Saturday, June 09, 2012

Swedish forests are speeding by my train window under overcast skies. Now and then a lake appears for a second, its calm surface mirroring a red painted wooden house with the ubiquitous white gables. I am travelling due west between Stockholm and Olso, where I will spend the night before leaving for the continent and finally England again. I am meeting up with Asgjerd, a woman I have never met before, but with whom I was in constant email contact in Djenne during the months of January and February. But more of this later…

I am reading Keith Richard’s autobiography ‘Life’, and I am surprised at how likeable he is. Rather than the arrogant, blasé degenerate that I was expecting- the image of himself as the ultimate Rock & Roll anti hero that he has successfully promoted over the last four decades - he turns out to be funny and strangely modest about himself both as a person and as a musician/songwriter. Although in the latter function there is a dichotomy: he has no doubt that he is great, there is no false modesty about his achievements but at the same time he has a humility in the face of the creative process:
‘Great songs write themselves. Your’e just being led by the nose or the ear. The skill is not to interfere with it too much, ignore intelligence, ignore everything; just follow it where it takes you. You really have no say in it, and suddenly, there it is… You think: where did I steal this from? No, no, that’s original! And you realize that songs write themselves, your’e just the conveyor.’
And Tom Waits writes of Keith Richards: ‘Everybody loves music. What you really want is for music to love you. And that’s the way I saw it when I was with Keith. It takes a certain amount of respect for the process. Your’e not writing it, It is writing you. Your’e its flute or its trumpet. Your’e its strings. That’s obvious around Keith.’
Another time Richards talks about sitting down with the guitar and ‘letting the stuff come to me. Something would arrive. Incoming’. As if there is a force on the other side that has a will of its own.
Fortunately this creative process doesn’t only apply to the greats. In my work with creating clothes I have often noticed that the fabric itself wants to do something. This is partly, but not entirely a question of the physical characteristics of the cloth and its natural fall. The object being created wants to speak to the creator. The creator must listen or the object will be a failure. ( Oh, I just realized that I already wrote about these ideas on June 1st 2007, but nevermind, I started so I'll finish..)
Is there another world, a parallel perfect reality where all the music and all the art is just waiting: an infinite number of masterpieces in every field, just waiting to be discovered? Are artists – musicians, writers, or anyone else involved in the creative process- just here as the tools to open up, to understand and to interpret this other place, to decipher it? Did Michaelangelo’s Pieta, or Purcell’s Cold Song from King Arthur; Goethe's' Zueignung to Faust ; Dylan’s Hard Rainor indeed the Stones' Gimme Shelter always exist in this other world, waiting for the artists to discover them?
I think perhaps this place is Heaven?
But what about the art that expresses pain or disillusionment? It is still Heaven, because in the expression is the resolution and the redemption.
And what about those that disagree and are untouched by certain artists: Cressida for instance thinks Dylan can’t sing (which is true but beside the point) and is hugely over rated.
Well, there are many rooms in my father’s mansion…


Blogger Susan Scheid said...

I must first say how hard it would be to leave that beautiful Swedish landscape, though I know you have places you must go. I'm glad, even if you wrote these thoughts out once before, you've done so again, as I didn't know of you then. I love particularly this: "The object being created wants to speak to the creator." I don't think it is one way, from object to creator, but a synergy between the two. I am reminded of a concert I attended in Wales early last month, featuring the music of Qigang Chen. Chen, in speaking about his creative process said, "I focus on a particular sound quality and go deep into it, somehow it happens, it goes deep into my personality." He hears the sound, and the sound hears him, and they enter into a conversation (with beautiful results, I might add). I can well imagine how the drape of cloth would speak, and what it might say about how it is to be used.

Safe travels, Sophie.

1:08 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Dear Susan,
of course, the way I expressed it sounds maybe a little passive and one way, as you say. But of course you are right, it must be a synergy! Most of all an openness and a willingness to listen I suppose.
Thank you for all your great comments and your interest Susan!

9:02 PM  
Blogger Susan Scheid said...

Yes, yes, most of all an openness and willingness to listen, how right you are! (I see the way I wrote my comment may have been too emphatic--sometimes something is lost in putting down the words. Your words, however, inspired, so off I went, heedless, on my own train of thought.)

12:22 PM  

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