What I Like In Art. 08/14/14
I like intensity and
genius, not genres. Not bluesy, but Billie Holiday. Not jazzy, but Thelonius Monk, Roland Kirk, John Coltrane etc. Better
yet, the best of Jelly Roll Morton. Duke Ellington is even a bit too polished for my taste at times. I like raw, primitive,
like he great Leadbelly, or civilized but ecstatic, Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suites, purity of joy, sadness, whatever from
the heart, gut and soul. The galloping canons of Moondog. Not merely musical or from a Musical. Savage like original African
drum music. Filled with life, sexy, down and dirty joyous, like "My Dingaling" by Chuck Berry, and so on. The incredible
purity of Classical Japanese Shakuhachi wooden flute music. The plaint of geese flying across a marsh on a foggy estuary early
morning, the keening nostalgia of all our losses in and/or of any long gone Autumn. The whine of the Sitar and the Veena,
drowsy dusty medieval meditations in the noonday heat of a mud hut. Not Ravi Shankar, too soft and sentimental, but the sinewy
strenghth and tenderness of David Oistrach on the violin. Usted Bismillah Khan on the Shehnai. When I reported this last preference
to an Indian gentleman some years ago he said, "But Brian, he is one of the most famous musicians in all
I have recently bought a 3 CD set of Jewish Klezmer musicians from the 1st half of the last
century. Jews who carried the gypsy music from Eastern Europe, the rhythms of Israel, combined with the Jazz they heard here
in the USA. Only one artist stood out to me, Naftule Brandewein. I now also have an entire CD of him, which I loaned to a
young client, (as a child he was a bit of a musical prodigy). He said to me, with astonishment, "His music is boundless."
I said yes, "Infinite liquid fire." It turns out he is the one recognized by all in that field as a genius. He could
not read or write music, was a paranoid crazed drinker and womanizer. Exactly my kind of guy. Though if you have austere monkish
clarity in your work, that's OK too.
I see in writing this, it is not only intensity, but
also extremes. I like the intensity of authentic emotional extremes, or the expression of profound feeling states in pure
forms, and genius forms. The later Turner. Francis Bacon, the Expressionists. The Academy holds little of worth for me. I
love the German Expressionists, except one, whose name is Ernst Barlach. His work was too blunted by technical accomplishment,
weak compared to the others. Later I found out they were all self-taught, except for him. He went to art school! Diluted I
guess would be the word. Here is a prose/poem, or whatever, containing the verbal equivalent of an objet trouve, which I have
been wanting to write, and this current of thought has given me the chance.
The Man In The
"I saw a man in a movie last week, shown by a group of European Doctors,
who were documenting non-traditional healings.
He had been healed of the stomach cancer that grew inside him,
after his return home from the Second World War.
A simple uneducated man, with the demeanor of a clerical,
factory or farm worker.
He explained slowly,
thoughtfully, eyes dulled in recall, his mien somber,
something like this -
"I was sick.. when I came back from the war...
We were all sick when we came home from the war...
We had to shoot at people and try to kill them,
That's.. not normal.
We had to because.. they would shoot at us,
..and try to kill us.
..And that's.. not
Every day, our lives were hanging by a thread.
That's.. not normal.
Every day we lived with one foot in the grave.
..And that's not normal....
We were all sick.. when we
came home from the war."
Then, returning to speak of his healing and current life,
he lit up, with an inner radiant
Totally present in his present, dazzling illumination
from the grateful joy of his surviving
I was stunned, staggered,
flabbergasted. The purity of his profundity,
simple power and dignity of his rhythmic truth,
And watching.. I thought to myself,
"Here is a man, a person, a human being, deserving
of my highest respect,
for his breadth, his
depth, his stature as a witness,
to all he has lived
to all he has lived and been.”
I would prefer the words of this man to the most polished
effusions of any poet,
that do not touch my
heart, or move my soul.
c. Brian Green Los Angeles 08/2014