Thursday, July 3, 2008

Today's quote: "Art is a means by which your experience is processed into aesthetic statement"

From one of my favorite essayists: Albert Murray: From the Briarpatch File: On Context, Procedure, and American Identity:

What you're dealing with is chaos, you're dealing with nada, you're dealing with entropy, and that's what makes the blues central to my work. The blues puts a form on you and enables you to cope with entropy.
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In your society, in your lifestyle which is based on your survival technique, there are these things that you have to come to terms with in order to have a satisfactory existence. That's how music, painting, and other art forms, for example, come into existence in a particular idiom. In the idiom I grew up in, music played a big role. Music actually functioned to enable people to survive. It is about what is around you.
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The music is a basic part of the ritual that enabled people to survive in whatever predicament they found themselves. We might be talking about a primordial tribe or another group of people here or there. Whatever the case, people would evolve something equivalent to what I am trying to establish in my writing as something symbolic of American behavior. Improvisation, frontier exploration, resilience--these are the basic elements of American behavior. One of my favorite quotations from Constance Rourke about our objective is this: "to provide emblems for a pioneer people who require resilience as a prime trait." You can't get a better definition of swinging than that. Resilience. So art symbolizes lifestyles. Dance is an art. How do they dance? They know that there is a formalized dance, but they dance a loose, resilient, improvisational dance. That's American behavior. That's why I say there is a quintessential American music. We're talking about that group of Americans who synthesize the American experience in a way that really represents the American attitude toward experience. The frontiersman, the early settler--the spirit of that is what is in jazz.

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