Few Notes On Authority

Few Notes On Authority

By Reza Ganjavi

Authority plays such an important part in our psychological structure. We are conditioned since childhood as individuals, and also, as the human race, to conform to authority: authority of parents, teachers, etc.

Following authority has its place in life e.g. the authority of the law. But even that can be viewed not as something imposed upon one, but as an agreement for the well-being of society. Psychologically authority is dangerous. The idea of "I am not good enough" is conditioning based on comparison, and authority. Of course this maybe the case on a practical, technical level, but psychologically, becoming is an illusions – what I am now, I’ll be in the future, so unless I change now, what will be is what is. I think it takes a certain attitude – perhaps the confidence of innocence – that if anybody can do it, I can do it – as John Lennon puts it: “Nothing you can do that can’t be done"...

We have a “god-making" mechanism. In the psychological field, it’s quite obvious: make someone into an idol, and think we’ll never be like them and so deny our own freedom. But even in the technical area this happens. I had a guitar teacher once who said her free-stroke’s follow-up will never be like John Williams’. Maybe it was true, but her attitude of making him into a god and then declaring herself as inferior was the same thing as happens with gurus, etc... The conditioning of god-making is the self-inferiority complex.

Mankind has tried to revolt against the authority of the state, etc., young people try to revolt against the boring old generation and it's authority by ways, some of which are harmful, such as drugs. The older generation, having themselves conformed to authority, now set themselves up as authority, thus becoming very judgmental.

The other side of the coin of god-making is shooting the self-made god down. You see this often. You think your idol should be a religious man who has no sex, you find out he was a human and had sex, and you start hating him. The problem was in making him into a god to begin with. Here's one example as the great guitarist Manuel Barrueco discusses:

“I was trying to put together in my head what it is that I hear in your playing, as I mentioned, I hear these qualities that Segovia had, like your warm sound, but at the same time you seem to have a very modern training. I was wondering if it is this mixture that makes your style. Nobody sits in a vacuum, we all pick from others. And also, there is nothing wrong in saying to a student: "You should not sound like Segovia", that is not necessarily a criticism of Segovia. If I was a painter and had a student that was painting cubism I would say: "Listen, let's go on", but it doesn't mean that I'm putting down Picasso because of it. Segovia was great for his time and I think he is very unfairly criticized. It's very easy to criticize somebody's work. I think the problem is that some people thought of him as being God, and when you compare him to God, of course the guy falls short...”