When I first began to blog on an infinite number of curves, it indeed curved in multiple directions, covering my thoughts and observations on a variety of seemingly unrelated topics. Part of the premise was that all topics are related, even though their relationships are not always readily evident.
More and more, though, I see this blog has become something a little less distinguished, a listing of performances, events and accolades — external signposts, as opposed to thoughts. I’ve been fully aware of this shift as it has been taking place, and I have explained it away to myself through various means. And now it is time for me to own up to what has happened.
There are at least three independent strands that have influenced the shift. First, over the course of eight years, I have said a substantial portion of what I have to say. There are a few things I haven’t gotten to yet, and their times may come, but a lot of my thoughts on the subjects nearest and dearest to my heart are already out there. This is a phenomenon other bloggers have encountered and commented on. The blog as a format has reached a plateau.
Second, I am valuing my privacy more and more. That seems like a funny thing to say because I have always valued my privacy, but every passing year makes privacy feel more precious. I suppose it’s because all of my actions, tastes, interests, etc, have become much easier for strangers to gather and decipher than was the case even eight years ago. It feels, in fact, like the level of privacy I took for granted in my youth is something that would be extremely difficult to attain today, and is probably unimaginable for generations of composers active now and in the years to come.
Finally, I seem to have reached a point in my development where I am more conscious of an urge for purity of expression, as opposed to an urge to try new things. In that sense, infinite curves are not as appealing to me as a few discrete, well-placed dots. That may be a product of my age, or the result of years of compositional growth, or some other factor, I don’t know. Somehow I find the image of the retracted arms of a melanocyte appealing. Melanocytes are the skin cells that create melanin, or pigment. These cells, unlike the other 90% of our skin cells, have long arms, like an octopus, that allow them to send their pigments to the follicles our hair grows from. As we age, the tendrils of these melanocytes retract. Our hair receives less and less pigment, and is allowed to exhibit its true color, which is white. Others choose to see this development as a loss, but I’m inclined to see a gain: instead of dressing itself up with color from the outside, my hair is gradually becoming more and more comfortable just being itself.
In much the same way, I am less and less interested in dressing up my life and art in the colors that I find reaching me through the tendrils of culture. Instead, I am content with the absence of color, a turn to a more nuanced texture. It’s a shift in focus from the infinite to the infinitesimal. That’s not an attitude, a perspective, I can recommend to young composers – and it certainly is not one best suited to the blog format — but it suits me for the time being.