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Art, craft, communication, philosophy

Hi all,
I'd like to say something pithy about art, craft, communication, looping
philosophy, etc.Unfortunately, all I can offer is fragments based upon
my subjective evaluations of various points.

- Art is what you do for yourself. Or, more precisely, it's what you do
for "itself". You start a piece. It turns into something. It "wants" to
be that thing, and you know when it's finished because anything you add
to it detracts from it. If it's sufficiently far from people's
conditioning, then they may be impressed, moved or stretched, but they
will also probably experience confusion and possibly annoyance ("where's
the conceptual pigeonhole for that? how do I know if it's good or bad?")
Unfortunately, people's conditioning and cultural referents seem pretty
narrow these days, and the reasons (and prescriptions) for that would be
another rant in and of itself.

- I perceive several varieties of craft:
1. Basic craft on an instrument or voice, which is usually necessary in
order to create most music that even relates to the traditions we've
been accultured to.
2. Craft in service of art, which is when you practice in order to pull
something off that you really want to pull off.
3. Developmental craft - basic practice in order to increase your
general skill level, in the hopes that new skills will become part of
your vocabulary and enable you to do cooler things
4. Obsessive, competitive craft - the kind fostered by most guitar
magazines. play faster, better, cleaner, like Steve Vai, like Eddie Van
Halen, like Jim Hall, like Django Reinhardt, like Robert Fripp. Impress
the other guitar players on your block. This is the evil extreme version
of craft. Usually it just makes you feel inadequate.

- Philosophy
1. I am a child of the universe. Whatever I do isn't great, it isn't
bad, it isn't good (except as I judge it so)--it's just *my* voice,
which in turn is just an expression of whatever creative goo was stuffed
into this bodily shell by the Tao. Judgements - it's popularity or
success by any external measure - are almost entirely the result of
non-artistic factors: the mood and background of the reviewer, the
relation of the piece to the popular psyche of the day, the promotional
budget, etc.

2. There are always players better than me when measured on along any
particular objective dimension, and players worse than me. I must
constantly fight depression in the face of the better and arrogance in
the face of the worse, for these are divisive and non-constructive

3. Or, as is said in The Artist's Way - "I'll be responsible for the
quantity and let the Tao be responsible for the quality." (paraphrase)

4. Philosophy of looping - I don't understand why one is needed.
However, I'd like to point out (this seems to be relevant, though I'm
not sure why) that in an age of information overload, editing and
evaluation is in scarcer supply than raw material. Looping seems to
encourage a focussing of the senses and concentration of attention in a
way that is in tune with this principle.

Hoping not to piss anyone off for a change,
Warren Sirota