Brian Eno on foiling the critic

I managed to get through 70some drafts of How To Say Everything before quoting Brian Eno, but it was bound to happen.

From a terrific 1980 interview with Charles Amirkhanian (found here. Thanks, Matt Madden.):


Lyric writing is an embarrassing thing to do because there’s a kind of exposure in writing lyrics that is really more critical than any other kind of exposure I can think of.

Words have such distinct meanings that they pin you down in a sense. So to start writing lyrics is hard. To start writing lyrics when you don’t know quite what to say is even more difficult.

So I began inventing systems the intention of which was to foil the critic in me and to encourage the child in me. I tend to think that one’s mind is mediated by two characters: one is a critical one and the other is playful and childish one. And we’re inclined to let the critic have a bit too much sway in that balance.

And so quite a lot of the procedures I use are intended to catch him off guard for a little while so that the playful person can come out.

And more:

When I was young the most overpowering emotions were induced in me by music. Not only emotions but also a sense of wonder and a sense of "I must find out what that is or how it was done or where it came from."

I suppose a lot of my early knowledge if you like was the result of a self-education in culture, particularly in music.

Now, once you become more culturally aware, you tend to know where things come from and upon hearing them you already have a category in which to place them. And so by that means you lose that sense of mystery that some of them have. One of the points in writing music is exactly that, to produce music that has that same effect on you. As music first did. To produce things that are as strange and mysterious to you as the first music you first heard. And I guess that's the thrill for me: to do something that is actually outside of the territory of things I can defend, I'm just moved by it and I'm not sure of the reasons why I'm moved by it.


Classes with Tom Hart in the Spring

Comics Classes with Tom Hart in the Spring

I'm teaching two classes for adults at SVA this spring. These are the last non-summer classes I'll teach before moving away to start my own school!

First is Sequential Art: Expanding Your Vision, which is a fancy way of saying Comics/Graphic Novel intensive.

We'll do exercises for the first 5-6 weeks, expanding our ideas about composition, transitions, page design, etc. We'll work on our own projects intensively for the remaining weeks. It's always a good class, and very flexible. When students come needing more exercises and help, I'll offer that. If they just need good sounding boards for their ideas and execution, I create an atmosphere for that too. I'll show a dozen or so slideshows giving historical, technical and thematic context for our work.

Monday evenings from 6:30-9:30. Register here.

Next class is Independent Projects Seminar: Comics. I teach this with Matt Madden and I'll let his description suffice:

Independent Projects Seminar: Comics is a great opportunity to get occasional feedback on a project you are working at on your own: graphic novel, short story, webcomic, whatever. We meet three times throughout the semester for full-day Saturday critique sessions which always generate thoughtful feedback and enlightening discussions from the whole group. We've had multiple repeat students in this class as it is well suited to artists who are basically working on their own but want to come in from the cold occasionally.

Three Saturdays plus time for email or a short personal conference. Register here.

There will be an open house/info session next Tuesday, January 11, where you can learn more about these and other classes. I'll be there as will a bunch of other teachers. Details below.

If a quick, 6 week class downtown is more your speed, I'm teaching at the 92Y Tribeca, as well. Take a look here: http://www.92y.org/shop/92Tri_class_detail.asp?productid=MD3AF19


Comix Manifesto

For various reasons, I've been reading a lot of manifestos lately. I've been working on How To Say Everything- the book, a sort of manifesto- for 2 years and thought I would dash off a quick alternative to keep spry.

Here it is:

The spirit world is where.

The spirit world is larger than you think.

Art and story let you see it, and make a guess at its boundaries, but much like humanity's limited ability to see all of our universe, our own inner life is too broad to be understood or contained.

Constant art making gets you closer to it.

Careful art making makes you understood. Craft helps other people understand what the hell you are talking about.

Diary comics can get you there, but only if you are flagrantly self-centered and your spirit world IS the people around you. (This is not a bad thing.)

Seeing the themes of your life enables you to live more fully.

Characters and stories direct you to the themes of your life.

The characters and stories which appear when you are barely paying attention are your first cloudy glimpses of what is there.

Your attentive exploration gives you a better sense of the scope and boundaries of it.

It is boundless.

Looking at other work you are reading maps and log books and hearing yarns.

Go into culture and histories asking to be haunted.

The spirit world breathes themes.