Category Archives: Culture

Leaves that look like rocks

The Good Men Project . . . and all that Jazz

Since my last post I’ve submitted my first article to The Good Men Project. I stuck to my guns and stayed on this topic of musing. That’s not so easy, given that the only gun I own is the one under my cap!

The Unexpected . . . 

It was a hard article to write, but with some fine editorial advice I think it came out pretty good. How do I know it’s good? Some might call it by “gut check” or intuition, but for me it has become more than that . . . it’s what I sometimes refer to as, “unexpected pleasant surprises”. They happen often enough in normal life, but when they show up in the creative process, it’s different.

Each surprise is a unique, though what’s common is this “just knowing” feeling . . . it’s a selfless kind of self-confidence. There is a personal trust in the musing that happens . . . like a little jazz? Sometimes there is this kind of a “wow” reaction, sometimes it’s more of, “Geez, that’s really nice!”

I’ve come to the point where I’ll seldom publish anything without doing that kind of check. Sometimes though, with complex or abstract issues, I’m guilty of being less focused than I need to be, for the benefit of others. One issue ties into many others, becoming complex, hence the need for more focus.

The Excruciating . . .

Strangely, the most difficult kind of writing for me is what I’ll call the promotional kind, and yet I spent the majority of my corporate life in that very activity.

There really are no “ah ha” moments in that kind of writing, except maybe with one recent exception. Like most writers, describing one’s work in a book description – the blurb – can be excruciating. It never seems to come out right. However, about a week ago a book reviewer offered to take a look at Dawn at Last. First she wanted me to answer one simple question, “What makes your book different than the rest?”

The answer flowed out with almost no effort. It took me longer to type it than to think it, which is always a good sign. Here’s how I answered her:

  1. It’s the way the lives (and stories) of six quirky characters interweave.
  2. It’s about love more than a love story – by the end you may wonder whether Love herself is the unsung hero.
  3. It’s excruciatingly difficult to peg the book into one or even two genres – it’s erotic but not erotica; it’s a mystery, though the crime is perhaps debatable; the underlying issues are really quite serious, yet dealt with in a playful & humorous way.
  4. When you read it for the second or third time, after waiting awhile, most likely you will read it slightly differently, and discover something new.
  5. Other than that, to finish the question, it has a great cover!
This is really what I’d like those curious about the book to know. I’m seriously thinking of changing my book description on Amazon and elsewhere to include these five points. You many not realize it, but my answer above says a great deal about the muses, about musing.
 
 
Now I’d like to just sit back and listen. In this context “listening” means reading, as in your comments. Since most of my readers are Americans, and given that’s basically thanksgiving now, I’d love to hear what you have to say . . . an anecdote here or there . . . one of your own little unexpected surprises . . . the ones that make for great big memories!
 
Happy Thanksgiving . . . and all that jazz!
 

Who’s Musing Who?

Art, writing, and other musings . . . that’s my bi-line.

When this blog began there was the art, though the writing was always there, hidden from public view. Then came the novel, my biggest and most cherished writing project so far . . . in many ways as satisfying as the art, a pleasure that at one time thought not possible.

For months now, this blog has been skewed towards the promotion on the novel, interspersed with a little about art, and woefully lacking in the musing.

Fascinating and Elusive . . .

What is musing? What is a muse, and is what the right term, given that the muse may be something completely non-physical? It’s a fascinating subject, though it’s one that I’m only now more formally investigating, but not in the sense of a yearning for new knowledge. You see I’ve been close to my muse for a long time, so my knowing is already there, in very personal way. It’s such an intimate experience – a presence at times – and one that is cherished beyond words, but still one tries.

Beyond words . . . perhaps this is why for so long it seemed impossible to use words to find that same satisfaction as in creating art. This I now understand. Someone wrote a really nice blog today about the writer finding that inner voice, and what happens when one writes without it . . . when it becomes superficial. Quite simply, without that muse my inner voice seems weaker, with a sense of loss, and to the point where creating not from the heart becomes a risk.

