the vices, the vibes

A few thoughts for April, having made it past April Fool’s, the NYC miniquake, and making it right up to the eclipse.

I’ve been reading books about “focus”, of late, having mine damaged by some combination of age, the pandemic, getting covid, the internet, etc. Cal Newports’ smug-but-mostly-good text, Deep Work, talks about the power of being bored and letting one’s self be bored (this is also in Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing, and many other places) — and I realized today, while at Nowadays, that “the club”, combined with Nowaday’s bans on phones, is why I tend to have so many good / bad ideas on the dancefloor.

(Today’s Bad Ideas was the music studio as array: four small production studios that have magical moving soundproof walls that can be opened to have a four-point surround setup in a bigger room.)

Further along these lines, this Ted Gioia piece really left me shook, in terms of how fractured I see my own focus — and this response from L.M Sacasas was perhaps even better. As a secret fan of Blaise Pascal, I’m always glad to see him pop up. Sacasas’ mention of acedia, usually translated into English as “sloth”, struck especially hard: “But it may also look like incessant busyness, so long as we are busy at everything but what we really ought to be doing”.

I also made it through Susan Rogers’ book, This Is What It Sounds Like, which is a good read — but starts off discussing “authenticity” in music with a very striking turn of phrase: “Authenticity is the _subejctive_ conviction that the emotion expressed in a musical performance is genuine and uncontrived” — italics mine.

This is sort of amazing, because throughout the rest of the book, Rogers sneaks away from the subjectiveness part, e.g. “To be clear, _Bach’s music is no less authentic than The Shagg’s_” — italics from Rogers. I certainly don’t often think of authenticity (my 2017 least favorite word of the year) as being in the eye of the beholder — probably because it makes talking about music with others very difficult, if you can’t agree on where the band is starting from — but I will have to do so more in the future.