Monday 11th July - Tip Five
Make your own theories on [art], tell people what you think and encourage them to form their own. The Aesthete Oscar Wilde once said “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation”. I recognise the irony in quoting this statement, but whereas it’s important to appreciate others’ views (Oscar Wilde included), it’s vital to consider your own - even if it’s unpopular. This method also applies to your [art]: there is always a level of external influence, but you must look into your own core if you want to remain true to yourself.
In The Moon Her Majesty, the writer Jack Kerouac muses “I mean, this is prose, not poetry, but I want to be sincere.” He knew the importance of ‘telling it how it is’ - for him, in order to remain true to his [art], he needed to write in the language of the streets; the language of life. Through his professional work and ‘sketches’, we gain the ability to see the world through his eyes - not the beautifully romanticised world of fiction, but the world uncovered, warts and all. It was in these little, oft overlooked details that he noted what he believed was the true beauty of the world - and shared his vision of it, with it.
Trawling through books of quotations may be an interesting exercise, but those thoughts of real value are the ones that hit you unexpectedly - the ones that make you truly think, feed your work and stay with you over the years. These ideas stick because they speak to your true self, challenging or reinforcing beliefs and helping you come to your own conclusions. If you don’t share these thoughts with your peers, they’ll never truly understand your [art], and if they don’t understand your [art], they won’t care about your vision. So next time you air an unpopular opinion, don’t be afraid to stick with it. You’ll never be able to surf if you don’t first make waves.
Taken from the Kerouac-inspired ‘Bankrupt Beats’ project. To be read to ‘Quiet Storm’, Michael Silverman Jazz Piano Trio.
It was a grey and cloudy, dismal kinda day. In my book, there’s two kinda days. The first gets you feeling like you’re invincible, like you can do anything. No, this weren’t one of those manic days. This, I imagine, was the kinda day the blues came from. You know, those mean, unclean, no caffeine, brains torn out by wolverine, god damn need my nicotine kinda days.
Now, me and my pal Sammy, (Sammy was a friend of the family, knew him since he was seven. We pretty much grew up together, same school, same friends, hell we even shared the same girl once). Sammy and I were on the road, fifteen pounds thirty in our pockets, trying to make a living on the stage. “Performing what?” All I know was that I sucked at it. Sammy though, Sammy was good, real good; I’m talking a young Daniel Clark kinda good. Anyway, I’m going off the point. It was on this miserable, mind-melt of a morning that I woke in some old bunk-bed boarding house down Broke Street, Birmingham, hung over like a Hampton harlot and contemplating the death of a not-so-innocent alarm clock, when Sammy’s humming fumbled itself to the top bunk. “Sammy”, I said, and as I said it a shard of light shunted itself from the clouds to our distant room, “Sammy, what you humming man?”
The murmuring monotony of the hum continued and Sammy didn’t even hint at the possibility of answering back. The birds outside swooped, swelled and swallowed the bleak sky, turning it black, then grey, black, then grey again as they swirled out of view. Sammy continued to hum. I still remember that hum, that god damn ‘Gloomy Sunday’ hum. “We got a show tonight man”, I said to him. He stopped. I always knew how to make him stop. “Yeah”, he said in a defeated son of a bitch kinda way, “we getting paid for this one?” Well I knew we would be, of course…of course I did, but not a lot, and Sammy was a sensitive soul; stress got to him. I wanted to lie, to tell him it’d be okay, that the next one would pay a lot more, but he knew me; knew when I was lying. Truth was, I didn’t know if there was gonna be a next one, not for me anyway, had already considered getting myself a job; sending Sammy some cash so he could pay off his debts and carry on doing his thing.
But he had worked it out. He knew. I couldn’t see him but I knew that he knew; he must have read it in my bastard hesitation. There was silence for a while, then humming for a while, and then that God-awful bang of Sammy’s head rose-colouring the room. “You okay Sammy?” I asked myself. The birds outside reappeared, swooping, swelling and swallowing the bleak sky, turning it black, then grey, black, then grey again as they swirled out of view.