Searching The Invisible For Common Grounds

It didn’t take long at all – only a few days of research on how history views the muse – to discover how so many others have had similar musing experiences in their creativity. That’s somehow reassuring . . . so many legendary artists and writers, their influences, their loves and relationships, their passions, eccentricities, lusts, questions, controversies, triumphs and heart breaks, and through it all, this mystery of the musing.

Much of the material is about one individual impacting the other – the inspiring returned by the affection – the dynamics between the two. Sometimes the issue goes well beyond the individual, into the realm of the spiritual, perhaps the divine? Questions arise as to where do original ideas come from? Are they really from the muse, or the writer or the artist, or from somewhere unknown? Perhaps unknown, yet truly felt . . . the fuel of genius . . . the gift received, and then the gift created, followed by the need for more. It seems this is the way of musing, always mysterious.

Same Journey, New Curves Along the Path

In the next part of my journey I’m about to write in a different way. I have begun a relationship with a large web site devoted to the issue of what it means to be a good man in today’s world. It features an incredible amount of amazing contributors, and so I am honored, humbled and excited. This kind of writing presents an entirely different challenge than writing a novel or writing here on my blog. Both of those are more personal, kind of like writing for an audience of one, which helps immensely in trying to write from the heart.

In this next project that kind of writing must continue, but differently. If you haven’t noticed, my blog is often kind of like thinking out loud, which helps me to focus on one thing or another. Every now and then it seems to resonate with others, which is really nice. Lately I haven’t done enough of that, not enough writing that will somehow help others . . . you.

That kind of helping seems imperative in writing for this men’s project, and I’ll start by gleaming through this musing material. I’m sure this can help cut through some of the confusion and anguish that seems to be there for so many men. Of course, it’s not just there for the men, but for everyone . . . the same but different. Contributors are encouraged to write in the first person, to tell personal accounts of this and that. I will do so, gently though, and as much as possible with a touch of humour, the non-offensive kind. I don’t always succeed at the ‘non’ part,  so I’m asking this of you, “Wish me luck – the good kind!”

I’ve actually written a first draft of an article. I wrote it awhile ago, but have decided to sit on it. It’s actually pretty funny – yes and no – it has to do with the use of certain toys in long distance relationships. It’s a good article, but not the one I want to lead in with, so perhaps closer to Valentine’s? It certainly doesn’t fit in well with the subject of muses . . . no pun intended. Also, I’d like to write articles that are in a way congruent with Dawn at Last, which is oozing with secrets and mystery and well, you know . . . muses!

The Challenge

So much that is written on this topic is related to gifted artists and creative people. I believe that is unfairly so, that anyone can have a kind of muse-gift in any close relationship. I need to believe this as much as I need to believe that love is the most important aspect of the universe. Illustrating this through my new writing project will be a challenge, which is perhaps just the motivation I need. You will see what I mean when these articles are published, and I’ll be sure to mention them here, on my blog, as soon as that happens.

To give you a feel for what I mean – the gift of the muse in everyday life – here is an excerpt from Dawn at Last. Based on comments from the book’s fans, it is certainly one of the favorite segments of the novel. This is about Pierre, the owner of a French restaurant called Papillons, telling Sunni (a waitress) about the inspiration and origin of the name:

“Okay Sunni . . . the house of butterflies. It’s my home, you see. How can I tell you this? When I was a youngster I had my chores to do, and they varied depending on the time of year. This one summer day it was getting close to supper time and I had to prepare a bunch of vegetables for stew. I had to go to the kitchen sink to get some water and our kitchen window overlooked the yard between the house and the crops. There were little flower beds around the yard. While I was running the water I looked outside and there they were.”

He pauses, and looks as if he’s lost in a dream, though she’s sure it’s a memory, and once again in her impatience she asks, “What did you see, papillons?”

Her words breaks his trance, and he smiles as he looks at her and says, “Yes, that and more. My mother was out there on the right side of yard, tending to some flowers. She was bent over. She was wearing those favourite blue jean shorts of hers and a colourful blouse, an old one she wore mostly for chores. Then I saw my father on the left side, about fifty meters away. He was repairing some kind of tool or something. It was a hot day, so he paused to wipe off his sweat. As he stood up he looked at my mother. At that point she hadn’t noticed him looking. He started to walk quietly toward her, as if to sneak up on her. About half way there she must have heard him, or perhaps it was les papillons floating around her, five of them. I think it was five − they were hard to count.

