R/S: What are your thoughts on originality?
GERSHON KINGSLEY: Originality is not such a big thing to me—sometimes I encounter a homeless person on the street who is very original. A more difficult question is: How can you find the essence of your own inner being? Sometimes you don’t even know what that is, or you may have once known but then destroyed it.
I was in psychoanalysis for years to become more “conscious” about myself and to deal with fears; it was very fashionable in the ’50s. I’d discover, “Ah, yes! Now I know why I do what I’m doing.” Then I’d confront a situation and realize I was still making the same mistakes I made in the past; I’d realize that it didn’t work. I think there is something wrong with our common brainpower; I think our brains are very decadent. There’s a story about Richard Strauss, who like me loved to talk and speculate about life. When they were at parties his wife used to say, “Do us a favor, Richard—go back home and compose.”
R/S:: But it’s important for artists to be verbally articulate—
GK: One of my important software programs is called Articulation; it allows us to accent the music you write. This is the basic ingredient that makes music music instead of bup-bup-bup-bup you can make it bop-bup-bop-bup. You need this articulation—the same applies to all human behavior. I keep a journal and am writing fiction about a character I call “G”; for example, “The only thing ‘G’ wanted to do was write a hit tune, because everybody wants to write a hit tune.” Then I describe how he achieves his aim—then undergoes all this tribulation.
R/S:: How were you affected by the holocaust?
GK: I’m an indirect holocaust survivor. When I left Germany in 1938 I was fifteen; this was just before Kristallnacht. I belonged to a Zionist youth group and we were very motivated to come to pre-Israel to til the land and live in a kibbutz. My mother was Catholic (she later converted to Judaism), my father was Jewish. That’s already going against the grain!