Fanaticism is the Cancer of Passion

Tuesday, July 1, 2008| by Will Chen

I was listening to NPR last month and heard a very interesting interview of Rabbi Brad Hirshfield, author of the book You Don’t Have to be Wrong for Me To Be Right, and one quote stuck out in my head, “Fanaticism is the Cancer of Passion”. Of course, he was speaking in a religious context but I started thinking of how this applies to the guitar world.

Guitarists are a passionate bunch no doubt, but do we often take our tastes to the extreme and become fanatical? In the interview, Mr. Hirschfield spoke of the intoxicating nature of fanaticism. At its core, fanaticism offers all the answers. How beautiful a world one would live in if they had all the answers. However, he continues by saying that as with any intoxicant you must pay a price for the initial euphoric high.

The tube vs digital/solid state debate is one of the most polarized among guitarists with the tubeites vehemently touting that the organic feel of tubes can never be replicated and digitalees chiding that tradition has blinded some to their infinitely variable tones and extreme portability.

A Zen proverb comes to mind; “Those who know don’t command and those who command don’t know.”

We’ve probably all been guilty of posting opinions as absolute truths on a discussion board without a second thought, I know I have, and fanatically arguing against any naysayers. Yet the older I get, I am continually surprised by how little I really know. Things I once knew as the truth I have reexamined to discover as one person’s truth. In order to grow, we must remember to employ our biggest strength as musicians...listening. Inspiration must have a soil fertilized with diversity in order to grow.

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