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.