Nature of the Beat

Artist, post-modern wannabe, conversationalist, provocateur, introverted extravert… or is that extraverted introvert? A personal blog to share thoughts on faith and art.

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For the Humanity in Art

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Irreducible:
1: impossible to transform into or restore to a desired or simpler condition
an irreducible matrix
; specifically : incapable of being factored into polynomials of lower degree with coefficients in some given field (such as the rational numbers) or integral domain (such as the integers)
an irreducible equation
2: impossible to make less or smaller
an irreducible minimum

I have a love/hate relationship with Modernism. That’s why I am only a ‘postmodern wanna be’. For all the mud-slinging and grief many like to throw Postmodernism’s direction, I’d be extremely surprised if any of those people have any understanding of Modernism to be so anti-postmodernism. Really, how many people could articulate, if postmodernism is so bad, why is Modernism so great? What has Modernism done for them that they should be all hating on Postmodernism?

Well, we likely have Modernism to thank...

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Tension: Art as value, art as work

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If you don’t care who sees, hears, or likes the art you create, much less if anyone gives you money for it, you aren’t trying to make a living as an artist.

That doesn’t mean you aren’t an artist, but when you decide that you want to make a living with your art, things change. Sometimes drastically, sometime subtly, sometimes so subtle you may never even notice until rent comes due or groceries need to be shopped.

At some point you realize that what you are doing is work as much as it may not even feel like it. Art becomes your job, even as you may love doing it. Or you may hate doing it for pay, but you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Sometimes we may be trying to create something that has widespread, popular demand. Sometimes we may be aware that we may be working for a more limited audience. Sometimes we are just experimenting. There is value in all that.

This is not to say...

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Christians have lost the plot

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I always went for the extra credit questions in math. I love being challenged, finding out how much more I can accomplish that I couldn’t before or learn about that I didn’t know before. I’m a bit obsessive about that. That part of me is why I learned to roast coffee, build guitar tube amps, why I learned to play guitar to begin with and probably why I bother writing. I’m similarly obsessive about my faith.

That’s why I love thoughtful atheists. I feel like atheists question many of the things all Christians should ponder. The atheists I admire most are the ones who have wrestled with the ideas of God and religion. There are some I have read and have caused me to think more deeply about my faith. I suggest that if you haven’t questioned God, his existence, your faith and beliefs then you are leaving some of the deepest meanings of your faith on the table. In a lot of ways I feel like...

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Listening perfectly

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 What is a perfect flower to you?

Is a perfect flower always perfect? If a flower never dimmed, never dropped its petals, would it still be perfect? If a flower stayed true to its nature, its life cycle, is that perfect?

“In ancient India, a group of young monks were watching their master prepare chappatis (pancakes). He would pour out a ladle full of batter and watch it spread across the surface of the hot griddle, forming an odd round shape. As the pancake assumed its final form, he would smile and say, ‘Perfect.’ The students were puzzled. Each of the pancakes was a different shape, some of them were burned around the edges, and none were perfectly round. Finally, one of the students asked the master, ‘Master, how can these pancakes be perfect? Pancakes are supposed to be round, and they are not supposed to be burned.’ The master lifted the last pancake off the griddle and put it...

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Counting the cultural cost of utility

I am not a strict formalist. Systematic approaches to learning a craft have value. But I also understand there are limits that are intrinsic to any particular system of training. That’s just the nature of systems. They give voice, but they do so within a certain framework of vocabulary. We are facing such limitations and influence of systems on our cultural voice and perception of our worldview even now as we confront them with the #metoo movement.

I happen to think there is not such a hard line between imagination and creativity. They do not exist in such a bifurcated form any more than reason or emotion, material or immaterial, sacred or secular. Reductionism can help in understanding one aspect or another, but when our nature is as intertwined as these things, even creativity and imagination, something is sacrificed when dissected.

R. Buckminster Fuller said we are born...

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There is a season, turn, turn, turn

Writing to say something, writing to exercise, writing to keep at it even in the face of an empty page. There is value in all that. Should it all be published, though?

I was working on a show many moons ago where the featured musicians were Wynton Marsalis and his Septet. They were rehearsing one of the pieces and while one musician was taking his solo, Wynton stopped everyone and, reprimanding the musician, shouted something along the lines of (my memory isn’t perfect but I remember the point) “Stop practicing your scales! I came here to play! Practice at home. If you’re here to play, then play! But stop wasting my time.”

All the great artists did a great deal of research, practice, and rehearsals. Even Mark Rothko, as simple as his works may seem, did drafts. We are enamored with process, especially us artists. Process is important. It is important to keep creating especially in...

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AI commits suicide at 27 years old. News at 11.

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In the movie It Might Get Loud, Jack White advises his younger self “You have to have a fight with your guitar. You have to have a fight with your guitar and win. If you don’t have a struggle you have to make one up.”

I remember watching the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation when it first aired. I was very excited. After the the first few episodes I was very disappointed. What disappointed me is that each time the captain and crew always seemed to know exactly what was going on and what to do about it. There was no struggle, no wrestling. Everyone had reached a level of enlightenment that made each encounter relatively effortless.

Rothko was once asked how he knew when a painting was finished. He responded “There is tragedy in every brush stroke”.

These days there is a great deal of excitement and hand-wringing about the potential for artificial intelligence to...

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Emotions and concepts

There is some science to my point about emotions and the intellect and why I believe the reason we need to renew the mind is because that is where we lie about our emotions, the emotions themselves don’t lie.

Part 1

And Part 2

Joe

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The interesting thing about light

The tl;dr—Understanding art is hard. Understanding the Bible is hard. Understanding life, making choices in the real world is hard. That’s the point of both art and the Bible. Stop trying to find the easy answers. That’s not the point of the Bible and it is not the point of art. Knowing scripture and what it says should lead us to be able to look at each other and say to each other “Yeah, life is hard, that was a hard decision to make. Let me help you. Let me be there for you. Not because I know the answer, but because I struggle with my own decisions and I need people, too.”

The interesting thing about light.

You cannot see light. You can see things reflecting light. You can see the light source. But the light itself, you cannot see.

Then both the light and the object reflecting light affect each other. How an object looks, the color of the object, will be affected by what wave...

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Culture is not the enemy

Culture is not the enemy. Culture does not need “redeeming”. Culture does not need “taking back”. Culture is not evil. Culture is what we make it. If you take an antagonistic approach and attack culture, you can’t blame culture for being defensive or offensive. If you avoid culture, you can’t blame culture for what it becomes. If you take an approach to create a counter culture, you can’t blame the “other” culture for what it becomes.

The best way to affect culture is to participate.

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