While not entirely randomly exploring on Wikipedia, something I am known to do from time to time, even occasionally editing entries when I see they are incomplete, I came across the works of a Finnish composer named Aulis Sallinen, whose works are said in general to be grim. That’s the sort of opera I can appreciate wholeheartedly, being a somewhat grim person myself from time to time . One of the operas that Sallinen composed was called “Kuningas Lahtee Ranskaan,” which, translated from Finnish, means something like “The King Goes Forth To France” (I must admit I am not very well versed in Finnish) . The general feel of the opera, at least according to some of its reviewers, is that of an initially silly and inconsequential comedy about a prince with slightly too many princesses interested in him that transitions gradually into a dark and harrowing play about cruelty and violence with a brutalized army destroying more and more of northern France in an futuristic ice age version of the Hundred Year’s War, with its massive and harrowing violence.
It ought to come as no surprise that I am a person of many layers. It bothers me when people try to reduce these layers to only a few ones. For example, when I write about the interconnection of music, science, and my personal life, or any other number of interconnected subjects, like the odd relevance of an obscure Finnish opera to my life, the reduction of layers is extremely unhelpful. After all, it is not as if only that angle of my own personal feelings is the “real” layer of any intended writing of mine. To be sure, it is the most personal, and if someone is interested in those personal feelings of mine, perhaps the subject of most immediate interest. Yet it is often the most remote of the layers from my actual writing. Quite often, it is the tangential connections I make that are the initial subject at hand in a given writing, and the personal relevance only untangles itself in the process of writing, as I inevitably apply that which I am writing and thinking about to myself and my life. To reduce the complexity of that process merely to its end product insofar as it relates to me, or to other people in my personal life of whom I think about and am concerned about often, does violence to the complexity of the way I think and feel, which is nothing if not like a Russian fabrige egg or peeling an onion layer by layer, or pulling an artichoke out to find its heart. Writing is a process that usually starts from the outside in, not from the inside out, acquiring layers and disguises as it goes, but rather initially slight or superficial connections that acquire more and more meaning as they are examined in greater depth and detail. I am not a mysterious man with a mask, but rather a deep vein within the earth that one must dig out with effort, trying not to leave the mine looking too ugly after one has opened up the scars of the earth that hide what is of true value within.
Often that which seems silly and inconsequential on the outside can be of tremendous and grim importance when one digs at it a little bit deeper, or examines the silliness in a larger context. For example, for reasons I cannot comprehend, I am continually being patted on the back or the shoulder from behind or have people rush up from behind to hug me or press on my chair at work. It is difficult for me to express the distress that I feel from such sudden and uninvited closeness, and yet no matter how often I express my displeasure at the conduct, it seems as if many people would far rather prefer to encounter me in such a fashion than to come face to face, as a friend would. It is perhaps little wonder that someone who has spent so much of my life feeling like a hunted animal should find it immensely unwelcome for people to wish to sneak up on me from behind, yet it would seem that they mean silliness out of it, not knowing or perhaps caring about the immense torment it causes me. Perhaps we are all prone to underestimate the harm we do when we try to get a rise out of someone, seeing the alarm and feeling amused at our power, and not reflecting that we have used our power for evil in bringing torment and suffering to someone else, something none of us should ever want to do.
For it is through a life of suffering and torment that the silliness of youth becomes a grim and deeply troublesome life. Layers and layers of experience and hurt are put on top of a tender heart, and soon a heart is tender no more. Soon a person who would have been friendly to others is deeply scarred and unable to open up, afraid to spill out the details of their life for fear of judgment and rejection and leaving oneself vulnerable to even more hurts after one has taken the trouble to reveal who one is. Of such materials all of us is made as we sally forth to the quests of our existence. How often do we reflect, as we set out for what we aim, that we will be shaped by the lives that we live, and that our behavior has consequences not only for ourselves but for others as well. Are we not held accountable for every idle word and every foolish deed not because our heavenly Judge is a cosmic killjoy, but because it is with those words and deeds that we break the tender reed and crush the fragile rose that we should have gently tended to so that with time and care it might end up whole once again, rather than being broken beyond hope of restoration?
 See, for example: