My son is handsome, intelligent, and fit. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my kid. Duh!
This is kind of what a Saturday afternoon in February looks like for us.
One of the reasons the Athenians poisoned Socrates was because he claimed to hear an inner voice, which he dubbed his daimonion, which told him what to do. Socrates believed that his daimonion was the true voice of God, and that everyone has access to these sorts of messages, if they only choose to listen.
In ancient Greece the dominant poetic form, epic, always begins with an invocation to the Muses, the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, patronesses of the arts and literature. The poet would call upon these divinities to sing through them, to ignite their creative flames.
Today the word muse (ancient Greek: Μοῦσαι) has become somewhat problematic, as the millenia have enriched its meaning. You can still invoke the muses at the beginning of your long poem if you want to. But many also take muse to mean any person or object that “inspires” a work, be it a song, picture, or story. Additionally, it has acquired the connotation of the Socratic daimonion, an inner voice that leads the artist or poet down the paths of creation.
For my part, I find that all three are essential, for when present, the three divisions of human nature are present: the invocation is spiritual, the daimonion is of the mind, and the inspirational personage is or was incarnate, be they living or dead. This concept guides me in making decisions about who and what to photograph or write poems to or about.
Where identifying the human subject of a painting, drawing, photograph, poem, or song become problematic is when the humanity of the person goes unrecognized or is overlooked or forgotten. In this case, the muse ceases to be a complete person, and instead becomes an object or canvas onto which the artist may project their ideas.
Typically this objectification results in an imbalanced focus on the body, whereas superior work takes into account the entire person, even if one of the divisions is more heavily emphasized. Superior work is emblematic of something essential to humanity, and will always be something to strive for, something that will continue to inspire me until the day comes when I can work no more, (which will hopefully be the day I die).
I guess you might call that striving my muse.
Today is my Dad’s birthday! Here are some pictures I took on a recent outing to Paris Mountain State Park with him and Danny.
Non-musical components have always been included in musical compositions. To go beyond the boundaries of normal or acceptable parameters in an art form is to explore, it is akin to scientific experiment, takes courage and commitment, and when most successful, the attempt can shed light into the dark corners of the soul. Whereas philosophy also often takes as its subject the intricacies of human nature, it seeks to evaluate its findings, in contrast to art, which is revelatory.
In a series of theoretical essays which I will post here on my blog, I will attempt to set down a theoretical basis for the inclusion of such components, including definitions of relevant terms, structural functions, procedures, a conceptual framework, along with some examples and quasi-philosophical method of evaluating preëxisting work.
When complete, the essays will form a larger whole, which will be a unit within a larger music theory manuscript. The sections within the unit consist of the following:
Linguistic: Prefix considerations - naming conventions (a-, anti-, non-)
Definitions: music, rhythm, melody, harmony; nonmusic, nonmelody, nonharmony
Purpose - why nonmusic: outside of normal or acceptable parameters, derangement
As a conceptual framework
As a set of procedures
Evaluating nonmusic in music criticism
Relation to common practice and examples
For now you can stream as much of my music as you want without paying, but if you want to help me keep strings on my guitar and food in my fridge, well, I’m also offering a hefty 10% off when you purchase my entire catalogue for download - 37 releases so far!
Each of us is the unreliable narrator of our own lives. After all, it’s easier to see and judge the actions of others than it is to do so for ourselves. Some of us are our own best friends, some of us are our own worst enemies, none of us are to be trusted.
Especially don’t trust me when you read my prose ramblings. Like you, I am the unreliable narrator of my own life. I’m just better at writing it down than you are. That you can believe, but when I talk about plans for the future, pass unwarranted critique on things, philosophize, or generally essay anything in writing, you as the reader may never know if what I’m writing is sincere.
Sincerity in writing has its uses. It’s a device. But writing that is unfailingly sincere is tedious beyond measure. That’s why I hate so many of the songs that I hear, poems I read, and other poorly conceived work. It’s not the sincerity per se, it’s the inability to cope with the lasagna model (remember, the universe is nothing but a lasagna composed of infinite layers of meaning).
All of my work is noise. Like many children born each day on this planet, nobody wants it, but it insists on existing anyway. It has a will of its own, and you must learn to treat it as you would that gossiping cousin you can’t wait to catch up with every holiday.
Antonio Milian is an artist and photographer living in Greenville, SC.
I stopped by Kymberly Day’s opening reception last night, where she was showing paintings and sculpture. Ms. Day is a 2017 graduate of the MFA program at Clemson, and her figural work depicts people and animals in dreamlike way.
See her paintings and sculptures at kymberlyday.com.
For years as a teenager I focused on teaching myself music theory with as much energy, enthusiasm, and attention to detail as a trekkie would expend learning the ins and outs of warp drives. I tried to take theory classes when I got to college, but was told that my knowledge would place me out of them. I took them anyway and reënforced what I’d already learned.
As a songwriter, of primary interest to me has always been a hook, or a distinctive and memorable piece constructed of words and music together. These are a dime a dozen, easily made, and it always shocks me that more songwriters in my local music scene do not incorporate such a basic, entry-level method of making their music listenable. The majority of bands around here seem to have no concept of what a hook is, how to construct one, or how to incorporate it into a song’s design, and most of the ones who do write asinine, saccharine hooks that only the most unsophisticated listeners would find moving or compelling.
Even worse are the high-school journal keeper types who insist upon emoting their humdrum lives in song in a way that would better serve the world in the privacy of therapy. Greenville, South Carolina abounds with these types of musical dross.
If you’re reading this, then of course you’re excluded from all of the above blanket statements. You wouldn’t stoop to crafting such trite, forgettable, and meretricious nonsense, now would you?
In spite of a theoretical background (or perhaps because of it, who can say for sure?) the concept of noise, specifically when defined as unwanted sound, has always appealed to me. There is a perverse, transgressive pleasure in defining all of my sonic output as noise. It frees my guitar to howl like Allen Ginsberg on crack. (I don’t know if Ginsberg was ever a crackhead, but in my Mirror Universe, “crack” is the hypothetical fuel of all the wild and wonderful poetic crazies of history, the bards, the shamans, the heretics, the martyrs, the visionaries.)
It also frees me to make whatever I damn well please, as what I make is allowed to come into the world without regard for whether it suits the taste of anyone, living or dead. All of it comes through, be it angelic or demonic, and all of it is noise, foisted upon an unwelcoming world.
I am 200,000 years old and I will never age
In yesterday morning’s traffic my eye caught this truck, with its distinctive signage. It occurred to me that I should capture this in a photograph, and I fortunately had a camera with me in the front seat of my car. But by the time I had the camera switched on, the truck had pulled far ahead in traffic, and innumerable cars were between it and me.
So I did what any sensible photographer would do and wove in and out of traffic, speeding and slowing down until I was finally close enough to take a picture.
I don’t believe in spirit animals.
But that doesn’t keep me from having one. Several, in fact. They include the snake, the wolf, and the phoenix, that glorious bird of ancient Greek myth that burned itself to death and came back to life over and over again.
And then there’s the hawk, like the wolf, an outlaw. A true bird of prey, unlike the carrion-feasting eagle, the hawk often has negative symbolic connotations. Ironic, huh? That’s why it’s my favorite bird.
And also because it will just shred a squirrel or other small prey animal, as seen in these pictures I took when a hawk decided to have its lunch right outside our office today.