Prone To The Muse

ABSTRACT: In The Artist's Breath: Prone to the Muse, Matthew Dallman introduces a practical approach for artist practice, one that is deemed full, integral and thus "kosmic" according to various acknowledged conceptions of human awareness and psychology. Through a description of modules as the interplay of holonic consciousness, induced states, and multiple intelligences, Dallman suggests a generalizable template of an artist's day-to-day activities, or "breath", as well as rubber-meets-road concrete examples. He suggests that these can point artists of any discipline towards explicit realization of their integral, kosmic canvas—creative consciousness, full, vivified, and prone to expression as lively aesthetic objects. This essay is an easily-digestible and thought-provoking illustration of his integral art philosophy for a general audience of working artists. Its premise is that at the most discreet level of every artist, consciousness in the medium, and that the dynamic of modules within an integral artist practice over time can enrich the artist's work, and thus the entire field of art.


"You need to practice only long enough to draw something from the moment. But keep coming back to the simple things. It may come to pass that what was once mildly interesting and marginally relevant has become a touchstone for your musical life."
W.A. Mathieu 1
A philosophical perspective on the artist's day-to-day activities, which I refer to as the artist's "breath", considers both actual activity as well as thought about that activity; or, respectively, a physical as well as metaphysical consideration of this topic. In the vein of the latter, let me begin by saying that I agree with Wassily Kandinsky, who wrote in an article that "All the arts stem from the same and unique root." I contend that such a root is another way of saying that all artists, no matter the differences, at least share a transdisciplinary space that includes how we think about creativity. As modern artists with inclusive intentions, the doors to the root of our own artistic emergence can blow wide open with each of our ongoing conscious gestures. The forward edge, or avant-garde, of artistic vision appears bound only by the artist's own horizons and authentic openness to that which lay behind every breath.

From globally-informed stances (which cognitively transcend "me" and "us" to an "all of us" sensibility), artists can be inspired by the planet's diverse and fertile cultural achievements, reckon their discoveries with their own tradition, and echo their experience in artwork, as sense extended in ordered form. A kosmic impulse, present in all artists, aligns intuition (the radical internal meeting of the new and the old) with creative energy that likewise constitutes the external universe and the embrace of ecstatic love. At every moment of artistic development, as objects are created by the artists, consciousness can be evoked, illumined, and preserved, for the purposes of cultural and personal renewal. Following John Dewey's insight, this is the "work" that art objects perform—the mimesis amplifies culture, beauty, and the machinations of social life. Artwork is an exchange of shared personae, for between the marriage of whole consciousness and whole form can emerge deep fullness and revelation of humanity, felt by all who want to perceive clearly.

St. Thomas Aquinas said, "Art imitates Nature in her manner of operations." 2 This capital N Nature is precisely the Kosmos, or the unity of internal and external, expressed through history as goddess, god, and so on. As artists, our intuition is infused by the experiences we have with the wealth of relationships, emotions, challenges, and information in today's world. As we produce art, in fits and spurts, continuously or infrequently, spontaneously or in measures strokes, in large and small scales, I suggest that an artist's medium is a canvas of inspiration, insight, and intuition, the three forces of the muse. 3 Before the artist creates an object, the canvas is blank, unformed, and inanimate. This blank canvas awaits the activation of experience-fed consciousness, the operations of one's muse which transform the canvas into a complexity of symbolization and a palpable aesthetic wonder. I suggest that not just any canvas lies in patience for creative forces to emerge. In fact an integral, or kosmic, canvas awaits our lively muse, as well as our sincerely offered trust of it, in service of humanity. A full spectrum of capacities weds to plastic or bodily form. What emerges is an artifact of inclusive intention and attention.

