Tag Archives: art

Go Ask Alice

Do without doing,
make something from nothing;
recycle, repurpose,
revise on and conquer.

Gather resources,
interpret instructions;
imagine assembly
as other-directed.

Practice inclusion,
leave nothing untended;
let symmetry guide you
off-balance at times.

Do, or do not do,
remake while unmaking;
there is no old recipe
for what is baking.

Music and dancing,
bring drums for the solstice;
plug in the instruments,
join a new party.

Practice at something:
being and nothingness.
Wake in the morning;
the coffee is on.

for Alice Guffey Miller

26 JUN 2017

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Lose or Win: rhupunt

What may begin
as lose or win
soon starts to spin
outside that frame.

It seems like play,
this bob and sway:
a bright display,
almost a game,

a wild careen,
drifting between
two wide extremes,
darkness and flame.

Always the chance
in the day’s dance
any advance
could leave you lame.

Each place you are,
gutter or star,
leaves its own scar.
No point in blame.

Thus every art
contains, in part,
true and false starts.
Each ends the same.

27 APR 2017

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Arts and Crafts

If you want to make your process seem “magical” or “other-directed” describe it as art, right? The “Art” of the Deal, a bullshit “artist”, The Art of War, The Art of Living. But that implies that “art” (a mystical convergence of talent and inspiration) is somehow separate from “craft” (a common integration of technique and practice), and is in fact not really a matter of technique and practice, that it is elevated above everyday workmanship to a semi-Divine state of production.

I call bullshit.

As an artist myself – a poet and musician, principally – I COULD say that what I can do and produce is NOT the direct product of endless repetitious hours of practice, physical endurance enforcing physical memory, and learning how to interpret the work of artists in a different way from the way that “non-artists” do (in my case, listening for different specific things in a musical performance or composition that correspond to techniques and practices I have studied and personally used). But no matter how I present it, it is still more science than magic. As far as I’m concerned, art IS a craft; and by that same token, if we consider Buckminster Fuller’s assertion that while he didn’t consider the beauty of a thing while it was being built or constructed, if it was not beautiful when it was completed, he knew it was wrong, any MASTERY of a craft is in fact art.

We consider the “arts” as “arty” as a way to imagine that we lack something necessary to likewise produce beautiful or eternal art, music, dance, sculpture, architecture – or to negotiate the perfect deal, turn the greatest profit, know which battles are key to winning a war, most effectively (and seemingly effortlessly) complete the most complex and convoluted projects on time, in scope and under budget. But the truth is what we lack, with the exception of perhaps imagination, is the propensity and willingness for hard work. Because ask any dancer: you must be willing to sacrifice a LOT of physical comfort to become a prima ballerina. You have to put in extra hours, behind the scenes, to make “art” seem effortless. Otherwise, what you portray is an “artless” incomplete mastery of craft.

Some would be offended by suggesting there is an “art” of medicine, of law, as opposed to a solid, craftsman-like “practice”. Because although practice IS a critical component of any artist’s training and maintenance, we imply a different kind of “practice” when we practice medicine or law. Or do we? Of course, calling these “arts” makes them seem too arbitrary, too subjective – because as the saying goes, we may not know what good art is, but “we know it when we see it”. And we know medicine, or the law? Again, I call bullshit.

An artist, then, must be considered among other things, a Master Craftsman; in the same way, a Master Craftsman is an artist.

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Art is required

If you would this sad world improve: a battle cease, a mountain move, or seek to build up or destroy a single thought of fear or joy, there is one place alone to start. You must teach all your children art.

Imagination is the key.

By thoughts alone there come to be great mysteries, faith and belief in gods and demons, kings and chiefs; in justice and equality, in separating I and Thee.

So teach the arts, and music, too, in your religion, path or school. To have adherents worth a damn, they must imagine what “I AM” you would propose designed the world, created life, or wrote the rules.

Imagination is required.

Without it, none can be inspired to see beyond their own small selves, or care for something else that dwells beyond the sight and smell and touch; and such a life is not worth much. It does not toil, nor hope nor try, imagining no reason why, nor answer worth the seeking out.

Art teaches balance: faith and doubt; without it, gods are merely rules: like architecture without tools.

