When I posted a link about Helsinki street style a while back, cpolk commented about how many of the folks in the pictures talked about making their clothes from scratch, or using historic clothes they had inherited from relatives, or finding them in second-hand stores and reimagining them as current fashion. Everything, that is, except buying stuff off the rack.
I'd noticed that too. Stuff off the rack may keep you warm, and prevent the police from picking you up for indecent exposure, but nobody will be interested in taking your photo and or think it worth the effort to put you on a web page as 'street style'. If you want to be interesting, you can't buy ready-made. You have to do it yourself.
There is, of course, a larger concept here. Three years ago, when I picked up fiction writing again, I said I was doing it "because the music I want to hear hasn't been written yet." I was perhaps a little arrogant: since then I've been introduced to some great writers I wasn't aware of, who are making very good 'music'. But the larger concept is that anyone who wants to do something really worthwhile, has to make their own music. Make their own clothes. Create their own 'voice'. That I am more convinced of than ever. Not that you can't learn from others. People who make clothes don't have to reinvent the concept of cloth. But they have to bring something unique of their own, some unique way of seeing fashion. Writers don't have to reinvent English prose. But if anyone is to care to read them, they have to add to the word-hoard of English prose style something unique of their own, some new flavor, some new vision, some new perspective, some new myth, something that tickles us because we've never seen it before: a new way to view the world. A new music.
(The essay from JAMA about 'the music that I want to hear' is available on JAMA's website, but behind an annoying registration process. I'm reproducing it below the cut. I'll keep it up until I get C&D'd.)
The Music I Want to Hear
David A. Brent, MD
Twenty-two years ago, my brother James died suddenly, at the age of 26, of an apparent cardiac arrhythmia while playing basketball. Although his death has continued to leave a profound void for our entire family, my brother gave me an invaluable gift before departing.
Jimmy was a professional jazz pianist, performing in many Philadelphia jazz clubs. But his real love was composition, and at the time of his death, he had created more than 60 pieces. His career path had not gone according to the family "plan," where there is a strong expectation to pursue a professional education and career, preferably in medicine. But Jimmy was someone who set his own goals and followed the direction of his heart. I remember the night he decided to become a musician. We went to hear Rudolf Serkin play a Brahms piano concerto. The performance was so sublime that, at Jimmy's insistence, we left at intermission because he didn't want his memory of the music to be diluted by the remainder of the concert.
Eight years later, we got together one humid, sweltering August day in Philadelphia to talk about music for what turned out to be the last time. I asked him, "Jim, who are you listening to these days?" His curt and surprising answer was "Me." I asked, "Don't you think you have anything more to learn from the great masters, like Duke, Monk, and Mingus?" He gave me a withering look and replied, "You don't understand. The music I want to hear hasn't been written yet. And I'm going to write it."
I was stunned by Jimmy's response. Immediately after his comment, I found myself feeling sad and quite ashamed of myself. I had always been an excellent student but had tended to rely on the goals of others to guide me. At this particular point in my life, I was uncertain of my career direction, although by most external standards, I would have been considered quite successful. I had trained in an elite pediatric residency and now was in an equally excellent psychiatry and child psychiatry training program. But inside I realized I really didn't know exactly what I wanted, much less how to achieve it. My prolonged academic training had resulted in my always looking to others for praise and direction. My brother's clarity about his goals brought a conclusion into sharp focus: I was making an uncomfortable transition from the exceptional student I had always been to an adult who was afloat professionally. I felt humiliated by my younger brother, although at the same time, I greatly admired his risk-taking and confidence in his instincts. Furthermore, he had taken the creative act beyond merely seeking applause and reinforcement from others to the pursuit of something beautiful that he needed to have, like food or shelter.
I was surprised by the strength of my initial emotional reaction to my brother's declaration. Yet I found myself thinking about how frustrated I had grown with the lack of empirically based, practical guidelines in my chosen field, child psychiatry. And so I replied, "You know, the child psychiatry literature I want to read hasn't been written yet either. Maybe I'm going to write some of it."
Two months later I received the shocking news of Jimmy's sudden death, and his words came flooding back. After the funeral, my father and I went through my brother's belongings and found dozens of Jim's compositions and many recordings, which have continued to give us pleasure to this day. The reasons it is important to write the music you want to hear are twofold: our time on this sweet sphere is unpredictably short; also it is important to leave something behind of value for those who remain. Not everyone can write music, but everyone can leave the world a better place than they found it. Inspired by my brother's creativity, I resolved to follow his example.
I began to focus on ways in which I could make a difference as a child psychiatrist, using "the music that hasn't been written yet but that I wanted to hear" as my guide. Somehow I was drawn to the study of suicide among young people, perhaps because the tragedy of life cut short by suicide resonated so closely with my own sense of loss. I have been fortunate to be able to make contributions that I believe have improved the care of troubled young people and also to play a role in the development of younger colleagues who aspire to research careers.
As I sit with members of the next generation of researchers, trying to help them define their ideas and find their own voice, that last conversation with my brother is within me still. When I witness the struggle that nearly all young researchers experience when trying to find a career path that is both interesting and important, I find myself asking them, "What is the music you want to hear?" I have had the privilege of watching many talented, aspiring researchers successfully grapple with this question and to help change the field. Although my brother has been gone for more than 20 years, the reverberations set off by his life and death continue to cause new music to be heard.
Happy New Year of the Dog!
picture swiped from Your Daily Art
== mujaki == (noun, adjective that takes な) innocence,
|Obscure origin. Right radical is 'village'. Left radical is a Non-General Use character meaning 'fang'. This character originally referred to a specific village in ancient China. How it came to mean 'wickedness' is not clear. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Fangs are bared in village of wickedness.'|