Monday, 15 February 2016

On misinformation and myth.



A few thoughts concerning myths and misinformation surrounding the practice of both literature and music are this week presented.

While a committed student I have always disliked being told what to do.  Though not a rare affliction the manifestations of it have lingered in my case with results both predictable in the negative and surprising in the positive.  That good fortune has occurred in portion approximately equal to the bad despite the fact is viewed as average when compared to my fellows.

This conclusion is accepted despite no obvious proof beyond the anecdotal to confirm the veracity of it.

To believe one's self performing to the median though often a misconception is also held despite the awareness of its real challenge.  Certainly it can be considered a defensible evaluation of personal circumstance in light of the tendency to navel gazing universal to our kind.  Thus while a man is forced to view temporal reality subjectively his appreciation must necessarily be of a wider cast if he dreams of reasoned objectivity.

It has long been accepted we are each best served when our reach should reliably exceed our grasp.

The practice of the artistic vocations to which I have given myself often required the complete subjugation of significant aspects of personal will.  Though a terrible student I have regularly sought and gratefully accepted a tremendous amount of excellent teaching.  For each pursuit demands a complete and functional network of neurotransmitters seeming exclusive to its own design.  In either case though largely self-taught beyond the basic the specific essentials of a profession and its associated best practices has been closely studied.  With very few exceptions to them I have strictly adhered.  While on occasion signing my work with planned instances of additional bars in song or the occasional split infinitive in prose my acquiescence to the established conventions of each has been more than less complete.

The artist's personal expression of independence though necessary is best applied via methods both obscure and unobtrusive to its consumer.

To accept the unlimited dogma surrounding any professional artistic pursuit without question meanwhile is beyond foolhardy.  In forms today delivered by either accredited professionals or internet charlatans the world has ever been awash in snake oil salesmen of all kinds.  The fields of music and literature are home to inordinate supplies of each and in all stripes.  With vague honorifics ranging from producer through manager in the business of music and titles including agent through editor in the business of literature these numberless 'experts' appear when money is to be made.  With credentials in many cases invented and accomplishments often difficult to confirm the claims made though routinely outrageous are promoted with vigor.  From more outlets than a man could with reason expect to track the promise of fame and fortune trumpets.  A need for either talent or skill is denied in pursuit of each the seeming endless supply of customers is reliably assured.  To learn the technique promoted is the certain solution for success in whatever musical or literary endeavor the buyer may choose to pursue.

Despite the rarity of their realization dreams continue to sell on the cheap.

The career of a student though best pursued on a lifetime basis not soon enough teaches to be a slave to dogma is a fool's paradise.  Similarly to accept the indoctrination of myth without question is the shortest road to the ruination of both real intellectual curiosity and true artistic growth.  Time spent in the classroom must be balanced by life experience in the world beyond it if instruction is to prove reliable.  The value of education not applied like knowledge not disseminated is effectively nothing despite best intention.  Thus we school our youth while demanding results from our adult citizens.

The reliable proof of the recipe's virtue is provided by the pudding of our society.

What is also demonstrated is the reliability of earlier teachings that enable the daily operation of our temporal world.  Perhaps the daily functions of our ever-growing cities that underlie the burgeoning technology of our modern world are the best and latest example of this proof.  For paradoxically the most elemental of contemporary conveniences relies on technical skill and practical knowledge handed down over centuries.  The inestimable task has furthermore long been managed by unseen hands.  With every flush of a toilet we exercise a common tool practically understood by a tiny number of our kind without consideration.  The seeming simple reality is suspended on wings unseen in the guise of fundamental scientific and technical awareness shared by our fellows.  Though hidden from those outside the profession the greater world relies upon it daily.  While not the most elegant of examples the metaphor is realistic and plain.  Without denying the myriad challenges facing the world today more of our kind live in more places and in better conditions than previously recorded by written history.  The undeniable success of the results on behalf of the species makes plain much of what is taught must reflect some demonstrable connection to accepted reality.

In no way does this ever-present practical evidence prevent an overabundance of charlatans from growing perennial among us.

