May 9, 2013

"Do the maths. We can function - sometimes quite brilliantly - on six hours' sleep a night."

"Eight hours of work was more than good enough for centuries (oh the desperate irony that we actually work longer hours since the invention of the internet and smartphones). Four hours will amply cover picking the kids up, cleaning the flat, eating, washing and the various etceteras. We are left with six hours. 360 minutes to do whatever we want. Is what we want simply to numb out and give Simon Cowell even more money? To scroll through Twitter and Facebook looking for romance, bromance, cats, weather reports, obituaries and gossip? To get nostalgically, painfully drunk in a pub where you can't even smoke?"

35 comments:

Scott said...

This guy doesn't enjoy anything.

And yes, Glenn Gould a genius, but he was playing that game that narcissistic smart people play with their acolytes -- say something glib and watch it transmogrify into a Revealed Truth.

Scott said...

Don't you just love the way that Brits say "maths" instead of "math"? So twee.

Shouting Thomas said...

Crucifying yourself for your art is a constant topic of conversation here in my hometown of Woodstock. The more devout among us fashion themselves as martyrs who must be admired, no matter how bad their art, simply because they destroyed their lives in the pursuit of their creativity.

The contempt displayed in this article for the worker ants is pretty common among artists, too. I had to do the worker ant thing to feed my kids. I'm not sorry I did. I collect Social Security and a pension, so I've got 10 or 15 years of freedom ahead of me.

The best part of my training as a musician is that it has given me inner resources that other people don't have. My morning practice is focused on preparing for Sunday services, and that's literally a meditative and prayer session. My 13 minute vocal warmup is, in fact, an incredibly detailed prayer. You cannot be distracted when your hands, your mind and your voice are occupied by a muscle memory chore. By the end of this prayer, I am completely focused and my mind is completely free.

Most days, I ride my bicycle for two hours and my motorcycle for an hour. When I ride the Harley, I don't even bother to map out my route. I just wander.

Worrying about how much or how little I sleep is of no consequence to me at all.

Carol said...

The tell is when you try to ride 50 miles or so on a bicycle. Not good on 6 hours' sleep.

But music, art, creative stuff? Hell yeah.

CEO-MMP said...

Out of curiosity, what 8 hours of work was good enough for centuries?

My ancestors were mostly all farmers. 8 hours was what they got in before lunch.

Factory shifts routinely went more than 8 hours, and usually 6 days a week.

CEO-MMP said...

And by the way: piano players are nutbags. All of them. Most of them will admit it, a few of them embrace it.

A select few manage to have fun with it. This guy doesn't sound like he's in that group.

sydney said...

I don't do well on 6 hours of sleep repetitively. By the end of 3-4 weeks of that I feel like the walking dead. Sometimes I am convinced I have a terminal illness, then I get a good couple of days' sleep and I realize I was just tired.

Ann Althouse said...

Meade questions the apostrophe after "hours" in "six hours' sleep."

Obviously, "maths" shows the guy is British, and who knows what strange apostrophes follow from that.

I presume it's possessive.

My question: Do the hours belong to the sleep or does the sleep belong to the hours?

Scott said...

I quit my job April 11 because I was getting burned out by doing it. Now I'm working just as hard in the pursuit of buying, rehabbing, and selling houses in New Jersey. At the moment I'm enjoying it more. But it's not art so it doesn't count.

CEO-MMP said...

The hours and the sleep both belong to the sleeper.

It could be some weird Brit thing I'm unaware of, I think it's probably a typo. Many people suffer from the disease where the feel an apostrophe goes after any s.

ricpic said...

"Find what you love and let it kill you."

Easy to make fun of but what else defines the life of an artist? Not an artist manque, the real thing. Yes, the strain of asking more of the innards than the innards have to give and asking it day in and day out does kill. Of course those who have committed, those who are helplessly artists feel no self-pity regarding the price. It comes with the territory.

CEO-MMP said...

Scott: why isn't it art?

Don't buy the bullshit that art is something that can only happen with an instrument or brush.


There are carpenters and plasterers and electricians capable of high art. There are those that aren't too.

Shouting Thomas said...

There are carpenters and plasterers and electricians capable of high art. There are those that aren't too.

Some of the artists I most admire are the guys I know who maintain the churches where I play.

Hard to believe, but there are still guys out there who are master stonemasons, stained glass techs and frescos painters and restorers.

Scott said...

The apostrophe placement in British grammar is something like:

** An hour's time.
** Three hours' time.

Apostrophe placement in this case is just custom. It makes no sense at all. And that's why it's English.

wyo sis said...

Today's theme:
Think for yourself. Do something.

C Stanley said...

It's like a good night's sleep, isn't it?

Scott said...

CEO-MMP:

Art is a type of reflective communication. Other stuff is just other stuff.

It is true that in rehabbing a house, the skilled trades create aesthetically beautiful things. But the value in their work in rehabbing a house is primarily practical.

What I object to is the notion that pursuing the creation of art is somehow more noble than engaging in other kinds of work.

I hope that pursuing the "why" of one's life is engaging and fulfilling. But being good at calculating the ARV of rehabbing a three-bedroom home is not more or less noble than learning to play the piano. It's just what you find yourself doing.

Scott M said...

There's been some compelling new research out that suggests that extended, ie years, of six or less hours per night of sleep can dramatically alter your brain's internal structure.

That being said...

Is what we want simply to numb out and give Simon Cowell even more money? To scroll through Twitter and Facebook looking for romance, bromance, cats, weather reports, obituaries and gossip? To get nostalgically, painfully drunk in a pub where you can't even smoke?"

No. Write a book. It takes more stubbornness than talent and there has simply never been a better time to self-publish, if that's your wont.

