trying to grow a watermelon in Easter hay.
In this post of mine, I expressed relieved pleasure (or it may have been pleased relief) that someone else out there (in this case, Jno Bellman on Dial "M" for Musicology) saw through a certain variety of projective cultural narcissism.
Also on Dial "M", Phil Ford picks a most reasonable quarrel (though with a title apt to rile a few Bach-o-philes) with a tag to a rhetorical question:
[Bellman] :: How can any of us be sure how people's minds worked? Particularly people whose minds are better than ours, by many parsecs?
In brief, Mr Ford's point that the mind of the artistic genius differs from the everyday mind (for the most part) in degree, rather than in kind, is well taken. But, I think that Mr Bellman's tag there is honorific, in a way inessential to the point of his rh. q. I think there is some middle ground to be struck between Mr Bellman's uncertainty, and Mr Ford's pragmatism of [having] to proceed from the assumption that other minds work basically the same way as ours.
To adapt Mr Bellman's example, it seems to me fair to claim that when I proof a choral octavo, I [do X]; when Vaughan Williams proofed a choral octavo, he [did X]. There's ample field for presuming much the same functionality, particularly regarding the more 'mechanical' tasks within the broad umbrella of composition; but the creative work, that's something of another matter.
A neighbor elsewhere, in the course of discussing the question of genius, observes:
Einstein was clearly a genius, but had he been run over by bus in 1904 someone else would have worked out special and general relativity. Had JS Bach died in 1700 we would not have the WTC.And why? Because Einstein's discoveries are out there in the natural world, awaiting (one might say) comprehension. Apart from the unique circumstances which result in a composer's writing it, the work of music is not. And while I should agree with Mr Ford that other minds work basically the same way as ours, two ancillary concerns which I see in the present topic are: if there is variety in personality 'type', how might this translate to differences in the workings of mind; and (to build on Mr Bellman's question), how can I be sure that Beethoven's compositional mind works the same as mine, when there is a limit to how well I might elucidate my own process, the compositional experience I walk through myself?