The Writing Path

“There is no royal path to good writing; and such paths as do exist do not lead through neat critical gardens, various as they are, but through the jungles of self, the world, and of craft.” — Jessamyn West, Saturday Review, September 21, 1957.

“The writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax.” — Alfred Kazin, Think, February 1963.

The end is near?

For many years now I’ve heard and read of the imminent death of jazz, and this video of Giant Steps played by a robot notwithstanding, I don’t think jazz is ill, let alone dying. However, I do think that the end of the world could come first. John keeps telling me that there’s going to be a real revolution, with average folks taking to the streets, and he may be right. But before that happens, people will have to open their eyes and admit what’s happening. They will have to stop blaming THEM, and take stock of what WE have done, what WE have allowed, and what WE can do about it.

For Love or Money?

Seldom is it that artisans, whatever their metier, choose their career path expecting to earn goo-gobs of cash; fame perhaps, but not fortune. Of course there are those who find fortune…

“I’d rather play Chiquita Banana tonight and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve.” — Xavier Cugat, “Personality” in Time, July 29, 1946

“Only sick music makes money today.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Der Fall Wagner, Section 5

Now some might argue that Cugat is no artisan, but it is interesting to note that those who are dismissed at one time, may later become admired. The Quotations Page reports that the complete Nietzsche quotation is “Only sick music makes money today; our big theaters subsist on Wagner.” Does that put Wagner in Cugat’s boat? Had Mark Twain been around back then he might have quipped:

“Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.”

The line is usually attributed to Twain, but it is not his. Twain uses the line in his Autobiography (1924), but he attributes the quote to popular humorist Edgar Wilson “Bill” Nye. The Quote Verifier, a book by Ralph Keyes, agrees and then cites other sources who quote Nye similarly. Still, the mistaken attribution proliferates exponentially thanks to the Internet.

So, is any of this attribution consternation important? Perhaps…or perhaps not. Whether innocent errors or lack of care, it can be the edge of a slippery slope. Who would have thought that lessons would not be learned after Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair debacles. And after Goddess Oprah flayed James Frey for his fabricated memoir, how is it that a suburban white girl could write a “memoir” about her life as a ghetto gang banger/drug runner and pass it off as true? Hello, is anybody awake out there? Or am I the one who is asleep? They all get lots of publicity and that leads to new book deals or the speakers circuit or maybe even a movie of the week. (Here’s what The New York Times says.)

As for the love or money quandary, I’m still aiming for both — provided I don’t have to slide down the slippery slope.

It’ll never happen to me…oops.

I used to back up my files regularly. When I started blogging I even saved text files of my posts, separate from the database in which the blog software stores my text. Then I got lax, or lazy, and stopped backing up files and seldom saved blog notes. Oops. Now something happened to my data and my last post has disappeared without a trace. I can’t even remember what I wrote. I know it was about another blog titled Jazz My Two Cents Worth and I know I recommended it to you because it’s on my blogroll. I remember perusing some of the earlier two-cents musings and quoting a snippet, and of course highly recommending the interview posted with my favorite Nightingale, Carol Sloane. And I wished her a happy birthday, too. Hopefully my original post was more finely crafted than this hasty recap. (Bob, if by any chance you happened to have saved the text of my original post, please send it to me and I will re-post.)