I mentioned yesterday that I've been listening to loads of They Might Be Giants lately -- and I had an interesting experience. I've listened to Don't Let's Start a whole bunch, and learned the lyrics so I could sing it to myself at work. So when I started listening to They Might Be Giants's self-titled album, eventually I got to the actual recording of Don't Let's Start again, which I hadn't actually heard in a while. And it was... different, than I remembered. It wasn't as good. Not by a huge amount, but it wasn't as good.
And, after thinking about it for a while, it reminded me of an argument I had with my philosophy professor a while ago, in which I argued that transcendent experiences are entirely natural phenomena, and that it's not selling short the experiences to say that it's possible for the human brain to create them on its own, it's selling short the brain to say it can't have those experiences.
To which she responded that those experiences by definition don't count as transcendent experiences, because transcendent means having some metaphysical element.
I responded that, then, there's no such thing as a transcendent experience, and everyone who claims they've had one are mistaken, and actually had something else, that was exactly identical to what they think a transcendent experience should be like, except their brain can do it on its own.
This relates to music because:
I know that I've had something that, if not for that semantic argument, I would describe as a transcendent experience listening to Don't Let's Start. And when I found out the actual recording wasn't as good as that, it didn't make me feel cheated, or bad, or wrong. Because the experience still happened.
So, the fact is, stuff that does that definitely exists. It's not that art is cheaper or less meaningful because it's imperfect and human. The lesson of this story is that it's, like, way easier to give someone an experience that feels miraculous than I thought it was before.