So what is an integral canvas? It is that which an inclusive muse paints upon, itself made of spirit, rooted in a translucent perception on the part of the artist—in every direction and every perspective, through our body, mind, and soul—a panoply of creative touch points, extended as aesthetic object. The canvas is the kosmos, is our consciousness, full and vivified. For at the most discreet level of every artist, consciousness is the medium, the transpersonal channel where experience is reborn with every new work of art, and renewed with every new perception.

The overall effort of artists ought to explore fullness. A deepened consciousness (deepened by experience) can create artwork flushed with currents that make the art object electric and alive. Being prone to the muse means a personal relationship with inspiration, insight, and intuition. From this relationship with the muse, artists can create deeply affective artwork. It makes the sweat, hard work, and heavy breaths required to produce art in the first place deeply satisfying.

A foundation of artistry is the artist practice. This is the sum total of every distinctive exercise and activity that relates to artistry. There could be 3 activities, or 30. The number and nature depends upon the artist and his or her discipline of art. It depends upon factors as ambition, time, and access to a creative workspace. In general terms, the particular activities matter less then the overall mix of kinds of activities, a point which I'll demonstrate as I proceed.

For example, if to produce artwork, a painter 1) studies how to mix color, 2) performs a private ritual before he or she starts to paint, 3) has regular conversations with local art dealers and art buyers, 4) checks out local art galleries once a week, and 5), paints in the studio 4 times a week, then this painter's artist practice consists of these five activities or exercises. Overall, what operate in concert to produce artwork are the activities and exercises that artists have chosen for their practice. The following diagram illustrates an artist practice as a sum of art-related behavior.

If the point of examining the artist practice is to consider how the practice might support the production of more satisfying art objects, which is my position, then the first step towards, as I say, an integral canvas is to take account of one's artist practice, in whatever form it may be at this moment. It starts from an inquiry. The inquiry is simply this:

What is it that I do in order to make art?

"Inquiry" is an open-ended but pointed question that serves to elicit the responses of creativity and creative behavior. In this case, it elicts an accounting, and once the artist has made this account, then it becomes easier to assess the activities that help and hinder one's artistry, and to alter the template for practice as needed. The crucial assessment is, how best to make art? This inquiry anchors and limits an examination of artist practice, for it is used to order to make changes and retool one's overall practice, but requires examination to give way to making art, as it should.

Thus I introduce two inquiries, the first for an initial accounting of one's practice, and the second as an assessment of that practice. This essay serves to explore these fundamental inquiries, as well as other inquiries that follow and operate in concert to explore, and then realize, fullness in artistry, through an overall practice that allows the kosmos a full animation.

Taken simply, in art there is our consciousness and our externally manifested artwork. We have a subjective awareness, infused with inspired states, semi-conscious intuition, and our edges of fear. And we have an objective awareness, infused with the physical actions, technique, and behavior that literally render shape and form. To examine both subjective and objective awareness, and to cultivate our capacities for both in the midst of our artistry—this is the leap towards artistic fullness, which constitutes the transdisciplinary root of all arts.

How do we accomplish this task, as artists? By using the acknowledged existence of subjective and objective awareness as basis for a working template upon which our artist practice seeks to consistently and regularly touch. I suggest artists build a practice based upon "modules". A module is a category to group various kinds of activities relevent to artistry. A module acts as an independently operable unit of one's overall practice. Artist practice is made of several modules, or kinds of activities, working in concert to enrich our experiences and our intuition. Activities can change within a module, while still keeping the module in place. Properly chosen modules traverse integral, kosmic terrain, as I shall demonstrate.

Fundamentally, every module consists of an inquiry and an experiment or experiments. The experiment, or particular action, results from the inquiry, and is anchored to it. For example, the inquiry "what would red add to this painting?" results in the experiment of adding red to the painting. Or in music, the inquiry "what would it be like to improvise this part of the composition" results, if followed, in the experiement of trying an improvisation in real time.

This general approach of "inquiry then experiment" sheds new light upon subjective and objective awareness, and also serves to aid the artist to avoid creative enmeshment, a condition of narrow, tunnel vision that doesn't see additional creative possibilities and is locked into tried and true or conventional solutions.

