Saturday, June 2, 2007

Logic in Artistry


GuitarMarianne came down for Heather's graduation party last weekend.  She spent a night with us down at the shore and we had a nice discussion of all manner of things.  It turns out her father is apparently, to an extent, “an audio dude” who both she and Heather insist I meet.  Somehow in the discussion we got to talking about the balance of art and logic in our lives.  I brought up how I feel like audio harbors a nice balance between those two aspects of my mind.  There is a definite separation between the minds creative instincts and it’s desire to be logical.  Obviously there are many out there (far too many) who live in a haze of one extreme, ignoring the other almost entirely.  I feel as if the ability to find a balance between these two is a key step in finding one’s true balance.

I would like to examine this further.

Before we discuss the keys to balancing these two forces, I think a quick examination of each force is necessary.  The mind is composed of an endless list of conflicting forces.  The studies of rivals between homeostasis and transistasis in the human mind (let alone all natural systems) is one such example, but another worth examining is that between one’s creative impulses, and his logical inclinations.

The artistic side of the mind is easily linked to man’s primal state.  Reckless and unfettered, man’s internal animal acts without second thought or rationale; it simply does. Art is very deeply rooted in this instinct.  Art, for all intents and purposes, is reckless.  It’s a means of expression, and because so many people find so many different ways to express themselves, art is really difficult to define.  Without getting too far into a totally separate argument, I find true art to have some sense of, what can be best described as “heart”, in it.  This really means that the artist has put his/her self into their piece, whether it be a drawing, a song, a poem, an action, or some other esoteric medium, expression must come from the heart.  Everything else is just junk.

I liken this animalistic art to the works of Jackson Pollack.  Abstract and completely illogical, his expressionist impact rings of art’s impetuousness and the artist’s ability to completely lose sight of any rules of borders.

Conversely, on the other side of the spectrum, we have the ever-present force of reason, logic, structure, and order.  Humans reason on a higher plane than animals.  This gift has propelled mankind into the technological advancements we live with every day.  If nothing else good can be said about man, he certainly knows how to build things.

Our logical faculties have, technically, been with us as long as our creative ones, but they were, for a lack of better words, less evident.  Large strides were taken in the early days of technological pioneering.  Fire, the wheel, all early inventions.  Ones which without, civilization as we know it would cease to be.  But there were no astrophysicists in these times.  No computer technicians, no medial research scientists.  Just men with ideas.

The ideas themselves merit a short discussion of their own, but I’ll come back to that.

This force, unlike the artistic side, is guided by rules.  They justify the rules as well.  This is the side of the brain that desires control.  It is because of this side, we as humans agree to abide by laws.  We enforce them with pens, guns, signs, and other things you can buy at Wal-Mart.  Humans are the only species on this planet which needs to enforce laws of any kind.  Giraffes don’t hold weekly city-council meetings, bunnies don’t “click it or ticket”.  Humans are the only species on this planet that explicitly defines it’s laws in writing and enforces it…at all.  That is the crux of our logical side, but at the same time, our greatest asset.

I call it an asset, because so few people ever attempt to make effective use of this side of their heads, simply relying on other immutable human impulses to propel them through life.  I can’t possible relate to any human who can survive this way, but I see it…a lot, so it can be done…it would seem.

There is a point at which these two forces must intersect.  Where this lies is uncertain, but I wish to expound upon the concept in an attempt to define it that way.

 I started off by mentioning that I, personally, find this balance in my work with audio engineering.  I find that there’s overlap in everything I do, but audio especially.  Anyone involved in this business will tell you it’s creative.  There’s a goal in the process of audio.  It’s to record sound in a way that best represents the sound itself.  That’s a quality issue, and quality is not guided by logic or creativity alone.  It must have both!  There is an artistry to the methods of an audio engineer.  Without going into detail, I can bring back another point I made earlier regarding the “ideas”.

To accomplish a task of any nature, there must be some sort of plan.  This plan may be something as simple as, “Get up.  Go to bathroom.”  Or it may be far more complicated.  In the world of audio, that plan is a bit more esoteric.  It can’t be easily defined with words.  What drives an engineer to put a mic somewhere, while inspired by scientific principles, is really a creative decision in the end.  Masters of the recording studio have very few qualms with pointing microphones in odd places just to see what kind of sound it will pick up.  It goes well beyond microphones, but the example is the easiest to swallow for people not familiar with the process.

The balance is in the idea’s impact on the logic.  It must be in this order.  The creative mind sets the logic in motion.  It creates direction for the logic to flow in.  I have an idea, it’s creative, weird, and other adjectives as well.  How do I realize it?  With logic, order, science, planning, science again, and other words said in a commanding tone with your index finger pointed rigidly outward while wearing a lab coat.

That is the balance.  It’s within this balance, a zen of sorts can be found.  A perfect match for the classically minded and the romantically minded.  Creative and logical patterns working cooperatively to realize the pinnacle of invention.  It’s this middle-ground where our minds should lie.  Neither extreme can make a mind whole.


…stay in bed, float up stream.

