“We use articulation; we don’t want to show articulation.”

“You [ideally] think of what you have to say, not how… I think it was too clearly heard how you did it.”


Does society have greater moral expectations for athletes than for musicians? Even a flawed, evolution-based presentation of such a question can be thought-provoking. And, in the nature of blogs, the readers’ comments are often more enlightening than the original post. For example, one “D. Bachmann” writes:

To assume that “musicians” were less powerful in paleolithic society than “athletes” to my mind also reflects a very simplistic image of such a society. Indeed the development of music (and language) was what shifted us apart from the animal kingdom and gave us almost godlike powers compared to other primates.

I hadn’t realized till an hour ago how easy it is to make “live” videos with the MacBook Pro:

My friend David Abel, on his Facebook page, typed appreciatively of the terrific article on Marian Seldes in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine. In the article the great Seldes mentions that her grandson is the pianist and composer Timothy Andres. So I went to his Web site and not only discovered an exceedingly interesting blog but found links to so much else — people and things — that are part of my life. If I read far enough in it, there will probably be a reference to David (who is currently conducting the new Andrew Lloyd Webber in London), thus closing the circle! Such is the nature of online community.

“The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he’s in business.” — John Berryman

Hat-tip to Peter Kurth

Media: Master or Slave?

June 12, 2010

One could — and I would — debate some of Alain de Botton’s points or their consequences, but a fact like this is striking to someone who carries around a small machine that lends access to literally millions of writings in seconds:

A wealthy family in England in 1250 might have owned three books: a Bible, a collection of prayers, and a life of the saints—this modestly sized library nevertheless costing as much as a cottage.

Al Giordano comes at it somewhat differently.

I shot off an e-mail to Schopenhauer to ask what he thinks about current media, and — like a lot of guys who sit around thinking a lot — he got right back to me with this idea:

The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public… A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.

One of Giordano’s readers is thinking extra-hard:

A media kibbutz?

Yes, that’s one of the ideas I’ve been playing with. Not the antiquated pick-oranges and dance-the-hora stuff and not Jewish either, nor in Israel, but a modern community somewhere in América where people live and produce media, be it books, a newspaper, photography, film, TV, whatever. It would also be a more permanent version of the J-school. There are agricultural kibbutzim, there are those that produce electronics or chemicals, but I’ve never heard of such a set-up that produces and educates media.

I’d gladly live in that kibbutz if it was also full of communicative performing musicians.

So very Barcelona: “Play me, I’m yours,” it says.

UPDATE: Barbara Kerr points me to this report on the fact that New York is getting its own pianos in the same campaign. Yea!

ANOTHER UPDATE: At 5:06 P.M. on June 21, I find this on Columbus Circle:

While she’s talking about actors, she speaks clearly to the mission of musicians as I conceive it.

Tip of the hat to Catherine Pisaroni

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