Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Boulez – On Conducting 2002

A book full of interesting insights into conducting and with many – and not the obvious ones – parallels to my day to day job as a strategic planners.

“And so I found myself in front of the orchestra, who were, it must be said, very kind.” (Boulez, 2002, p.5).

“Firstly, today’s conductors lack culture. They are not familiar with the whole range of music, and they restrict themselves to a limited repertoire. Secondly, they lack flair. They only rarely seem to have a sense of discovery, only rarely have an intuition of what might become really valuable. Thirdly, they do not know how to run an institution in an artistic way.” (Boulez, 2002, p.16).

“He also gave advice to young conductors, fairly sarcastic advice, saying, for instance, that it was not the conductor who should sweat but the audience.” (Boulez, 2002, p.53).

“Personally, I tend to prefer a player who has more potential to one who has already fulfilled that potential.” (Boulez, 2002, p.74).

“I’ve noticed that it’s much more difficult than I thought for musicians and scientists to rub shoulders with one another. I’ve even fewer illusions on this subject than I had twenty-five years ago.” (Boulez, 2002, p.83). “Peppino di Giugno, who created the 4X processor, told me this about certain composers: ‘They are not satisfied, because they are not really aware of the possibilities of the computer; it’s as if one were asking a violinist to have a hand with six or seven fingers …’ It’s true that one often comes across this attitude with musicians: they demand more, because they do not know how to use what exists.” (Boulez, 2002, p.84).

“I know that the instrumental logic and the interpretation of the performer differ from that of the computer, which in itself has no capacity for interpretation.” (Boulez, 2002, p.87). “The interpretation, the essential quality of the performer, the ability to make choices, can only exist in the computer in a kind of phantom state.” (Boulez, 2002, p.89).

“Almost always when a difficulty in the score proves itself to be insurmountable, it’s because there is an error both in its conception and its notation. You cannot always blame the inadequacy of the players. So you have to correct the score, not to make it easier, but more effective – I repeat, effective.” (Boulez, 2002, p.115).

“The first fault you notice is that the conductor is so preoccupied with himself that he doesn’t hear what is happening – conducting is not just a question of giving initiatives but also of being receptive to what the orchestra does. If there is not this reciprocity, a conductor will fail.” (Boulez, 2002, p.127).

“I think that composition per se cannot be taught. (…) Two or three days a year of short, intense work (of teaching) are enough for me, because I think that the students should be given shock treatment in respect of high standards. Those students who are at this standard will be on a high, those who are not will very probably go under. It’s really like playing double or quits! Fom this point of view, I am very ‘Darwinian’. I think it is utterly useless dragging a weight behind you which you know perfectly well will not reach the top of the hill.” (Boulez, 2002, p.130).

“Education is no panacea, either. I mean that it never supplies talent to those who have none; it can simply nourish talent.” (Boulez, 2002, p134). “Teaching is only a beginning; it is teaching yourself that is important. I have often said it and I still think it: I much prefer those who chose to teach themselves to those who ended up teaching themselves by chance. You can develop this wish with someone who, later, might ‘hit you in the face’. That is perfect. He must also kill the father.” (Boulez, 2002, p.135).

“I say: ‘This is what I have done, this is what I have done, this is what others have done: find your way through that.’ I ask for neither support nor a purely positive reaction. Reaction is what is required. So much the better if the reaction is positive; likewise if it is negative. I am a bad father. I am like Jean-Jacques Rousseau: if I had had children, I would have put them in care, so that they might grow up by themselves.” (Boulez, 2002, p.135).

“It made me more critical vis-à-vis the connection between theoretical speculation and practical realization. I have always been in favour of theoretical speculation, for it is that which carries you forward. If you remain restricted by performance, you will never achieve anything. (…) Invention is the wellspring, all the gestures and processes are a consequence of it.” (Boulez, 2002, p.138).

“Whenever I played my own works on the piano, and even more so when I conducted them, I thought fairly early on about the sort of ‘result’ that would be effective. For when one composes in too complex a manner, the performer inevitably simplifies.” (Boulez, 2002, p.139). “the more complex the structure, the more you must link it to a simple parameter. It is one of the permanent features with Wagner; if the leitmotifs recur in a very obvious form, it is to put you back on track when you have lost your way in the structure. The structure if Wagner’s operas is at times excessively complex, and it is thanks to the leitmotivs that one can get one’s bearings in an act that lasts two hours.” (Boulez, 2002, p.140).

