Friday, 11 March 2011

How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Live Without Success

Before I go any further even though I haven’t started yet I should tell you, not should tell you, but feel compelled to tell you, that I’ve mastered an art just recently. I’ve not tried to master one before, although I do write, have created collages, even painted and failed as a musician – without thinking I was trying to ‘master’ any of these arts – why? Because in all honesty (would you expect anything else?) I believe, truly believe, Art to be something one practices through the sheer pleasure of creation, as opposed to being driven by dreams of success. That should be Success (the upper case makes all the difference).
   We know what Success is – it’s...when you get on telly as an Artist, or sell loads of your chosen art form...all of which should lead to making money, and for the sake of this argument I mean a lot of money, therefore gaining the qualification of being a Successful Artist in terms as unwritten but believed to be true by the standards of our beautiful materialist society. As opposed to arts practiced by indigenous peoples of countries you can’t pinpoint on a map, who sit in their huts making things for the pure pleasure of it or, most likely, as part of a ritual wherein said object takes on enormous significance. The same could be said of making a hit record. It is, after all, in this society anyway, apparently significant if one should appear on telly, with a hit, and garner rave reviews in such esteemed organs as The Sun (do they write about Pop?), The Wire, or Rolling Stone (assuming it still exists). Success is hereby measured in financial gain, by default, as well as...well, that’s it really, since all else follows (festival appearances, tours, t-shirts etc).
   When I scribbled a fanzine long ago someone once wrote asking me if I was a well-known journalist working under another name – as if, being a professional, I would waste time Zeroxing cut’n’paste stuff for the fun of it. But I did understand why he thought it possible in that he did see the potential for a little ‘zine as an outlet for ranting and, yes, ravings that would not be accepted by the editor of a proper magazine – an outlet, if you will, for personal opinion unfettered by editorial restraint.
   Well, truth is, I once dreamt of being that professional music journalist when I was in my teens, when Punk happened and Anything seemed possible – ha! It was for Julie and Tony, but not for me. I couldn’t even rant in an acceptable manner, although as I recall I offered a few gig/album reviews, to no avail. So life wet on, mine being a succession of menial jobs, whilst the music scene went on from Punk to New Wave, Indie and so on. As the scenes came and went my ambition just went. I came to the opinion that interviewing these bands wasn’t a particularly interesting thing to do because they weren’t interesting, to me. I spent almost ten years in the world of Jazz (it can possess you like that). And upon re-emerging into the world of modern music found Jungle to be the most exciting thing since Punk. But I didn’t want to write about it.
   At some point during my exile from modern music I came to the conclusion that Doing It was admirable in itself, if only to the creator. Yes, just do it. Why not? And if three people get to see what you’ve done and like it, all the better. More than three people liked my fanzine because I have at least five letters of appreciation.
   Now, in this world, countless people may alight upon these words and who knows what they think? Of the Art? Prose? Scribbling? I know some bloggers crave Comments and that’s understandable, but I also know that I’ve come across many fine blogs and not Commented myself, therefore I can delude myself that a few people respond similarly to this thing – by not responding in a definite (or any other) manner.
   On the subject of Comments, I had to laugh at the Telegraph journalist on The Culture Show the other week who was riled by some vicious responses to his blog, even to the extent of phoning one. What does he expect? He’s writing for The Telegraph. It did make me grateful for the fact that my audience is tiny, therefore drastically reducing the chances of trolling, attacks, etc. It also made me glad to succeed on my own terms, the only worthwhile terms, even though to simply blog is not in itself necessarily a successful venture. I succeed in giving a few things to The World, and getting stuff like this out of my system.
   Meanwhile, the art I mastered was to wash my hair in the time it takes the kettle to boil. You may scoff, but I’ve been working at it for a few weeks now and have finally judged the amount of water needed in relation to the time it takes to boil and for me to wash my hair. Never let it be said that I have not achieved anything in my life...

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