If the subjective and objective awareness is taken to be true, then if each were the basis of an inquiry, there would be something like the following:

How transparent am I to my muse (inspiration, insight, intuition)?

How able am I to reflect my muse as an object?

It ought be clear the method here. Taken the acknowledged existence of subjective and objective perspectives, then make an inquiry based upon each perspective, related to the overall endeavor of artistry. Each module is completed by experiments resulting from each inquiry. The following diagram organizes the working template for an artist practice depicted in Diagram 1 along the lines suggested by these two modules.

Of course, the rewards of this module-based approach is found in the particular activities an artist chooses, for these are what stir new experiences. For the subjective module, the artist might choose a meditation and critique sessions with a small audience. Meditation tends to increase a person's capacity for inner witness and clarity. Well-handled critiques helps an artist become more aware of aspects of the consciousness that he or she extends as their art object. Both cultivate interior awareness.

Likewise, for the objective module, the artist might choose to privately study with an acknowledged master-artist of that field and research into the history of their artistic medium. A master-artist tends to facilitate increased technical skills (as well as overall awareness, of course). Critical research gives examples of successful creations that an artist study for examples of how others were (or weren't) able to create objects that evoked fullness and aesthetic experience. Both of these experiments cultivate exterior awareness.

The open secret is that experiments induce in the artist interior states of consciousness. This is part of the reason we do things, to find out how activities alter our awareness. A change of state is the result of the inquiry/experiment dynamic. For example, viewing artwork, practicing technique, performing, researching—these and much more induce changes of consciousness that are temporary, fleeting, but often exhilarating. Cumulatively, changes of state act to foster growth and maturity over time. Repeated exposure to healthy, induced states of consciousness provide wisdom, growth, and enriched perspectives. And of course states of consciousness inspire artists to their best work.

Through this approach, artistry is transformed into an endeavor that increases awareness of interior and exterior orientation, and inevitably produces artwork formed by this lively background. The choice to cultivate, and then artistically demonstrate, an integral, kosmic canvas through selectively induced states of consciousness (via inquiries and experiments) forms the practical methodology of the integral approach to artistry that I advocate. Fullness of consciousness brings forth fullness of experience and fullness of art objects. As a philosophy in action, it is just that straightforward.

I have given more emphasis thus far on the metaphysical rather than the physical aspect. While further on in this essay, the latter aspect is explore more, part of the reason for the emphasis on the former is a recognition that artists are supposed to react creativity to stimuli and respond in ways that can't be necessarily predicted and certainly not prescribed. This is an important point that belies all of my work in art philosophy. That being said, the above demonstrates a basic approach that reconciles two fundamental dimensions of artistry. Yet it is more accurate to say that the artistry is both a matter of an individual, but also a part of a larger whole. That larger whole is culture and society, where in the cases of both subjective and objective, the artist participates in via both yet in these collective environments. All of this is to say that the artist operates as a holon. Philosopher Arthur Koestler coined the term to combine the qualities "partness" and "wholeness", in that something whole is also a part of some larger whole. In my usage, that an artist is a holon means that every artist has four dimensions, two of which are subjective and objective (as already covered), as well as those dimensions in plural/collective form.

Thus I add intersubjective and interobjective. The former is the artist's participation in collectively shared interior awareness in a culture or cultures through created meaning, shared semantics, and inherited interpretation. The latter is the artist's participation in collectively shared exterior awareness in a society or societies through systematic channels of economy, distribution, and formal aesthetic traditions. Thus the four dimensions of the artist-as-holon are individual subjectivity and objectivity, as well as collective intersubjectivity and interobjectivity. So what were before two kinds of awareness are, more accurately, actually four kinds of awareness.

Something like the following would result from again using the method of creating inquiries based upon our dimensions of awareness:

How transparent can I be with my muse (inspiration, insight, intuition)?

