Wednesday, April 13

Dubble-u. En. Wye. Cee.: Radio as Background

Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich (via NYC Observer)
Having the radio on while painting is like reading a book by laying your head on it. Or, rather, what I'm trying to say is that sometimes you listen but most of the time it just fills the air with soothing, consistent rhetoric and voices. You can't ever quite be completely listening while painting. Or vice versa.

But what does happen is that something sticks and rises to the surface of your memory later in the day. In that process of creating something, that sound sticks in your brain like a leaf falling into wet cement - or paint. And it's in that respect that I compare it to reading a book by osmosis.

Here are two things gleaned from public radio today. The first, was actually something read about WNYC's RadioLab which reinforces how I think about constructing a painting.
"Normally a reporter goes out and learns something and writes it down and speaks from knowledge" Krulwich added. Jokes and glitches puncture the illusion of the all-knowing authority, who no longer commands much respect these days anyway. It's more honest to "let the audience hear and know that you are manufacturing a version of events"
The second, is a poem read by Caroline Kennedy and Ira Flatow on Talk of the Nation. The poem is by Constantine P Cavafy, and was chosen by Kennedy for her new book, She Walks Through Beauty. I'll never read the book - but the poem (overheard in a strange moment of defeat and while eating a sandwich at the studio) speaks more to the entire pursuit of a craft:

Constantine P. Cavafy (via Famous Poets)
Ithaca by Contantine P Cavafy
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.
Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy,
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds
as many sensual as you can:
visit many Egyptian cities;
to learn and learn from scholars.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to ancho at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches. 
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean. 
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.
UPDATE: Listen to a recent RadioLab episode on fighting yourself to be most creative. With a terrific story about Tom Waits told by Elizabeth Gilbert.

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