“The Dj crafts the physical form around an idea. Start with the inspiration of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comic strip. Make a track evoking his absurd landscapes. Determine the atmospheric flows of wind. What do tons and tons of air pressure moving in the atmosphere sound like? Make music that acts as a metaphor for that kind of immersion or density. Visualize soundscapes; create imaginary projections. The rhythm scientist proves there’s more at work, more in the process, than the computerized musical automation. At the end of the day, when you press PLAY on the CD, you don’t necessarily care what the Dj was thinking about. You’re just going to see if you like it or not. Without imagination, everything is empty. There are so many ways to drive each sequence, each track, each song.” (pg 20)
“The Dj crafts the physical form around an idea.” I was pulled in immediately. The physical form around an idea—those words describe a feeling that I was very familiar with but could never explain. In high school (back when I had “free time”), I dabbled a bit in story writing. The process of writing—the tracing of letters on paper or feeling my fingers dance over the keyboard—was something very special to me. It made my ideas come alive in a way that they weren’t alive in my head. And I never quite understood why that was so special. But it’s because it’s the physical form of the idea, something more tangible. That first line grabbed me, and I eagerly kept reading.
Krazy Kat. What the heck is that? Obviously, the text informed me it was a comic strip. But the only comic strip I really read is Pearls Before Swine, and I don’t even read that religiously. What absurd landscapes did Herriman create in his comic strip? Google had a few answers:
As you can see, Krazy Kat doesn’t always use the traditional frames we normally see in comic strips. Rather, one scene blurs into the next without a distinct boundary. Considering that Dj-ing is all about breaking down normal boundaries between songs, I can see why Spooky would find it inspiring. After finding this inspiration, Spooky says to “Determine the atmospheric flows of wind. What do tons and tons of air pressure moving in the atmosphere sound like? Make music that acts as a metaphor for that kind of immersion or density. Visualize soundscapes; create imaginary projections.” I find two readings in these lines. One is the literal reading: Spooky is saying that Krazy Kat’s inspiration led him to think about the wind (perhaps he saw the first strip I posted above, where the violence of the waves certainly could lead one to think about the wind on that day). Of course, Djs are concerned with sound, so what does the wind sound like? I like that sound. How can I mimic it in my music? That is the first reading.
The second reading is more metaphorical. Is he actually talking about capturing the sound of wind in his music, or is determining the flow of the wind the same as determining the flow of the idea, of the inspiration? When I write, I don’t always know exactly where I’m headed next. The idea, though mine, has a life of its own. It often feels like the idea is the one navigating, particularly when I write dialogue. I feel like I’m recording a conversation I’m listening to, not creating it. Determine the flow of the wind—you can’t control the wind, you can just figure out what direction it’s coming from and where it’s headed. I can’t control inspiration, I can just figure out where the direction of it. “What do tons and tons of air pressure moving in the atmosphere sound like? Make music that acts as a metaphor for that kind of immersion or density.” What does your inspiration sound like? What is it that you want to capture in your music? “Visualize soundscapes; create imaginary projections.” See what is heard, create in the imagination—follow that inspiration.
By this point in the paragraph, Spooky had me pretty excited. His Dj-ing was my writing. I could completely relate to what he was saying. “The rhythm scientist proves there’s more at work, more in the process, than the computerized musical automation.” It’s not just the Dj, the music, and computer programs. It’s the feel of the music, the inspiration, pulling the Dj down a certain path. It’s not just me, the pen, and the paper. It’s the characters telling me their story for me to write down, the inspiration choreographing the dance my fingers are performing on the keyboard.
And then Spooky had to be a bit depressing. “At the end of the day, when you press PLAY on the CD, you don’t necessarily care what the Dj was thinking about. You’re just going to see if you like it or not.” After all that adrenaline and excitement in the creation of a piece—musical or written—does it matter to other people? Do they care to see and hear what the creator saw and heard? Not according to Spooky. He seems to think that there is a want for imagination in society, “Without imagination, everything is empty. There are so many ways to drive each sequence, each track, each song.” Although he didn’t write it, I think the implicit end to that paragraph is, “No one sees it.” No one sees the paths there could have been, the drive behind the masterpiece.
We’ve discussed in class about how we all archive in some way—photo albums, Facebook, etc. We each create our own citizen archive. But are these types of citizen archives that varied from one person to the next? Every Facebook profile is different, but at the same time, they’re all the same. We all have status updates about school stressing us out, we all have pictures of us with our families, we all hashtag. We stay inside the normal boundaries. Facebook actually makes it really easy for us to all have uniform archives by having the same format for everyone: the cover photo across the top, with the profile picture in the bottom corner, the tabs at the bottom of the cover photo to navigate—it’s the same no matter whose page you go to. Where’s the imagination in that? How empty would Spooky find the lack of inspiration present on Facebook?
Question: Perhaps citizen archives do have a certain uniformity about them, a lack of imagination present, but is that completely terrible? Do we have to completely break down the normal boundaries the way Krazy Kat tore down the normal frames to let imagination and creativity in? Or can we be imaginative within the boundaries?