I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
August 17, 2017 - 11:21 a.m.
I woke up early today. I should be finishing writing now, not just starting. It would help if I knew what I was going to write about. We'll soon find out.
I didn't leave the house yesterday, not even to get ice cream. On the other hand, I did read scary emails, posted more Falcon Ridge pics, and prepared photos for my new Hudson West Folk Festival Instagram. you should follow us on Instagram and more importantly go to the festival. Notice there's an ad for it at the bottom of this page. Follow its siren song and buy tickets.
Yesterday I linked the Southern Poverty Law Center's Ten Ways to Fight Hate on my Facebook and here. Erika read it and took it to heart. One of the ways is to pick up the phone and discuss it with a friend. Erika asked if we could talk, I of course said yes, and we made our plans to change the world. I am terrible at initiating action, my anxiety gets in the way, Erika is good at it. Maybe with her pushing I can do something. We discussed scaling down the mass actions I suggested here yesterday to things we could manage. Small events in our neighborhoods. Sadly, what I'm best at is sitting here and writing. No, it's not sad. It is what I'm good at. It's a way for me to use my talents to do good.
My plan was to write about supporting the ACLU in their defense of the right of Unite the Right to have the rally in Emancipation Park. I do support it but there are complexities I'm not informed enough to discuss. They have to do with the specifics of the city's concerns not with the message of the rally but with safety concerns based on the number of people attending. I'm going to save this for another day and for now just refer you to the Mencken quote at the top of the page. Instead I'm going to write about something completely different.
I see I have a note in my "diary ideas; "Photographers and Singers don't get credit." I don't mean that they can't take out loans, though many can't partially because they don't get the credit I'm talking about so they don't have money. Photography and singing don't seem to have much in common but they have this; they are arts that people don't realize are arts. I have done my, lack of respect for singers, rant before. I have heard music lovers, hell I've heard musicians, belittle singers that don't play instruments or write songs. They'll say, "She just sings," like that was nothing.
Photographers experience something similar; people think that it's nothing more than pointing the camera and shooting. They will think that a professional photographer's pictures are better than theirs because of better equipment. They don't realize that a great photographer can take a better picture with her phone than most people can with a Leica.
The problem is that everybody can sing and everyone can take pictures so they think it's just a matter of degree. It's not like playing violin or painting which most people can't even do badly. People think they could sing as well as Rhiannon Giddens if they were blessed with her vocal cords. They could take pictures as good as Annie Leibowitz if they had her camera.
The arts single and photography are subtle. I'm not a photographer or a singer so I can't tell you what it is that they do. I know that a photographer can take a subject and the singer a song and make it her own. There are many technical skills involved but it's more than that. We have all heard singers that hit all the right notes but come off as a juke box. Billie Holiday had only a one octave range but that's all it took for her to take you inside her head, to make you feel what she feels.
I've been posting my photos from Falcon Ridge and I can see the difference even if I don't know what it is. I see how my pictures are much better than the snapshots of the masses but not as good as Fred's or other gifted amateurs and Fred and mine are not in the class of Jake, Neale, Bri, or the other pros.
I love listening to music with musicians. They know what's going on. On hearing, someone I was not fond of the musician I was with said, "People confusing volume with quality." A powerful voice is not the same as being a good singer. A beautiful voice is not the same as being a good singer.
I can do a better job of convincing myself I'm a good photographer than singer. It helps that I have some training in photography, though I was just a kid but even more it's having less experience judging photography. I heard so much music that I know what's good and I know what to listen for. I hear I don't have it. I can't even stay on pitch. I can take a photo that's in focus but there's much more to photography than that. I'm not running myself down. I'm quite proud that more than a few musicians have asked to use the pictures I took for publicity. Nobody is ever going to ask to use my singing. The only song request I ever get is to sing, "Far Far Away."
No matter what horrors go on in the world, life goes on, and the horrors are but a small part of it. Never let them stop you from appreciating all the good. Don't feel guilty about enjoying them and don't criticize others for focusing on them. Hand wringing and suffering are not a measure of your moral value or even how much you care.
Now it's time for breakfast. I finished this early. That's good. Tonight, I'm making the long trek to the Owl in Brooklyn; Robinson & Rohe are releasing their new album, Hunger. Based on what I've heard them do live it will make my best of the year list.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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