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.
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.
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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