There is a chance that I am becoming less mature artistically and intellectually. Then again there is a chance I am not, which is something that actually concerns me. I am not a religious person, but I do think that as we grow old we need to put away childish ways etc. Well, I am not here talking so much about my many childish ways (love of ice cream, toys, sci-fi, fast cars etc, all of which I don’t see a problem with) but rather the way I view process in art. When I was 21 years old I directed my first play, and went on to direct 10 or so others over the next few years. When I first started directing, I was just out of acting school, and had experienced some self transforming exercising in improvisation, which had changed my world view, as much as my acting(which by the way never got very good). These exercises were so powerful to me, that as a director, I would bring them into rehearsal. In fact for those first few plays, much of rehearsal was spent doing some intense improvisation. I had great actors, who never complained, and worked very hard on this. Unfortunately it left too little time to actually work on the mechanics of the play, and the result was not so good. It wasn’t long before I discovered that professional play directing was better off when you leave this kind of exploration to the actors, and instead focus on staging the most effective production possible. I don’t direct now, but if I were to, I would continue to stage the play, talk to the actors about character, but certainly not mess around with improv.
Now, 10 years later, I am performing and putting out recordings of completely improv’d free jazz music, and feeling the same emotional spirit that drove my work as a young acting student and director. So, the natural thing is to ask myself, “is this a phase in discovering something, but not the product?” I wonder how I got to this point, and realize that the cliché that life is the voyage and not a destination, is actually true, and applies where music and science are concerned.
I read many biographies and memoirs of people I respect. Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Priestly, Moss Hart, Richard Feynman, The Dali Lama, Einstein etc, and one thing is fairly common, and that is that most of them spent most of the time not working on a final product, but instead on the process. Strangely this process became a product, or revelation. Einstein dreaming of riding on a beam of light became the theory of relativity. They were often lucky to have time to play with process. It is so prevalent that I would almost say that discoveries and beautiful art only come from the type of contemplation and experimentation that could never be done in a controlled atmosphere of trying to “get the product up”. This must not be true (as major corporations innovate all of the time, on a schedule, and occasionally good plays and pop albums are also made), but it has convinced me that the process is worth it. The question remains is it worth it enough to make it the end product itself. Though I am not sure, my guess is that Da Vinci’s notebooks will be read for even more centuries than they already have been. That the Picasso, and the Renoir studies and sketches will continue to be valued by collectors. Perhaps discoveries will still be made from the late night scribbling of philosophers and scientists, or even obscure blog entries. Either way, I am going back to my youth and practicing my way through performances and experiments, in order to find something unique, about myself and the art and science I am exploring.