Entertainment Magazine

Without a Surface There is No Depth…

Posted on the 12 August 2012 by Alreadydidit
Without a surface there is no depth…

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci


I talked briefly about the importance of nuances when composing music in my post about Chaos and Beauty and the essence of Sprezzatura in my first post. The same approach applies to writing – ideas usually pour in without forewarning and in excess, after long periods of idling about. Sometimes it does pay to be lazy! At its best, perfecting passages is like constructing a very nuanced choreography for a piece of ballet played in our minds and mouths – with thoughts that take a form in words that are first planted on a paper (figuratively speaking in this modern age) and then cultivated into a vivid garden with wisdom and cut to its final form with finesse and flow that takes almost always magnitudes more than the initial thought.

However. the best ideas are often best served raw for an untapped audience and cut to their bone, for others to build upon. And after that you go ahead and raise the bar. How far? As far as you like. Sometimes though, you should go headlong and disregard…

Ghost Dog portrays this headlong attitude throughout an exceptionally rhythmed (not least because of the Asian influenced hip-hop soundtrack by RZA), beautiful and a philosophical movie (by Jim Jarmusch) with a same title, reaching its crescendo in the film’s pivotal scene, which I am not going to spoil for you, but which portrays the ways of the samurai in a brutal yet poetic fashion that was underlined by this quote from Hagakure, spoken in narrative by our protagonist – an African American hit man living in a modern world, but following the ancient samurai warrior code to the bone.

When one has made a decision to kill a person, even if it will be very difficult to succeed by advancing straight ahead, it will not do to think about doing it in a long, roundabout way. The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong. – Ghost Dog quoting from Hagakure – The Book of the Samurai

Violence aside, that thought can be applied in everything good; moreover, Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai is full of similar quotes and can been seen like a carefully crafted poem, and an extended free-form haiku on a screen, which is translated to hip-hop generation in a laconic, almost lethargic fashion, yet with more balls than the biggest Michael Bay blockbusters combined. (As fun they are!). So go ahead and watch Ghost Dog, if beauty, philosophy and poetry from OG‘s like Sun Tzu, get you going!

One of my goals in the middle of pursuing 15 Grammys and 100 million Facebook fans (see, even I did this) [look up the part about tamed Idols in All good things must start somewhere] is to write likely a few books in the following 5 years or so. And on top of that an autobiography, but I might do that with a co-author or two who know my life’s work by heart.

As much as I love English language for its poignancy and beauty and the endless possibilities for a word play, to me words are ultimately, at the end, like sound, a powerful tool to bring forth passion, thoughts, concepts and Logos that pushes beyond the conventional wisdom, while form remains as important as the function; even more so in song-writing, poetry and new media filled with extravagant cries for attention.

There was a time I used to practically live in the libraries reading among everything else – get this – English dictionaries, sometimes from cover to cover in one sitting, no kidding! Yeah, no Guinness World Records were broken as it was not the whole Oxford English collection (*gulp*), and in case you are curious, I prefer American English and Collins Dictionaries that is based on a an extensive library of real life examples and quotes. Yet I have read very little or none of the classics and books you would consider a must-read by anyone who wants to perfect their English language or understanding of common discourse in a literary world, just about everything else from Japanese art of packaging to Confucius to Peter F. Drucker to the history of ancient civilizations.

Only exception are some sonnets from Shakespeare like Venus and Adonis, which I liked. My motivation to read on the all possible genres was to get as much influences from everywhere and everything to use as an artist and an entrepreneur in the future. What matters the most is how I can mix all that knowledge with action, whether it is art, music, popular science or entertainment.

If you just recycle old tricks and restrict your input to one single area or expertise you will stagnate. To truly get the attention of any audience regardless of their taste, and make us feel a little bit more alive while having fun along the ride you have to as a creator, subject yourself to all culture headlong and pick what you can.


Without a surface there is no depth…

Now I want to dissect a bit about my first post here and reveal some of the intricate creative thinking process behind all that writing and where my attention was at the time.

Example: In the third paragraph, there is a following sentence starting like this: There is naturally a lot of direct and indirect influences as a musician from all forms of culture and entertainment, a lot, to be exact [...]

Curious detail in the latter sentence fragment is the almost redundant use of “a lot”, which seems at first glance to be a pun for puns sake. Which it is partly. But without that repetition the point does not come across with same poignancy it does now, while linking to my musical influences playlist just being a nice bonus as a by-product. In music we compose beats and loops to get a right rhythm for a song and that sense of style and flow applies everything from our breathing to dancing to the way streets are organized in a city.

In music you might have an intro and then the first verse starts with some false starts or silenced parts to build up the momentum and leading into a crescendo along the way. This pattern does not automatically translate to text, but in essence writing in a prosaic with more defined tone has that same kind of quest for harmony and objectively perceived beauty that grows naturally, flows naturally and feels organic, with enough branches for a random reader to tag along and climb higher, all the way to the top to see what I see, to see what you see – an author of any.

Just like in that last paragraph I wrote, there are certain peculiarities, which were absolutely conscious, yet instant choices. In passing, this piece is an experiment and a bit like trying to analyze a process, which you are part of at the very moment. Go ahead, try observing your thinking process – while you are at it. See what I did there? Took you into a loop. Back to the last paragraph: I repeated the word crescendo second time in this post, because it was one overlaying theme I prepare for in future feats.

