Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Monthly Archives: April 2021

Your Unique Filter

Everything you experience and all you create passes through this filter. The filter is you, but it’s deeper than your consciousness. It’s made up of everything that goes into it.

This is why no two people will ever come up with the same thing, even if they try. The more specific and developed your filter is, the more unique its sensibility becomes.

But…

The paradox is that this uniqueness actually makes whatever passes through it more, not less, interesting to other people.

The more specific you are, the more charismatic you become to others.

Welcome to the Club

“A man in a suit, wearing beautifully shined shoes, took me aside and gave me his business card. He was a veterinarian, and explained that becoming a vet in France was not an easy process. He’d applied to the academy seven times before being accepted. In celebration his advisers and instructors had thrown a party in his honor in one of the laboratories.

They’d drunk wine, and the group had congratulated him roundly on his entry into the program. And at some point someone had given him a glass of wine doctored with a sedative. Because this is the tradition. He’d fallen asleep, and they’d removed his clothes and trundled his naked, sleeping body into a fetal position. Then they’d carefully, meticulously tucked him and stitched him into the gutted belly of a newly dead horse. “When you wake,” he told me, “you have no idea where you are at.” Your head pounds from the sedative. You’re shivering with cold. It’s dark and stinks so horribly you can’t take a deep breath. You’re compressed so tightly you can’t move, and you want to vomit but there’s not even space for that. Still, you can hear voices.

Beyond this dark, cramped space your professors and advisers are still having their party, and the moment they see you move inside the tight skin of the horse they begin to shout. “So, you think it’s so easy to be one of us!” they shout. They taunt, “You can’t just fill out some papers and become a veterinarian!” From all around you, unseen, they shout, “You’ve got to fight to join our profession!” As they demand you fight, calling, “Fight! Fight!” you begin to struggle and push against whatever is binding you.

And as you claw a hole in the tough, dead hide you feel someone press a glass of wine into your bloody hand. Slowly, you’re forced to birth yourself, naked and bloody, from this dead animal. And once you’re out your companions cheer you and accept you with genuine warmth, and you continue, naked and bloody, to celebrate, having earned your place in their ranks.

This man in Paris, with his business card and shined shoes, explained why the tradition exists. This grotesque, age-old ritual. Because it creates a shared baseline experience that will someday be a comfort. In the future, no matter how many beautiful little puppies or kittens die under your care, no matter how heart wrenching your job might feel, it will never feel as horrible as waking up inside a cold, dead horse.”

– Chuck Palahniuk

The Iterative Process

The more you run something through the filter of who you are – not the filter of your consciousness, but the filter of you that existed before you were born, the you that exists with no ego, the pure you – the more personal and unique it becomes. It’s a paradox that the more specific your art is, the wider its appeal.

The you with no ego is important – ego just gets in the way. You don’t need to understand and be able to explain everything. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. There’s a reason why David Lynch doesn’t talk about his work.

The application of a thousand tiny changes will morph anything that starts out anonymous and clunky into something like a diamond – a pure expression filled with mystery and truth, timeless, undeniable.

Grinding it out, one small change at a time.

I’ll warn you, though – it’s not for the faint of heart. You’ve got a be willing to play a long game and listen to what your voice is telling you. Even if you don’t understand it.

The rewards are worth it.

Here’s a Weird Corollary For You

When I write, often I’ll transfer what I’m working on to my iPhone — there’s something about reading your stuff on a different medium, preferably in a different place, that makes the flaws obvious. I’ll make edits, then transfer these changes back to the copy on my computer.

When producing music, particularly at the mixing stage, you want to listen to it on different playback devices in environments outside the studio. Doing so makes the flaws obvious.

Same process, different modes of expression.

Perhaps the change in environment is the biggest factor.

Just a thought.

The Meaning of Life

“(Kurt) Vonnegut quotes his son Mark, and gives an answer to what he believes is the meaning of life:

“We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

Sounds plausible to me. In fact, as a 64 year-old atheist and ER nurse who has seen more than his share of tragedy and needless human suffering, I’d say this is spot-on.

The beauty of it is, you don’t even have to be good at helping others – you get points for just trying.

Priming Your Pump

Here’s another reason for showing up every day and engaging in whatever creative endeavor you’ve chosen: You know those days where you don’t feel like doing anything, where it seems like everything you create is shite?

Well, those days are stimulating the neural pathways necessary to create cool stuff – they’re mapping out new grooves for novel ideas.

In other words, those shitty days are priming the pump to make the good shit.

Just be patient.

It’s coming.

Why Everyone Needs Access

“Giving better hardware and software to one smart individual is helpful, but the real benefits come when everyone has them. Our current technological explosion is a result of billions of people using those cognitive tools.”

– Ted Chiang

I Was Stuck

Everywhere I went led me to where I didn’t want to be.

– Paul Simon

Check this out: Paul Simon on Dick Cavett talking about writing “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Brilliant and candid.

Magic.

Patterns (Part 2)

“The series lays out how Hemingway stripped away excess from his language so that the reader would supply the emotion and thus feel it more deeply. He was inspired by Paul Cézanne, who would repaint the same view to find new ways of seeing it. He admired Bach for his mastery of repetition and used the device to rhythmic, incantatory effect in his prose.

– James Poniewozik, from the New York Times article “Hemingway Is a Big Two-Hearted Reconsideration”