CEO-MMP said...

"Some of the artists I most admire are the guys I know who maintain the churches where I play.

Hard to believe, but there are still guys out there who are master stonemasons, stained glass techs and frescos painters and restorers."

Indeed. I'm not sure what the exact definition of art is or should be, but watching people work that know what they're doing and love it, and seeing what they've created is art to me.

And Scott, I can dig your definition, I'm just not sure I share it. Art can be practical, just as art can be *wow*, you know?

And I also agree with you that work is work, and I think you might be saying work performed well is all equal?

Scott M said...

I hope that pursuing the "why" of one's life is engaging and fulfilling. But being good at calculating the ARV of rehabbing a three-bedroom home is not more or less noble than learning to play the piano. It's just what you find yourself doing.

I would agree that there's nothing more or less noble about it, but what about a utilitarian approach to art vs craft?

The rehab'd house will benefit one immediate/extended family, maybe the surrounding neighbors, and the craftsmen that worked on it.

Writing a piece of music that becomes popular and widely distributed would have a greater impact on more lives and thus greater utility, no?

C Stanley said...

Hard to believe, but there are still guys out there who are master stonemasons, stained glass techs and frescos painters and restorers."

And ladies, too, don't forget.

Heh. That never fails to make me laugh.

carrie said...

Has the 8 hours of work been the norm for centuries? I think the 8 hour work day and the 5 day work week is a modern invention that doesn't apply to a lot of people like farmers, small business owners, managers, non-unionized professionals , etc. Maybe the 8 hour workday norm should be changed to 9 since people have so much more leisure time these days.

Scott said...

CEO-MMP:

As a publisher, you are certainly aware of the concept of value-added. By merely arranging ink patterns on the pages of a 24-page pamphlet, you can add value that vastly exceeds the cost of the ink, paper, and stitching.

Art has the same relationship to the material world. It adds value. But whether you value the art more than the medium/object that expresses it depends on your own experience.

I bought a very nice blank book from Barnes and Noble that I use for my daily journal. It has a leather cover. It is made in Italy. Is it art? Will it be more art or less art after I fill it with ink marks?

At an art museum many years ago, I saw a burned-out Sunbeam hand mixer sitting on a wooden plinth. The plinth had a card with the title -- "Owl" -- and the artist's name. Did the artist make it art? How did the artist add value? Is his burned-out hand mixer more valuable than mine?

To circle back, art is not more noble than other stuff. Art might have more value to the kind of self-styled aesthetes who read The Guardian; but burning yourself out by learning to play the piano is not inherently more noble than burning yourself out as a specialist securities trader.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I used to feel ashamed that I never learned to play a musical instrument with any proficiency.

Then I saw Five Easy Pieces.

That pretty much cured me.

bagoh20 said...

I do my art while I sleep to save time. Seriously, I dream a lot, and I suppose like a lot of people, it is by far the most creative stuff I do. It's usually so good I can hardly believe my mind is the author. My dreams come up with incredible combinations of things I never would have stumbled upon while awake. Some things seem to be completely original where I can't even conceive of where I got the seed for such an idea. Sometimes a song melody, chord progression, unusual natural formations or animals, and wildly fun characters and plots, not to mention the most beautiful women ever imagined. Even the deformed ones are incredibly sexy artistic versions. Almost always enjoyable, and I rarely have nightmares.

Except for a song that I woke up and played, but soon forgot, most of it is gone within minutes after waking. That's how it works, but I wish I could somehow hold it and experiencing it again, and maybe use it to make something lasting.

This may be nothing more than a form of recreation for aliens or spirits who are sloppy about cleaning up after they play.

Scott said...

And on that note, I have to call a real estate agent in Cherry Hill NJ who sent me some intriguing listings yesterday. See ya.

Ralph L said...

And that's why it's English.
I was going to say it's Creeping Arabic, but most of their Muslims are from India/Pakistan.

cubanbob said...

Stone Age hunter-gatheres spent an average of 8 hours a day acquiring food. The 8 hour workday goes back a long way.

Peter said...

"Find what you love and let it kill you."

Sounds so dramatic! And if there's one thing a classical pianist needs to survive commercially, it's that sense of drama, celebrity, personality, presentation.

Just playing very, very well is not going to do it.

In any case, the value of art often has little to do with the effort required to produce it. Much art has no value because the artist had little talent; all the effort in the universe cannot fix that.

edutcher said...

"Eight hours of work was more than good enough for centuries"?

What planet did this occur?

Try 12 - 14. you worked as long as there was light.

And it was all muscle power.

And that was the way of the world until the beginning of the last century.

Still is, in many places.

Lem said...

I don't know how to do apostrophes and when I tried to Google them it takes for ever to find what I'm looking for... sometimes its a sound and a feel, channeling something that isn't ones own... like Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love.

So, I gave up on apostrophes inside of me... I used to do them when I was ten.

Paul Zrimsek said...

It's a plain old possessive: "sleep of six hours".

Figures that people who wait on lines and live in streets would turn math into maths and sports into sport.

wyo sis said...

"like Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love."

Or like "I ain't noways tired."

John Lynch said...

Reminds me of Patrick Stewart in "The Captains."

The Godfather said...

There's a song by Alabama that praises the hard-working regular Americans for working a 40-hour week, as though that was a lot of work. It's a good song, but bad history and bad sociology -- 40 hours was a REDUCTION of what the evil capitalists wanted to force the workers to work. Nowadays, white collar professionals and entrepreneurs and illegal immigrants worked WAY MORE than 40 hours per week.

Anyway, here's the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJGHVYPG_HY

By the way, are there any steel mills left in Pittsburgh? I don't think so.