How able am I to reflect my muse as material form?

How deeply can I absorb the artwork of others in my medium?

How accessible am I to the art world's channels of distribution?

The following diagram shows a four-module template for integral artist practice.

Each of these modules suggest possible experiments. Here are some particular to a musician. For the subjective module, the musician could dedicate one hour a day to improvisation and simple composition. For the objective module, the musician could allot dedicated time to the mastery of specific musical techniques, such as scales, arpeggios, or chordal progressions. For the intersubjective module, the musician could decide to catch a live music concert once a week. For the interobjective module, the musician could enroll in a music business seminar that explores how to market one's albums. All in all, a template for artist practice using four modules is intended amplify the holonic dimensions of the artist, through inquiries and experiments. There are many variations for musicians beyond this simple description, as well as altogether different possibilities for artists of other disciplines.

The work of Howard Gardner has shown that humans possess capacities known as multiple intelligences, and I believe this important work can be applied towards our topic here as a still deeper manner to examine the metaphysics of artist practice. 4 Gardner famously named seven intelligences—interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial, logical/mathematical, kinesthetic, emotional, musical. His work easily allows us to conclude that overall human intelligence is a multifaceted dynamic. The same goes, of course, for overall artist intelligence.

I suggest that the intelligences form a sturdy anchor by which to develop modules for artist practice. Because intelligences have been verified and acknowledged in the field of psychology, each forms a reliable basis to consider how artists can deepen their experiences. No matter the sophistication an artist has with their own intelligences, (i.e., no matter their particular "psychograph", or mix of levels of development in the intelligences), the method I've used above can be again used to generate modules. That is, to take acknowledged truths about dimensions of awareness, then create an inquiry with a pragmatic eye towards stimulating experiments that result from the inquiry.

My example here uses the intelligences to form six modules. I remind that of course there is no cut and dried manner of artist practice, and thus no cut and dried template, either. Specifically, I use Gardner's intrapersonal, kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, and linguistic intelligences to form a Contemplative Module, a Technical Module, a Critical Module, a Public Module, and an Ethical Module. The sixth module, what I call a Vital Module, dually supports both kinesthetic and intrapersonal, and is geared towards inspiration (explained below). Together, the six modules elaborate upon an artist's holonic dimensions, through the more specific capacities of intelligences, and are a refinement of truths offered even in the most basic conception of artistry as a matter of subjective and objective awareness.

I will now proceed to offer examples of each module. Keep in mind that I am primarily a composer. I also readily acknowledge that all artists operate according to their disciplines, ambitions, available time, and edges of fear, surrender, and courage. The point I emphasize is to experiment with a mix of modules that feels right, and that induce inspired and rewarding states of consciousness. I echo Sri Aurobindo when he wrote of his own practice:
But all this must not be taken in too rigid and mechanical a sense. It is an immense plastic movement full of the play of possibilities and must be seized by a flexible and subtle tact or sense in the seeing consciousness. It cannot be reduced to a too rigorous logical or mathematical formula. 5
The Contemplative Module
An essential inquiry of the Contemplative Module is "Who am I?"  and this metaphysical inquiry cultivates the artist's intrapersonal (or "witness") intelligence. There are many forms and traditions of meditation that incorporate introspective inquiry. There are silent and animated methods of meditation. Religious and mystical traditions from around the world have their own versions of contemplation. I suggest that a practice that involves such humble interior exploration is an essential foundation of an integral approach, because the wordless glimpses and stable realizations common to meditative states provide the fuel and will to deeply sustain creativity and the physical rigors required to manifest creativity in material form.

Practices exist that translate meditation into an artistic context. For example, you can learn to keep a personal record of your art-making practice. Examples include an emotional diary, a dream journal, a journal of artistic ideas and ambitions, and a daily log of your entire artist practice. These help artists be more aware of what they do and feel when they produce artwork. Considering the topics raised in this essay count here, as well.

