Few things in life can be so rejuvenating as when one throws all common sense aside and surrenders to natures way of cleansing and starting fresh. (Ok, before this gets any sappier and starts to sound like Readers Digest babble, we will get to the (a) point.) You see there is a connection between walks in the rain and great music.
We stumbled upon this revelation in the romantic old section of Quebec City. That trip was special for two reasons. The first being one of the several times we enjoyed a walk in the rain, while the second being the first time we heard the sonic canvas of Lhasa. Her luscious and moody first album, La Llorona. Can you see the connection forming?
You see just as all voluntary walks in the rain are unforgettable experiences, permanently etched in your brain, the same is true with all great musical discoveries. We all have these memories as if they were yesterday. We remember not only when and where we were, but also how we felt at that moment.
Is this not a wonderfully subjective way to determine what is great music. If you can remember clearly the day when you first heard it, then for you it must be great music. Forget all the top ten lists and music reviews that are as numerous as drops of rain, and trust your own musical experiences.
Great music and walks in the rain do not follow common sense. Both should be personally experienced and passionately romanticized.
So if your last great musical encounter was long ago, then isn’t time to have another? Perhaps its also time you went for a walk in the rain, preferably with someone you love. Stay original… it’s more romantic that way.
Bob Geldof wrote in the song Room 19: “When I woke up I was freezing… I was stuck up on a shelf with the other guys in room 19. Tchaikovsky played the music, Pasternak wrote the poetry, Lenin never shut up talking, and every talk became a speech.”
The idea that all the brains of these great Russian thinkers and artists preserved in glass jars and on a shelf in room 19 waiting to be studied is an interesting one. It begets the question: What makes great thinkers, leaders and artists? Does it really have to do with the brain and intellect? Do these people really have superior brains? Perhaps it has less to do with the brain and more to do with the heart. (Although this view could be simply be a result of our diminished brainpower. But please read on…
From the earliest of man’s history, the heart has being used in a figurative sense referring to the inner man. “Among the Semites . . . all that was peculiar to man, in the category of feelings as well as intellect and will, was attributed to the heart. It is the sum total of the interior man as opposed to the flesh, which is the exterior and tangible man.”The Metaphorical Use of the Names of Parts of the Body in Hebrew and in Akkadian, by E. Dhorme, Paris, 1963, pp. 113, 114, 128 (in French).
For example, history tells us that Napoleon Bonaparte once ordered his own army to stand still while he rode ahead to face the opposing army of 6,000. He dismounted and walked up to the barrier of men and their guns. Their commander ordered them to fire, but in awe of the man standing before them, not one shot was fired. There is no question that Napoleon Bonaparte was a bold and courageous man, and whether for the good or bad he changed the course of human history.
Was he great because of his superior brainpower and intellect? No one can say for sure, but at least in this one instant we can say that what he did was just plain stupid. One single shot could have ended his return to power in France. We can say with great certainty however that he had heart. He had a purpose that he believed in with all of his heart. (To bring the Holy Roman Empire to it’s end. Which in fact did happen in 1806. Just in case you care.)
If we were to extend this investigation to other great men and women of history, we would most likely find that all the great thinkers and artists of all time, from Da Vinci, Einstein and Stephen Hawking (well at least he had the moral integrity to admit he was wrong), to Mozart, Liszt (there is a only a handful of people in the world that can play his original pieces, and yet he loved the subtle music of his friend Chopin) and Chopin, to Renoir, Monet, and Rembrandt, all had the same thing in common, they all had heart. (Some were probably a little loopy as well, that always helps.) They had a purpose that went far beyond intellect. Something so intangible as this can only be attributed to the heart. The sum total of the interior man. Stay original… have heart.
Substance. There is a serious lack of it in modern day popular culture. The commercial powers that be, have almost banished artistic integrity from our vocabulary. Wonder bread art rules. It feeds the mouths of the majority but sadly it lacks substance.
The over commercialization of mainstream media, music, film and literature is ruining the artistic appetites of each new generation with fluffy white bread, that has little if any real artistic value. When Mark Eitzel faced the accusation that many people find the songs of American Music Club depressing, he responded by saying that he finds the likes of (we are too nice to say who it is, but just insert the current talent-less propaganda poster girl or boy here) depressing. We agree.
That is why the role that original art plays is more and more valuable in modern society. Artistic integrity IS still alive. It is just that we need to look a little harder and a little deeper to find it. But when we do find it, whether in the form of an inspiring independent film, some brilliant and virtually unknown musical group, or in some obscure author, it is so worth it.
Take for example espresso. (You did not see that one coming, did you?) If you have a decent espresso machine, please don’t settle for the convenience of mass marketed espresso. Rather seek out a good artisan espresso that has substance. We are very passionate about Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso Blend which fuels our studio. If you live in Canada you can have it shipped direct to your door from Caffe Tech based in Edmonton. Better yet, if you are in Edmonton drop by and visit their Italian inspired Cafe.
When we make little choices based on substance instead of advertising, we find nourishment and preserve artistic creativity and integrity. Stay original… choose substance.
Wow, for minimalists we sure make a lot of noise. Search the web and you find all kinds of minimalists spouting off about the virtues of “less is more” and how “form follows function.” Why even big corporations are putting out minimalist adds in the big glossy rags.
So why, do you ask, do we need another blog on the subject? Because, we minimalists have nothing left in our houses and have driven off all our friends, so we have nothing else to do but extol the virtues of minimalism. No really, the real reason is because of something profound that happened to us recently.
We were talking to some twenty-something year old friends about minimalist music, art and design. (Actually that’s not really true, we were talking about something completely different, but we always look for ways to change the theme of any conversation to minimalist design.) Then I mentioned something about Andy Warhol. Well, when we saw the blank look of confusion on their faces, we realized that these poor under privileged girls had no idea of whom we were talking about. It was even worse then we initially thought.
We mentioned other names to see if any brain synapses were connecting: The Velvet Underground… nothing, American Music Club… zip, The Feelies… nope, Mies Van Der Rohe, Jennifer Sterling… oh my, this is bad, the Latin Playboys… nada. What do they teach in schools these days? Ok, we could see that we had our work cut out for us. So, how do you go about helping a couple of young impressionable minds to appreciate the virtues of minimalist design?
Hand bags. Yes, you read correctly, handbags and other women’s accessories. You see, I recently stumbled upon the website of designer Marc Jacobs, which is a beautiful presentation of minimalist web design, OK granted, too much Flash (no, not the glittery kind, go ask a computer nerd then come back…) but oh so very clean. (Also, not very functional, but who cares, he’s rich and famous.) We just happened to be at a coffee house in Paraguay called Havanna who have Wi-fi and even a couple Apple Macs (Hmm… do we see a connection forming here..) for customer use. As soon as I brought up the Marc Jacobs website, I could see the blank looks disappear followed by instant recognition, and a lot of shouting: “I love Marc Jacobs, they make such cool hand bags.” Mission accomplished.
The moral of the story is the following: minimalism is best appreciated through the simple things in life. Are not the simplest words the most meaningful and powerful: love, home, family, friends, and iPod. (Just kidding.) The point is: everyone is minimalist at heart; they just don’t know it yet. Perhaps there is too much clutter in their lives for them to see it. You see, that’s why we minimalists have to make so much noise. Stay original… be minimal.