From August 2018

Advice of the Moment Includes Waiting Till the Morning to Ponder the Details of Your Life

I arrived in a new city a bit of a mess. There was too much left undone, too few people bid goodbye, a traumatized cat on a plane. I felt a hovering sense of doom, weighed down by something like failure, but it wasn’t quite that.

I remembered reading someone advising not to think about your life too much after dinner. It was well after that.

The dawn came, as always, and with it a fresh sense of perspective, and openness. It felt exciting and just a little dangerous, the way you want any adventure to begin, no matter how small or mundane. Regret is for the night, but try not giving it too much attention then.

Profundity in Sound and Vision by Christine Sun Kim

I’ve been poring over the work of Christine Sun Kim, who works with sound as a symbol and subject, but often without using it as a medium. Her drawings especially are a lovely and evocative examination of assumptions we have about things like music and notation.

I’d hazard a guess that her approach is so visual because Kim is deaf.

Oh, also I live in Portland, Oregon, now. 

The Weird Things One’s Brain Comes Up With Under Extreme Duress

So, belated apologies for missing one of these daily posts completely—and they’re unwarranted, I know, but after some pretty consistent, um, consistency in posting, it still feels appropriate. 

I’m in the final throes of moving to another city, and not just that, another state. I haven’t done that since 1992. California has been home for a very long time, indeed.

But I’m tired of the Southwest, and it’s long past time to experience everything new. Or anew. I’m really too tired to figure it out.

I’ve been putting everything I own into boxes to move, bags to throw out, and piles to donate. There’s now a lot less that I own. Something else: I keep noticing a soundtrack running in my head as I do all this, and it’s annoyingly full of—what used to be, to me—”Classic” rock. The brain is a marvelous phenomenon, but it’s also full of trivia. Today’s tracks were the above Phil, and this Bad Company song, which I haven’t heard for years.

Happy Birthday to My Favorite Guitar Player, Alexandar Zivojinovich

Alex Lifeson from Rush, of course, which is really what I should call him up front. Titles are hard, sometimes. Rush isn’t really my favorite band any more, but I still have lots of time for them when the occasion arises.

He’s a largely self-taught musician, but managed to innovate in several ways, notably—to me, at least—his preference for creating color and texture in the spaces between his virtuosic, more showy bandmates. 

Like Ringo Starr, another sometimes unsung hero of rock music, he always strives to serve the songs first and foremost. I think this is an admirable approach for any artist, striving to do what you think is best for the piece, not trying to show any particular skill.

In Which the Chronicler Expounds His Enduring Affection for Certain Bits of ST:TOS

What did I latch onto for comfort viewing the past two nights? Star Trek: The Original Series. Gosh, what a wonderful vision of daring and exploration into the unknown. Of course, this effusion is helped along by my sticking to several opinions of the [insert arbitrary and fawning superlative here] episodes of the original series.

In many cases, they’re a group of, well, adventurers, D&D/RPG-style. The rough & tumble nature of their whimsy is all in service to the story they’re telling week to week. Even so, the best moments focus on the relationships between. Insight into these characters is what makes them so compelling, and the show relevant and even inspiring.

There are so many moments that touch me. The earnest desire to understand the unknown, the sheer bravado. I’m kinda moved by a lot of these 60s teleplays.

So what’s this got to do with art? Art is an adventure, of course. If requires we feed our desire and expand our horizons, to outer space if need be.

Moving as a Subtractive Process Unburdens a Little and Distracts a Lot

Distraction in your work is a problem. Distraction from your stressors can be a boon, and get you to the metaphorical table more often.

Usually, in any given moment, we aren’t fully present we’re not so good at—wait for iiit—being mindful of our surroundings, we’re thinking about a million things. Walking down a street like that isn’t such a big deal. Making art like that is a path to so-so work.

One corollary I noticed while packing all my earthly belongings this past few weeks is that rather than viewing a full move as a terrible weight to bear, it’s a chance to strip away some of the raw stuff that weighs us down. Marie Kondo is the current rage of the organizing aficionados, of course. She advocates organizing by keeping only what you truly want, not throwing out, donating, or selling what you don’t.

It seems a bit backward or inverse, but it’s very like artists who work in media like ink and stone do: chip and cut and scratch the raw stuff to reveal an essence. The focus isn’t on what you don’t want, contrary to the myth, it’s on what you do.

It’s helped make this particular process much easier for me, by transforming my idea of what it means.

I’ve Been Pondering a Comics Thing for a Bit and Will Probably Continue to Do So

Finger sketching on the phone is hard with figures.

I’ve been looking at Supersons, the DC team-up of Superman’s and Batman’s kids. I’m not very interested in much that is superhero—despite enjoying several of the Marvel movies—but for some reason this really grabs me.

The boys are struggling with their own identities, not just because of the privilege of power (and wealth), but also abilities that are just beginning to develop. This might be worth exploring, but I don’t know if I care about getting into the series so much. Something like it, somewhere, though.

Mood of the Day, Week, Month in Music Video Form

Moving brings out all the emotions. For me, it’s not all stress, all the time. I’ve always brought a sense of melancholy as well, sorting old letters, books, photos, notes, objects long hidden in a box that never got unpacked from the last move.

I want it to be Vanpire Weekend’s “Cousins,” but of course it feels like (brilliant) Ethan Gruska’s remote-gas-station-lit “Teenage Drug.”

This is a useful, and I think harmless, if not even helpful, kind of nostalgia. Feeling the past while you actively head toward the future.

A Simple Mysterious Cephalopod Emerging From an Ancient Floor Suckers Us In

Not a horror movie, it’s a reminder that there are still discoveries to be made in the world, not everything has been uncovered.

Via The History Blog: Pebble mosaic found in 4th c. BC Greek bath house

Things like the things you make may have been done before, but that’s been true for thousands of years. We remake the images and thoughts and ideas we’ve always made, filtered through one small, unique lens that can only be our own.