According to tonight’s procrastination scan of the BBC, two of the UK’s more pressing problems (suitable for international digestion) are that the advertisements are too loud and the booze in Wales is too cheap. What’s next? The ocean’s dangerously refreshing and the English language is too widespread?
“Shame about the Benadryl. I love me the Benadryl, and Jason was also pretty cool.”
“Or, as I like to call it, ‘The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.'”
“…I wish there existed a word somewhere between ‘soured’ and ‘dead.'”
St. Michael’s Dome-crown
hill-top lip tower over
tene-domi- -ciles not
so jewish not so junk
chic 70s gentrile-fied
trafficked ghost deline-
-ation ghost bikes truck
black zoom noise sewn
light lines j-dash
unsystem tra- -‘triffic
Plat-centric vue Avevue
Rachel iglesia d’espagne
zoom-car park lot
festi-limo streamer stream
line lights lit-tred/rature
scrolled on brick page
ghost lit rue-signs
at stitches over doors
rich/er ppl. dwollicile
here ghost decades
deca-bles /dents historical
iglesia Place d’aux Armes
Aldred fntn. lumed
If I open this with the words: “Quality Non-Proliferation” you become immediately engaged exactly as you (I’d hope) become immediately alienated from the idea. Bad word string shock.
The later 20th century writing ethos was that if you fancied yourself a writer by trade the only possible way that you could justify your claim was by writing. By the mere act of sitting at your computer and typing your fingers bloody, or by breaking your pencils against cheap notebooks folded in half for support, could you tap into your creativity. Some writers took this as far as they could: Charles Bukowski is my repeated example of a man that did very little but write. When he had nothing to write about, he often resorted to writing about writing, or writing about writers. While this philosophy produced at least one notable great, it–like many–produced many notable casualties. Jack Kerouac swings above the gallows alongside rows that naively expressed their support for the ideology, would kill for it, and were killed by it.
The largest block to such a writing philosophy is that while it may produce some innovative approaches to situations and ideas, it produces on average a great deal more simple inanity. Proponents of the idea, and most post-modern prosthetics, ask: “Inanity in who’s eyes? What historical precedent does the critic have to make judgments of the quality of work produced in this, or any, manner? How does anyone exist as both subject and object to study and examination?”
Some would crucify Bukowski and beatify Kerouac. Bukowski described Kerouac as: “a writer who couldn’t write but who got famous because he looked like a rodeo rider.” Some love them both as revolutionaries of a people’s art. Many quite justifiably hate them both as hacks, narcissists, or at best uninformed dilettantes. I use some very simple criteria to determine why Kerouac remains a failure in my eyes: he shows the emotional maturity of a sixteen year old girl without the awareness Bukowski has of it.
One thing is that they were both undeniably creative men. My criticism of them is based on the qualities that they have, some I determine favourable with my cognitive bias, others I consider quite ill. Neither of these say much in regard to their quality, as if that had some sort of ladder that the snakes of objectivity could coil up and down (Fitzgerald once commented on how amongst our friend group the term “objective” could cause us to groan or wince as though it were a grade 9 homework assignment or a graphic description of a rape).
Koan no. 43 of the Mumonkoan appears as: “Master Shuzan held up his staff, and showing it to the assembled disciples said, ‘You monks, if you call this a staff, you are committed to the name. If you call it not-a-staff, you negate the fact. Tell me, you monks, what do you call it?”
That staff could very well be the notion of quality as it would appear in any superlative model of literary criticism, or a superlative model of literary criticism that could render the idea of quality as anything beyond physical or intellectual qualities (properties) reasonable.
By now you are wondering what I am getting at. Am I suggesting the non-proliferation of the idea of quality? Perhaps, but not exactly. When I sat down to write this, I had full intention of addressing Quality and Quantity as we deal with the notions creatively, and on this blog.
In a TED.com talk by Tim Brown, CEO of the “information and design” firm IDEO, about Creativity and Play, an activity in a 1960’s study on creativity produced a great deal of “Sorries” from the participants, showing exactly how we fear the judgment of our peers. The activity was to, I assume in university classroom originally, draw the person immediately beside you in 30 seconds. This was repeated during the TED Talk, and produced a large number of apologies from the audience to one another. The drawings were likely poor quality, and perhaps did little justice of their subject – or much worse, they did tremendous justice to their subject. Brown tells you that if a child were to draw even a much poorer quality picture, they would be proud enough to show it off as a masterpiece. One thing that changes as we age is the fear of how our creative pursuits will be accepted and judged by our peers, and this is an enormous inhibiting factor on our desire and ability to create.
One brainstorming rule that Tim Brown promotes in his own design firm is that quantity should be the goal over quality. Quality, as we can see, is intrinsically linked to judgment and criticism. To do some of our most creative thinking this is what has to be overcome. This sentiment echoes Tony Pierce’s words about how if you think you’re a good writer, write twice a day, for the public (Ezra Pound even says something similar in his ABC’s of Reading).
What has killed this blog a number of times is “having nothing to say” or being uncomfortable about writing “on the spot” (while sober). When I speak of Quality Non-Proliferation, then, I am saying that we should write here as though we are brainstorming, aiming to produce content with quantity in mind. It won’t be long before one of us produces a turd. Alternatively, it won’t be long before we collectively produce a paper-chain of genius. Many chances to be creative produces more genuine moments of creativity than very few or severely limited chances.
Stop trying to produce quality work. Draw more dicks with moustaches.
“Graveyard ain’t no place for dancin’,
and it ain’t no place for sweet romance,
try and make a tombstone for your bed
& that sweet little lady might wind up dead”
– Graveyard, by Bad Uncle. See: Bad Uncle on MySpace
A couple of the Unsettlers get drunker and dirtier with a couple of other musicians — I saw them for the first time playing the Grumpy’s stage on St. Patrick’s. O the whiskey, did the whiskey ever flow so low in so many bottles?
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m taking ma blonde to the Cimitiere-des-Neiges for a dance with the deceased.
Poisoning yr. whiskey bottles since the fall of the Berlin Wall,