For in both music and literature the abundance of advice and its givers gluts an overcrowded market.  Despite a dearth of empirical data to support the majority of the methodologies promoted the variety of them grows exponentially.  While sales results continue to demonstrate the consolidation and stratification common to mature markets in both fields promised by capitalist theory the deniers of reality persist in defense of assured success.  The embrace of a given strategy is offered as guarantee of future wealth in spite of a bewildering lack of previous examples of the promoted result.  That exception does little more than prove the unbending veracity of individual rules meanwhile is ignored by consumer and promoter alike in favor of enabling a shared fantasy.  Thus the blind continue to lead the blind in both fields despite a sea of reliable information available to virtually all in these wired times.

While many claim to desire an identified result less seem inclined to invest the effort required to manifest it.

In each case the work is a selfish pursuit.  Demand for solitary dedication is paramount to the development of most any artistic talent.  Whether pursued as avocation or practiced as profession the time required refining the artists craft is beyond significant.  An obvious degree of early appreciated talent is also valuable beyond knowing in both instances.  For this recognition and no other is responsible for the allowed impositions of time and availability made by their solo pursuit.  That long years of expensive education followed by decades of competition for the right to practice one of the lowest remunerated careers known will result; often either as rare or best-case scenario, is ignored.  Few consider the choice in terms of the usually achieved end.  For most artistic talent continues to be perceived as a momentous gift to be encouraged among our kind despite questionable real worth.  It would appear we value entertainment above much else save survival in this light.

That the stuff holds such fascination is to a purveyor of it sufficient reason to remain ever grateful.

What is also well established are the few real literary or musical practices beyond the basic known to produce results recognized as examples of talent and craft exceptionally combined.  Though often described and regularly presented as individual theoretical gems of rare insight and unique wisdom by the hawker common sense and appreciation for long-established rules are features frequently shared by them.  Reliably taught to students fortunate to advance as far as middle school in my own time the education system today no doubt continues a course of elementary grammatical and melodious teaching suitable to the purpose.  With confidence a man estimates the classrooms and conservatories of the western world turn out both graduates and dropouts well-schooled in the required basics of both to create future tomes of similar greatness.  Those who would claim to have discovered a new means of inventing either literary or musical wheel are thus best sought only by they in search of a mechanism described as other than circular.  For many of us however the harsh finality of these terms proves too difficult or even impossible to accept.  Thus explanation for individual failure is sought by means other than limitations of time or talent.  The way is then cleared for the purveyors of rehashed schemes and re-titled methodologies to capture the monies of those in search of remediation to a brutal verdict thought unfair passed.

Upon the dreams of the broken hearted do the cynical prey with greatest ease.

The best protection from charlatans however remains reliance on the fundamental teachings learned in the classrooms of youth.  This knowledge augmented by the continued appreciation of the common sense in most cases will provide safe passage through circumstances encountered on either literary or musical journey.  To answer a vocational call from the arts is undeniable when true and unsuccessful only if not accepted when received.  Honest application of most talent earnestly presented while often lacking massive appeal is reliably appreciated for both artistic merit and the difficulty of its individual accomplishment.  For as a species we appear wired to both need and enjoy the entertainment provided by the navel gazing of artists either avocational or professional.  While search for explanation for the phenomena continues it so far defies effective description despite being widely experienced.

It would seem that love cannot so far be explained.

In other news my first novel 'A Dog and His Boy' continues legal internet availability in eBook form exclusively through Amazon Kindle.  An extension of the novel's KDP Select membership for an additional quarter engaged automatically when not declined on the three-month anniversary of its publication.  This means the novel holds onto membership in the Kindle Lending Library for free reading on the Kindle device until mid-May.  The novel is also sold in paperback courtesy of Amazon Createspace worldwide with links to both sites found on the identified pages here at the blog.  With two ~ limited ~ printings sold out, several positive reviews published, and plenty of helpful feedback received, hard work well done continues to produce an abundance of much appreciated reward.

Now three months into life as published novelist my regard for the achievement only grows.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TFP
February 15, 2016

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