Friday, January 20, 2012

From a Diary: I:xvii

Distracting spaces.

I've been fortunate, for the past 12 years or so,* to have had workrooms that were, in all their homely clutter, well set up with everything needed to do all the mechanics of composing. The machinery and stationery and table tops and filing cabinets and bookshelves and all of my instruments (yes, that's a gamelan behind my chair), all within reach, and all more-or-less organized enough to be re-findable when stashed away. With computers at work, a big monitor (or two even) is useful, as are a good amplifier and nice speakers. I find a stable if not-too-comfortable chair is helpful, forcing one into a healthy working posture. Windows, too, are helpful, at the very least to bring some natural light into the dungeon or garret (the windows I had in Budapest, high in the hills, with a view of the parliament building and a suggestion of the Danube to one side and just the roof of Bartok's house, through the greenery, to the other side, went beyond helpful to well, inspirational. My present subterranean studio is less inspirational, but just as utilitarian)

But, as useful and practical as all of that equipment and furniture may be, it can all be a distraction. Sometimes it's better, Ithinks, to be less well-prepared, less well-organized, as the preparation organization itself has a tendency to start infecting methods and can, potentially, attach itself to the work itself.

So I've been finding myself dreaming lately about discovering another, heretofore unknown room in our house, an empty, or near-empty room. (When we were first married, and squeezed into 22 square meters, my wife and I often promised ourselves just such a big empty room; kids and the reality of real estate have long since intervened in that promise.) Big windows to the treeline and sky of course. Maybe a carpet on the floor (think Morton Feldman, think beached whales). Am I old enough to wish myself the all-too American excess of a lazy-z-boy? How about a hammock? Alas, our house is not going to expand anytime soon, and I don't have the resources to rent a secret atelier someplace (Duchamp's clandestine apartment where the Étant donnés was fashioned is the obvious model for me), but long walks with Lucky (my terrier mutt) and time spent in the library are useful recoveries of pre-compositional thinking spaces, and those unlimited dream spaces will have to do.

* Before then, I was making do with a desk in the corner of a room with some other principal purpose or a writing surface in a passageway that wasn't properly a room at all (my dissertation was written in an entryway) or even no desk or even pseudo-quasi-room at all, or even staking out a table in a library or other public space

1 comment:

Archivist/Cultural Liaison said...

A library with lots of space has been the place where i have accomplished the most in recent years.