When my father noticed that my mother had spotted him sneaking up, he started walking a little faster. Then she stood right up and turned to face him, at the same time looking around the yard. She started walking away, slowly at first, not toward him, but toward the house, and smiling. He began to run a little and so did she, giggling now, and it was bit like a touch football game as she zigged and zagged a bit, and then my father slipped on the grass and fell down to the ground. I was startled. It really looked like he was hurt, but he it turned out he was faking an injury to get her to come and help him, and when she did, he pulled her down and they kissed, and for a long time. Then they got up and walked away, hand in hand, somewhere towards the side of the house, where there are lots of trees.”

Then he pauses, and looks closer at Sunni. “And then then these butterflies – when my mother was running they seemed to follow her – like they were playing their own game. They even seemed to follow them to the trees, until I lost sight of them as well. It was really something. In those moments it was all about love, don’t you think? Only playful love and affection. And it seems that’s all the butterflies know − and that’s what I try to do with my restaurant. It’s a safe place for people like you and Andrea and the other young ladies, at least I want it to be, and maybe sometimes love comes out of it, somehow. Is that so wrong?”

The Perfect Gift, If Only For Awhile

One of my favourite aspects about this excerpt is how the couple interact so playfully and with no need for words – in a way they inspire each other – and so this is too is the play of the muse? I hope this gives you a bit of a flavour for the direction I’ll be taking in the project. If I succeed then I will make some people happier, if only for awhile, and hopefully a long while. Maybe some in their busy lives need a reminder, need to stop and look at the love that is still there, but possibly dormant in all the stress and confusion? I plan to provide many reminders – a series on this issue of the muse and musing – of awareness, the selfless kind.

It would be nice to help like that, in some small way . . . it does feel good when it happens, and shouldn’t it? There are those who says that such kindness is somehow self-indulgent and that giving gifts like this is really a selfish act because one gets pleasure in the process. I disagree. If you want to see it as being selfish, go ahead. All I know is that it is perfectly acceptable . . . perhaps the only true definition of perfection. How do I know? Why do I believe this so strongly? The simple is answer – I can sense that the muse approves and I need no more than that.

Thank you for getting to the bottom of such a long post . . . you must be well-grounded by now! As such you deserve a treat, so what could be more fitting than a little music? Enjoy . . .

Who’s Musing Who?

Seeing more than one’s self by dropping the “i”

Love, that eternal mystery, and shouldn’t it always be that way?

For me that is a rhetorical question, because I know the answer, and in many ways. Does that make me an expert in love? Of course not, what a horrible claim that would be . . . in a way dishonorable to the divine and the sublime.

Perhaps it is what some may call a hobby, but for me it is more like a way of life . . . the search for it (love) in most of what I see . . . and I’ve seen so much of it in so many ways. Some that know me (or think they do) would scoff at every word I’m writing here, but I can’t control that, have no need to, and simply dismiss the scoffing as irrelevant. That doesn’t make me arrogant, but more like frustrated. There’s so much I’ve come to know, but it seems the price of this knowledge is an almost solitary confinement in the knowing.

Perhaps the painting and the writing are an escape from this solitude? It sometimes feels that way. More than that though, there is this smoldering desire, “true art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist,” as Einstein put it.

Many readers may find these words vaguely written, and that’s understandable. What I’m reblogging here might also be construed as vague, and yet there is so much beauty in the mystery of it all. I neither condone nor dismiss any of its content, but somehow I do find it easy to understand, as it is ultimately one more way to search and find love, and oddly enough, it seems to describe a creative process.

Here it is, a most intriguing post: The nature of domination.

Life Without Fear

I wonder how many people in our culture, or any culture for that matter, really understand this teaching:

Girl in Yoga Position

Found on Pinterest, originally from Amy Jirsa – Quiet Earth Yoga

I know it may be very hard to comprehend the truth of this, especially in the part of the world I live in . . . this way of thinking is not widely taught. Certainly the main stream media, and many other institutions, do not want you or I to think this way – it flies in the face of greed when you think about. It’s also bad for a lot of business.

