May 18, 2020

"Technology is no savior. We can eat, sleep, look at screens, make money — all aspects of our physical existence — but that doesn’t mean anything."

"Art is the exact opposite. It’s infinite, and without it, the world wouldn’t exist as it does. It represents the immaterial soul: intuition, that which we feel in our hearts.... There’s an axiom that says there is no such thing as 'original' music. After what we could consider to be the first sound, from a spiritual perspective — 'om' to some, 'amen' to others — it’s all the same. Musicians borrow different parts and make them their own, but there’s nothing really new.... The spirit of art shines through in a performance when I stop thinking — when I let the music play itself, not just the one song that I’ve memorized, but all of the songs and experiences I have in my mind.... When I go to the museum and I look at a piece of art, I’m transported. I don’t know how, or where, but I know that it’s not a part of the material world. It’s beyond modern culture’s political, technological soul. We’re not here to live forever. Humans and materialism die. But there’s no dying in art."

From "Art Never Dies/It outlives the contentious political veneer that we cast over everything" by the jazz great Sonny Rollins (in the NYT). Rollins is 89 years old.

55 comments:

h said...

Tenor Madness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MkUvZUTFUc

rhhardin said...

I'm wouldn't go to a jazz guy for thoughts on what music is.

Operaman said...

Lovely piece by an extraordinary musician. I like the concept of reincarnation in art - that new artists draw upon but extend the work of those who came before.

Roger Sweeny said...

For some, art is religion. They have an anti-science Artistic Creationism. I suppose if it feels good, believe it.

daskol said...

Art, God, whatever. Mass, concerts, shows, all mass spreading events. They spread a sense of the infinite and put one in touch with our immaterial soul, even as they also spread germs.

mikee said...

There is plenty of dying in art. Dying is one of the reasons for art, and one of the main subjects of art, and one of the biggest lessons art has for us all. Be not afraid of death, rather, live fully up to its arrival.

Temujin said...

Always loved Sonny Rollins' music. And I agree with the clip you showed. Art can be the stop to the madness of the world. And fine art (not the crap sometimes referred to as art) outlives us all.

Sonny Rollins' music will outlive us all.

Bill Peschel said...

You can't eat art if you're hungry. Art won't keep you warm unless you're on fire.

Art is necessary, vital even. But after you've had a nice meal.

Tommy Duncan said...

I'm gonna need taller barn boots for this one.

Sebastian said...

"Art is the exact opposite."

I know what he means, and I admire him greatly.

But exact opposite is too strong. Technology means a lot: I now have access to art, music in particular, in a way my ancestors didn't. To have the whole classical canon at my fingertips, everywhere, every day, in multiple versions, is astonishing. How could I have known the music of Sonny Rollins himself without it?

And let's not get into the technology of music itself--the organ, the orchestra, the notation. All evidence of amazing creativity.

mezzrow said...

The Williamsburg Bridge is a fine name for a bridge, especially when one half of that bridge ends in Williamsburg. But not every Williamsburg Bridge has given a safe harbor to one of the greatest jazz musicians in history—and say one had? Shouldn’t we name it after the saxophonist, and not the neighborhood? The neighborhood has had a good run; it’s time for a change. Amanda Petrusich has the story of Sonny Rollins’s secret tenure on the bridge, where the tenor player loved to practice, hiding in plain sight: “In 1961, a story by Ralph Berton appeared in Metronome, a trade rag … Berton had come across Rollins playing atop the Williamsburg Bridge, which crosses the East River and connects North Brooklyn to the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He filed a short dispatch about the encounter. In an effort to keep Rollins’s practice space private, Berton changed the location to the Brooklyn Bridge, and gave Rollins the somewhat ridiculous sobriquet ‘Buster Jones’ … Almost every day between the summer of 1959 and the end of 1961, Rollins—who was born in Harlem, and at the time lived in an apartment at 400 Grand Street, just a few blocks from the entrance to the bridge—walked out and stationed himself adjacent to the subway tracks, playing as cars full of commuters rattled past.”

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/04/07/this-bridge-is-for-saxophonists-and-other-news/

bagoh20 said...

I appreciate and empathize with the idea, but a lot of technology and materialism went in to the creation of that saxamaphone. Without technology there would be no jazz. All music would be pounding sticks on logs.

On the immortality of art: If I'm wearing my incredibly artistic Cornholio T-shirt, and some serial killer shoves me into a wood chipper, does that beautiful art die with me, or have we been merely transformed into new art on the insides of the wood chipper?

Mark said...

