I am getting a bit bored by the redundancy in this book, as well as by Mr. Zander’s monumental ego. I think it might work better distilled to one long essay rather than being drawn out into a book, giving me so much time with his self-congratulation and somewhat pretentious language flourishes (though she is worse than he in this I think). But still the central insights of openness to possibilities, of connection to the moment and to community are true and powerful.
The worst catch phrase so far in the book, one that I will not adopt, is “one-buttock playing”. Perhaps he finds the irony of its relationship to the idiom “half-assed” amusing. But just as Roz spoke about the way language and conceptions can create a resistive inner reality, I feel this linguistic connection to half-assed doing just that with this catch phrase, probably because I am not a piano player and so have no somatic connection to how one’s buttocks feel as one plays passionately.
A few years ago, I suppose in a bit of a midlife crisis, I gave up my movie career and moved up to Berkeley to try and fulfill my youthful dreams as a starving artist. I lived in a cold and leaky shipping container on ramen and dumpster diving while trying to make art in the brilliant, punk rock artistic community I had come to know from Burning Man.
I was too old and too much of a hippie to thrive among them. Most of my memories from those times are of bitter cold, loneliness and frighteningly drunken and angry young men, but one of the things that still shines in my heart was my regular Tuesday night trips to the venerable Freight & Salvage’s open-mike nights, where for only 2 bucks, I could get a whole evening’s entertainment.
And it was good, often really good, to me paradoxically good because these were almost never very good players. What I discovered there was that the reputation and history of that stage tended to bring out a commitment in these artists, who would throw themselves into their performances with a gusto and presence that imbued even mediocre playing with a sense of humanity and emotion that were unmistakable and immensely moving.
I think this is what Zander is getting at in these chapters about the way things are and giving way to passion, however misguided and egocentric his ensconcing of “one buttock playing” and “beyond the fuck it” as tropes of wisdom and insight.