Put as simply as I can, this is why I like watching butterflies and trees and the wind and the clouds. There is this truth there, life without fear. That is part of what inspires me. Enjoy your Monday.

Going Where No Reader Cares to Go . . . in Cyberspace

This is a follow-up to my previous post, Reading, The Environment, though you don’t necessarily have to read it to understand this one.

A lot of what I wrote in that post is verified in a way by the following four articles I’ve found on this whole issue of ebooks, book publishing, reading and independent authorship.

Forbes Magazine – Excellent Article on Indie Books

The Verge – Ebook Self-Publishing

Publishers Weekly – Best Selling Ebooks of 2012

Huff Post (Canada Books) – Smashwords Owner’s Predictions for 2013

The pros and cons of self-publishing are really well described in these articles above. That need for filtering comes up time and again – essentially my list of Top 10 is my own attempt to do just that – here’s what I did.

Methodology

First, I picked a popular category, such as “Literature & Fiction> Romance”. From there, I went where no man dares to go – below the Top 100 – into the depths – as deep as 1,500 titles under the See! I’d have searched further down, would have liked to see what #28,043 looked like, but I couldn’t. The system wouldn’t let me get past 1,500 which means that if there is a book I want to look at down there, I need to use the search function, so I’d need to know the name of it, or author or ISBN.

Selection Process

To begin, the main sort I use in any given category is “New & Popular”. Basically, when I go deeper I’m looking for less popular, yet good reads – kind of like panning for gold.

My selections are close to random. I ignore popular authors that are down the list, dead or alive, and there are a ton down there – people like Charles Dickens, Herman Hesse, Hemingway and many, many more. There also plenty of living writers down there, but with their older titles. This is kind of odd though, given that the sort is “New & Popular” – huh?

I also found one sub-genre kind of amusing. Did you know that on one site, if you look under “Literature & Fiction” you can find a sub-category called “Literary Fiction” – too funny!

For any given category I pick out around fifty books to look at. I don’t look at price, try to ignore covers and titles, but what I do look at is page counts. On the lower end, I don’t include any under 200 pages – to me that’s close to a novella. Almost all the titles are around 250 – 300 pages, and a few are closer to 400. I’ve also kept away from books that are part of a series, unless it’s the first book.

Looking Inside and Then Some

Once I’ve gotten this list together, I start previewing more than reviewing. This is really a two-step process, and one that typically results in about 80% being discarded. With the remaining 20% I go back and take a closer look, and from there the list gets whittled down to titles that I’d definitely consider buying based on what I’d read.

This is not the same as doing a book review, nor was it ever intended to be. There are a few real benefits as an indie author in doing this kind of exercise, at least for me. I’m fairly well read, really eclectic interests, and I don’t need to read a ton of classics to know whether my book is worth reading, or is “marketable”. After all, if the classics are the benchmark, there are tons of successful, well-written books that fail that test.

Final Selection Criteria

First is the “flow” test. Call it style if you will. If something is written this century or the last, I really don’t want to have to work at reading every second or third sentence. I’m pretty sure everyone reading this understands what I mean. By the way, if you are thinking grammar should be first, that stuff’s gone with the 80% – I’m past that stage.

The next thing is the boredom factor – Have I read this before in one form or another? I realize there may be all kinds of plot turns and twists down the road, but one does get a feel for this. Often it’s uninteresting characters or overly long, drawn out setting descriptions, or perhaps a tinge of melodrama, that makes something boring. It’s almost like many writers are simply trying too hard to grab your attention, and it has the opposite effect.

Third, there is the novelty aspect – it’s pretty easy to tell when a story is just going to get better – kind of like it’s worth buying just to see what actually does happen. I really avoid copycats. As an aside, I’m guessing that in some genres, a solid 10% or more are basically fifty shade knock-offs, and I haven’t even looked in any “erotica” categories . . . yet!