“a work is not pure invention, it require to be performed. Otherwise it is incomplete.” (Boulez, 2002, p.140).

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Odyssey - Homer 2009

The Odyssey – Homer 2009

“The most significant characteristic of the two, as of all the suitors, is that they constantly thinl one thing and say another. Such duplicity is unitypical of Homeric characters- In the Iliad, heroic thought and action are all of a piece: once a hero thinks of something, he does it.” (EV Rieu in Homer, 2009, p.xxiv).

“(I)n Homer the gods only help those who are worthy of it.” (EV Rieu in Homer, 2009, p.xxxvii).

“The ‘No one’ trick in the Cyclops cave (the Greek for ‘No one’, me tis, when run together, makes metis, Greek for ‘resourcefulness, cunning’, one of Odysseus’ most common epithets.” (EV Rieu in Homer, 2009, p.xxxvii).

“Take, for example, the scar episode. At 19.392, Eurycleia ‘recognized the scar, the one Odysseus had received years before’. The story of the scar is told, and it ends (467): ‘it was this scar that the old woman felt and recognized’. It is an extremely common controlling device in Homer.” (EV Rieu in Homer, 2009, p.xxxix).

“Life in its sweetness was ebbing away in the tears he shed for his lost home.” (Homer, 2009, p.66).

“And now Athene filled his eyes with sleep and sealed their lids – sleep to soothe his pain and utter weariness.” (Homer, 2009, p.75).

“For nothing in the world is so shamelessly demanding as a man’s confounded stomach.” (Homer, 2009, p.90).

“”Odysseus, why are you sitting like this as though you were dumb, and feeding on your own thoughts instead of helping yourself to meat and wine?” (Homer, 2009, p.134).

“they thought of their beds and accepted the gift of sleep.” (Homer, 2009, p.222).

“All-seeing Zeus takes half the good out of a man on the day he becomes a slave.” (Homer, 2009, p.231).

“’Of all the creatures that breathe and creep about on Mother Earth there is none so helpless as man. As long as the gods grant him prosperity and health he imagines he will never suffer misfortune in the future. Yet when the blessed gods bring him troubles he has no choice but to endure them with a patient heart. The reason is that the view we mortals take of this earthly life depends on what Zeus, the Father of gods and men, sends us day by day.” (Homer, 2009, p.242).

“But you’re just a braggart with the heart of a bully, who take yourself for a big man and a hero only because the people you meet are so few, and so undistinguished.” (Homer, 2009, p.248).

“there’s a force in iron that lures men on.” (Homer, 2009, p.250).

“’I keep no man idle who has eaten my bread, however far he may have journeyed.” (Homer, 2009, p.250).

“Father Zeus, you are the cruellest of gods. You have no compunction about dealing out misfortunes, misery and suffering to us men; yet it was you who caused us to be born.” (Homer, 2009, p.271).

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Ally & Gargano Amil Gargano 2009

“Think of it this way: there are many forms of expressing creativity: Doyle Dane Bernbach’s genre centred around irony, humor, irreverence, whimsy and a capacity to evoke genuine emotion. Brilliant, yes. But soft on aggression. Ed Butler, who worked first at DDB and later at Ally & Gargano, summed up the relative merits of the three most influential agencies at the time in these succinct words: Ogilvy gave advertising a certain dignity, Bernbach gave it humanity. Ally gave it teeth.” (Gargano, 2009, p.13).

“We figured client-agency relationship should be a two-way street. We had as much right to evaluate and reject a client as their right to evaluate and reject us.” (Gargano, 2009, p.17).

“His (Carl Ally’s) frankness, often brutal, often without tact, made him a vulnerable target. But it was also his willingness to freely bare his soul that made him connect so well with people – a 200-pound mass of raw nerve endings. (…) He once said to me, “In this life, you’ve got to show your ass.”” (Gargano, 2009, p.39).

“For us, comparative advertising became the quintessential advertising form to deliver useful consumer information. A tough, factful approach short on hype, puffery, and embellishment. And when you think about it, isn’t comparative judgement the way people decide on almost everything?” (Gargano, 2009, p.52). “We need something to compare something else to in order to give that something greater definition and meaning.” (Gargano, 2009, p.73).

