YoYo Ma-ma’s So Phat…

I just couldn’t resist that. This is the only post I’ve made in direct note of the wonderful and inspiring musician Yo Yo Ma. So it is that I’ll start with his conclusion or at least that written in this HuffPo piece.


We live in such a measuring society, people tend to put a person in a box they can put on their mental shelf. People think of me as a cellist because they can see my performances and take my measure as a musician. I think of my life as a musician as only the tip of an iceberg. That is only the audible part of my existence. Underneath the water is the life I’m leading, the thoughts I’m thinking and the emotions that well up in me.

We all get into trouble if we think the universe only exists of the matter that we can see and measure, and not the anti-matter that is the counterpart that holds it all together.

Michelangelo famously said, “I liberate the statue from the marble.” Similarly, my music emerges from the life all around me and the world we all share together. One is the condition of the other.

I’m not getting all pedantic on Yoyo, but I believe that the quote he wanted from Michelangelo was:

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”

This version is much more revealing in that it explains that he looks at the marble chunk and sees inside of it’s confines an object that others do not. This is quite different than simply saying an object is trapped inside it as the latter implies that if only we chip away at the edges any of us would see the object inside.

Michelangelo’s Tomb

For Michelangelo to see the apparition in the stone he had to have modelled it in his mind… so that only his eyes could see the apparition till he set it free. This is what Yoyo is talking about. His imagination comes from the world around us as that is the extent of experience, he simply sees it through the filter of his own simulator/mind. Both he and Michelangelo were simply “releasing the beast within” by showing the rest of us what they see in their simulator. This act of sharing what only we can create in our simulators is to change the world around us, at least for those who witness the ‘beast’ we share.

The mechanics of how our brain simulator sees what it does is not the point here, but that our imagination comes from the rules and execution of the rules within our simulation of the world. Until we “release the beast” within the simulation in our brains it is not part of shared experience… it is not alive. When we share it, we give it life and in doing so it may gain practical immortality… after all, it’s really hard to kill a good idea. I say ‘beast’ because what lay trapped in the minds of some is exactly that – a beast. Many of us have very tame beasts, but this is not universally so.

What beast lies within the confines of your mind?


  1. That’s great music!

    • Yoyo is awesome!

    • Brother, this series is well worth looking into. There is an excellent episode on architecture.

      • Thanks bro. I will definitely

  2. A vaporous one who requires a great deal of attention before giving up the little gems.

    • John, what is the context for this comment?

      • Your question at the end.

        • ooohhhhhhh good answer

          • 🙂 I can see how that would be rather confusing out of context

            • Yeah, I went for a smoke to consider that comment and still had to ask LOL

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