Results

After all of that I had a list of 10 books that I’d say are worth reading as they are published. While I didn’t keep track of the ones that were “close”, I’d say there was about another ten – these are the ones who simply need a little editorial polishing – as stated in those articles at the top, there is a big demand and need for those editorial services.

As it turns out, I have a bit of egg on my face with my Top 10 list, but at the same time I also had one of those “ah ha” moments. The embarrassment came when I did one more final check for independence. I discovered that 7 of the 10 books I chose were actually published by a major publisher, in print first, so the authors are not indies. That means that in the end, after going through over 150 titles, I found 3 that I’d say are really good indie books, on par with the standard set by traditional publishers.

The “ah ha” aspect is that this kind of validated my process, and my skills, at picking out talent. By accidentally mixing indie authors with traditionally published ones, I inadvertently validated the results!

Conclusions

Realizing this is still a very crude process, based on the 3 of 150 titles I found, that means that perhaps 2% of indie titles really have market potential. What does 2% mean though? Well, first, how many indie titles are actually out there? Smashwords is definitely a major player in launching new indie works. They’re putting out almost 100,000 a year now, and cumulatively they are at about 250,000. Then there are other similar services, as well as number of indies who simply publish directly, with no intermediary.

It’s not easy to get a handle on that number. I’m sure there is a strange exaggeration out there about the total books available – the highest number I’ve come across is something 4,000,000 – I don’t think so!

My best estimate, and I think this may be on the high side, is perhaps there are 500,000 ebooks available, fiction only and by indies, and novels (say 70,000 + words). On the low side, using that criteria, it may be as low as 300,000. If my 2% estimate is in the ball park, that means that there are about 6,000 to 10,000 indie works out there with serious market potential – that’s where issues like discovery come into play.

To put that into perspective, as I found in one of those 4 articles mentioned at the top, the traditional publishers claimed that they had 1,000 titles that sold 25,000 or more copies in ebook format in 2012.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that . . . this post is getting very long as it is. However, aside from the numbers, I’d also say that it seems like the overall quality of writing that many readers’ find acceptable has certainly gone down. I’m saying that because I looked at a couple of current bestsellers by indie authors and I know that neither of them would have made the first cut in my selection process – that makes the market somewhat unpredictable, certainly from the traditional point of view.

Finally, through all of this, one huge intangible benefit is the confidence I’ve gained about SUNNI KNOWS. I’ll put my book up against any indie standard, or one for published works, so for me it really is an issue of discovery.

If you’re a non-Kindle user, you can order my book on Kobo . . . then you can read it on your favorite e-reading device . . . have a great weekend!

The Coffee Shop

This is simply a wonderful story worth spreading.

countingducks

The doctor’s words  slid across his mind, played with his future and settled on the hand in front of him. His hand. “Three months at most”. The words were not ambiguous. He had a period of mobility, and armed with pain killers could cling to normal routine for a while longer.  Routine, which had been his most loyal companion. His order in an uncertain world: the habits between him and a  fear of the chaos somewhere beyond the horizon.

Eighty- three years old and not much to show. A couple of children. Lovely in their own way but gradually estranged by his lack of  circumstance.  Somewhere in later middle age he had lost his way. He now  assumed the air of nonchalance so essential to survival in an urban landscape. His career was distinguished by a lack of progress.  His character by a failure to grasp the importance of the everyday. To make a  sandwich taste like a banquet was his…

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Catalog Writing, and then a Book

If you’re familiar with my blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I enjoy the now-old TV show, Seinfeld.

One of my favorite characters is Mr. Peterman, mostly because when the show was in its heyday, one of main job duties was writing catalog copy for the gardening catalogs I was running – yeah, there were a few “Elaines” around!

Contrary to what the video might suggest, when you write for a catalog, or for advertising, you really are forced to write concisely, yet effectively. The legends (gurus?) of advertising used to claim that all writers should have a stint in advertising. If you think that’s pompous or silly, here’s three writers who spent some time in advertising as copywriters:

Salman Rushdie

Helen Gurley Brown

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I could say more, but then I might be accused of being a windbag . . . should we just keep it at pompous? Honestly though, since I’ve never been to Africa, I’d really like to tell you some of my hockey stories . . . they’re funny. Ha, there’s even a little of that in Dawn at Last!