“Comparative advertising will work only when a product has superior benefits over competition.” (Gargano, 2009, p.73).

 “”The last thing we do is make ads,” were repeated in every new business meeting during what seemed a lifetime.” (Gargano, 2009, p.75).

“Two basic elements of communications, substance and style, were made equal in importance – one was never subordinated to the other. Both are essential in all work.

“I’ve never seen a consumer look at an ad that caught their attention and then go on to say, “I’d buy it, but it’s not on strategy.”” (Gargano, 2009, p.77).

“Advertising is the toy department of business.” (Gargano quoting O’Reilly, 2009, p.138).

“Award shows have an intrinsic merit. They set the standard that serves as a source of inspiration to others, and deliver the recognition and reward to those who have labored long and fought hard to create the best of what we do as an industry. Whatever shortcomings exist, and there are many, their value exceeds their limitations.” (Gargano, 2009, p.138).

“When the French want to sell you something they take off their clothes. The English tell a joke. And Americans sing.” (Gargano, 2009, p.138).

 “We hypothesized, contrary to established thinking, that ad agencies are not in the service business. Although service for agencies was all hat mattered, we insisted that, foremost, agencies manufactured products – tangible and finite – that can be touched, seen, or llistened to. They’re called ads. And that’s what we make.” (Gargano, 2009, p.218).

“Whoever the advertiser,
whatever the product,
there was always the
commitment to uncover ways
to better inform the consumers.” (Gargano, 2009, p.312).

“If I want to be different, I’ll come to breakfast in the morning with my socks in my mouth.” (Gargano quoting Leo Burnett, 2009, p.339).

“He was driven, I suppose like many of us here tonight, by a fear of living an ordinary life – by a fear of checking out before he made his mark.” (Gargano, 2009, p.369).

“And that is what you are about to see: Advertising’s possibilities. Honest, powerful work, filled with humanity and warmth, satire, irony and irreverence.” (Gargano, 2009, p.369).

“Great clients make great agencies, not vice versa.” (Gargano, 2009, p.377).

“Not obvious simplicity, which is to say water is wet and fire is hot, but to edit and transform this profusion of information into an illuminating, simple thought that everyone can grasp and remember.” (Gargano, 2009, p.409).

“Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comforted.” (Gargano, 2009, p.409).

“Adversity, it is said, introduces a man to himself.” (Gargano, 2009, p.412).

“Company symbols and logos are necessary today, but, as Bill Bernbach was fond of saying, they’re more like “Corporate Cufflinks.”” (Gargano, 2009, p.460).

“I don’t understand why an agency would want to devour other agencies. For what purpose? Why should I acquire a bunch of disparate philosophies and try to assimilate them? Any artist knows when you mix all the colors of the palette, the color you end up with is mud.” (Gargano, 2009, p.526).

“A professor from Harvard appeared, spewing marketing platitudes and shibboleths of inctionable generalities.” (Gargano, 2009, p.539).

Publicly held companies are constrained by a more rigid set of controls than privately held companies. Outside directors with fiduciary responsibility will decide matters in the best financial interest of shareholders over the need for a company to maintain ideology that’s held dearly.” (Gargano, 2009, p.576).

Friday, 14 October 2016

John Updike Ohlinger Stories - 2014

“I have been told that the story seems to have no point. The point, to me, is plain, and is the point, more or less, of all these Olinger stories. We are rewarded unexpectedly. (…) In my boyhood I had the impression of being surrounded by an incoherent generosity.” (Updike, 2014, p.13).

“All of this machinery (at a fair) assembled to extract from him his pathetic fifty cents.” (Updike, 2014, p.20). “Only the money in his pocket weighs him; get rid of it, and he will sail away like a dandelion seed.” (Updike, 2014, p.22).

“It came to him that what he had taken for cruelty had been love, that far from hating her everybody had loved her from the beginning, and that even the stupidest knew it weeks before he did.” (Updike, 2014, p.34).

“He taught school in Olinger and spent his free days performing with a kind of panic, needless errands. A city boy by birth, he was frightened of the farm and seized any excuse to get away.” (Updike, 2014, p.41).

