“Everything good needs time. Don’t do work in a hurry. Go into details; it pays in every way. Time means power for your work. Mediocrity is always in a rush; but whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing with consideration. For genius is nothing more nor less than doing well what anyone can do badly.”—Amelia Barr (via christopher-kuehl)
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”—François-René de Chateaubriand (via christopher-kuehl)
“You sell your expertise, you have a limited repertoire. You sell your ignorance, it’s an unlimited repertoire. [Eames] was selling his ignorance and his desire to learn about a subject, and the journey of him not knowing to knowing was his work.”—Richard Saul Wurman, discussing Charles Eames in Eames: The Architect and the Painter (via pieratt)
“I will forevermore, I expect, be trying to re-create the purity of that time. Having done nothing, I had nothing to lose. Having made a happy life without having achieved anything at all artistically, I found that any artistic achievement was a bonus. Having finally conceded that I wasn’t a prodigy after all, I had the total artistic freedom that is afforded only to the beginner, the doofus, the aspirant.”—George Saunders (via austinkleon)
“So now I have Travis Tritt in my life and I’m happier for it. Probably the 17-year-old me would recoil in shock and horror, but that guy was kind of a dick anyway. The thing about listening to new (to you) music, even to music you feel uncomfortable about, is that it’s a win-win. If you turn out not to like it, then good for you: you were right all along. If you end up thinking it’s pretty cool, then you’ve just pushed those walls of your taste out a little further, which means you’re a bigger person inside, you[‘re] more open-minded, your soul has in some way expanded, you are who you didn’t realize you are.”—Will Sheff on music snobbery (via austinkleon)
“One of the human brain’s many tricks is that it automatically finishes unfinished things. This is remedial psychology — Sensation-Perception 101. If we see part of a circle, our mind closes it. If we see part of a word, our mind fills in the mssng lttrs. Something analogous happens, I think, with unfinished novels: we always end up finishing them with something. We fill in the blanks, unconsciously, with what is closest at hand: the gestalt, the legend, the vibe, the tone, the aesthetic of the author in question. This is, after all, part of what a great author does: he trains us not just to receive his vision but also to extend it — to read the world (its landscapes, people, events, texts) in the peculiar way that he would have read them.”—Sam Anderson on David Foster Wallace (via austinkleon)
The NYTimes has a great piece on Rian Johnson’s influences while making LOOPER. (One of my favorite movies I saw this year.)
He conceived of the movie in four acts, each one related to a quote from T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” and he borrowed the story structure from another source I totally missed:
He also points out that “Looper” owes more to “Witness” — the 1985 drama starring Harrison Ford about a Philadelphia cop who hides out on an Amish farm while investigating a murder — than it does to “Blade Runner.” While he was plotting “Looper,” Johnson sat down and watched “Witness,” diagraming its structure on a piece of paper so he could dissect exactly how that screenplay worked. “It starts in the city, creates this noir-type tension and atmosphere, then transfers to the farm, but loses none of that momentum and keeps you in suspense until the end,” he says. “Which is like a magic trick to me. So I studied it.” One thing he noticed: “Witness” features a prologue on the farm before shifting to the city, which “helps acclimatize you to the visual world of the farm.” He liked that so much he aped it, situating his own opening scene in a sugarcane field — so that when the film shifts later to a rural setting, “it’s not like we’re going into a room we’ve never been in before.”
When asked about the name of the bar in the film, “La Belle Aurore,” he replied:
“It’s a Casablanca reference. If you take a close look at Joe’s narrative arc, I totally just stole Rick’s arc from Casablanca. So I named my bar after the bar they’re at in Paris when the Germans are attacking. I figured I owed that movie something.
Here’s all you need to know about Rian Johnson’s time-travel thriller, in which Bruce Willis’ hitman from the future is sent back in time to be dispatched by his younger self (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), only for things to not go according to plan: we gave it five stars. It is truly brilliant, and…
“The trouble begins with a design philosophy that equates “more options” with “greater freedom.” Designers struggle endlessly with a problem that is almost nonexistent for users: “How do we pack the maximum number of options into the minimum space and price?” In my experience, the instruments and tools that endure (because they are loved by their users) have limited options.”—Brian Eno, “The Revenge of the Intuitive,” (13 years ago!)
Inman doesn’t beat around the bush — he starts out asking Albini if he’ll produce his next record and help him get signed and mentions he was that guy on X-Factor. Albini’s response:
I’m not going to listen to that. By telling me you were on X Factor you’ve outed yourself as a vain douchebag who wanted to leapfrog into showbusiness stardom, and there’s nothing I can do to help you in that regard. Continue singing in front of your mirror holding a hairbrush with my best wishes for continued success.
That would be enough to shut me up forever, but Inman says that Albini doesn’t know him and how hard he’s worked, to which Albini responds (all emphasis mine):
I was being rude but your grasping aspirations are an affront to the millions of dedicated musicians who ply their art without crying about it. You tried a shortcut and it didn’t work. They rarely do. Now you get to have the selfsame experience you tried to avoid, that being building a following by actually working on your music, then putting yourself in front of audiences and performing. You say you have no industry support. Boo hoo. Neither does anybody else. There’s no industry.
Do what everybody else does, get a job and work on your music in your spare time. Work on music you’re passionate about and want to make for its own sake. If your music resonates with other people then your music will eventually earn you something, but if not you’re still doing something you enjoy.
Singing is like dancing or playing chess or fishing or tennis. If you love it you’ll feel rewarded just by the act of doing it, and bully for you. That’s an awesome thing, to do something you love. But in all those enterprises only a vanishingly small number of people ever get to do them professionally, and if that’s the only way you can appreciate music then you’re not a musician, you’re a wannabe fantasy case and you need to get out.
Inman still won’t given up — he goes into a lengthy explanation of his history and claims that his trouble is that he doesn’t have “connections.” Albini:
Connections don’t mean shit. I’ve never had any connections that weren’t a natural outgrowth of doing things I was doing anyway. Additionally, the people you might make connections with who work in the industry and value connections themselves, all those people are clueless assholes with no clout anyhow. You can tell because they think they can get somewhere with connections and spend their energy trying to make connections rather than being good at things, and being good at things is the only thing that earns you clout or connections.
It’s a myth that you can get anywhere in music through connections. The guy on the other end of the connection has to be into what you’re doing, and if you’re doing it publicly and he’s receptive, he probably hears about it on his own.
Don’t worry about anything but making music you like. Everything else is bullshit.
Inman continues, and finally, Alibi responds:
Oh for fuck’s sake. I give up.
And there you have it — so many times in these situations aspiring artists are looking for some kind of magic formula or secret handshake for success, and the truth is what they know, but don’t want to believe: you’re just not good enough yet. You still need to work and work and work, and even then, you still might not be good enough.