Zia Meditation #2

on this day then
shall I make the declaration
to let fear fall before the sun
to set aside old clothes
and remember who I really am?
who and what I am to become?

to reclaim
the throne of my own heart
& the kingdom of my mind

to remember
the sun, setting before sweet Cambria
upon the majestic cliffs of Zion
and rising again over New Mexico
the Zia in electric blue

can we do it?
let’s do it then.

Let’s act.
and listen
open our hearts and minds
and then make the decision

let’s paint in brights shades
of blue, yellow and red
in broad brushstrokes, yea
on a pearl white canvas
without thinking twice
breathe big
smile
and play jazz music
Mozart
and the blues

you’ve got the heart of a lion

December 21, 2020

critic at the pulpit

by Cal Corso

Art belongs to the people. It always has and hopefully always will.

It’s an important relationship, essential to the human experience.  Still it’s most consistent threat comes in the form of the intellectual asserting their expertise and implicitly suggesting some greater understanding of the art than the average person, even though we all have eyes and ears.

It’s a role that really shouldn’t exist unless it celebrates the work and it’s potential value to society.  If the work itself is no good then why talk about it at all? Wouldn’t it just add more noise to something that isn’t worthwhile to begin with?

Conversation and debate, more so than criticism, should arise from the ideas suggested by the art, and not dwell on whether the work is any good.  Any real complaint or criticism, then, would still manage to stimulate further discussion instead of stifling it.

“Never use a long word where a short one will do.”
-George Orwell

I can’t help but notice how these critics are a lot like some religious leaders who take a universal experience, plainly accessible to everyone, and suggest that their perspective on it is somehow more credible than our own, that they are more aware of its complexities–even though these are typically complexities of their own creation.

Most of them have never made a film, written a novel, composed music, or contributed anything to the field in which they claim expertise.  What they have done is invent a vocabulary, spontaneously and without any great need for one, a lexicon uniquely tailored to the craft, to a collective experience, that only further reinforces the illusion that they understand it more deeply than we do.

Jargon complicates the experience for the layman, reserving it for the elites who invent the language, evidently to perpetuate their own sense of self-importance.

In the late 1940s, William Faulkner criticized Ernest Hemingway for his terse style of writing, his limited choice of words.

“He has no courage, has never crawled out on a limb,” Faulkner said. “He has never been known to use a word that might cause the reader to check with a dictionary to see if it is properly used.”

When Hemingway heard about the criticism, he had his own choice words for Faulkner.

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”

Very often I’ve met people who find art overwhelming, even intimidating, just like they do poetry and certain types of music, like jazz or classical, because they feel it goes over their head.  They get discouraged by their seeming inability to figure out what the artist is trying to say, as if there’s some great big point to it they cannot grasp.

Ultimately it’s a product of our own making.  We’ve cultivated a whole industry that assumes the right to decide for everyone else what is good and what is bad, even though there has never been a science in determining something like that, and suggesting otherwise only reinforces the idea of there being some secret language to understanding it in the first place, a language reserved only for the esoteric few instead of the many.

There is no big secret, or code, or convoluted way.  The language is universal.  There is only the reaction, our own individual connections to the art, every bit as legitimate as the reactions of the self-proclaimed scholars.

I emphasize this because, in this magazine, we’ll be talking about music and films and painting and all kinds of art that we enjoy here at Quinby & Co. We’ll be talking about why we enjoy it too.

We will never be talking about something just so that we can give it a bad review and shoot it down.  If you hear any kind of criticism, it will more often address a specific point we feel the work in question is making, one that we feel has broader societal and philosophical implications.

If anything, it will try and stimulate debate not on the merit of the work but on the larger points that we have interpreted from it.  Most often, it will be a conversation over ideas.  We are not experts here, but we are passionate about telling good stories that resonate with people, about the tradition of telling stories and understanding why, since the dawn of man, we’ve even bothered to do it all.

To that point, we’d like to emphasize our belief that any work of art that stimulates such discussion is still, at the very least, something worthwhile.  Something worth experiencing.  In our humble opinion, it makes for a significant contribution to the times in which we live.

Issue #2 / Quinby & Co.

where to begin? Mozart.

by J.L. Quinby

If you’re just getting into classical music, I think the best place to begin would be with Mozart. 

Why?  Because if you can’t get into Mozart, you probably won’t be into classical music.  Yea maybe that’s a crude way of putting it, but I think it’s true; and it’s a testament to the universality of his music, how much it encompassed all that came before and influenced all that would follow.  

Now the best piece to begin with is “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” and it’s safe to say that most people in the world have heard this charming little piece of music.  No doubt when you play the first movement in the serenade, you’ll probably recognize it.

But hey, it’s good to start off with something familiar, and this is just an introduction after all.  I think that for anyone overwhelmed by classical music, it’s helpful to begin with what you know, and this is as good a piece as any. 

It even feels like a invitation when you listen, like someone welcoming you to a party on some crisp evening by the river, just as the sun sets and the stars begin to appear over the hills. 

I think Mozart understood this well enough.  I can just picture him writing the title after composing it.  “Just a little something I wrote.  In fact, we’ll call it A little night music.”  

Begin with the first piece and let the whole serenade play.   It’s four movements so let them play right one after the other.  Each one is as lilting and lovely as the next.  

By the way, in my humble opinion, the best players of Mozart’s chamber music are Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner.

So without further ado, for your listening pleasure…here’s a little night music. We hope you enjoy.

Issue #2 / Quinby & Co.