Salman Rushdie on Seinfeld

Chickens, bravery and bagpipes . . . not the Scottish ones

I had no idea there are so many kinds of bagpipes . . . pretty much one for every European nation, and even a Chinese version . . . the ones in the music of this video are Romanian.

I picked this video for a few reasons. One is that the pictures remind very much of some of the pictures of some of my now-deceased family – my grandparents – they really worked the land. Their stories are heartwarming, funny, inspiring, sometimes so very sad, and sometimes maddening.

They were not gypsies, except perhaps on the occasional Saturday night! I don’t know if the people in this picture were gypsies either – when is a group of gypsies no longer gypsies?

The other reason I chose this clip is because it also reminds me of a brief mention of a wonderfully humorous gypsy folk tale. I mention it in my novel, and no matter how I classify it, the story is about love – both mine and the gypsy tale!

I’ll only mention how the tale begins. Apparently there was a young man who was completely smitten by a certain gypsy girl, but she taunted him terribly. The story is all about his laughable quests to gain her favor, and the first of these is to fetch her a chicken, but not just any chicken!

And so it goes . . . I really can’t tell you more than that here . . . the games we play for love!

I’m kind of surprised that even today there are those who are wary of gypsies, though I apologize here because the term has as many variations as the bagpipes – probably many more!

All I can say is where would Cirque du Soleil be without them first? And even in this video, there must be something of love? I hope so . . . .

Thank you for risking so much!

Two Strings Attached

Of all the arts, music is regarded as the most universal in its appeal and acceptance. This universality,however, does not mean that music is without individual character. Each country has its own kind of music that embodies the total experience, the collective consciousness of its people. Music, therefore, is the collective expression of the musical genius of a particular people.

Such is the case of Philippine music which today is regarded as a unique blending of two great musical traditions – the East and the West. Being innately musical, the Filipinos, from the earliest to contemporary times, have imbibed these traditions and have woven their musical creations along these mainstreams of musical thought. Through time, Philippine society has witnessed the evolution of music expressed in different forms and stylistic nuances.

A people gifted with a strong sense of musicality, the Filipinos turn to music to express their innermost feelings. Hence, every song they sing, every instrument they play, every music they make is a direct, almost spontaneous reflection of their hopes and longings, frustrations and fulfillment, failures and triumphs.

The above quote come from Antonio C. Hila, found in a wonderful article on the musical instruments of the Filipinos.

My little musical journey continues, and it is starting to feel like the missing element of a troika . . . the art, some writing, and now the music . . . there will certainly be some dancing along the way.

I’d have to agree with Hilda’s first sentence (above), and It does seem like less there’s less arguing and such when it comes to music. I’m tired of getting involved in so many trite ones – yeah, one happened today in an online discussion – in the end though, it seems that I did help the art student with one of my observations. It was his discussion. He took my comment back to his teacher, who was caught off-guard by it.

There’s a strange mentality in some of the art world revolving around the issue of integrity when an artist sells their art, and how that is somehow “less than noble”. In the context of this discussion, the issue was about fine art ‘versus’ commercial art (advertising). One or more artists/ participants seemed to be offended when I said, “If you do a painting and have it hung in a gallery for sale, it is also a form of advertising.”

It got pretty quiet when I asked whether the picture of a can of soup is fine art. When you think about it, the can is actually covered. The picture is mostly a picture of the label of a can of soup, and believe me, packaging is all about advertising. Funny how no one knows who did the graphic arts on the original label . . . I wonder if Andy had the talent to do that?

As you can see, these kinds of discussions are pretty non-nonsensical – though I’m glad the student and his teacher saw the humor in the truth of it. I really don’t like any discussions on the issue of “what is art” . . . it gets wearisome and only leads to frustration, and this can literally throw me off for hours, if not the whole day or evening.

I don’t care to rank them either, but still there is the music . . . perhaps the common thread in all of it is the heart? That certainly helps makes a good book – the words –  special, it draws one in to a painting, makes the music charming and exciting, and when you add some dancing in there it can be down right exhilarating. There’s no need to judge it, much more need to enjoy and celebrate it. Hopefully as time goes on that message will come through in this blog – hopefully another way of sharing pleasant surprises.

