Yesterday I took the day off. During lunch, I read "The Ambient Century", which is quite a fascinating read. It's been controversial, because its author focused on some non-ambient "big name" artists, while neglecting many well-known ambient artists, but it's still a great read.
One thing that strikes me is the way in which so much music and creative expression I value was done by people who, when they did it, were carving new furrows in places other than the "established" institutions for "culture". Suffolk's Ipswich School of Art, for example, was known as a "cutting edge" experimental place in the mid 1960s, yet it was anything but a center of the cultural universe. Yet, the theories and practice developed there completely changed music, not least because of the influence upon Brian Eno's development as a music theorist. Mr. Eno's father was a mail man, and he went to the local art school. By all the "rules" that those who dominated the arts apply, he was not in a "prime" school. Yet,
the "centers of art" did not end up changing music--Brian Eno did.
I find repeatedly that the people I admire self-published, self-promoted, largely did not have capital, and just believed in themselves and in their friends. This informs me as I try to encourage people to value the work they can do, instead of wishing for some major corporation to pay them money so that they do not have to work outside their creative pursuits again. I have no problem with anyone turning their dreams into money, but I think that people underestimate their own power to advance their own agendae. One thing I like about Anais Nin, though she is far from my favorite author, is her unshakeable belief, even when everyone told her that her work was second-rate and unpublishable, that she should nonetheless self-publish her work and pronounce herself onto something. She may have been a shameless self-promoter, but ultimately she established herself as a name remembered today. I think there's much to be said for being in control of one's own creative product, even if one does not get rich doing it. So many of the greats were self-published. So much less outlet for inexpensive self-expression existed in their day. I look forward to the day when everyone recognizes that the idea of an intelligentsia who live in a superior culture is mere fantasy. One can create one's own aesthetic, and should in every instance. That doesn't mean that "anything goes"; it merely means that any new thing must be, well, new.
I had a fine barbecue lunch at Dickey's barbecue chain restaurant, after which I headed to the Heard Natural Science center. The Heard's hiking trails run through shady woodlands. I had forgotten my membership card, but the nice woman behind the desk looked me up on the computer. I went first on the Hoot Owl Trail, where I used my binoculars to examine a female cardinal, perched on a low-lying branch. I'm a bird-watcher, but not really a "birder", because I can watch the most common, non-birder-y birds for hours on end, and because I don't really know the species names beyond the most common ones. I saw so many different late Spring wildflowers all along the trail--queen anne's lace, daisies, susans, something that looked vaguely orchid-y but wasn't an orchid, and something that looked like wild elephant garlic but was something else. Outside the science center, a staff member held a prairie kingsnake. She said to me "this is a prairie kingsnake and he lives at my desk and it's cold in there and I brought him out here", which, despite being a bit run-on, did provide me the capsule summary I needed.
This week's mail brought to me a pencil cactus I'd bought for 4 dollars on-line. The pencil cactus came wrapped in newspaper. Pencil cactus, of course, is neither pencil nor cactus, but a euphorbia species without much in the way of prickly content. I found a nice pot at goodwill, ceramic wrapped in one of those "tough" colorful yarns, and went home and planted the cactus a/k/a milk plant.
The mail also brought the Richoh ff2 camera I bought for 15 dollars on eBay. The camera came with a little telephoto lens and a little close-up lens, in a lovably cheap "snap on" format. I didn't try it out yet, because I must battery and film it up (and, frankly, ask my wife how to load the film), but I did affix the lens to a throwaway camera I have for fun. I'll pick up the pictures today, and post them if they're fun. I also got Andy Soltis' Chess Digest book "Bird's Opening" in the mail from an eBay purchase. The copy is not of high quality, but the book is a good read--especially as it becomes obvious that the author does not really fancy the opening that much.
When my wife returned from her seminar, we went to dinner at Kebab n Kurry. Our area of Collin County had lots of Indian and Pakistani places, but the recent economic collapse in the Dallas high tech sector seems to have hit these restaurants particularly hard. Many great places are shuttered. Kebab n Kurry has been around for years upon years, though, and seemed to have a nice crowd. I had a tandoori combination, which satisfied me entirely.
We came home and went for a walk around our neighborhood. By the Glendover Park pond, we saw a large white heron fishing. He had such style, standing stock still, watching the water, before zapping in quickly and grabbing a tiny mosquito fish. The swallows overhead proved less dainty, whipping in and out as ever to catch pond bugs. A passing neighbor and my wife had a conversation which would be titled "dead neighborhood snakes I have seen", but I had little to contribute on the herpetological road kill front.
I've been reading the guide to "Good Fiction" I bought at the under 5 dollar atore, and thinking about how many great novels I've never read---"Ulysses", "Remembrance of Things Past", and so much of the 20th Century "canon" of greatness. I don't really worry about the lack, but I really should tackle Proust someday. I think I'd rather build a terrarium, though.
This morning I spent time at LJ's
I liked the name of the community kissme_imelvish. Apparently, this community encourages those who are, well, elvish, to post about their elvishness. The posts tended to be rather inadequately fleshed out, although, on reflection, once one has expressed one's kissable elvishsness, what more is there to say? As one of the non-elvish, non-fae, non-smokers, I can nonetheless imagine that once one has asked for a kiss and expressed a kinship with Tolkien's eldar, one has just about covered the waterfront.
With some mild regret, I took the glamourbombs community off my lists, as as community about being fae (i.e., fairy in the old-fashioned sense) and spreading various magicks through mundane society through individual action, while interesting, has the commonplace distinction of being about a series of things which I am fundamentally not--fae and magickal. Besides, although I thought the moderator of that community is just grand, she had to spend a lot of time posting messages like "just because you put a sweet message in someone's locker doesn't mean you've committed 'poetic terrorism' and 'glamour bombing is about making love in public as a ritual, more than spreading glitter and My Little Pony stickers'. I tried to pitch in and help with a comment on "what is 'poetric terrorism', but I worry that the part about how one can be fae or an Elk or a Mason in my comment may have been imperfect for a 'fae' community. I do not have a fae bone in my body, though, so maybe I'll be excused. So I unjoined, but wish them well (it appears they may have just deleted, but perhaps a reincarnation will be at hand). This, of course, keys into the gurdonark Theory that All Vacuums are Filled with Debate and Controversy. I'd better choose my new community carefully, so that I can handle either side of the resulting debates.