Teach art to all your children, then; for they must learn how to pretend if they would use your sacred texts for more than mindless genuflects or rote performance of some rite that without teeth, has lost its bite.

Imagination is the key.

Without it, all gods cease to be. Existence becomes drudge and trial, an endless chasm of denial where anything we do not see does not exist and can not be.

05 MAY 2010

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The Failure of American Public Schools

The failure of the American public school system is that while we have emphasized the importance of those skills that “get things done” or that provide our children with the technological tool set to “compete” on a global scale, we have neglected to teach them the reasons WHY one should avail themselves of that technology. In addition, by eliminating the arts, we have removed the one source of study that provides insight into how all these technological skills fit together, how they construct a culture, how they inform an intelligent community, how they make life worth living.

When I look back at what I learned from the fine arts in school (back when they were part of the school curriculum), I wonder why they are not mandatory education.

From music (both instrumental and choral), I learned history, foreign language, mathematics, literature, geography, ratios, fractions, timing, physical and mental discipline, team dynamics and collaboration, listening, posture, breathing, improvisation, balance, poise, public speaking, and self-respect.

What I didn’t learn from music, I learned from art: proportions, composition, construction, optics, chemistry, preservation, creative visualization, theme, and color theory.

And what both gave me was a healthy introduction to religion, philosophy, anthropology, marketing, psychology, communications, politics, self-criticism, self-discipline and logic.

Only one or two of those things I learned in P.E. or playing sports. And while math and science as individual subjects may provide greater depth into some specifics, they certainly are pretty dry when you don’t have something meaningful to do with them.

The arts are not an elective.

Not for a culture or society that hopes to survive its technology. Not for a culture that wants to do better than just “survive”.

They are, and should always be, mandatory education.

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If you would have me write of bliss,
exclaiming art mere artifice,
a simple sham designed to fool
the ignorant who fill our schools
with some vain hope of what might be:
quite useless, a mad symphony
that holds no tune, does not inspire,
I say: I will not be your liar.

I cannot speak except my truth.
To turn the curse of misspent youth
from years of folly into gold,
to cower where I should be bold,
to silent, watch your fabric wind
its cloak of death upon the mind;
these things I cannot, will not do,
and call it art to forgive you.

Unless it strains against the mold
to whisper secrets long thought cold
and buried to the modern soul,
unleashes furies thought controlled,
and births the questions best unasked,
there is no meaning in art’s tasks;
despite its pompous, highbrow claims,
it is a cripple: blind and lame.

What madness you would have me fake
to shield from view such a mistake
may fool the senses for a while
with clever tricks, a knowing smile;
and on such palimpsest you may
suppose to write of one true way
by which the world is formed and doomed:
its genesis, its prime, its tomb,

But know true art will prove you false
and throw odd beats into your waltz,
unloose and snap your well-tuned strings
and turn to rust your well-oiled springs.
And then, what good mere words of bliss
to serve you? I can tell you this:
Art’s sword, that you would make a plow,
is cultivating those seeds now.

03 OCT 2006

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Pop Charts

You wanna make it on the pop charts
Shrink-wrapped and sold just like a pop tart
Well, let me tell you: better get smart
it doesn’t matter if you’ve got heart

It doesn’t matter what you’re saying
and you don’t have to do the playing
Don’t take a seat, ’cause you ain’t staying
If the cash registers’ aren’t swaying

They’ll tell you it’s too complicated
or that your appeal’s understated
the boys in sales must be elated
to see your potential inflated

You wanna make it on the pop charts
Be the next big thing sold at Wal-Mart
Well, let me tell you, better get smart
Forget your brain and lock away your heart

It doesn’t matter what you’re saying
As long as stadium’s are swaying
They don’t have to know you’re not playing
Or that you’re prematurely graying

You’ll be the flavor for a short while
And then be left out on the trash pile
With nothing but a toothy, big smile
“So sorry, but you’re going out of style”

You want to make it on the pop charts
Be shrinked-wrapped and consumed like pop tarts
Well, let me tell you, better get smart
and find another path with some heart

It doesn’t matter what you’re saying
Or if you do none of your playing
It’s just an image you’re portraying
Don’t mind your bags, you won’t be staying.

02 AUG 2006

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