15 Jul The virtues of dissonance (or Failure)
In an invigorating essay, “The Virtues of Failure”, Charles Pépin reassures us by stressing that failure is always a good thing in existence; it is through his ordeal that we fully accomplish ourselves. In music, it’s the same thing. Our faults, our faults, are like these dissonant notes, particular vibrations, the dissonances of life. A dissonance is two very close notes that form a lack of harmony. (it is a very subjective defect in fact) They are inevitable for each of us because they make up the music of our lives, your own music. And what we have to learn is that they will enrich us, bring us something positive. In reality, dissonance brings us closer to what we are, to the authenticity of our being. And what is the real role of a musician, an artist, the role that we should all have? When there is a dissonance … welcome it, and make it beautiful! Music and life are similar, they are entangled. And so often those who meet failures touch us, it is that each of us recognizes a part of us in them. We all fear failure as much as we protect ourselves from it to the best of our ability. Still, calm down with the anxiety generated by the idea of failure. “Our failures are spoils, and sometimes even real treasures”. But to measure the price, you must already learn to appreciate the experience, to taste the bitterness. For it is from this bitterness that the salt of life, or even joy, inevitably arises, of which Clément Rosset, the favorite author of Pépin, calls “force majeure”. All those who have succeeded in their life, have accomplished their path there – in creation, art, sport, politics, love, reflection … -, first experienced failure.
“Better: it is because they failed that they succeeded”.
“Without this resistance of the real, without this adversity, without all the opportunities to reflect or rebound that their failures offered them, they could not have been accomplished as they did”.
The different kinds of failures
The author thus draws up a sort of typology of failures, from which we would be ready to progress: as if it were possible to draw a few practical and moral lessons from each of them. Even from a great disarray, a black hole, a gaping wound. Of a heartache.
There are failures which induce an insistence of the will, and those which allow its relaxation; the failures which give us the strength to persevere in the same way, and those which give us the impetus to change it; there are the failures that make us more combative, those that make us wiser, and then there are those that simply make us available for something else.
“In every failed act, there is a successful speech”
An epistemological analysis allows you to recognize your initial error and find the strength to correct it; a dialectical analysis, pushes to understand that success is always a succession of failures and successes, never a simple chain of successes and that without force of negation, there cannot be force of affirmation; a stoic analysis, takes seriously the experience of reality; a psychoanalytic analysis, recalls that “in every failed act, there is a successful discourse”, as Jacques Lacan said; an existentialist reading, opening to the need to reinvent oneself…
To believe that failure can help us to rebound, to redirect, to reinvent ourselves is to bet on a philosophy of becoming.
Failure doesn’t necessarily make you wiser, more humble, or stronger, “but just available for something else.”
He predominates two essential conceptions of the wisdom of failure: one founded on a logic of becoming, the other on a logic of being.
“Don’t let yourself be locked up by your failures”
“Use chess, bifurcations and rebounds to try to get closer to your axis, what is, for you, the main thing; that’s exactly the meaning of iens become what you are ’Nietzschean”. “Become” basically means: “don’t let yourself be confined by your failures, make them opportunities”. And “What you are”: “without betraying what really matters to you, the desire that makes you singular”.
It is not trivial that another philosopher, Dorian Astor, publishes an essay specifically focused on this “become what you are” of Nietzsche, as a kind of contemporary mantra. I myself published a book in 2003 entitled “Become what you can be (Samuel Vallee)”.
I regret the inability of the French school not to teach students the culture of failure, that is to say the audacity to make a mistake, to try a thought free from the threat of the sanction: “Fear failing at school is the main obstacle to our youth ”.
“Remember that daring failure hurts”
All knowledge must favor “the moment of art over the instinct of fear”; it is a great idea, which educators should collectively think about, even if it is true that an influential conservative movement within the education system prevents the possibility of getting started.
Learning to dare is based on a few simple ideas: “increase your competence, admire the audacity of others, don’t be too perfectionist and remember that failure without audacity hurts”.
“To be joyful is always to take note of reality, to know how to find something to love in it.”
Failure is about something else, which sometimes tastes like victory, about yourself even more than about others.