Sunday, July 8, 2012


When I first started this blog over three years ago, it was a place where I mapped out some of my own hypotheses about music and its function. However, I haven’t written any such posts recently. I’m not sure why this is; perhaps being out of the university environment has taken my head out of the theoretical clouds. Regardless, I think of creating music, essays and other artsy entities as a lifelong pursuit so it’s time to churn out some recent thought dreams, as Bob Dylan might say. Let’s hope nobody puts my head in a guillotine…

In January of 2008, I proudly declared in my personal journal: “IT’S ALL ABOUT ART.” Perhaps “it” is not that simple, for eating, sleeping, loving others and making a living are all pretty necessary. But I still believe that being a part of artistic endeavors is one of the main reasons I get up in the morning. That and teaching Hong Kong babies their ABCs.

But as is the case with most things in life, there must be a balance in artistic participation. I could spend my whole life watching movies, looking at paintings, listening to music and reading books, but that would not be balanced. That is a purely internal experience and wouldn’t do much good for anyone but myself. Since I have the tools and the talents to put my own work forward, it’s my responsibility to do so and recognize this balance. To me, it feels only fair to do my part as a matter of respecting the multitude of artistic traditions I drink from on a daily basis.

This is a small-scale example of a more broad life philosophy I have in the importance of giving back what you get from the world. I personally love multi-billionaire Warren Buffett’s pledge to give 99% of his assets to charity and hope to do something similar when I’m older. If hard work, luck, and/or fate give you good fortune, you should eventually pass that on to others. This is also related to my extreme disdain for opulence in a world chock-full of poverty, but let’s not get too deep into this proletariat rabbit hole. 

I believe one of the best results of the modern boom of technology is the Internet’s ability to let anyone be a creator. And one of Facebook’s most useful functions is its ability to let people advertise their own creativity for free on a forum that’s widely used. Obviously this is exploited, like just about every good idea by anyone ever, but in theory, the Internet is supportive for people creating art.

So getting back to the idea of inhaling and exhaling art with a balance, I try to think like this to keep myself on track. Listening to a great album is enough of a satisfying positive experience in itself, but it has the potential for infinite inspiration. This is one of the countless reasons why art is so effing great. Not only was Pet Sounds an ear opening musical breakthrough for the Beach Boys; it also inspired Sgt. Pepper.

I had a lazy Sunday today and let my train of thought charge into this dark tunnel. It seemed appropriate to put my ideas out there for others and not be a hypocrite. I'll end with a lovely quote that's been going around the web lately. Perhaps a simpler, more eloquent explanation of why being creative is worth it. From an artist I revere, Kurt Vonnegut:

"If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”


  1. My junior high school band teacher once said it best: (he might have stolen this quote, but) "Life is Art and Art is Life." There was a sign with this quote and a circle of two ouroboros arrows. One was pointing to a stick figure that represented life. The other was pointed to music notes, obviously art.

    The beauty of it was the balance of the two. Life is supposed to influence your consuming of art and art washes away the dust of life.

    It's too bad that I didn't fully understand this at the time. Now that I've recently come to understand this concept, it makes my art feel more fulfilling when I am able to create.

  2. I really like that metaphor, 'Washes away the dust of life.' And it sounds like you had a cool middle school band teacher! I'm envious as I had two horrible ones. One totally crazy and senile, the other knew nothing about music.