Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

Craftlessness



Insomnia is a rarer visitor for me these days ,but it is still a trusted friend. I belong to one of those website in which one writes e-reviews of products and creative works. The terminology there for "contact" is "trusted friend". i have never had a trusted friend on that service, although odd gremlins used to come rate my ratings, to determine if they loved the extent to which I waxed words about favored works of literature and popular culture. I feel, a bit, as if I did not qualify to be a "trusted friend". But insomnia is my trusted friend.

Insomnia drives me to research things I never research otherwise. I read a post by a friend ,and suddenly, I want to know more about x or y that this friend has discussed. This is the world of "pretty good science", of google and wikipedia and "I don't need to know the answer because I only need a good approximation", fuzzy logic stuff. I tried to get the fuzzy logic guru to come speak to our little Unitarian Universalist church once in California, but he found it all too fuzzy a venture to get up early on Sunday morning to do.

Today, after this or that research of intense interest to me but perhaps marginal interest to the fuzzy science of weblogs, I settled upon a favorite search term--the one about one day craft classes in my area. I read a fascinating discussion of something called "one stroke painting", which is not, as the title suggests, about how to experience arterial disruptions in the act of creation ,but instead a self-taught craft painter's "how to" for beginner.

I must assure the reader that in essentially everything other than law, I am a perpetual beginner. I am rather like my much-beloved nephews who annually always took the beginning fencing course, because it is more fun to be a beginner than to fence into mastery. At all my hobbies, I am either a beginner or a savant-in-knowledge-only whose skill level is farbelow the level which should be expected from the time spent. I get a bit fuzzy abuot things like assidious skill.

I did discover, however, that the chain store called Hobby Lobby had these great little pop-up craft ideas, which is a really cool way, if you ask me, to market the merchandise necessary to make those wares. My favorite one was the Alphabet Christmas Tree. The idea is absurdly simple---buy those huge kids' alphabet blocks. Buy those cute little miniature figures. Superglue the blocks into a vaguely Christmas tree form. Superglue figures atop the resulting block platforms. Voila! This is craft even I could do, and, if the 99 cent store obliged, I might even do it for less than at Hobby Lobby.

I'm easily deterred from the desire to learn any craft. A really cool quilt store fifteen minutes from my office offers a Saturday morning quilt class. I have an absurdly palpable love for quilts, and would love to know how to make them. Rather like adopting a shelter pet, I do not think I would mind that my quilts would never look like the ornate art quilts I love. Yet I never enroll in the class. I have tihs image of being very frustrated with rather needle-pricked fingers, which is hardly a winning combination.

Yet if I have a feeble 2007 plan, it is to take a course in something/anything, some unexpected thing, some craft foreign to me, something like painting gold leaf on chairs in the Swedish fashion. I would do this not because I can, in the way of personal Everests, but because in the great scheme of life, those who can, do, those who can even better, teach, those who can do and can teach, write, and those who can't at all are, well, me. I'd like to can't with the best of them.

I have so many projects that I can and will do, of course. I am going to do more animated films for youtube. I have been reading the most fascinating book about animation techniques, a primer really, but so inspiring. So many animated shorts I'd love to see.

I am having tremendous fun ever since I found that The Mutopia Project had Satie's "gymnopedie 3" in a public domain MIDI. Erik Satie is one of those composers that ambient fans claim as their own, in the same way that practitioners of the various new thought faiths re-interpreted Emerson and Whitman into their ranks, ignoring triviata like doctrinal differences in pursuit of icons. Nonetheless, Satie, and in particular the pieces in Parade come in for religious devotion among ambient fans like myself, because Satie presaged the whole thinking of a return to sound as sound. I am a huge Satie devotee. Parenthetically, I also follow the lemming run assiduously through similar feelings about Harry Partch and the Portsmouth Sinfonia.

I enjoyed plugging the MIDI of my favorite Satie piece into my Anvil Studio freeware sequencing software and tellling that software how to replay the MIDI. My current arrangement features an ocarina, an electric bass, breath noise and a music box. I will then no doubt record this result, place it in my granular sampler Slicer, and create a different recording which completely reimagines the piece. I like Slicer because it is like what art should be--one is given a plotted set of graphed lines and two boxes, and the pitch and volume adjust magically as one maps. The result will be great fun, and perhaps a good listen, and my only frustation now is that I want there to be a prairie plant whose species name includes the word "gymnopedie", but in fact only an odd bamboo. I like songs to have prairie names, and my hope of a play on words appears forlorn. By the way, I rediscovered what I once knew, but had forgotten, that "gymnopedie" is not French for gymnast (gymnaste) but instead refers to a Spartan concept of a ritual children's dance. Sounds very prairie to me.

Yet this form of craft is almost not craft at all, but it's easy, effortless fun. Perhaps that is my defect. I like my fun things to be fun. This probably means that I will never be a true aficionado of anything, because I too often settle for what is easy. I will accept my flaw,though, with as much grace as I can, and still look or a one-day class in craftstrip or macrame.
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