“Lay, Lady, Lay.”

Selfie with dead bird

Selfie with dead bird.

“Lay across my big brass bed.”

The Bob Dylan song encapsulates the entrenched American muddle around “lie” and “lay.” The victory of “lay” is all but complete.

It’s obvious the song invites the lady to sexual congress, not to a nap. The third iteration drives home the corrupt overlay of “lie” with “lay.”

I lay this particular muddle at the door of an old bedtime prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep.” The prayer is phrased correctly, but convincing someone that it’s technically not kosher to say “lay down to sleep,” omitting the reflexive pronoun, is as hard as enlightening a climate change denier on a cold day.

So it goes. The living language has a mind of its own. Popular solecism trumps stodgy  correctitude. When certain of us lie down for our last sleep, this now-picayune rule will lay down with us.

Selfie with spilt rum

Selfie with spilt rum.

(c) 2019 JMN

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The Poor Rich

koons rabbit

Jeff Koons’s “Rabbit” is the newest record-breaker in the art world. Credit John Lamparski/Getty Images.

… The affluent but not super-wealthy collectors — the bankers at Goldman Sachs but not the partners… are put off by the sky-high prices at top galleries and auction houses. When they see a Hockney painting sell for $90 million, they assume the $50,000 work they can afford is not worth buying, especially if they can’t flip it for a quick profit at auction.

A market where extremely rich people pay too much for mediocre art and shut out the not-quite-as rich may not be the biggest issue in a wildly polarized economy. But art is the record of culture we leave for future generations, and it too is being warped by our unequal economy.

(Allison Schrager, “Even the Rich Aren’t Rich Enough for Jeff Koons,” NYTimes, 5-16-19)

(c) 2019 JMN

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Quote This?

music staff

JMN. The start of a painting of the musical modes — Ionic, Phrygian, etc. Painted the foreground first. Poor planning.

A kind observer from somewhere remarked that I had a fair amount of original content on my blog, and asked if I coped with plagiarism or copyright violation, saying he or she was seeing his or her own content cropping up elsewhere on the internet. I paraphrase the comment, because I now can’t locate it. It ghosted partially on my screen until I unlocked, but does not show up on WordPress, which is where I assumed it had originated. I pierce the bloggery veil now for a disquieting moment to address this unexpected but interesting question.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I suppose plagiarism is similar. The only reason someone might steal my thunder, it seems to me, is because I’ve said something either so useful or so unforgettable — or so potentially lucrative? — that he, she, or “it” corporately, wishes to be remembered for it in my stead. Gosh, thank you, would be my first thought, but I’m hard pressed to imagine any such scenario being the case — self-deprecation is one of my sincerest poses.

I experience EthicalDative mostly as an echo of my inner voice woolgathering in one way or another, ignored by the many, noticed by the few. Little or nothing I post can be more memorable or creative than the vast universe of good content blogged elsewhere.

I’m unaware of my effusions being appropriated with or without attribution. How does one know? In the age of Kardashian many people (and perhaps I’m included) cut and paste much of their very lives to and from the Internet. How do they even know when they’re speaking in their own voice and not someone else’s, or snapping their own face in the selfie and not one bestowed by a YouTube makeup guru?

I restarted this WordPress blog from three primitive antecedents on other platforms. In doing so I read an article that recommended copyrighting each post as a matter of course. I took it to heart and have mechanically followed that practice, though it feels pretentious most of the time. But the article also mentioned the necessity to periodically register your content with the appropriate agency for a small fee, which I have not done.

Failing said registration, and even with it, my understanding is that your avenues of recourse, should you get stepped on copyright-wise, are few and puny for the most part — the equivalent of saying “Please stop doing that!” — unless you have a walloping war-chest of ready money to burn on lawyers, and an endless supply of life to fritter away in lawsuits. I’ve neither. My only defense from theft is ethics, which is to say, I’m naked to the wind.

(c) 2019 JMN

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Guide by the Perplexed — Crossed Eyes, Dotted Tees

gris guitar

Juan Gris, “Guitare sur une table,” from 1916, at Helly Nahmad. Credit via Helly Nahmad Gallery.

Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the cloud of unknowing, I shall fear no malaise, for thy clef and thy stave, they comfort me.

I pause from the demented abstraction of this serialized soliloquy, this goofy guide, to reflect that what it is, actually, is praying — a beseeching of the Inner Power enfolded in the gray matter to grant me long musical life during which to unfuddle prior musical life.

It’s a form of prostration unseemly in better calibrated souls. It grovels for enlightenment in a manner similar to the ostentatious self-abasement of flagellating zealots in olden times.

It’s a quest for absolution from the sin of blind adherence to finger-fucking the fretboard in lieu of understanding the fretboard and melding with it in brain-sourced rites of hard discipline.

It’s an act of penance over having fallen for pusillanimous, bankrupt, complacent teachers who catered to delusions of chumps like me: “Sweet Home Alabama” was at our fingertips if we fingered just so, they purred.

It’s a striving to pay the same attention to fretboard position that we pay to not falling over when we walk — little or none. O Inner Power, let me swoop irreflexively, unerringly, to the note at 3-10F or 5-5D. Guide my finger.

It’s hapless effrontery, whether relieved or not with silliness like this. The truth is that, to the passerby, these mantric soundings towards a contrived musicology are as dry as dust, like Judges or the Book of Numbers.

To be sure, I don’t know what the praying does for me, but it does something. It steadies me. In the pregnant nocturnal silences I’m like, Musician, guide thyself, or whatever.

And there you have it. It’s time to see how naturally occurring diatonic semitones (NODS) can expand indwelling fretboard awareness — coming next.

(c) 2019 JMN

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Hard to Live With

monet meules

This work from Claude Monet’s “Meules” (“Grainstacks”) series set an auction high for any work by an Impressionist painter, according to Sotheby’s, which handled the $110.7 million sale. Credit via Sotheby’s.

Claude Monet’s series paintings are among the few true trophies that can generate real excitement at auctions… “They’re so evocative, so romantic and so easy to live with,” Offer Waterman, a London-based dealer, said. “That was the best of the series… It was an amazing painting. And you just can’t get them.”

“The longer you spend buying it, the longer you’ll spend enjoying it,” quipped Harry Dalmeny, the auctioneer… as he urged the bidders on.

(Scott Reyburn, “A Monet Sells for $110.7 Million, an Auction High for an Impressionist Work,” NYTimes, 5-14-19)

Well, yes, you can get a true trophy in a frenzy of real excitement if you’re filthy rich.

Monet did only (!) 25 of these “Meules” paintings in 1890 and 1891 in the fields next to his home in Giverny. I like to think he would spin in his grave at knowing that the fruit of his honest labor is being retailed at astronomical sums of filthy lucre by cynical
auctioneers in a philistine micro-bubble of obscene wealth peopled by a handful of hedge fund managers, petroleum potentates, and their ilk.

I join Claude in finding it disheartenening, dispiriting, discouraging, demoralizing, debasing, disgusting, and denaturing to lose perfectly decent art to gilded closets.

(c) 2019 JMN

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Guide by the Perplexed — Consolidation

gris guitar

Juan Gris, “Guitare sur une table,” from 1916, at Helly Nahmad. Credit via Helly Nahmad Gallery.

The OO states uncover a consistency that helps learn what 8 natural notes are produced at 12 fret-based coordinates.

Let’s use a notation specifying string-fret, then note.

Example: “1-7B.”

In the example, the initial digit (‘1’) designates string 1. The next digit (‘7’) designates fret 7. The letter (‘B’) designates the note produced — note B. Thus, the symbol “1-7B” says “string 1 at fret 7 is a B.”

OOF state occurs as follows:1-0E, 1-7B, 2-8G, 3-7D, 4-7A, 5-7E, 6-0E.
OOP state occurs as follows: 6-0E, 6-5A, 5-5D, 4-5G, 3-4B, 2-5E, 1-0E.

And there you have it. It’s time to cross some eyes and dot some tees — coming next.

(c) 2019 JMN

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Parting Looks — Buck Schiwetz

Edward Muegge “Buck” Schiwetz (1898-1984), born in Cuero, Texas. (c) 2019 JMN

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