In my experience of writing, you generally start out with some overall idea that you can see fairly clearly, as if you were standing on a dock and looking at a ship on the ocean. At first you can see the entire ship, but then as you begin work you’re in the boiler room and you can’t see the ship anymore. All you can see are the pipes and the grease and the fittings of the boiler room and, you have to assume, the ship’s exterior. What you really want in an editor is someone who’s still on the dock, who can say, Hi, I’m looking at your ship, and it’s missing a bow, the front mast is crooked, and it looks to me as if your propellers are going to have to be fixed.
Systems and rules in music allow you to come up with things that your sense of taste would never have allowed you to do. But then your sense of taste expands to accommodate them! For instance, I'm sitting here now looking at something that my Stained Glass machine just made on my monitor. It has color combinations in it that are so weird. I would never dream of putting these things together. But, soon they start to look pretty good, and then they start to look really good.
So, having said that much, where am I? In Alplaus, New York, I guess, wishing I could pick up some fire and confidence and originality and fresh prejudices from somewhere. As Slotkin said, these things are group products. It isn’t a question of finding a Messiah, but of a group’s creating one—and it’s hard work, and takes a while.
If this sort of thing is going on somewhere (not in Paris, says Tennessee Williams), I’d love to get in on it. I’d give my right arm to be enthusiastic. God knows there’s plenty to write about—more now than ever before, certainly. You’re defaulting, I’m defaulting, everyone’s defaulting, seems to me.
If Slotkin is right, maybe the death of the institution of friendship is the death of innovation in the arts.
Go up to the place in the bookstore where your books will go, she said. Walk right up and find your place on the shelf. Put your finger there, then go every time.
Often, when a memo isn’t great, it’s not the writer’s inability to recognize the high standard, but instead a wrong expectation on scope: they mistakenly believe a high-standards, six-page memo can be written in one or two days or even a few hours, when really it might take a week or more! They’re trying to perfect a handstand in just two weeks, and we’re not coaching them right. The great memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. They simply can’t be done in a day or two. The key point here is that you can improve results through the simple act of teaching scope – that a great memo probably should take a week or more.
Their obsessions were important in as far as they acted as blinders, that over time allowed these artists to continue to clarify their points of view and, in essence, become more and more themselves. What’s valued is not so much their talent or skill, though they do have plenty; what’s valued is more the perspective through which that talent and skill is expressed.
Anything you do to optimize your work, cut some corners, or squeeze more ‘efficiency’ out of it (and out of your life) will eventually make you dislike it.
— N.N. Taleb, Skin in the Game
Most bands are plenty good, they don’t need a lot of production. Most bands, if you allow them to do what they do naturally, you’ll get a pretty good representation of the band, and generally speaking it’ll be a satisfying experience.
When you start deconstructing a band into its component parts and parsing music out into lyrics and choruses and verses and riffs and bridges and turnarounds and fills and modulations and stuff, then you work on all these elements individually and then try to reassemble them into a simulacrum of what the band was doing organically. That makes freakish records that don’t represent the bands.
— Steve Albini
I knew from the beginning it would take 30 years for the garden to mature. Humans can only do so much. All humans can do is plant a tree thinking it will grow in a certain way. It wasn't humans who finished the garden, nature did that all by itself.
— Isamu Noguchi, on the garden in Moerenuma Park
I recently came across the slogan for John St. Advertising: "A creative agency that aims to make our clients' brands unignorable." Good or bad, that's a quite a goal — just out of reach, demanding consideration, finding it's way into the work.