No, not *that* Lost

I look at Brainpickings quite regularly, where she likes to pair snippets of literature in a wine/food sort of way. Looking at a (tangentially) related post today, I found a picnic I could bring the Chardonnay to, as it were.

Rebecca Solnit is one of those writers whose books I always find in vacation cottages, usually in Northern California, and can never bear to put back. So I have a small collection of her writings, all stolen. From "A Field Guide to Getting Lost":

Imagine yourself streaming through time shedding gloves, umbrellas, wrenches, books, friends, homes, names. This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery.

In an afterword to one of the editions of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" Robert Pirsig offers an Ancient Greek perspective on time:

They saw the future as something that came upon them from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes.

He goes on:

When you think about it, that's a more accurate metaphor than our present one. Who really can face the future? All you can do is project from the past, even when the past shows that such projections are often wrong. And who really can forget the past? What else is there to know?

Ten years after the publication of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance the Ancient Greek perspective is certainly appropriate. What sort of future is coming up from behind I don't really know. But the past, spread out ahead, dominates everything in sight.

Contemporary culture is the opposite of solipsistic

"Complaints that we’re all self-obsessed are evergreen, but I think that they badly miss the point in our current technological moment. Rather than being obsessed with our own point of view, I think we are instead in an era in which we are obsessed with the gaze of others. Yes, we are watching others watch us, and so there’s a second order sense in which we are still the subject of our own drama. But rather than being uninterested in the point of view of others, I think we have constructed an immense digital apparatus to focus on little else".

Didn't anyone ever test it?

Recently released archives of The Baffler contain a piece regarding the SKYY vodka "no hangover" campaign. Science (plus, what?) be damned, it does quote a nice bit from Kingsley Amis on the spiritual - no puns, please - nature of the hangover. I seem to remember similarly vivid descriptions in Bonfire of the Vanities, but as usual I can't find it.

By the internet's long and winding back roads I ended up at Anthony Haden-Guest's website, where, it must be said, I found that his blog has even fewer entries than mine.

Scoring the Cosmos: A Conversation with Alan Silvestri and Seth MacFarlane

Reasons to be cheerful, Part XVmpteen. What a perfect storm of awesome. I've been really enjoying the new Cosmos (I could wish for a bit more Professor Tyson and a bit less Uncle Neil, but that does seem a bit churlish), and it's great to read what Seth Macfarlane has to say about music. Who better than Alan Silvestri for this?


In defense of difficult art.

"We are difficult. Human beings are difficult. We’re difficult to ourselves, we’re difficult to each other. And we are mysteries to ourselves, we are mysteries to each other. One encounters in any ordinary day far more real difficulty than one confronts in the most “intellectual” piece of work. Why is it believed that poetry, prose, painting, music should be less than we are? Why does music, why does poetry have to address us in simplified terms, when if such simplification were applied to a description of our own inner selves we would find it demeaning? I think art has a right—not an obligation—to be difficult if it wishes. And, since people generally go on from this to talk about elitism versus democracy, I would add that genuinely difficult art is truly democratic. And that tyranny requires simplification." Geoffrey Hill.

Generally don't love "challenging" music myself, but I'm glad it exists. There's a great line in a Rickie Lee Jones song somewhere - roughly (from memory) "It's not so much what you take from the painting as what you give yourself by what you leave", which hits it for me. The hard stuff asks us to participate. I'm not sure that it gets composers off the hook for writing a decent tune, but maybe that's a different argument.



Neil Gaiman nails it

Well, nailed it. I just came across this Guardian article from a couple of years ago. Authors advice on writing. His first two rules are 1 Write; 2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

I also like the notion that if someone tells you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

Anthony Trollope

"My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best"

Also, Tchaikovsky:

"We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood."

I'm not given to pasting aphorisms all over the place (though I do have "Real Artists Ship" on the wall in my studio), but an occasional nudge from that dude probably isn't a bad thing.

Strange & Norrell

That's all the Strange & Norrell tracks. I seem to have got the social media catching up too. Facebook next, I suppose. I'll post a few other tracks too, just to populate the blog, and also because I can talk a little about what's behind each piece without cluttering up the album pages.

I'll post some more diverse stuff too, honest :)

Comments are welcome too. Just don't be mean.