So there's this guy who busks outside the Beer Store. (In Ontario, you buy your beer at the Beer Store. Or the Liquor Store. The Beer Store used to be called "Brewer's Retail" but everybody called it the Beer Store and so the name, she was changed.) The thing is, the instrument he uses is a saw. He's got a handle on the end and he bends it to make noise, giving it an ethereal, almost electronic-like quality to the sound. He can only play a few "songs" and they only let him busk there for a limited time, because his "instrument" is kinda ... annoying.
So I see him a few times. He plays "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", "When You Wish Upon A Star" and a couple of other "tunes". I get to chatting with him and ask him why he doesn't play the Doctor Who theme. "Hmm, I don't know that one", he says so I whistle it for him. He tries it and says he'll work on it.
Flash-forward a couple weeks later. He sees me ride up on my bike to get some beer (mmm ... beer) and he starts playing the Doctor Who theme song. Pretty well, too. Better than "When You Wish Upon a Fucking Star", anyway.
Just trying to nerd-up the universe as much as possible, me.
If I sidled up to you and said, without any context, "I like it under my desk, where my dogs sleep, and I occasionally drop crumbs." or "I like it in the freezer, next to the stiff, dead meat." you'd probably have no idea I was trying to raise awareness about some kind of issue, right, and would instead think I'm some sort of nutter off his meds?
I bring this up because there is this incredibly idiotic meme going around Facebook lately that is doing just that. The idea, for those of you who aren't in the know, is to post the location you like to leave your purse to raise awareness for cervical cancer. What the fuck a purse has to do with a cervix I don't know, I can't claim to own either, but the whole point of this meme-campaign leaves me scratching my head. Three reasons:
1. If you are attempting to raise awareness about an issue, YOU ACTUALLY NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE ISSUE, FFS. A FB comment of "I like it in the garden, beside the radishes, where the bugs are" says nothing about the issue and, as such, will leave people who don't know about the meme completely out of the loop.
2. That being said, how useful is a meme to raise awareness about an issue if the only people who are going to GET the meme are those people WHO KNOW WHAT THE MEME IS ABOUT, i.e. the people who already have an awareness of the issue. Such people, I would think, are not your target audience. People like Jim Bob Herp de'Derp, your old friend from high school, will not have the psychic connection necessary to convert "I like it on a hook, hanging from my wall next to my doll collection" into "Oh, hey, I should be more cognizant about breast/cervix/whatever cancer." It's like telling a joke that you then have to try and explain to your audience because they don't get it.
3. Do you honestly think that what you are doing does a lick of good? Honestly? Does re-posting a meme actually do anything for the issue you are trying to support? Does posting "I like it by the door, except then my gerbils get into it" magically raise money for cancer research? Does posting context-less non-sequitors make people care? Or are you going to post "I like it on the couch, half open with its contents spilling out" and then go right back to playing Farmville while enjoying your sense of pointless, empty good will at your well-intentioned-yet-totally-ineffective gesture?
"But, Ren, I'm just trying to help!" You want to help? How about you actually talk about the issue or toss a fiver to a charity or fund that actually contributes to the issue that you claim to care so much about. Then you're actually doing something.
I have a mustache and a fine one it is, too. It would hardly be out of place in the Old West, where, if Kate Beaton teaches us anything, men used the power of their mustaches (and occasionally beards) to win wars and tame continents.
Now, some people don't like mustaches. But a cursory glance around Whitechapel will reveal that there are many fine mustaches, good enough to win wars and etc. In fact, I'd guess that a majority of male Whitechapellians have some sort of facial hair.
So, the question is : why do you have a mustache? In my case, it's because 1) I've always wanted one since I was a kid (I've also always wanted to be named "James" but that's a different story), 2)I have a small scar in my mustacheular area and the mustache covers it up nicely, 3) I don't like shaving there and 4) it's my personal tribute to the magic, mystery and music of Mr. Frank Zappa.
And ladies, I'd love to hear your thoughts on mustaches and why you love/hate them. The comments are for commenting.
There is no great secret that the true artist holds dear, no secret power passed down from master to apprentice, no secret method that transcends both rational mind and chosen medium, no secret, save one. It is a secret that can not be taught, can not be learned, one that can only be experienced, and even then it can not be captured by skill, or conjured by ritual. The secret is to sublimate the self to the art. To commit the self, the higher consciousness, the intellect, the internal voice, to open the spirit to the demands of the art, and let the soul flow unhindered into the work. All things fall away when this is done; the critical mind’s eye, the needs of the body, the concerns of one’s outside life, the very passage of time, all are secondary to the work, the art becomes all. This is what the true artist strives for, and it is a rare occurrence indeed.
Ritual is what one makes of it. The patterns that one follows in order to displace the mind and spirit from the commonplace and raise it to a higher plane, a place where the work thrives as a conduit between the audience and the artist’s soul, should feel comfortable to the artist, should be personal, intimate, a consideration that one would hold in the same regard as the state of one’s health. One does not make a grand production of the attentions one pays to one’s good health.
Ritual, while not essential to the needs of the art, may be of importance to the artist, in order to focus the mind and spirit to the impending work. By ritual it is meant a series of conditions within the sphere of the artist’s environment that set a certain pattern for the spirit to focus upon. The patterns of the ritual should be unique in regards to the patterns of everyday life, a set of actions that occur only when the work is to be undertaken.
I mostly lurk here, but in the last two weeks me and a friend have put together a tumblr dedicated to the art, celebration and curation of (what we deem) quality stories that can be experienced online for free. This can be poems, stories, short films, full length movies, serial shows, etc. Anything that can tell a story and tells it well. really. The medium doesn't matter, the quality of the story does. And while, obviously, quality is subjective, we like to think we have good taste.
Time, while as a concept is solely a human construct, is nevertheless a consideration to the artist who wishes to have a human life as well as an artistic life. The artist develops an instinct for the pattern of the energy expended for a work that is dormant, and one that strides a razor’s edge. The artist who is sensitive to the needs of a work knows when time for the day has been paid to a recalcitrant work, or when the needs of the ordinary life are to be ignored in measure to the needs of a vibrant work. A work in progress is as an infant, who may demand all the attention of the world in order to grow to its full potential, or it may sleep for an undetermined amount of time.
An artist is a human, and the art speaks of human matters. To be an effective artist one should experience the world within one’s immediate purview, and learn of the ways of the world beyond, and of the world’s past, and of the world’s current nature. This is a pursuit that is undertaken by the artist regardless of the artist’s age, race, sex, or sphere of experience, for it is in order to understand all ages, races, sexes, and spheres of experience that the artist learns to become all of humankind. To ignore a facet of human experience is to ignore a facet within oneself.
The artist is free to be as all humankind. The artist is cursed to be as all humankind. The artist who judges humankind is no artist. The artist who understands humankind is a wise artist.