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Saturday, January 08, 2005
Very interesting piece by Douglas on the responsibilties of auteurs to their audience. It's something I know I've discussed before, but nothing springs to mind right now; generally, though, my feeling is, "creatively, do whatever you want, and as an audience member we'll try and give it the benefit of the doubt and maybe it'll lead us to a wider appreciation," but this is mainly based in a reaction to widespread "the early stuff was better, man"-ism, which I rarely find myself agreeing with. (Like I think REM's mid/late-period stuff is waaaaaay better than their early stuff.) And it also brings up my "it's too bad Kevin Shields didn't die" thing. But just go read, we can discuss later maybe. Right now I seriously need to do some mixing.

Also, I note that he says "this is ridiculously long" but it's still about 500 words shorter than my P&J comments. That should tell me something, huh?

ADDENDUM: I left a comment, in response to his first dictum:

It's the duty of people who want to be serious about making stuff, &
already have the necessary basic skills, to:

1) Plan projects that are realistically within their abilities (mantra
for this stage: "I get to talk it up when it's mostly done, and not before"
a.k.a. "don't let your mouth write a check that your ass can't cash");

I understand that failing at #1 is frustrating to fans, but I'm unclear why it's a problem for the creator. Does it have any actual effect on whether or not they end up putting out good work, whether or not it has anything to do with what they've previously announced? For instance, the two post-Kid A Radiohead albums have been preceded by advance notices that had little if anything to do with how the albums actually sounded, but that doesn't make them bad albums, and if Beck's new album turns out not to be a party album, I'll be annoyed, but not because he said it would be a party album, just because I'd like a new Beck party album.

I think what's being suggested is that for certain creative types, the act of disclosing their plans sometimes suffices in their heads for actually carrying them out--that they get enough satisfaction from telling people what they want to do that they don't feel the need to actually do it. Is that a fair read? Is this defensible, and is it applicable to most artists, or just a certain subset? (I.e. "neurotic white guys"?)

UPDATE 2: This is also interesting as another angle to the career-watching-as-pop-pleasure stuff I was talking about in the pop biographism post. It's a very important point that this is also a source of pleasure for cult artists, and in fact is at the heart of the cult appeal: all the stuff surrounding the music becomes highly important. Being excited about there being a Pixies reunion tour or a new MBV album provides a key source of enjoyment and participation, as does arguing with other fans about what it will sound like and whether or not it will be any good; tracking down new tidbits of information and tracking the album's progress; and evaluating it from a careerist standpoint after its release--all these are as important as the music at a certain stage of fandom.