There is lust. There is gluttony. There is greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride, but the act of arguing in a library is by far the greatest of all sins. It is a reckless pollution of the intellectual sanctity of mankind. It is a petty war of two parties broadcasted to the world in tasteless disregard for the collateral damage on one’s intellectual brethren. It is a sin—the greatest of all sins. So what’s the cure? Music.
WARNING: Read on only if you have a warm coffee and dare to sit through a thousand words of hectic prose.
One can only imagine the magnitude of intellectual destruction. Imagine this: You’re at a desk in the library. You’ve finally arranged all your stationery in their perfect positions: The notepad in the middle, exactly five inches from the lower edge of the desk; your extensive collection of highlighters sorted into ROYGBIV and stationed exactly 6 inches to the right of your notepad; and a pen and ruler three inches to the left to round out the arsenal. As you breathe in the cool odorless odor of the AC, a tranquilizing trinity of calm, peace and purpose gently casts itself over your mind like a smooth silk blanket. The quiet, rhythmic clacking of nearby keyboards gradually fades into a hazy nothingness as your consciousness recedes into the deepest caverns of your mind…
Congratulations, you’ve reached the state of Zen! Look around! Get comfortable! This vast, infinite expanse of pristine beach is your mind—a blank canvas that is now fertile and ready for majestic intellectual developments of all kinds.
You feel a sudden sense of freedom and joy. Around the corner, the amygdala alerts you of a flash flood of dopamine, but you don’t care because you just conceived an incredible idea for your history assignment. You quickly build your first piece of real estate—a little sand castle—right there on the shore of your intellectual realm. Oh wait! Another idea! You jump in glee and run a few meters to the East to measure out a square of five meters by five meters. You lie down on the soft white sand, stomach to the sky, and close your eyes. For the moment, you are blind to the world. All you care for is the idea. You feed it with love and affection and thought, and it grows and grows, fermenting from youth to adolescence to maturity. It is done: You open your eyes. There it stands: A tower reaching into the sky, its ornate Renaissance arches mirroring the regality and elegance of your brainchild.
Crash! A deafening wave hits the beach with Herculean force.
You spin around. What’s happening? You look towards the once-serene ocean, and a sense of fear immediately paralyzes your lips into a capital O. A wave of apocalyptic, godly proportions races with Poseidon’s wrath towards you and your intellectual creations. You cannot move; the effects of noradrenaline are too strong. You cannot save your ideas. All is doomed.
You wake from your reverie to shrill screams of emotionally charged invective.
“No, you’re stupid you &!*##$%!”
Naturally, a pair of obnoxious pseudo-intellectuals has crashed the party, destroyed the collective train of thought of the entire library, and thereby rendered intellectual property loss of an immeasurable magnitude. For a moment you weep for colossal tragedy. The spittle-exchanging battle suddenly rises to a deafening crescendo. You sense a primal fire, a deep rage surging from the darkest depths of your soul towards your larynx. You panic. You are a true intellectual. You are a devoutly considerate patron of this library, and you cannot exacerbate this disruptive mess with your very own pool of profanity.
In a moment of divine epiphany, you think of music. Aha! Of course! How silly of you to forget the ultimate cure of all social ailments. You frantically scan the table for your phone. It’s not here, it’s not there, it’s not anywhere! You drop down to your hands and knees to search under the table, but you quickly get back up because a girl in a skirt is sitting directly opposite to you. Her piercing stare stinks of brazen judgment, but you brush aside the fickle worries of social propriety for the greater well being of your patrons, because, well, all the while your dark rage is inexorably bubbling to the surface. Where’s the phone, dammit? You lift the notepad. There it is. You grab the phone with both hands and clumsily tap in the four-digit PIN code while silently cursing the impracticality of such barriers in moments of grave emergency. You’re in. Swipe right. Wrong home screen. Swipe left. Swipe left again. You scan the page of apps to find it, and there it is: Spotify. But you must not rest, for the battle is only half over. Where are the headphones?
The headphones are much easier to locate, but now the rage has reached a critical level. Your hands are shaking. Droplets of sweat slide down your brow. In a dash of desperation, with the 3.5mm jack in one hand and the iPhone in the other, you slam the two together and bond the destined partners in holy matrimony. A sudden white light blinds you from above, and you swear that you heard, for a split-second, the heavenly flourish of trumpeting cherubs. Immediately upon consummation, the thumping beat of Electro Dance Music courses through your veins and fills your entire being. Luckily, the black wrath that was gripping your throat has now dissolved into a cloudy euphoria. Your hands stop shaking, your sweat reluctantly halts, and you slump back into your chair.
There is no more peaceful feeling in the gamut of human experience than that of drowning out the busyness and bickering of reality with a soft pair of headphones and a blasting stream of melody. Music is the most potent drug, more potent than any sundry powder or pill or tablet. Music is a guitar aficionado that plucks away at the collective heartstrings of mankind, engendering in those chords and notes the unique identities and emotions that mark what it means to be human. Music is the symptom of heartbreak, it is the cure of heartbreak. Music is the requiem of tragedy, it is the anthem of love. Music is an essential thread in the fabric of human existence.
Getting to the point…Finally
Therefore, music is also an essential thread of effective study. Yes, I wrote this entire poetic narrative as preamble for savvy study tips #savvystudytips. People like to tell you that listening to music is a very bad choice when studying. They also like to back up this statement with scientific and psychological research, citing studies that show how your concentration drops to sub-zero levels while your IQ suffers an irreversible loss. I disagree. I believe that music of all types—not just Bach and Mozart—can be extremely effective as a source of motivation for studying.
When I’m not particularly feeling the adrenaline of engaging with a dry textbook about the specifics of the spreading of pollen in East Africa, I whip out my headphones and drown out the numerous anxieties of life with the magical anesthesia of music. It’s an incredible sensation to entirely lose oneself amongst the choruses and melodies. The deafening decibels supercharge you with the energy to do anything, like reading a dry textbook about pollen-spreading.
Of course, keeping on the music as you integrate difficult mathematical equations can be distracting. Of course, keeping on the music will make you inadvertently slip in passive-aggressive questions like “What do you mean?” into your English essay on the history of the future of fifth-wave feminism. I do not recommend the hedonism of listening to music during study, precisely to avoid such predicaments. Instead, I advocate the liberal administration of music prior to study, for example, in the moments of preparation before battles against calculus and differential equations.
Morale must be high, otherwise failure is nigh.
You successfully finished the whole post! Congratulations! No awards are bring awarded, but here, take this imaginary pat on the back. Since you lived through this post, you can be confident that you will live through anything that life throws at you!
I recently read a fantastic blog post on the MIT admissions page about the synergy between music and study by Sabrina M. ‘19, and it just resonated (excuse the pun) with me so much that I was compelled to share my own view on the beauty and utility of music.