Wednesday, February 22

assembly lines

months ago, I was talking to friend Justin about various projects: a video chat program he developed for his research, and much later in the conversation, music--arrangements he'd done. songs (you might say) that he had written (you might say). he didn't say, though. what he did say--in both cases--was that he had "put it together."

this quote, presented by that one Austin Kleon fellow, reminded me of that idea. ex nihilo creation just does not happen. there are laws of thermodynamics and stuff like that, you know?
even God, I think, does his fair share of assembling bits and pieces of stuff that has always existed.

here is another lovely quote, and there are a bunch more on Mr. Kleon's blog proper.
have I mentioned how much I love the word 'if'? I circle all ifs, remembering that every if is a sort of promise. the if in this quote is a little bit tricky. if you can hear the music, you can have it, he says. if you're listening, it's yours. that sounds so simple. but it's hard to listen, sometimes. and what exactly counts as owning that music? I don't think hearing it on a superficial level is enough. letting the melody flit through your ears as you walk down the street, or even sitting down on the curb and listening to it once isn't ownership. there are different ears. different listening. some higher level of attention and absorption that does not come casually. that song--that gift--it's not going to fall into your lap, is it?

maybe putting things together first involves looking really hard at what you've got in front of you and taking it apart. then the pieces can be swallowed, regurgitated, and made into something completely new. only not completely new--just almost completely new.

I just read this fantastic rendering of a speech given by the author David Foster Wallace. I was (am) supposed to be reading articles about coterie publication and marginalia analysis, but this speech--so many bits of it grabbed at me. a collection of those bits will be appearing in the everything notebook over the next few days, just wait. and one of them will appear here, right now, because its thought about attention sort of fits. he says:
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort...
what else is creativity than a freedom? a power to move beyond the place you are into a place that has never existed before? isn't that amazing? we have this gift of taking all this stuff that for us has always been there, just existing, just waiting...and remixing it into something more. and then whatever we've made becomes part of the always-been-there stuff for someone else. go read the whole Wallace article. it's really great. and then if you've got time, watch these.

watch. absorb. start assembling.

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