On Art – a Pontification

Let’s talk about art for a moment, shall we? It all started today when I launched an app on my phone called Flipboard. It’s a content delivery app, and the topics to choose from was fascinating. I won’t go into it at the moment, other than to see it awakened in me a strange, inexplicable, primordial desire to key all of these topics into a database table. The list was truly impressive not only in its length, but in the fact that it had topics in it that I had never thought of being an interest, but now that you mention it – yeaHYEaaah … as a matter of fact I WOULD like to see a few articles about that. Everything from Calgary, to Botany, to gold, bicycle touring, programming languages, woodworking, freedom of expression, humanism, exeercise science, electrical grid. Geology. On and on and on … page after page. It really got me thinking about interests, and the concempt of simply sitting back and . Take “bicycle touring” – someone actually has to go outside, for weeks, and ride a bike somewhere, then come back and write some sort of article. They pour their lives into this bicycle tour. It consumes them 24 hours a day, it takes their sweat, etc. Then to actually write about it. All to be pushed out to my android phone so i can scan it for four seconds, or four minutes, be distracted, and then scroll (or “flip”) to the next one, where it all repeats. And I suppose that releases some sort of brain chemical that makes me feel like I’ve bicycle toured. Yet I havent. I’ve done nothing but be entertained. Maybe then I have some sort of wistful aching that I wish I were bicycle touring. But I won’t.

It got me thinking about my own interests. Something you’ll never see in a list. How about … screen scraping? I really like screen scraping. Lately I’ve liked banging out code in casperjs, consuming pages, saving them to disk, parsing them out some more with perl. I like the puzzle of deconstructing the page data. I like the casperjs api. I really like this stuff. I’ve never seen an article on it.

It got me thinking about writing (words), and banging away on a guitar. They evoke such different emotions. With a book – well, I can’t even imagine writing 200 pages, 300 pages, of a quality that another human being – let alone dozens, or hundreds, or thousands, or more – would ever want to read them all. On their own time. With a smile in their heart. What could you possibly write about? What is it about the great books I’ve enjoyed that suck me in, and get the pages turning? The topic? The storyteller? The content? The words? It’s so hard, and it’s got to be sustained for so long It’s a totally different vibe than music. With music- it’s a “vibe” – a rhythm – a mood – I can pick up a guitar and in four seconds – 2 seconds – probably transport you someplace enjoyable – something rocking. I can make it up on the spot. It’ll be cool. There will be no words though, not like writing. It’s not a “story,” it’s not information, it’s nothing words conveys. It’s just a beat, a riff, a mindset, a mood. Just six strings to choose from. It’s so much easier. Well, maybe to me it’s easier. Maybe to other people, writing is easier, or beating an egg, or parachuting. I don’t know. Or I can soften the chords, and instantly you’ll know, this is mellow, this is kick back with wine music.

But I’ve always liked to say, “im not a guitar player, im jsut an idiot with a guitar.” (these days im mostly just an idiot.) so maybe to write, you’ve just got to be an idiot with a typewriter. I used to think I liked to “approach a guitar” as if it’s the first time i’ve ever seen one, or played one, and see what happens. maybe it can be the same with a typewriter.

i suppose when we stand around watching an idiot play his guitar, or twiddle his thumbs, if it’s reasonably distracting, or engaging, or if we convey the word “good” or “interesting” to it, or at least “something i’ll stand here and watch for a few minutes more,” we’re letting that guy transport us much as we would a writer. maybe we like his craft, or his band, or maybe there’s a cute girl playing. i don’t know. maybe we like our heart to tap its toes every once in a while. Maybe we like the technology of it, or the fashion show.

and then it got me thinking about the “save” button. just stop and really think about the “save” button. what is it we’re doing when we click it. why would we want to just “save” anything. when we stop and write something, we don’t expect it to jsut disappear when we’re done writing it. we want to “save it.” we want it to persist, forever i suppose. that’s a lot of pressure. so why don’t you just open notepad, or textedit, or an actual piece of paper, and write some stuff. then just – close it. dump it without saving. why not. there’s something about that save button.

and that got me thinking about email. email versus face to face interaction. email is like this – writing something down, crafting each word, getting it all on paper, then sticking it on the table and running away. then your friend, the guy you wrote it to, comes around the corner, stops at the table, and reads it. and then maybe he reads it again. and then he writes his response, and leaves it on the table. he can’t see my face, i can’t see his face, i’m not really there when he reads it, and he’s not there when I read it. then he walks away, and I come back, and I stop and read what he wrote me. and this goes back and forth. and that’s kind of why i mostly hate email. why not just go talk to the guy? what is it that’s so addicting about crafting emails, about wondering if i’ve struck the right tone, that i’m saying right things. in conversation – in real conversation – you mostly just let it fly.

anyways, that’s a lot to happen for just opening the flipboard app. impressive list of topics.