Of course, I don’t need any convincing as to the power of music but when I read this piece on the brain in The New Yorker (the level of my bathroom reading has reached new heights of late)… I knew that I had to share this with y’all.
It turns out, that when Dr Shewmon entered college (Harvard) he was an avowed atheist, but one morning, while listening to Chopin’s Trois Nouvelles Études No.2 in his dorm room he had an epiphany. The music had lifted him into such a state of ecstasy that he no longer thought it possible that all conscious experience, particularly one’s perception of beauty, could be (as is taught in 99.99% of medical universities around the world) a ‘mere electrophysiological epiphenomenon’. The music, you see, had transcended for him “all of the spiritual limitations of matter.”
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio
Shewmon would convert to Catholicism to study Aristotelian-Thomastic philosophy and, for the past 20 years or more, he has been, not just one of the world’s leading neurologists, but an annoying pebble in the shoes of all the ’sensible’ doctors and scientists in his field.
If you are in need of an epiphany yourself, may I prescribe a course of Chopin and then perhaps a long walk in the woods.