Some words, a little music, lots of light and some dancing – get the picture? 🙂

 

Being Cool in the Media

It’s funny how one thing leads to another . . . eventually I’ll get to why I posted this video.

I began this Saturday night determined to push my book through more social marketing, but not knowing exactly where I would do so. These days I do gravitate to Pinterest, probably because I feel that it has the potential to be an outlet for creative expression.

I’ve been thinking of doing a Pin board completely about drumming. In the last few years I’ve come to appreciate it more. There’s something persistent, and I do believe universal, about drumming . . . there’s simply no need to try and explain that. However, it didn’t take long to come to the conclusion that it’s not so easy to make a board of it, so I’m going to make a board of all kinds of musical instruments instead, but not the ones I’m more familiar with.

After a simple search, wow, what can I say? I found a stunning list of musical instruments, 120 different percussion ones, 195 string ones, and over 500 in all! It seems my board won’t be complete tonight, on the other hand it feels like I’m starting another little adventure. Pin pictures really don’t do justice to the music, such as the video above, so I’m creating a YouTube playlist that will eventually link to my Pin page . . . once it’s full enough.

On this little journey, I’m doing a lot of Google searches to look up all kinds of instruments from many different countries and cultures. At first I was annoyed that Google wasn’t very helpful on many them – even coming up blank on some of them (instruments). Strange though, in no time at all the frustration turned into a relief of sorts – I really don’t want to ever think that “Google knows everything”!

This fascinating video at the top is titled:

“FOLI” there is no movement without rhythm original version by Thomas roebers and Floris Leeuwenberg

Certainly these people deserve the recognition, as little as mine may be. This is the fourth video installment on my new playlist – the seventh one I’ve researched so far from my list of 120 percussion instruments – the other three are each remarkable in their own right. I already know this is going to make an incredibly rich playlist, and yes Giselle, it does feel like a pretty cool way to spend a Saturday night! 🙂

It certainly beats getting bogged down in an online discussion on whether including vague figures in abstract art negates the label, “abstract”. It also beats getting into another discussion on the importance of garden sheds to the careers of various writers . . . the sheds being their favorite place to write . . . I screwed up by interjecting some humor . . . apparently the discussion is for those devoted to the topic . . . seriously folks!

What’s much more important is how this video struck a chord with me that’s been around for many years now. It seems I have a knack for putting two and two together and coming up with a picture or some words – in this case it’s words. The video reminds of something I read years ago, in Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media. It will take me awhile to find the exact quote. The passage has to with how the introduction of a water well completely disrupted the culture of an African tribe – the ritual of collecting water from the river was an important part of the day – the introduction of the well led to an unhappy cultural shock, whatever the intent.

This has stuck with me for many years now, and I kind of cringe every time I come across something that shows the third world becoming well-educated . . . I have very mixed feelings about this process. This book of McLuhan’s is like a fountain of relevancy – every page of it – not just to remote cultures, but to our own as well. Think about the following quote in the context of the video above, as well as in relation to our current cultural environment – the relevance is alarming on both counts:

Consider the phrase “It’s a man’s world.” As a quantitative observation endlessly repeated from within a homogenized culture, this phrase refers to the men in such a culture who have to be homogenized Dagwoods in order to belong at all. It is in our I.Q. testing that we have produced the greatest flood of misbegotten standards. Unaware of our typographic cultural bias, our testers assume that uniform and continuous habits are a sign of intelligence, thus eliminating the ear man and the tactile man.

Looked at another way, if we can’t solve so many of our own cultural problems, where is the wisdom in educating other cultures in our ways? These are some of the issues I think about often . . . as you can see, I get easily distracted. Perhaps that’s why I’m having a hard time selling my book . . . it is very much about all kinds of love, and the struggles.

I’m just glad I can still enjoy the music, like in this video above. I also believe there is much to be learned from the quote below, which is encouraging in more than one way – it turns out that he began by self-publishing as well:

“Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book. Dismiss whatever insults your soul. ” —Walt Whitman

Do We Know?