Disclaimer: I am going to misinterpret the moral community hypothesis.
To say that I enjoy attending concerts is a bit of a misconstruction. For one, it assumes that it is a choice. Interest in concerts seems to be more-or-less an integral part of middle class, Asian American identity, especially among college students. Being in college myself, I do not deviate from the norm. I also did not possess an interesting personality in high school, of which I am compensating through seeming cooler to myself in college, at least what I perceive to be “personality.” I am relatively interested in the same types of music and adopt similar aesthetics towards conforming to a broader social understanding of Asian American identity.
But aside from broader social purposes of expressing my (lack of) personality, concerts also serve as a mode where I could disassociate my perception from my identity of myself. Because if the nature of the majority of my suffering is caused by re-conceptualizing existing perceptual information relative to my conception of myself, then concerts offer a mode of partition would allow me to experience without categorization. In other words, if much of my sadness is caused through comparing my opportunities and achievements to those around me, then concerts offer a means where I could experience music without reflection.
Because, unlike listening to music on my computer speakers, there exists an element of anonymity to attending concerts. The cover of darkness designs a space where, immediately when the artists arrive, I no longer could observe my body except as an amorphous amalgamation in the black. Then, as the music starts, I focus myself more and more towards the stage and less and less towards my movements that, from what my friends tell me, resemble a Sim character on fast forward. My attention progressively errs further and further away from my thoughts that would call attention back towards me. And soon, I am at the mercy of the music.
Sometimes, there exist elements that call my attention back towards my identity. The sudden blaze of Snapchat’s front-facing flash brings my perception away from the music. A person fainting in front of me. Without the music consuming every corner of my attention, I begin to conceptualize the world through a foundation of the past experiences in my life that contribute to my identity. I begin to think in terms of myself once again. Through gravitating back towards observing the music rather than experiencing it, I return to my resting state of sadness. Without the swaying of the music, I no longer can disassociate between my perception and identity.
From my introduction to psychology textbook, I remember that the moral community hypothesis specifically referred to religious communities. It stated that some degree of identity must be integrated within a religious community in reason degree of temporal consistency to maintain a sense of contentment. At the time, as someone who did not understand the nature of their unhappiness, I could conceptualize but never quite understand this theory. After all, back then, I thought the nature of happiness had been maximizing social and professional achievement. But, since then, I have come to accept the fact that I will never achieve enough.
In the face of constant existential rejection, it seems that sometimes forgetting about ourselves is the only path to contentment. At concerts, I forget about myself. Every aspect of my identity — not limited to thought and extension — becomes blurred into the overwhelming power of the crowd and music. I no longer have the ability to perceive myself in any form, and slowly, I become detached from the material world. I exist in a state of nothingness where I could observe without associating external stimuli back to myself. I come one step closer towards becoming integrated with the collective consciousness of the universe.
In such moments, I experience true happiness.
Because, to me, true happiness is a state of forgetfulness. Because, sadness exists as a universal reality — at least, my universal reality — my happiness could only arise when my sadness is suppressed. Only at concerts, when I relinquish my grasp of my identity (and by proxy, my sadness), could I even fathom feelings of happiness. Every aspect of my existence that had been suppressed for no reason other than the fact that it represents a contradictory idea in my existence becomes released. Every chain within myself that has held the raw state of my homogenized personality is broken, and I am left to be my being without identity.
Only at concerts could I reintegrate myself within the collective unconsciousness that I have been forcefully taken from when I had been born into the material world. Only at concerts could I immerse myself within the consecrating and redemptive qualities of music without the interference of my dejected nature. Only at concerts could I disassociate my body from my the memories and thoughts that shape the personality I have adopted. And, because I can never replicate the effects of concerts in any other space in my life, the only times I will ever experience pure, unadulterated happiness is at concerts.
In a sense, I suppose concerts are a bit of a religious experience.