Friday, June 1, 2007

My Enchanted Forests

DSCN0089At some point last summer, while Bryan and I were sitting on my porch admiring the fireflies in the woods beyond my yard, he remarked that I had an enchanted forest in full operation in front of us.  Truly the forest must be enchanted.  It certainly has enchanted us.  So if one has the ability to enchant, surely they must themselves be enchanted, correct?

The woods are enchanted though.  These particular woods are new to me, however.  When I was a kid, I had a bigger enchanted forest.

It sat behind my neighbors across the street.  I lived on a hill, and to enter the forest I had to cut through someone else’s lawn.  The terrain was unsafe and steep.  After most of the back yards ended, the slope simply dropped off and created a small creek in between an ascending peak on the other side, not far away.  Once you got down to the creek safely, it became much easier to explore, as you had a complete view of both sides of the canyon, and you were walking on flat terrain.  If you saw something that piqued your interests, you could easily spot it and climb up the sides to investigate further.  Within this enchanted forest, I found a number of enchanting items:

  • A car (yes, a whole car)

  • $10

  • a Beanie Baby

  • two tires, 15" tires

and some of the most incredible bugs you’ve ever seen.

Filthy?  Probably.  New Jersey?  Definitely.  Enchanted?  Completely.

The enchanting properties of such a fantastic place should be evident.  Being so small in such amidst such a vastness in a suburb that almost seems devoid of any such place is truly an enchanting experience.  I have many good memories from that forest.

One that distinctly comes to mind was a time back in middle school.  School was cancelled mid-day due to snow, so I got home significantly earlier than my mother for a change.  I went to take my dog, Sadie, out back to play in the snow.  We had to tie her onto a tether out in the back, and for whatever reason, she managed to escape before I managed to attach the leash.  I had to chase her deep into the forest without a leash and in no way dressed for the weather to get her back.  I managed to catch up with her atop the far range of the canyon, further up the hill than my house.  By this point the snow had managed to cover the ground with several inches, making the terrain that much harder to navigate.  Having finally caught up with Sadie, I grabbed on to her collar and immediately noted a serious problem.  I had no way of leading her back while crossing the canyon.  Sadie was a big dog, and very strong for that matter.  She had the power to lead me, especially at that age, whenever she so desired.  Leading her down such a steep slope seemed very dangerous when maintaining my grip on her collar.  I had no desire to choke her but I couldn’t afford to release my grip of the collar, not even for a second, or I’d lose her again.  I somehow managed to convince her to “slide” down the hill with me into the center of the canyon.  Getting back up the other side was much simpler, and once we were out of the woods, she ran right for the house and in the back door.

The entire experience seemed like such a hassle and caused a lot of immediate frustration while I was out, but once I got back, I felt the enchantment.  The scene was so still, untainted, and white.  I felt energized and invigorated by the action, the landscape, and just getting out and playing with Sadie.  It’s those memories I cherish, and it’s what enchants the forest for me.

Now I’m in a new house, with a new enchanted forest.  I have no memories here, but I don’t need them.  These woods have their own way of enchanting me, and that’s what makes them new.




I've had just about all I can take, you know I can't take it no more!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The title comes last stupid

Lessons of the Day

Lesson 1:

When choosing a notebook, choose one large enough to scribble in.

I bought a Moleskine Journal at the Dick Blick at Fenway. I remember that I bought it there because I knew the store had been there, but that was the first time we ever walked in. Heather was with me and we were killing time before seeing Pan's Labyrinth. It was a really big store, very clean and organized, and I saw the journals in this little display they had. I was about to grab a pocket sized one, just standard ledger lines, but then I saw they had all kinds of other formats to choose from. Being a musically-charged creature, my eyes began searching for a potential music-staff journal. I found a pocket-sized journal with five-bar-line ledgers inside and bought it. I had every intention of recording the little musical lines I would form in my head on something I could go back to at a later time and make sense of.

Unfortunately for me, I don't have the ear to determine pitch without reference. My solution was to simply rely on the notated rhythm. I would write out the notes in more of a relational sense than a literal sense (this note is higher than the last note by x, next note is lower by y, etc.). Unfortunately, to my dismay, I discovered I don't have as good a sense of intervals as I thought I did. I am now left with these odd scribblings which make no sense to their author (and would certainly mystify anyone else).

My next move was a dodgey attempt to recoup some value from my purchase. I figured the lines were irrelevant, just something to level my text on. Unfortunately, it just sucks to write the kind of notes I write on such small pages. Thus I come to realize it was a bad idea from the start, because my first goal was to get a journal of that size.

So the size is now an important thing. So now I know I need to carry a real notebook; one that I can scribble in.

Lesson 2:

Don't stick your nose where your feet can't follow.

It hurts me when I can't do anything to help the people I love and care about in their time of need. When my father died, my friends came to the funeral to support me. I would gladly do the same for them tenfold.

I know how much it means to have someone there to support you in your time of need, and so I try to be there for the people I care about in theirs. Unfortunately, sometimes my efforts speak with brighter hopes than they can fulfill. When this happens, I can only stare at the floor and feel ashamed and broken for what always seems like a heartless act, but is really a gutless mistake.

...and for that, I need to apologize.