No Statues for Critics

“There has never been set up a statue in honor of a critic” — attributed to Jean Sibelius, composer.

If ever there was a trap to make us dumber and take our energy it is criticizing the work of others — so easy, and so tempting in this age of social media. (Haven’t we all, at some time, posted some pointless comment that contributed nothing but stole our valuable time? Time, after all, that we could have been creating something ourselves? )

No judgment. In some cases, it’s because people have become lost. They can’t quite express what they want to through their art, their discipline, their field, their life. They can’t quite move to the next level. It’s easier to criticize others than to really look at what’s wrong within our lives or ourselves, to become unstuck. Continue reading “No Statues for Critics”

Do Things Simply

“The height of cultivation runs to simplicity. Halfway cultivation runs to ornamentation” — Bruce Lee.

As different as they have been, in all the things I have practiced I have noticed one constant. There is always the desire, early on — and perhaps for a long time to come — to be as showy and ornate as possible.

In writing, the temptation is always to use obscure words when common ones will do. Sometimes, this is because the writer wants to align himself to some intellectual movement. He adopts the language of Hegel, Marx, Existentialism, some art movement, or some occult society, etc. Continue reading “Do Things Simply”

Where Things Happen

“If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are not quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” — David Bowie.

From the outside, things often look impossible — the martial arts demonstration, the gallery exhibition, the author that has opened up a new world for us.

When we start out, we generally aspire to be like someone else we’ve seen. Fortune cookie wisdom tells us that we just need to be ourselves. But, in reality, to live any kind of fulfilling life, or to do anything memorable or important, we need to push beyond ourselves.  Continue reading “Where Things Happen”