“”David,” she asked gently, “don’t you ever want to rest?”
“No. Not forever.”
“David, you’re so young. When you get older, you’ll feel differently.”” (Updike, 2014, p.54).

“A barn, in day, is a small night. The splinters of light between the dry shingles pierce the high roof like stars, and the rafters and crossbeams and built-in ladders seem, until your eyes adjust, as mysterious as the branches of a haunted forest.” (Updike, 2014, p.61).

“He dug the hole, in a spot where there were no strawberry plants, before he studied the pigeons. He had never seen a bird this close before. The feathers were more wonderful than dog’s hair, for each filament was shaped within the shape of the feather, and the feathers in turn were trimmed to fit a pattern that flowed without error across the bird’s body. (…) And across the surface of the infinitely adjusted yet somehow effortless mechanics of the feathered played idle design of color, not two alike, designs executed, it seemed, in a controlled rapture, with a joy that hung level in the air above and behind him.” (Updike, 2014, p.65). “he was robed in this certainty: that the God who had lavished such craft upon these worthless birds would not destroy His whole Creation by refusing to let David live forever.” (Updike, 2014, p.66).

“Between now and the happy future predicted for him he had nothing, almost literally nothing, to do.” (Updike, 2014, p.96).

“That she continued to treat me like an ordinary child seemed a betrayal of the vision she had made me share. I was captive to a hoe she had tossed off and forgotten.” (Updike, 2014, p.100).

“How incongruous! As if each generation of parents commits atrocities against their children which by God’s decree remain invisible to the rest of the world.” (Updike, 2014, p.102).

“It was a relaxed friendship. We were about the same height and had the same degree of athletic incompetence and the same curious lack of whatever it was that aroused loyalty and compliance in beautiful girls.” (Updike, 2014, p.125).

“”Oh, I like everybody,” I told her, “and the longer I’ve known them the more I like them, because the more they’re me.” (Updike, 2014, p.137).

“There was a quality of the ten a.m. sunlight as it existed in the air ahead of the windshield, filtered by a thin overcast, blessing irresponsibility - you felt you could slice forever through such a cool pure element. (…) And there was knowing that twice since midnight a person had trusted me enough to fall asleep beside me.” (Updike, 2014, p.142).

“”Aren’t you happy?”
“I am, I am; but” – the rest was so purely inspired its utterance only grazed his lips – “happiness isn’t everything.”” (Updike, 2014, p.154).

“he became a child again in his town, where life was a distant adventure, a rumor, an always imminent joy.” (Updike, 2014, p.157).

 “She knew, perhaps, what I was shocked to discover when, descending the steps with trembling knees, ad tingling all over as if from a bath, I went downstairs: that we have no gestures adequate to answer the imperious gestures of nature. Among deaf mountains human life pursues a comic low road.” (Updike, 2014, p.165).

“His prayers seemed to chip pieces from our hearts and float them away.” (Updike, 2014, p.165).

“her fears were not foolish. There was danger in that kind house. Tigers of temper lurked beneath the furniture, and shadows of despair followed my father to the door and flattened themselves against the windows as he walked down the shaded street alone.” (Updike, 2014, p.169).

“There was a time when I wondered why more people did not go to church. Taken purely as a human recreation, what could be more delightful, more unexpected than to enter a venerable and lavishly scaled building kept warm and clean for use one or two hours a week and to sit and stand in unison and sing and recite creeds and petitions that are like paths worn smooth in the raw terrain of our hearts.?” (Updike, 2014, p.181).

“In Manhattan, Christianity is so feeble its future seems before it.” (Updike, 2014, p.183).

“After we got home, and surveyed our four children, and in bed read a few pages made unbearably brilliant by the afterglow of gin, and turned out the light, she surprised me by not turning her back.” (Updike, 2014, p.190).

“Friends visited, and for the first time truly in my life I realized that each face is suppressing knowledge of an immense catastrophe; our faces are dams that wrinkle under the strain.” (Updike, 2014, p.192).

In the car: “the very music on the radio seemed a drag on our effort, and I turned it off, obliterating earthly time.” (Updike, 2014, p.206).

“we taunted the cold stars with song, one mile, two miles, three miles. How slowly we went! With what a luxurious sense of waste did we abuse this stretch of time!” (Updike, 2014, p.212).