Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shoulder Seasons

The pitifulness of my inability to maintain a blog of monthly hurtwords is as not-lost on me as I am sure it is as not-lost on the two or three of you who, at one point, visited this relatively regular blog with relative regularity.

I blame my dying local economy, my dying Ford automobile and my dying sense of relevance in the shadow of the great Brilliantcornersabostonjazzblog. Chris Rich--the Covering Cherub of the blog world.

And while the sad passing of the great Joe Maneri should have prompted immediate eulogy, it instead prompted great sadness, which in turn prompted great sloth. While I didn't know Joe personally, I did get to speak with him on the phone twice, and exchanged a few letters.

I became aware of Joe Maneri at the perfect time--the early 90's when (in New York City) Charles Gayle was in full flower. Right around the time of Repent. (Is that even possible? Perhaps it was a little later than Repent. You get the jist...) Joe (another religious man and admirer of Padre Pio) did the amazing, namely partitioning space in my listening-consciousness for another approach to the Tenor Saxophone. He did so on the recording Get Ready to Receive Yourself--a must get if you haven't gotten already.

[On a related note, since beginning this post, the great Sirone has also passed away who's wonderful bass playing graces perhaps my most favorite Charles Gayle recording, Spirits Before. Just like the ol' saying goes--if things are going your way, just wait...]

On a happier note, Bill Dixon did turn 84, and in honor of that, it was nice to see some original content up on that Dixon Society site: a short clip of Bill Dixon rehearsing before his performance at the 2007 Vision Festival.

So it's been joys and sorrows, thanks for asking.

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As far as hurt words are concerned, the Marxist hurt word trajectory is going to have to wait until I actually get a copy of Capital of my own--preferably not the penguin edition as their particular ultra thrifty take on typography and layout has an uncanny ability to make any time of the day into nap time.

In between nap-times, I recently found a very strange book in a thrift store called The Neo-Tech Discovery (Zonpower). It is fascinating on many levels, for many reasons, most of which are irrelevant to even this blog (like its typography and layout, for example.)

In this book, however, there is a listing of the 114 Neo-Tech Advantages, which when read one after another are like poetry:

The Nature of Man and Woman
Child of the Past
Carving One's Own Destiny
Dogma and Rules Eliminated

(and so on for another 110 lines)

The Neo-Tech advantage that got my attention was #104: Destructive Poetry Versus Valid Art:

...Since the value of art can be sensed through emotions and requires no intellectual analysis, the public needs only to notice the obvious art and architectural values to erroneously link those values of the master artists to the master neocheaters presenting that art. Thus, the masses are deluded into seeing those obvious values of great art as also representing the values of the neocheating church or government. Subconsciously they conclude: "I can see, hear, and feel those architectural, art and musical values. I know those values are real and valid. Thus, those values must also represent those who own and present this art--the church or government. Therefore, all that I do not comprehend about the church or government must be as good and valuable as the art that represents them."

Through that brilliant, but dishonest use of art as non sequiturs, the church and governments were able to survive the rise of honesty and logic during the Renaissance, the resulting industrial revolution, and then the rise of capitalism and free enterprise.

Regardless of their understandings or economic conditions at that time, those great artists betrayed honesty by selling themselves to the dishonest intentions of the neocheaters in church and government. Those artists are culpable and responsible for giving a major boost in power and endurance to the evil machinations of especially the Roman Catholic church and its neocheating leaders. Even Michelangelo must be held accountable. His great work in the widest context must be condemned as a net disvalue to human life for the dishonest role it played in supporting the immoral mystics and destructive neocheaters throughout the subsequent ages. Without selling out, he might have lost some immediate prosperity and fame. But if he had stayed honest to reality, his work would have risen to even greater beauty, value and fame.

Wallace, Frank R. The Neo-Tech Discover (Zone Power) p. 222

A little further along, there is this

Modern Art

Below is a quote from the archangel of modern art admitting that he is nothing but a clown:

"Most people can today no longer expect to receive consolation from art. The refined, the rich, the distillers of quintessence (art critics) desire only the peculiar, the eccentric, the scandalous in today's art. And I myself, since the advent of cubism, have fed these fellow what they wanted, and satisfied these critics with all the ridiculous ideas that have passed through my head.

"The less they understood them, the more they admired me. Through amusing myself with all these absurd farces, I became celebrated. But when I am alone, I do not have the effrontery to consider myself an artist at all, not in the grand old meaning of the owrd. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt and Goya, they were great painters. I am only a public clown.

"I have understood my time and have exploited the imbecility, the vanity, the greed of my contemporaries. It is a bitter confession of mine--more painful than it may seem. but at least and at last it does have the merit of being honest."

Pablo Picasso, November, 1951* A master neocheater making an honest confession

*Also reported to be from a fictitious interview: The Black Book by Giovanni Papini, 1951

To "appreciate" modern art, a person must figure out, interpret, or understand the "artist" and his meanings that "transcend reality". By contrast, all lasting classical art of great value is immediately recognized as a value by everyone through all ages. Such art needs no interpretation or understanding of the artist. such art represents beauty, values, and skill that are immediately recognized by the expert and the untrained layman alike. That is why the Roman Catholic church acquired only classic art--art that needs no interpretation to understand and value. The Catholic church was too shrewd to buy abstract art needing interpretation.

Indeed, modern art seldom represents beauty, values, or skill. Moreover, the layman does not know what mostly modern "art" means, while the chic "expert" plays phony games of interpreting the artist's meanings.

Today, the high prices of famous modern art works are supported by the tax-deduction system: Wealthy holders of such modern art profit handsomely by donating purchased works to the major modern-art museums (e.g., The Museum of Modern Art in New York). In turn, such museums provide grossly inflated appraisal prices for tax deductions. Thus, those museums gain ersatz art works along with cash donations for those fake, tax-purpose appraisals. At the same time, the wealthy "collectors" profit and modern-art museums perpetuate themselves through the tax system. When that neocheating scheme collapses, most modern art works will fall to an objective free-market value and become essentially worthless.

Ibid, p. 228-230

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Wow. How about them apples? So much to agree and disagree with all at once.

Artist culpability caught my attention, as did art needing no intellectual analysis, the culpability of Michaelangelo, Picasso as public clown and last but not least, the essential worthlessness of modern art.

Most exciting of all, however, was the high price of art not as indication of 'merit' but as function of the tax deduction system. I've always admired the visual art world, and largely for this reason--kudos to them!

While it would appear that "Jazz" is trying to bust that move (cf. Jazz at Lincoln Center) it would also appear that "free jazz" or "improvised music" or "the music that supplanted Jazz as the premier art music of the day" or whatever you want to call it has, by-in-large totally failed at getting in on that special kind of corruption in any (monetarily) meaningful way.

In the absence of any other aesthetic unifying characteristic, it could very well be that it is this failing that defines "this music."

Could it be that the ultimate definition of "this music" is that of a music which cannot be used by the capitalist for the ultimately nefarious ends of the capitalist in any meaningful, big money way? A garlic-and-vampire sort of thing. An exchange value/use value sort of thing.

And so to my fellow makers of "this music" I ask this: If this were in fact the case, would you open a vein or jump for joy or something in between?

copyright © 2009 Stanley J. Zappa