Another curious point is at the very end - an author of anywhich is not a common saying or grammatically correct (I think) – not that it matters (I say, learn the rules to expand them and then break them – form precedes function). That last wording was left as is to accent the preceding thought of giving a reader an easy passage to tree you had grown as an author, yet with multiple ways to proceed. Thus any. At the same time it punctuates, literally, the passages about headlong attitude and cutting through the bone to get to the root of the wisdom. Captured by my motif © “I Already went and did It”

All that, pointing out in a the longest fashion the irony of getting to the point by rushing into every possible direction at the same time, and I just coined up a new word for this concept at this exact moment – I call this concurrent writing process. In more ordinary terms – a free association. My point being that the language makes us what we are as a species and every different detail has a different outcome. Fact is that our perception of reality is a result of complex neurochemical electric cocktail that is fed non-stop by all our senses. We are thus naturally tuned in to get every detail surrounding us to compose our own reality. Details do matter.

Culture in general and sub-cultures with creations of art and entertainment built upon the works done in the past have formed an endless breed of subtext and sub-dialect you can only get if you heavily subject yourself with the surrounding popular phenomenons. Prime example is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In its own right it is witty and funny show and a permanent part of our cultural heritage, if you go that far. The real power of Buffy, however, lies between the lines, as the more you have influenced yourself by the current pop culture, the more you get the in-jokes and references to other works of art and entertainment.

To add something new and noteworthy to the world or even present new ideas you have to learn the common language of the society or a community you want to reach. It is not just English or any other language with written rules, but goes much deeper than that. Without some common ground you cannot as an artist deliver the grand vision you might have to the masses that do not know any better.

Blame-game against dumbed down media leads nowhere and I still want my daily doze of Robot Chicken to counterweight the depths a creator and a thinker must dive into to transcend the ordinary. Thus understanding and embracing popular culture in contrast to high arts, however you might want to define it, is as important. In my eyes they are at the same line.

Without depth there can be no surface and without surface there cannot be a mirror to reflect upon – to connect to – to have a friction with.

We need both.

What comes to writing, the best text is easy to read and looks really easy to write, but in reality it comes from putting your mind into details like that to keep the certain playfulness present no matter the subject. Just like dancing is about seducing either you partner or an audience, or both – writing is the same kind of invisible dance between the lines seducing the reader. It is the underlying beauty that enchants us creators, the music makers, the dreamers of the dreams to put it all out there in way that sticks, and if you have found such beauty you have no right to keep it to yourself.

These sweet spots that hit the exact nerves to capture the attention are based on ambivalence that can go into any direction. This ambiguity is the very reason why for example Mona Lisa is so powerful painting. With a balanced act of giving freedom to see what you want to see, yet directing it at the same time with an uncertainty, yet punch, forcing the spectators to try harder to capture the beauty in front of them that seems to be apparent, almost blatant. Yet something so intricate only those with a similar gift can analyze and dissect it into its basic parts and recreate even something greater.

Great art and the best artists hit those sweet spots at will, due to prolonged constant and conscious effort put into almost unseen details. To an outsider it often looks redundant, even counter-intuitive for productivity, to finesse certain piece, whether it is piece of painting, a composition, or in my case fine tuning a 5 second sound loop with 50 samples ten hours straight to get it just right, and then scrapping it one instant, because it was not good enough. To an untrained eye, it looks like artist in question just wasted ten hours, but what really happened, is that he essentially trained his own mind to be more attuned to the details.

And then this artist goes on and creates afterwards a masterpiece from scratch in five minutes. This kind of deep thinking process, even if it is not visible or apparent to the random spectator, is the exact reason why creators of high caliber, who constantly try to outdo themselves, have such an impact to our society, culture and to individual people who enjoy their works.

How all of the above translates into writing for me? I write and see text or paragraphs sometimes like a series of strings or twines where all words are interconnected to each other in multiple ways. I might look at the paragraph and decide the way sentences are laid out based on the overall shape of the text, treating the words like symbols without meaning.

To elaborate, not only I view the linguistics qualities of any given text, how it all relates to the whole work, the present dynamics between the words, the idioms, sentences, while finessing the flow at the expense of the fair use of grammar; I base a lot of my writing decision to the deeper synesthesic and aesthetic qualities, especially how easy it reads and how it feels in your mouth, being an artist and a musician who wants to get out there and shape this world. You cannot do that with silence (though John Cage might have different opinion.)

As a thinker and a writer, you gotta get to the point, yet give enough ingredients for a keen spectator, regardless of their taste, to go and grow their own garden of thoughts.

When you create and throw everything you got, you don’t care about details, and yet you do, but details just come naturally in a frenzy and you just try to capture the essence of inspiration as fast as you can, thus everything is very erratic.

Right now I am in a middle of an inspired creative moment, thus I do not care too much about details, but rather push through picking up the thoughts as they come to capture the greatness in its rawness…

After that you take the thousand little ideas and siphon out the best to be put into a spotlight with as much detail as necessary to get to the point, in a way nobody else but you can.

Now, even if you were the most single-minded individual, you would still pick those nuances, just unable to pinpoint what it is that makes something a masterpiece.

This goes to say that you cannot replicate a tree without growing it out from a seed and guiding it along the way into its natural form it was always going to be.

This is what creativity is.

- Just Another Superstar

Without a surface there is no depth…

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