Dear god! How did I not know about this dictionary? How could you even call yourself a dictionary if all you give for “pathos” is “a quality that evokes pity or sadness”?
Amazing. I’m going to start using a dictionary again. And not just any dictionary…
Who cares what my favorite albums are? Your favorite albums aren’t interesting to me, even if I love you. You didn’t make them, you BOUGHT them. If you’d heard a completely different set of albums at the same point in your life, you probably would have identified with those in the same way. Maybe you got lucky and heard some good albums, but who cares? Your favorite albums say less about you than you think.
I love John Roderick.
In this context, ebooks and print books express value that has already been created within a community. In this context, they represent the value that their creators have already established as community members. In this context, neither print books nor ebooks create nor do they have value in and of themselves. They merely represent a convenient way for the community to reward artists and writers for their overall contributions to the whole. A book is just a lever that amplifies appreciation. If you like the contributions that writer has made to the community, if you like the value they have created for you as a member of that community, you pull on that lever to reward them.
"A book is just a lever that amplifies appreciation." I like that.
I started reading The Craftsman by Richard Sennett this week. It’s the first of three books in a heavy but readable philosophical discussion of the history and meaning of craftsmanship. It’s fascinating and directly relevant to both music and programming, both of which fit into his wide definition of modern crafts.
This part caught my eye at about 1am last night:
But still others thought in a different way about [the efficiency of new machinery like James Watt’s steam engine], and not as traditionalists refusing the new: rather, the comparison of man and machine caused them to think more about man. Human virtues of restraint and simplicity came to the fore as man’s contribution to human culture; none of these sentiments could be called mechanical. People so minded had a particular interest in craftsmanship: it seemed to mediate between machined abundance and the modestly humane.
It reminded me of the tension that we often feel in music-making between technology (recording software, production tricks, efficient tools that push you to idealise the “perfect” recording) and human elements (performance, irregularity, “character”). There are so many different ways of approaching the issue, and it’s strangely satisfying to know that eighteenth-century glassblowers wrestled with the same problem.
Another part of the book talks about the origin of artists (as we know them today) and the celebration of originality:
The artist claimed originality for his work; originality is the trait of single, lone individuals. Few Renaissance artists in fact worked in isolation. The craft workshop continued as the artist’s studio, filled with assistants and apprentices, but the masters of these studios did indeed put a new value on the originality of the work done in them; originality was a value that was not celebrated by the rituals of medieval guilds. The contrast still informs our thinking: art seems to draw attention to work that is unique or at least distinctive, whereas craft names a more anonymous, collective and continued practice. But we should be suspicious of this contrast. Originality is a social label…
Sennett also says, “there is no art without craft: the idea of a painting is not a painting”. It’s common these days to hear musicians complaining that this is no longer true – all you need is the idea for piece of music and the computer will make it for you. I think that’s mostly balls. It’s easy to make drag’n’drop music put together without much thought (and it’s fun to do), but the result isn’t good on any objective scale. A craftsman strives for quality for its own sake and the learning of a craft requires a clear model of high-standard work (traditionally a “master”, but maybe now often a famous artist). People make amazing music using automated tools, and when they do it’s because they have learned their craft through practice and in doing so learned to “mediate between machined abundance and the modestly humane”.
In case you can’t tell, I’m really enjoying this book.
Bringing you some fresh music, Oxford band Candy Says have just released their single, Not Kings, from the debut album due to drop in late May. Previous cuts have included Favourite Flavour, Camilla, and Melt into the Sun.
We’re big fans of their homemade pop, Spectoresque wall of sound and electronic melodies.
Candy Says on the Guardian music blog. So much for the underground…
Equal parts pop band and living art installation, Candy Says are the curveball to end all curveballs.
This was a great interview to write. It’s so fun when someone asks good questions…
A few months ago, I started speaking to young (and not so...
Hello and welcome to a bumper Albums Round Up. I’ve got a fresh, free ranging, long playing dozen of delights for you...