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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000374.txt from 2005/05

From: (Ormondtoby Montoya)
Subj: Re: [kl] A posting made at another's request
Date: Wed, 25 May 2005 12:22:58 -0400

Mark wrote:

> An artist that obsesses about their tools will
> be an artist that finds their limits.

> An artist that understands their tools will be
> an artist with no limits.

Point taken.

The question, however, is where to draw the line between "understanding"
and "obsession", and whether investigating the tools is more likely to
become obsessive than investigating the history.

Frankly, when I compare the emotional intensity of some posts here about
Wagner vs. some posts about reeds, it's not clear to me which were the
most obsessive.

It is possible to enjoy music without knowing its history. Or to
appreciate Picasso without knowing about paint brushes. Can other
knowledge be a distraction from the art itself?

Even in grade school, I rebelled (inwardly) against my teacher who
claimed that I needed to appreciate history in order to understand art.
I told myself (because I didn't dare say it aloud to her) that I was
living in the here and now, and the teacher seemed obsessed about water
that had long since flowed under the bridge.

It happens that the Ring Cycle was a prime example in my case. I had
asked my grandmother to give me the entire set of records for a birthday
present (which she did), and I believed the operas were a portrayal of
Scandinavian mythology, which fascinated me. Nothing else. I wrote
at least two high school essays and one college essay about the
'philosophy' contained in this mythology (as I saw it). Racism did not
enter into the picture for me at the time.

I'm not proposing an answer to the question about "obsessive". I'm
only pointing out that the argument can be applied to almost any aspect
of almost any activity. For example:

"An artist who obsesses about history will be an artist who finds their
limits in someone else's past. An artist who understands history and
moves on will be an artist with no limits. "

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