The other day I was talking with someone about Art and the reason why conservatives and the political right dismiss and are even contemptuous of artists. The reason is not aesthetic, i.e., it’s not simply that they don’t like a given work, although they may not. There is something else going on, something systematic.
The ability we have to think affects how we think about the world. So it follows that how we think about the world affects that world that we see. So if our reasoning has everything to do with how we think about our world than it is the specific thinking process we use that tempers our understanding of the world.
The new conservative model, as scene in the Harper government or the Bush administration, is not logical, rather it is a way of understanding the world. It is not logical because it adheres to the methods of its own system, as apposed to an objective system. There is rational being used, i.e., they are “rationalising” their position (as I am) but they are not being logical; which, in their defence, they never say they are.
A recent example of this lack of logical rational (as apposed to biased rational) was the decision to build more prisons and in so doing combat crime. This idea was met with opposition do to the ineffectiveness of the prescribed goal of stopping crime. But in truth, it was never about stopping (or starting) crime it was about defending a position because that position defines you and your group. It was a prayer for the conservative church, a proclamation for the conservative team, a sound out for the cult of the conservative. In short, it was never about crime. This is why the conservative reaction to to any opposition was so black and white (with us or against us; for crime against crime) which answers the question, why are the conservatives restricted to such a binary way of looking at the world, because the underlying goal is not logical it is in defence of a tribe. Thus by avoiding any opposing view to their argument they affirmed themselves as members of a group, a group that, like all groups, believes they are in the right. But it is this restricted capability to understand that which is outside of the conservative group that leaves them incapable of understanding Art and more generally the creative process.
So to sum up thus far, the notion that crime is dealt with exclusively by increasing the number of jails is irrational, and as I stated above, this reflects the limitation to the conservative thought process to look at the facts and logically unpack a response that is more than, you are either with us, or for crime. But, as I also mentioned above, the conservative goal is only to affirm the conservative group, no more. Partisan politics is clear in this regard, party before everything else. If I am a conservative in opposition I will disagree with the Liberals who are in government, but, when I am a conservative in government I will do the same things, because it was about partisanship, and defending my group.
So if it is common knowledge that prisons do not reduce crime; moreover the cost is heavy both socially and financially, but the conservative thought process is directed towards protracting their partisan view, than any discussion that contradicts their view is threat to their group. So, naturally they need to defend their group and they do it with what I call an “action-idea.” I uses this term because the idea is defined not by its content but by its use, its action. So the idea maybe logically flawed but the goal is not to have a logically sound idea it is to have “action” to say, you are either with us or against us, and that’s it. So anything that doesn’t fit their regiment and as such is something which threatens their group is to be, at the very least, viewed with suspicion of and quite often dogmatically opposed to.
So an action idea has a real function, it is something that is defined not by the merits of the idea but that gives the impression of control, of taking charge. It is like a slogan, but it appears to have moral merit. Thus the most important attribute is that it reflects the strength of the person with the residue of reason.
Favouring the appearance of strength works very well in todays world of sound bites, discussions and debate do not. Thus there is a reason to be unreasonable. What remains are not the merits, the logical building blocks of a reasoned and apprehended concept of the world but rather appearance conviction without the content. Making the action is more important than the content, hence - action-idea..
more to come - I am rethinking this blog, I hope to present my thoughts more susinctly.
Recently a piece I wrote for Tuba and Piano - entitled: Tuba King - was performed by tubist Eric Probst at the University of Toronto. Originally written in 2008 the work sat on my shelf, but it remained on my mind.
I wrote the piece, at least in part, because I play the double bass and have a natural affinity for "bass" instruments but also becuase bass instruments are not showcased as often, or in the way I think they could be.
It has been my experience that composers are somewhat at a loss with bass instruments, consciously on unconsciously trying to impose the tradition of, say,the great violin or piano concertos. The results sound insecure, I believe becuase the thought processes behind the work biased outside of convention. For this reason, bass instrumentsare treated as musically obscure whereas, in actuality, the bass is an important voice that may have significant formal implications on a work. When understood as such the tuba presents itself as both a unique and expressive voice. For this reason, and because I love the majestic quality of the tuba, I was, and remain, moved to write works for the tuba. However, in the case of Tuba King, each time I scheduled a reading work something came up and the reading was cancelled and as such it sat on my shelf, until recently.
The fact that the work sat on my shelf wasn't a problem, it happens all of the time - it's just a part of being a composer more will be written than played. Thus, I tend to - or at least try to - view these obstacles, or realities, as necessary, albeit externally imposed, breaks - and I do so if for no other reason than it is pointless to be frustrated and impatient about the life of a work outside of my studio. So the piece sat on my hard drive, occasionally I would return to it and think about it, tweek things and put it away again.
When the opportunity to hear Tuba King played presented itself I had lived with it for a few years. Even so, changes were made over the course of the rehearsal period; including lenghting and revising the phrasing and changing the key of the work to find the best place for it to sit in the tuba's range - all of which, I hope, helped the work. But what happened after this work was performed is interesting and, at leat to me, exciting.
My composition mentor at U of T - Alexander Rapoport - recommended that I write something for the university Tuba Choir, which is currently underway. Then, as chance would have it, a friend - Terra Hazelton - was asking me what I was writing, I told her about the piece for Tuba Choir and after exclaiming - what's that? She mentioned it to a mutual friend - Ernesto Cervini - who runs the Hart House Jazz Band at U of T who told me that they have a tubist in the ensemble would is playing bass trombone, but would like a work for the band that features Tuba, so, here I am, writing a piece for Big Band that features Tuba.
In the coming weeks I will post about the works, there progress, the rehearsal process and so forth. What is interesting is how a short work for Tuba and Piano, that, after the initial breakdown of getting the first reading fell through, as did the subsequent attempts, that now there seems to be an opportunity to write more for this instrument - an instrument I have developed a great affection for over the past few years.