Except when the art is created with contentious political baggage. Then it does too.

hstad said...

Sonny Rollins - "Technology is no savior. We can eat, sleep, look at screens, make money — all aspects of our physical existence — but that doesn’t mean anything."

Well, Sir, you could be correct and your love for Art is obvious, but, let's put this in perspective - OK? First, we need to breath, drink and eat. Then maybe, if you like Art, we may have time for appreciating the 1st World niceties of living.

Nonapod said...

I wouldn't say "Technology is no savior" exactly. The advancement of technology has inarguably made billions of lives less miserable by reducing starvation, reducing suffering from disease, and considerably reducing the amount of back breaking labor that humans have traditionally had to do. Reducing sources of misery might not absolutely guarantee a happier life from person to person, but it certainly doesn't hurt it.

Kai Akker said...

"Tenor Madness"

Nice. I'll see you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA2XIWZxMKM

And raise you one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcOnhR5zkXs

Kai Akker said...

"We’re not here to live forever. Humans and materialism die. But there’s no dying in art."

Who can argue with this? It's been the inspiration for making art forever. I heart Sonny Rollins.

Rory said...

Dramatic artist Ken Osmond - has died. 76

Lurker21 said...

There is much wisdom in Louis Armstrong's "If you have to ask, you'll never know," but Rollins's wrestling with emotions and intuitions that it's hard or impossible to express in words is admirable.

Quaestor said...

But there’s no dying in art

This is why post-modern art is such a vile mortal sin. It will pollute the future more poisonously than a planetary mass of styrofoam coffee cups and plastic beverage straws.

Quaestor said...

"Humans and materialism die."

Obviously, men are mortal. Obviously, materials rot and erode. However, materialism isn't material. Once born its lives on as there will never be a time when belief in the ethereal will be universal.

Nor is art eternal. It must take a remarkable credulous mind to assume that music, the most immaterial of arts, is immune from extinction. For example, what are we to make of the music of the Bronze Age? We can be assured that music did exist, as we have the unequivocal evidence. But it is nevertheless irretrievably lost. We will never hear the Illiad sung to the stains of the kithara as the Dorian chieftains heard its music echo on the walls of their megarons.

traditionalguy said...

Good thought. But also remember that anyone who claims to honor the greatest creative art works done by the absolute top artist of the Universe would also have be against abortion.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

I have never seen a better definition of "Art" than that given by Scott McCloud in his classic Understanding Comics. To wit, Art.

bagoh20 said...

Music, art, instruments, techniques, audio, paint, canvas speech, writing - all technologies. No matter what you consider salvation, it likely is technology.

Technology in it's simplest definition is the use of knowledge and tools.

PubliusFlavius said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERbvKrH-GC4

Fernandinande said...

That sort of egotism/megalomania/narcissism/whatever the right word is, for the belief that one's emotions are indicative of anything other than oneself, cracks me up, so here's an imginary wolf's perspective -

"Kibble no savior. It doesn’t mean anything. A fresh kill is the exact opposite. It’s infinite, and without it, the world wouldn’t exist as it does. It represents the immaterial soul: the hunt, that which we feel in our hearts.... There’s an axiom that says there is no such thing as 'original' prey. After what we could consider to be the first hunt, from a spiritual perspective — 'ah-rooo' to some, 'woof' to others — it’s all the same. Hunters borrow different parts and make them their own, but there’s nothing really new.... The spirit of the hunt shines through in a performance when I stop thinking — when I let the prey run, not just in the one hunting area that I’ve memorized, but all of the hunts and experiences I have in my mind.... When I go to the prairie and I look at prey, I’m transported. I don’t know how, or where, but I know that it’s not a part of the material world. We’re not here to live forever. Wolves and their prey die. But the hunt never dies."

Disclaimer: don't like jazz and never heard of the guy.

h said...

Kai Akker: Thanks for St. Thomas and Mack. I'm a drummer and the beginning of St. Thomas knocks me out. I won't post it but this led me to relisten to The Bridge. 1962. 1962. Maybe it's because I'm old, but this sounds fresh and modern by the standards of 2020. And 1962.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Wild Man Fischer too?

Josephbleau said...

Art is ok for a limited number. If everyone tries to get in on it there are problems. So we need a One Bridge, one sax rule. In Hollywood waitresses outnumber starlets.

wild chicken said...

Poor Rollins! He came up in the shadow of Charlie Parker. And he tried and he tried to top that, but who could? At least it was a (slightly) different axe.

