Monday, 3 November 2014

When Wrong Is Right

Reading the Kid Shirt blog yesterday, this post struck me as absolutely right. When I wrote this a lifetime ago I was trying to say something similar regarding writing. How many Wrongs can make a big Right? Recalling a girlfriend (ex) who once told me that Henry Miller needed an editor - eh?! That aside, I think she disliked him for not being the good feminist she thought he should be, but that's a whole other subject, right?

There's a lot of Right stuff that's so wrong, not least for being Right in the eyes (and ears) of those for whom perfection, or correctness, are defined by a strict set of guidelines laid down long ago by so-called experts. Which is not to say that many things made by the rules are not very Right. They are. But down that particular wormhole we fall so deep as to be trapped, forever longing for a certain kind of Right, finding it sometimes, but allowing the walls of 'correctness' to keep us there forever. You see? Maybe you don't...

...those walls (bars) make us feel safe...they define the limits, therefore relieving us of the need to find our own and in a fit of wayward free-thinking possibly even conclude that there needn't be any. That takes some doing...after all, what if you freed your mind but contrary to what Funkadelic insisted would happen, your ass did not follow? What would you do then? Perhaps you'd spend the rest of your days only sat on your ass because you'd abandoned the rigid formulas of all great booty music, from Swing to ------------ (insert your own beloved modern dance music) in favour of cerebral sounds. That would be wrong. I did have to tell a few cerebral types (you know, clever ones who studied at uni and everything) how to dance to Drum 'n' Bass - I ain't lying. I freed their asses...

Wrong stuff that's right can only be appreciated if you get the idea/concept/aesthetic (dare I say). And Kid Shirt's so right when he mentions 'glitch' as a bad example, just another easy genre, all bound up in a definite sound. There are probably courses in Glitch Art, these days...I'm sure there are, filled with brainiac computer geeks programming themselves into the Art World by creating clever codes. I might like the results more than most painterly efforts or, Coltrane forgive, Digital Art, but still it nags me that the results are the result of programming. Just like the pre-set analogue era nostalgia button on modern kit, which may or may not exist, I don't know, I've never tried to make music, or taken an interest in the gear used today. My efforts to learn the bass guitar in 1977 lasted one (lunch) hour but I wish I'd persisted because I'm sure I would have gone on to make the most fucked-up Punk racket imaginable...and hopefully never bothered to learn more, to progress...

My art-not-art is made by using the crudest possible methods. I hope it shows...or sometimes I hope I fool people (non-artists) into thinking I've gone and done something sophisticated...ha-ha! That's unlikely as far as many are concerned, but it's easy to be enthralled by what appears to be cleverness when you don't have a clue how it's done. Talent shows prove this. "Oh my god! She's got an ama-zing voice!". Which usually means she can sing in tune and can't stop with the melisma, a trick which only impresses the cloth-eared non-singers. I don't need to tell you that muso tendencies, or devotees, the oh-so-technical ones, have turned out the most boring music ever made. Note, that's boring, as opposed to irritating, which defines 90% of all music, from the whining psuedo-Folkist to the Pop tarts and all the crud in between.

It's not about High or Lowbrow (that ol' chestnut, which resulted in a lot of fools championing shite in the 80s just to show that they 'got' Pop). I know, let's throw Bach out the window in favour of Bachman Turner Overdrive! No more guilty pleasures! By whose standards are they 'guilty'? Not the fun-lovers who packed the club of the same name to make it so successful. To feel 'guilty' you have to have higher standards to start with, then confess.

Highbrow doesn't cut it. Never has. Weren't the irate folkniks who booed Bob for going electric at Newport in '65 so sure they had refined taste (albeit reverse snobbery for po' folk making music on porches)? How could the old tweedy set (those stuffy intellectuals of long ago who no doubt still exist today in another guise) get anything that wasn't Classical? The progressive ones perhaps went for Jazz. Ah, Jazz, now that's produced a lot of Wrong 'uns in its time. Was Thelonious Monk joking with that stuff? As for Cecil Taylor and his wobbly rail - awful! Ornette Coleman couldn't play. And those dirty be-boppers. Even the formula beloved by Traditionalists was once thought to be totally unwholesome, if not musically, then for the simple reason of who was making all that Jazz. The natives were getting restless...

So it goes. Duchamp's readymades - wrong! Abstraction - wrong! Pollock - wrong! You know what I mean. All that oh-so-right Wrongness in culture. Stravinsky, Schoenberg, James Joyce, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Jean-Luc Godard etc  - very wrong!

Before The Rules of all things were written there was freedom, but since nobody was around to see the results except for locals, it didn't matter. It's not that I hate critics, you understand. Without them, well, the rest is mere PR. Besides, they've always disagreed, which is a good thing. Nowadays we're all our own critic and how. We can skip through an album in seconds and know it's good, bad or average, right? Knees jerk all 'round the world. It's a complex/difficult/uneasy/indefinable sound that doesn't make sense in five-second sound! Not that it hasn't always been the case. It's just that today there's so much stuff, there's always something else and the mouse-clicking tic takes us away in search of the fast food fix we've become addicted to through technical means, even those of us that used to buy LPs, one a week, even.

The right kind of Wrong has that thing about it, that feeling of...something...the mark of the individual scrawling on the wall, you know? Yes, that fool who thinks she has the right to make a noise/vision, even though she's isn't properly qualified. No, not that one who tries to fit into the specific genre, that one, over there...unseen, virtually ignored, almost totally alone and so small in the grand scheme of mainstream (relative) media coverage/recognition. Her. The maker of little publications, little records (perhaps digital only)...the one making art which only a few (virtual) friends get to see and if they're lucky dish out a few 'likes'.

Art Brut lives on, in many forms. The raw product, the untutored eye and ear just doing it. They're crazy! Don't they know that the reason for doing it is to make money? To achieve some kind of success? Why do they bother if not in the name of ambition? That's the ambition to reach goals set by society, of course, not the loose definition regarding merely making something they're pleased with. Not that.

Well, here's to all the Wrong stuff, the stuff that irritates and confuses 'them'; the stuff that confounds their expectations of how anything should look or sound.

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