Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Fountainhead

I've been pounding down mid 20th century literature of late and thoroughly enjoying it.

A month or so ago I finished Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead - a philosophically thought-provoking novel that was one of those books that, on a kindle, crept from being quite short in my mind to being somewhat of an epic - my 'percentage completed' bar was escalating at a painfully slow pace despite all efforts. However, after some internal battles, I resigned myself to the marathon and began to enjoy the offerings.

It presents what has since been classified as Objectivism - you can read for yourself what it's all about - and it certainly challenges society's so-called norms.

But I'm not in the business of publicly philosophising so I'm just going to throw some quotes from the book that stayed in my mind a little longer than others.

If you anticipate being in a ponderous mood for a good few weeks, give this book a go.

Next write up will cover On The Road by Jack Kerouac, which I finally got around to reading and just finished.

The Fountainhead - quotes

"If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away. (actually originally Victor Hugo)

"My basic test for any story is: 'Would I want to meet these characters and observe these events in real life? Is this story an experience worth living through for its own sake? Is the pleasure of contemplating these characters an end in itself?"

"A great building is not the private invention of some genius or other. It is merely a condensation of the spirit of a people."

"When facing society, the man most concerned, the man who is to do the most and contribute the most, has the least say. It's taken for granted that he has no voice and the reasons he could offer are rejected in advance as prejudiced - since no speech is ever considered, but only the speaker. It's so much easier to pass judgement on a man than on an idea. Though how in hell one passes judgement on a man without considering the content of his brain is more than I'll ever understand."

"I mean the one that claims the pig is the symbol of love for humanity - the creature that accepts anything. As a matter of fact, the person who loves everybody and feels at home everywhere is the true hater of mankind. He expects nothing of men, so no form of depravity can outrage him."

"Those who speak of love most promiscuously are the ones who've never felt it. They make some sort of feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference, and they call it love. Once you've felt what it means to love as you and I know it - the total passion for the total height - you're incapable of anything less."

""What achievement is there for a critic in praising a good play? None whatever. The critic is then nothing but a kind of glorified messenger boy between author and public. What's there in that for me? I'm sick of it. I have a right to wish to impress my own personality upon people. Otherwise I shall become frustrated - and I do not believe in frustration. But if a critic is able to put over a perfectly worthless play - ah; you do perceive the difference! Therefore, I shall make a hit out of - what's the name of your play Ike?" "No skin off your ass," said Ike. "I beg your pardon?" "That's the title." "Oh, I see. Therefore, I shall make a hit out of No Skin Off Your Ass."

"Most people build as they live - as a matter of routine and senseless accident. But a few understand that building is a great symbol. We live in our minds, and existence is the attempt to bring that life into physical reality, to state it in gesture and form. For the man who understands this, a house he owns is a statement of his life. If he doesn't build, when he has means, it's because his life has not been what he wanted."

"Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. The work, not the people. Your own action, not any possible object of your charity. I'll be glad if people who need it find a better manner of living in a house I designed. But that's not the motive of my work. Nor my reason. Nor my reward."

"That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They're concerned only with people. They don't ask: 'Is this true?' They ask: 'Is this what others think is true?' Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce?"

"The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement."

"No work is ever done collectively, by a majority decision. Every creative job is achieved under the guidance of a single individual thought. An architect requires a great many men to erect his building. But he does not ask them to vote on his design. They work together by free agreement and each is free in his proper function. An architect uses steel, glass, concrete, produced by others. But the materials remain just so much steel, glass and concrete until he touches them. What he does with them is his individual product and his individual property. This is the only pattern for proper co-operation among men."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mary Poppins

Last week I had the immense pleasure of attending Marry Poppins, the musical, at the Civic Theatre in Auckland.

I haven't been to a lot of musicals in this country and the ones I have attended have been lovely, but not particularly amazing. I guess this is because our best local talent looks abroad to find paid work and companies from abroad rarely visit New Zealand due to limited profit potential vs logistics.

So it was with some delight that I found myself absorbed in a top quality musical within the bounds of my little city, albeit provided by a company of Australians.

The story of Mary Poppins, in my opinion, isn't one of the strongest out there and so it relies on musical delivery and visual presentation to entertain to its fullest potential. And this is where this version really stood out.

Already within the fantastical confines of the Civic, the stage was an incredible, wheeling, revolving, transforming hub of activity that surely took every member of the audience convincingly into imaginary England. I won't give away any spoilers on here, but it's safe to say that the company of actors explored almost every possible way to use the Civic's theatrical space.

The delivery of the story itself was impressive as well - especially since we were informed before the show began that, due to an injury, we were to have an understudy play as Mary Poppins. If they hadn't told us a thing, I would never have guessed this was the case.

Apart from a few lapses in accents (personal gripe I know), the company performed flawlessly.

It was a very entertaining evening and one I would certainly recommend for all ages.

I believe the show runs until mid-December, so there's plenty of time to check it out and soak up a rare world class musical in New Zealand.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A new adventure

In just over a month I'm going to be taking on a new challenge in my life - TV.

In late November I will begin filming as host of a New Zealand travel show called BGTV which is played largely on the Air New Zealand in-flight entertainment system, but also on the Living Channel.

I've never been involved in television in a role other than being interviewed and I've never considered it, to be perfectly honest. So, in a time of my life filled with new beginnings and challenges I figured why not throw something else in the mix.

This will in no way detract from my music (which is coming along nicely thank you), in fact, it may even play a part in the series in some form if the situation allows.

This is obviously something I'm really excited about and feel totally blessed to be a part of - I can now say I have been paid to do a great triumvirate of jobs so far in my life: write/perform music, watch sport and, now, travel.

Chur to the chur.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Album Of My Week: Simone Felice

More folky, story-telling goodness for you from me this week...just for a change right?

I know I'm getting rather one-eyed in my recommendations, but I simply cannot help what I gravitate towards and, right now, it's probably influenced a lot by the kind of music I'm recording myself.

In fact, this album has a lot of the production values that I envision my final album-product to be like - an emphasis on the story and the natural ways people go about communicating those tales through music. So I suppose that's why I'm throwing it out there.
I don't know much about Mr Simone Felice and, like most books and music that come my way, I cannot remember who recommended it to me. But this self-titled album is awesome and my memory-less brain thanks my now forgotten benefactor.

This album is for people who are into Josh Ritter, Noah and the Whale, The Low Anthem, Great Lake Swimmers, Iron and Wine, Nebraska, etc...

Here's a single from the album - it's probably not particularly representative of the whole record, as it's much more upbeat than most of the other tracks, but it's a great song and it's a reflection of his very evident songwriting qualities.