actually happened, Snoogums can still technically be seen both as "not poisoned" and "poisoned." Since both possibilities exist, both possibilities are true. This was a tongue-in-cheek jab towards modern quantum theory. Because modern quantum theory posits that things (such as subatomic particles) seem to be able to be in different states of being at the same time; it's only when you make a measurement that things -- say, particles -- "collapse" into just one state. Odd as it may sound, the "observer" instigates the collapse of the quantum wave-form and the two states (i.e. "cat not poisoned" and "cat poisoned") will forever co-exist until this measurement is made. Yep, according to quantum theory, until this box is open'Snoogums is both alive and dead.

     However, there was also a young man by the name of Nick. Nick Andopolis. Contrary to what you might have heard, he was not put in a box with poisoned gas. He actually grew up nearly 50 years after Erwin and his state in life was summed up neatly by his very own words: "I love music. I love it a lot. I love to rock. And I love to hear bands who like to rock as hard as I do. I mean, sometimes I can enjoy something a little softer. You know, like SUPERTRAMP or REO SPEEDWAGON. I even like a couple of MOODY BLUES songs, but only the ones that are more romantic, like 'Knights in White Satin' (except for the part in the middle where the guy reads the poem -- that part blows). But the bottom line is ... I love to rock."

     Nick was just about open to anything. His eyes would light up at the mere mention of his favourite bands. Or albums. Or songs. Yet he would also nervously admit to liking music far from his expected roster: one instant he's trying to mimic every drum move Jon Bonham put to record, the next he's even admitting that country music "isn't that bad."

     And you know what? Other than that whole radioactive decay part, it's probably not a bad idea if more of us were actually some mutant hybrid of both Schrondinger's cat and Nick Andopolis. Because as music gets increasingly more segmented, fragmented, and just plain confusing, the more people you run into that seem to cower at the mention of any tiny sub-genre they think they will automatically dislike. I mean, music is music is music, right? So maybe it would be a good idea to be open to all of it before running away like the cat's already been poisoned.

     You might be thinking that the metaphor is a bit thin. Well, Ill tell you this instead: there is a difference between knowing what you like, and knowing what you think you like. Case in point is of course our friend Nick from the television show FREAKS AND GEEKS. During the show's first season, we are witness to quite a few admirable musical qualities in Nick. From his unabated, child-like exhilaration for his "rock" heroes, to his desire to form his own really good band, to his uncontrollable urge to connect everything that goes on in his life to one song or another. When Nick falls (frighteningly) head over heels over another character -- Lindsay Weir -- what does he do? Doesn't take her out to dinner. Doesn't take her on a nice walk up on some hillside above the town. Doesn't buy her bouquets and bouquets of roses. No. He just puts on one of his most meaningful songs and sings it to her.

     In a lot of ways, music is Nick's life and Nick's life is music. Which most any impassioned music fan can easily relate to. However, he differs from most of us in one crucial area. If Nick was growing up today, there is little doubt he'd be bouncing off the fucking walls. Taking in indie, drum 'n' bass, ambient, pop, post-rock, speed garage, hardcore house, hip-hop, folk, alt-country, trance, just about anything he could get his mitts on. Because he knew that narrowing oneself in one musical direction is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If one thinks they s/he/it will not like anything but one main style of music, one will end up not being able to enjoy anything but that one musical style. Yes, if one assumes the quantum wave-form has already "collapsed," the wave-form probably did not.

     And I've heard all the excuses, so don't waste my time. For instance: "I know what I like, so why should I waste my time with anything else?" Or how about: "All I listen to is indie." Or: "The only good musicians are <BLUR / SUEDE / THE SPICE GIRLS / PAUL OAKENFOLD / KORN / ST. ETIENNE / N-SYNC / THE BEATLES / ETC.>." Or even my personal favourite: "<BLANK> music sux0r!!!" If you're filling your time on this planet only with specific bands or genres, you're just kidding yourselves. Because let's face it: anybody who just fills his or her life with what's "comfortable" is about as well-rounded as a Picasso painting in Bizarro World.

     So anybody who thinks they're a "twee indie fan," or a "clubber," or a "pop follower," or a "hip-hop g-thang"'you're not. You're trying to slip on one style of music as if it's some odd badge of stylistic courage. When it's simple, insecure cowardice for what's really out there and what one can appreciate. Music is something to constantly seek out and test. Something to constantly keep trying on in the mirror to see if it fits. And if sometimes instead of looking like a "super-stud," one turns out looking like a geek? So be it. Music should be loved after all, not won over by a crude process of elimination.

     Now, to be fair, we all have our particular "strengths" (otherwise I wouldn't be here). I mean, there's no denying that throughout life certain bands or certain styles of music are more up your alley than others. That's a Good Thing (probably the only thing worse than "<BLANK> music sux0r!!!" is "Everything's alright'I guess."). All I'm saying is that it's still healthy to get out of that alley and start walking around the rest of the city every once in awhile. You never know the kind of things you'll hear, the kind of things you'll see, and the people you'll meet.

     This is why we should look at Schrondinger's cat or Nick Andopolis as symbols to strive for. To be open for seemingly contrasting possibilities, to try on the clothes, to strut around the town, to remember to keep Snoogums both "alive" and "dead" before the time is up. When that is the goal, one becomes not a "band" fan or a "genre" fan, but a music fan. I guess, then, that this makes more sense than I originally thought. After all: music is music is music. So yeah, maybe it would be best if we experimented more in our lives. Maybe it would be a good idea to wait and witness it all before we assume the wave-form is already "collapsed." Maybe we should just listen more.

     Because I don't know about you, but I'm going to always try and stop, look around, and then wait to open up that box.