How aware can I be of my entire artist practice?
What do I fear?

The Vital Module
The essential inquiry for the Vital Module is "How well do I know what I use as an artist?" and it cultivates the artist's intrapersonal and kinesthetic intelligences. We want an exercise that allows us to appreciate and play with the tactile and fundamental aspects of our art form, for its own sake and pleasure. Every discipline of art has its relatively short list of material ingredients. In music, there is pure sound; in poetry, there are words; in painting, there is color; in pottery, there is clay; in film, moving imagery; and so on and so forth. The ingredients of every discipline are not just random objects. Each represents or signifies our intuitive consciousness in some manner. Each resonates with our interiors, and we can find deeper connections between our materials and our awareness the more we offer a tactile and patient embrace. The point is to play!

One example of an experiment is improvisation, which is common to all disciplines. The artist that grows tired of improvisation has grown tired of art. Improvisation is like digging into rich and fertile soil, and rollicking in the diversity and nourishment of all the raw minerals. Musicians can sing long tones for 30 minutes and feel the energetic effects of different tones on the body and mind. Vocal improvisation over the panoply of tones allows us to sing according to our moods. Improvisation is an important tool towards production. We brainstorm, then we build, but in the now, we don't worry about building, but rather the rewards of brainstorming.

How intimate a relationship can I have with the ingredients of my medium?

The Technical Module
The general inquiry is "How skillful can I be in my discipline of art?" and it cultivates the artist's kinesthetic intelligence. Each discipline of art has its conventions and technical traditions, and often an artist follows the muse and must create or perfect entirely new techniques so as to be able to realize experience properly and aesthetically. Transparency with one's muse can require technical innovation beyond conventions.

There is no shortage of technical activities. Every discipline has its famous techniques. In acting, the Meisner and Linklater programs are well-used. In poetry, there is the technique of versification as well as skills in writing according to classic poetic forms, such as the sonnet and haiku. Music has scales, chords, voice-leading, and tone-mixing. There techniques for using technology, such as film cameras and editing equipment. Painters learn techniques of image depiction, and the mixing of colors.

Another means to energize the Technical Module is to imitate some other artist's work. Bach would studiously transcribe other composers music into his own notebooks. Besides preserving scored music (less plentiful in his day), he gained greater understanding of how other composers conveyed music consciousness. Poets can transcribe other poets' work, as Hunter S. Thompson and many others did with Hemingway. Filmmakers can replicate a scene from a classic film. Actors can work on impersonations. Painters can recreate a work from the canon, as depicted in the film Amelie, where a painter copied a Renoir. These days, more and more performance artists are trying to recreate works of older performance artists. There is much learning in the recreation of others' objects.

How skillful can I be with conventional models of my discipline?

The Critical Module
The basic inquiry for the Critical Module is "How accessible can I be the forces with the art world?" and it cultivates the artist's logical/mathematical intelligence. We want to be able to navigate the systems, concepts and constructs of the larger art world. Both in terms of the history of our discipline, and the world of business channels for artwork, there are social systems in which artists ought be able to participate easily, even if we are fearful to some degree.

On one hand, we want to have a solid knowledge and familiarity with the history of our discipline (as well as the history of ideas, comparative world religions, and more), so that we don't waste time only to find that an artist or artists of the past has already exhausted a particular path. If the artist is highly cognizant of the major voices of the past, then that cognition helps to ensure a more unique and resonant voice of their own. Examples of experiments include immersion in the history of art aesthetics and art theory. This sort of research is always open-ended, but even small bits of historical knowledge can go a very long way.

On the other hand, the art world is in part made of economic forces that irrigate channels of distribution. The business aspect of the art world often determines artwork exposure. We network with other artists who have experience and personal referrals. We train to use skills to reach an audience, through marketing, use of agents and managers, workable contracts, commissions, and auditions. All in all, in the Critical Module, we negotiate the power structures of society, and make distinctions that create new conditions for perception of our objects.

