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Double-attrition perfectionism and the violin

An interesting thing about violin is that the learning process seems nearly designed to produce 'tortured perfectionists' as its output.

The first decade of learning operates as a two-pronged selection process that attrits students at different times in their learning journey, requiring perfectionism at some times and tolerance at others. 

You could be boring and argue that it always requires both attention to detail and tolerance of imperfection, simultaneously. You could also argue that there's a fractal, scale invariant pattern of striving for perfection and then tolerating failure. You're boring and probably right, but I think there's actually a common, macro structure to that decade, that goes 'tolerance-perfectionism-tolerance-perfectionism.'


  • When you first start, you need to tolerate being terrible, especially in the first months, but really for several years. (Grade 1- Grade ~3)
    • You suck, it's horribly offensive to your ears and everyone else's too. You must simply ignore how bad you sound and force your body to learn the required movements.
    • Mistakes on violin are brutal, they almost hurt to hear.
  • Then for several more years you must suddenly become intolerant of these same deficiencies. (Grade ~3 to Grade ~6)
    • You must obsessively eliminate scratches and squawks, develop clear and even tone. Polish your 'beginner' skills. 
    • You must learn to play in tune, which requires intensive practice and polishing.
  • Then for several more years you must again stop worrying about sounding bad and start 'pushing the envelope' and playing more expressively. (Grade ~6 - Grade ~8)
    • Developing exciting and varied sounds means a lot of nasty failures that sound awful and make people wince and/or bang walls.
  • Then for several more years, you have to again polish and refine this expressiveness. (Associate diploma, Bachelor of Music.)
    • You have to learn to platy really in tune.
    • Like really really in tune.
    • Like unless you're lucky you probably lack the pitch resolution in your hearing to even notice the difference.
    • Like
      • More in tune than a well-tuned piano. Not strictly 'Just Intonation' but a compromise intonation system that allows the series of perfect 5ths G, D, A and E to remain fixed in all keys, but other notes to fall perfectly in tune with each other around these fixed points.
      • You're supposed to learn this system intuitively by just playing scales as in-tune as you can, often playing two notes at the same time (thirds, sixths, octaves, 11ths).
      • These changes correspond to fractions of a millimeter difference in position on the string.
      • Practice sessions now involve hours of obsessive, tiny intonation adjustments.

The result is that if someone plays violin at a professional level, they either have a very healthy relationship with their perfectionism and can adapt it to the needs of the moment (hahahahhhahahah), or they are a deeply disturbed individual who is somehow either able to pretend not to hate their playing for years, or able to force themselves to care about details that don't bother them in the slightest.

This is as far as I've gone (I'm on the final step, trying to reach professional level). If you go further and become a soloist, I don't know what that implies about your psychology. Soloists seem normal and occasionally seem well-adjusted, but perhaps we should learn to fear them.

I think there may be a typo in the table directly under the heading "Token probability shifts."
If it's not a typo, why are both coefficients positive? Aren't we meant to subtract the vector for ' '?

Edit: removed a bad point. 

If you object strongly to the use of the term UBI in the post, you can replace it with something else. 
Then I make a number of substantive arguments.

Your response so far is 'if it's a UBI it won't suffer from these issues by its very definition.'

My response is 'yes it will, because I believe any UBI policy proposal will degrade into something less than the ideal definition almost immediately when implemented at scale, or just emerge from existing welfare systems piecemeal rather than all at once. Then all the current concerning 'bad things that happen to people who depend on government money' will be issues to consider.

I'm speaking about the policy that's going to be called UBI when it's implemented. You're allowed to discuss e.g. socialism without having to defer to a theoretical socialism that is by definition free of problems.

Anyway, it's a quibble, feel free to find and replace UBI with 'the policy we'll eventually call UBI', it doesn't change the argument I make.

Where do I call existing welfare systems UBI? That's a misunderstanding of my argument.

My point is that I don't think it's likely that future real-world policies will BE universal. They'll be touted as such, they might even be called UBI, but they won't be universal. I argue they're likely to emerge from existing social welfare systems, or absorb their infrastructure and institutions, or at least their cultural baggage.

I can see the confusion, and maybe I should have put 'UBI' in quotes to indicate that I meant 'the policy I think we'll actually get that people will describe as UBI or something equivalent.'

My point is not to argue that existing welfare systems are UBI. I don't use any non-standard definitions. I don't call existing welfare systems UBI. 

My point is that the real-world policy we're likely to eventually call UBI probably won't actually be universal, and if it emerges as a consequence of more and more people relying on social welfare, or else is associated with social welfare culturally, bad things will likely happen. Then I give some examples of the sort of bad things I mean.

I frequently hear people saying something like "and this is why we need a UBI"

This is a good point. I would like it very much if we could implement a UBI policy that did not come with the cultural baggage of existing social welfare systems. I would like it if existing social welfare systems would become more unconditional. I see why people think UBI would achieve this. I think they're more optimistic than I am about our ability to shed our social attitudes to work and welfare. Maybe it'll change with demographics, who knows...

I’m writing the original paragraph, and answering a bunch of questions designed to prompt me to reflect.

There are a few Obsidian plugins that do similar stuff using LLMs, (they purport to read your notes and help you something something).

I'm thinking of mocking something up over the next week or so that does this 'diary questions' thing in a more interactive way, via the API, from inside Obsidian. 

I also realise how much I sound like Chat-GPT in that comment... dammit

Yeah, I agree with a lot of this, and this privacy concern was actually my main reason to want to switch to Obsidian in the first place, ironically.

I remember in the book In the Age of Surveillance Capitalism there's a framework for thinking about privacy where users knowingly trade away their privacy in exchange for a service which becomes more useful for them as a direct consequence of the privacy tradeoff. So for example, a maps app that remembers where you parked your car. This is contrasted with platforms where the privacy violations aren't 'paid back' to the users in terms of useful features that benefit them, they just extract value from users in exchange for providing a service at all.

So in this case, I guess the more private information I submit to Chat-GPT, the more directly useful and relevant and insightful its responses to me get. Considering how much a life coach or career coach or therapist can cost, this is a lot of value I'm getting for it.

I understand the theoretical concern about our righteous future overlords whom I fully support and embrace, but while I think you could learn a lot about me from reading my diary, including convincingly simulating my personality, I would feel surprised if reading my diary was enough to model my brain in sufficient fidelity that it's an s-risk concern...

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