It gave him humility.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

wood chipper art is art. But don't do it man.

FullMoon said...

bagoh20 said... [hush]​[hide comment]

Music, art, instruments, techniques, audio, paint, canvas speech, writing - all technologies. No matter what you consider salvation, it likely is technology.

Technology in it's simplest definition is the use of knowledge and tools.
.

Watched show about unibomber. Crazy genius who hated tech of any kind, right down to electricity telephone,and automobile. Believed everyone would be better off pre industrial revolution.

Anyway, one scene, detective is waiting at a red light, at night, on some lonely country road. No traffic. And, he just sits there, waiting and waiting all by his lonesome, for that long red to go green.

Briefly understood what the bomber meant by saying we are all a slave to technology.


FullMoon said...

...afterthought. Some here would be at that red light with masks and gloves on. No skin off my nose, though.

roesch/voltaire said...

Rollins gave a great performance here in Madison a number of years ago that still lives in my memory, but art has different lives--performance art in the moment last just that long unless it is recorded and then it lives along other arts but only if someone pays attention.Other art like architecture can live with us on a daily bases, and even leaks on us like a Frank Loyd Wright house:)

LordSomber said...

Technology also preserves art.
Aside from sculpture and architecture, not a whole lot of art has lasted from over two millennia ago.

Though artists with perspective realise that their own art will likely outlive themselves.
The thought is daunting whether you stand in front of an easel, or in a recording studio.

That said, starving artists are my favourite kind. Culls the herd.

Marcus said...

Artists, actors, and musicians (and sometimes writers) often have a high opinion of themselves and their "art". As with most things, art is in the eye of the beholder.

THEOLDMAN



BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

I love art and agree with this guy.
Art and nature feed the soul. Music is not as exciting to me anymore. Which is depressing.

Richard Schaaf said...

Sorry. Didn’t read all the comments. I thought Robert Pirsig’s writing was a propos: “The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha - which is to demean oneself.”

roger said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ

It was too easy........

roger said...

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/steve-cohen-chris-ofili-virgin-mary-moma-1269002

again, too easy......

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

there's no dying in Art
no crying in Baseball
there's no place like Home,
And yes-- we have no bananas.

...so there you have it. Basically, in a nutshell

rcocean said...

Sonny is right, Great Art lives forever and touches some someone. The problem is that people confuse "all art" with "Great art". The vast majority of art dies with the artist or with the contemporary audience. Go look at the best seller list from 1970, that's 50 years ago, and ponder how many people are still reading those books.

IRC, in the 70's Gore Vidal looked back on the besting selling novels from the 1910s and it was "yuck, yuck, who reads those losers now?". Well, how many people read Gore Vidal's Novels in 2020?

bbkingfish said...

Along with Lou Donaldson, the greatest of the 50s sax players still alive. "A Night at the Village Vanguard" on the Blue Note label is a classic of recorded live jazz.

narciso said...

Magnificent ambersons was written in 1918.made into a film 20 some years later.

Meade said...

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM,

No, really — artfully done.

FullMoon said...

One of the bad things about moderation is inability to immediately delete one's own embarrassing comment.

Not me, other guys.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

... your own response to them is only a sort of psychic phosphorescence arising from the behaviour of your genes. You can’t go on getting any very serious pleasure from music if you know and remember that its air of significance is pure illusion, that you like it only because your nervous system is irrationally conditioned to like it. You may still, in the lowest sense, have a ‘good time’; but just in so far as it becomes very good, just in so far as it ever threatens to push you on from cold sensuality into real warmth and enthusiasm and joy, so afar you will be forced to feel the hopeless disharmony between your own emotions and the universe in which you really live.

for some sad sax: Dick Morrissey
for some safe sax: Jorja Chalmers

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Meade at 8:02 wins the thread!

Meade said...

YES!

narciso said...

This one


https://youtu.be/6cfoxetBa-c

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Or This One

Narr said...

Thanks to the wonders of technology, I can drop this and go out on the patio and listen to Brahms' 3rd symphony, in the cool of the evening.

Maybe I'll check in afterwards.

Narr
Nature+Art+Tech call

Unknown said...

I will go to the mat with anyone who suggests that jazz is not music, or inferior music, or whatever implication is on about!
Sonny Rollins knows more about music than you ever could. -willie

Unknown said...

Meant to call out RHHARDIN in my comment, but used angle brackets and forgot this thing reads HTML.
I'm looking at you buddy! -willie

Meade said...

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...
Or This One

Thanks for that, ICTA. Now I'm thoroughly obsessed.