How well do I know the social systems of the art world?

The Public Module
The essential inquiry of the Public Module is "How can I create rapport between my artwork and an audience?" and it cultivates the artist's interpersonal intelligence (and perhaps the naturalist intelligence to some degree). To foster connections with audiences, we want to cultivate a regular routine of performance and public display of one's art creations. Artists seek to make the most out of public performance and display, including showings, concerts, gallery openings, performances, readings, and distributed recordings. The performance or display of artwork is an occasion where the artwork operates as a means for relationship and reflection. It is a moment of shared emergence, a new birth.

For music performance, the choices of presentation have a profound impact on the way audiences react to artwork. Through decoration, lighting, programming, and more, the sensual/sexual raw energies of live music are enhanced. Musicians can experiment with the combination of up-tempo and down-tempo music at particular points in a performance. Musicians can take requests from their audience as a way to stimulate the feeling of audience participation. All of these carry over to other art forms.

The point of presentation is to entertain, educate, and enlighten. The possibilities are limitless for artists to experiment with particular strategies and approaches to the display of their artwork in each of these three ways. It is common to use person-to-person word-of-mouth, referrals, print/TV/radio/web advertising, mailing lists, reviews, and more to create a buzz around the performance occasion. Artists can create programs or artist statements to stimulate audience thought right before the performance begins. A warm-up act is useful in this regard.

Each and every performance helps the artist in subsequent performances. Even a small audience of friends offers an occasion for artists to verify their work's connection with audiences. Perceived failures can be profoundly instructive. Artists demonstrate deep courage when they put their artwork in front of an audience. Pre-performance routines such as improvisation games, yoga, free association, and alcohol help to loosen up the artist and prepare for the unpredictable live-art moment.

How much affinity can I foster between my artwork and my audience?

The Ethical Module
The essential inquiry of he Ethical Module is "How much can I give back to my community?" and it cultivates the artist's linguistic intelligence (as well as any sense of moral obligation to help others that the artist feels). Artists are often energized through active membership in a larger artistic fabric and community. As an artist, you give back to the community through focused listening, watching, participating, activism, or any sort of communion where the artist's role is to help others.

The important part is to be able to talk to others about the artist's experiences, reactions, and wisdom. It could be through offering battle tips to the next generation of practitioners. Many artists use teaching, mentoring, and public speaking as ways to give back. It could also involve writing manifestos, essays, and books. Giving a simple summation of how the trajectory of a specific artistic project went, from intuition to performance, provides grist for the creative mill of other artists. All in all, this module aims to exercise the artist's sense of rights, care, and responsibility to efficiently communication with others and help them on their paths.

How can I support the creative impulse in other people?

In Conclusion
In this essay, I have explored the metaphysical as well as physical nature of artist practice, as founded upon dimensions of awareness, holonic consciousness, induced states, modules as "inquiry plus experiment", and multiple intelligences. I have outlined three templates for artist practice, based on two, four, and then six modules. I have offered practical examples to foster a vivified sense of fullness, directly felt by the artist through commitment, cultivation, and expression of experience as an art object. All in all, I have elaborated upon an integral, kosmic canvas. I have suggested that, ultimately, consciousness is the medium. It is left for the world's artists to realize, develop, and express their own colors. By all means, I hope all artists go at it with full engagement, and frame for the world what it is that they experience along the way.

