Monday, July 03, 2006


I love your email, *. I can tell you give a fuck; and your passion and engagement is very much appreciated. You make many many great, intelligent, and subtle points. I pretty much knew that there wouldn't be many others in your audience who would offer anything considered, mate. It's not a reflection on you or on *. It's just the times we live in. People are both busy and asleep. In my experience, they usually tend not to value stuff that hasn't been validated in the usual ways: exposure, success, etc. - all those tiresome, spurious barometers. Thanks for appreciating that I too give a fuck. All of what I offered was meant sincerely and constructively. Your old school mate may have a point. But the material is not devoid of humour. Whilst not belly-laugh-o-rama, it has charm. * has his axe to grind, as you know. Sorry to say, but I think *********. You're left with that situation which faces all musicians who have crafted a product: what now? How to take it forward. My answer to your ruminations regarding gig pros and cons is simultaneously simplistic and a bit provocative. I say: give it a go. Only then will you really know whether you want it to be part of your life or not. It's not possible to know what it's like on the pitch without being on the pitch. Personally, I love and loathe it; but it is an interesting test of personal qualities; and I like those verities, mate. Part of music is live performance; just as paintings beg to be exhibited. It's a matter of ontology. On top of that factual component, though, is the freedom to include or exclude it from your own activities. There are consequences in either direction. Over that, there are gigs and there are gigs, mate. You can attend to that thorny one, too, if want to; by playing non-pub environments, staging your own - controlling the environment, etc.; just inviting friends, etc. By 'mates stuff' I didn't mean to infer anything qualitative, mate. Similarly, 'hobby' I find fine. Art is my hobby. Mates stuff is a fine thing, which men need. It isn't to be smirked at, and, as you suggest, women often have this all wrong. I'm very lucky in that regard. Annie is not only fine with my creative side; but she actually loves it and pushes it, and is involved in it. She gets a lot from it, in terms of distraction and interest-value. Wives that forego this miss a great deal, I think; and it can damage a relationship. Annie is my best mate, too, though. Never met anyone like her. I'm sure creative women have the same problems with non-creative husbands - if you'll forgive the awkward terminology. I doubt it's a gender thing per se; though, historically, there is that corrosive thing of creative men held back by women: Jude the Obscure et al. Your art is important, Roj. You should never have to apologise for being an artist. You've always been one. 'Bed-sit CDR production ad infinitum' is a good one, Roj. Again, what's wrong with that as an activity? I defend anyone's right to have a fucking dream! For me, I see only two shortfalls, two things I ask myself about that kind of thing: First, how long can one do that before it becomes meaningless? People need stuff to move forward. So everything has a shelf-life. Second, is this just vanity? Am I deluding myself? Creativity is essentially about reciprocal processes. One offers something for reaction. Artworks seek this in and of themselves, actually; and to avoid this imperative is to sign up to something less fulsome than it is capable of being, I believe. Again, one can paint without ever exhibiting. But if so, one is making a decision which is somewhat against or which subtracts from the meaning and capabilities of a tradition. I like difference, iconoclasm; but I also like to respect those traditions I see as worthy of respect. In one sense, it's a version of that Baudelairian conception of Modernism: something which is both transient and eternal. Similarly, words cannot stray too far from their core meanings. Otherwise use of the word becomes meaningless and confusing. So, what is an artist? Can one be an artist by extracting important ontological components from the term by negating important parts of what we take to be that activity? Personally, I think artist does infer and does demand reciprocity; so, with that thorny one, I have to try to enter the public arena with my humble workings! It's horses for courses, though. Your play with the name thing is spot on, mate. Of course it is kind of nonsense. Of course something as daft as 'Flaming Lips' is in the end merely (a) a way to direct people toward something and (b) a corporate brand. * is as capable of that as anything. I like names myself. Being in Gnarl was a fuck, mate! I hated that name. It neither described what we did, nor was it something I felt proud or comfortable saying. It was just embarrassing; plus we always had to spell the fucker! A friend years ago said something good about this. She and me put an exhibition together. We were musing over titles for it. She said don't give people knocking-copy. In other words, don't offer them opportunities to ridicule you. * has obvious negative connotations. But, as you say, Flaming Lips.... ! I'm glad you like the material I sent. No problem that you didn't mail me an essay. You said you liked it and it meant something to you; I remember being delighted with what you said. As a default, mate, I always think of you as a sincere fellow artist who does what he can as he can. Take it easy. Hope you've *. Best wishes, Anthony


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