Wakened by my phone vibrating. I thought silent mode meant silent! Seems that the Amazon fairies work late and needed to let me know about ‘unbeatable offers on returned goods’ – ashamed to say I had a quick look – some good stuff – a lap-top with scratched case for £100.
My theme for this posting is obsessions. I have always admitted, perhaps prided myself in having an obsessive personality. I am that classic male that buys the book, the T-shirt, the magazine subscription , the membership etc etc. Not so much these days but certainly when I was younger. Most of these obsessions turned out to be pretty much a waste of time. Having collected all the necessary ingredients to bake a magnificent cake, I would fail to ever make, even a tawdry cake. My bass playing aspirations have floundered ( although I did purchase a new wall fitting for one of my basses – so that’s a step forward!), my cross trainer gathers dust, the tandem gets an occasional outing, my telescope is in the loft. I suppose just two turned out to be worthwhile; opera and computers both of which at least gave me means to earn a living. It now turns out that compared to many obsessives I am a real lightweight and 3 wonderful examples are to be found on the BBC News website. A watchmaker who makes watches from scratch – from the raw materials http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24211691
An artist using a typewriter to create non abstract images http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24760538
and another artist who has created a corner shop in which all the goods are felt facsimiles of real things, like bags of oven chips, mars bars etc. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28609443
So be warned or perhaps relieved I am not nearly as committed as any of them and my latest list of obsessions includes this blog which could well go the way of the cross trainer, telescope and tandem. I am already warming to another project which could easily drive this one into the section marked ‘to do later’ and as we all no that really means ‘never.’ Meanwhile I am very encouraged by several friends and colleagues who have contacted me to congratulate me on my new public atheist stance. It seems that being ‘in the valley of the shadow of death’ does liberate one from concerns over seeming silly or embarrassing – and I am pleased to be seen as leading a modest and very local charge for coming out as militantly atheist, just so long as I don’t hurt the feelings of anyone I love.
Boy I could probably do so and occasionally I am tempted. It’s the stuff out there! The rampant smugness and hypocrisy of the religious right, the schemes, scams and abuse proliferated, in the name of some sort of bogus mythology. It is inexcusable and yes I am going to say it we should fight it – not the people who believe it ( we can’t go round bashing other lovely human beings) but the bullying philosophy that underpins it should be challenged fearlessly but fairly. My potential decent into bigotry is a worry, but you have all promised to let me know.
So mouthing off has connected me with several people who I would have had no idea shared my views. Hurrah for that and for them. I am urging them to post.
The silent majority, I will assume has long since abandoned reading this blog – good for them, I would have done so for sure, or disagree with me but don’t want to pick on me cos I am ill – wimps I say to you folk, or my profoundest hope – JUST DON’T CARE – in my view one of the supreme achievements of human-kind and one we should all aspire to – a state of “I could not give a shit” is indeed a blessed state. ICNGAS – make what puns you can from the acronym. ‘I Chris Newell Gas’ (too much), just popped into my head.
What I have found most reassuring though is that other creative people can become so obsessed by such narrow topics, constrained canvases or challenging tools. In my case my obsession is with the creative potential of a specific 1986 bit of technology, long since superseded by more practical, faster, lighter devices, but this one happens to sound like Stephen Hawking – this has, for the last 3 years been my expressive medium and I was beginning to seriously worry that it was time to move on. Now I feel reassured that this will probably see me out, and rest assured by that I mean the next 30 years. The thing is it has some many of the ingredients I love. It is big like an old radio, it needs constant fixing, it’s noisy and contains bits that should move and get stuck, it needs umpteen other bits to make it do anything interesting! It impossible to find instructions on how to make it go (I have them now thanks) and unlike an IPod it looks like shit. But that said it is the only speech synthesis system I have come across in which a relatively crap programmer can create new voices, change the prosody, change the virtual head size, the breathiness, the gender, the age of the speaker even get it to sing +++. So to Dennis Klatt (the originator of the system) – I, an arty-farty amateur programmer and aspiring sound artist, bow down and worship your genius – it’s an extraordinary instrument you created. It gives me endless pleasure and all for $500 on Ebay (I have two now plus the original terminal to operate it (just for collecting completeness) so make that $1000).
I am very eager to reinforce the idea that anyone contemplating contributing to the blog is not expected to write essays, to check their work for typos, to express themselves clearly or any of that tiresome nonsense the teachers, that includes me, may mistakenly think matters. Knock out a blurt in five minutes and press submit please.
That’s it – bored now.