On a final note, let me remind the reader that the nature and assessment of one's own artist practice ought not be thought about too hard or given too much of one's available time. This is a limited matter of investigation, to be done in times of a creative rut or perhaps inbetween projects. One avoids analysis paralysis on this matter by the seeing artistry as an enveloping module (made of modules described above). The inquiry of the "artistry module" is how do I make art?, and it cues the topics raised in this paper. Its experiment is to adopt a practice roughly like what has been described here, and then of course to make art. Beyond the fact that making art is why we are artists, to what extent one's art-making is an emotionally satisfying and life-affirming activity is the measure and limit upon any philosophic inquiry into artist practice, here or anywhere. Taking this seriously, but not too seriously, is a bit of a paradox, but its cousin is at the root of art-making, and which we are all too familier with—namely that we courageously devote our hearts to making aesthetic things to renew humanity against all odds, but also that we know that the kosmos is perfect just as it is, right here, right now, as a precious drop that requires nothing of us, asks nothing of us—nothing, that is, but to merely recognize its bare, stubborn, lovely truth as we walk down the road, singing our hearts out as if life depended upon it. Because it does. And doesn't.

Epilogue, On the Value of Your Shadow
Let me relate a personal story. Certainly, our favorite pieces of music recall instantly a certain time and place of first deep resonance for a reason. Like water, music fills up completely whatever space it is released in.

One such for me is Bartok's First String Quartet, performed by the Emerson String Quartet. For me, these pieces are tied to a period in my life when Hannah and I lived in Minneapolis and I was starting to take my study of music compositions seriously. I was really struggling with a semblance of a compositional voice. The Bartok Quartets I have grown to love, but it was a journey. I rather hated Bartok and everything he composed for quite sometime, it was so much as dissonant garbage to me. However I decided to follow one of my favorite pieces of advice for composers — isolate a work by a composer that you utterly detest, and listen to it regularly for one year.

The idea is simple, really. When the year is up, do what you will with the piece, but give it that year, because the things we detest usually have the capacity to release an open space that for whatever reason is in emotional lockdown. A year's time has been just enough to allow the interior forces to work their sequence of 'witness the constriction, breath into the constriction, witness the expansion' with the music we truly hate. Music that truly holds no value for us we simply ignore as leaves that fly by in a windy, autumnal day. Passionate hate, on the other hand, is a sign of lockdown that bears closer examination.

For me, a year with Bartok's string quartets allowed me to see that dissonance is a dynamic that I wanted to incorporate more into my compositional sense. And it just so happens, I really like the string quartets now, as these radically unfolding muscular expansions of tonal color, emblematic of Bartok's own search in his native Hungary for rhythms, harmonies, melodies, and subtler gestures of the folk. But his string quartets now, in my view, signify the struggle the world faces and will face in the reconciliiation of self and community at a planet-centric levels.

Perhaps this is the dynamic of our shadow. Perhaps those works of art we claim to hate are really works that we haven't aknowledged that we secretly like, at least in some way or on some kind of criteria. Psychology would undoubtedly have something to offer here, in a formalized point of view. Be that as it may, I myself have decided to recognize those reactions to works of art that are particularly strong, vicious, and indignant as, perhaps, opportunities to expand my consciousness, my self-awareness. I playfully refer to this as entire endeavor as the 'Whatchu B Hatin' experiment. For music, it is sit yourself down in a local library, put on the headphones, and start spinning CDs that span the spectrum of premodern, modern, and postmodern. Find what you like, and what you hate, and listen to both till the wolves howl down the moon. This is obviously generalizable to any art discipline, not just music.

Chicago, Illinois
June 2003 (rev. Sept 2006)


1 From Mathieu, W.A., Harmonic Experience. Inner Traditions. Rochester, 1997. p. 18.
2 From Ananda Coomaraswamy, Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art. Dover, New York: 1956
3 I adapt that literal relationship of painter and canvas for every form of art. Thus sonority is the canvas for a composer. The stage is a canvas for a playwright. Clay is a canvas for a potter. The screen is a canvas for a film director. And so on.
4 See Gardner, H., Intelligence Reframed. Basic, New York: 2000.
5 Sri Aurobindo, The Integral Yoga. Lotus Press, Twin Lakes. 1993, p. 48

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