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You can't handle the truth - Lindsey Kuper [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Lindsey Kuper

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You can't handle the truth [Nov. 1st, 2006|11:59 am]
Lindsey Kuper
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Right, so, this. Hee!

Uh. Lately I've been hypersensitive to criticism of my music. It's really strange. I was thrilled when jes5199 was critical of the first line of "Recent Scars", since I honestly didn't know whether it was good enough or not and it was a relief to know that it wasn't.* And, hell, ibm5_25 has about a year's worth of picking apart just about every song I've ever done, and I've never had much of a problem with that. In fact, I've loved it. But lately, I just haven't been able to handle it. Not long ago, glowing_fish described my stuff as "sedative", which I of course assumed to mean "dull and soporific". I didn't say how that made me feel, but the look on my face must have, because he emailed me later to explain that he'd meant it as a compliment. "I tend to be a jumpy, excitable person," he said, "so anything that can make me sit still and think for 20 minutes is quite good."

That interpretation just hadn't occurred to me at all. I generally don't need any help sitting still and thinking -- it's the getting up and doing that I seem to have trouble with -- and so I hadn't realized that he was actually giving me a pretty big compliment.

I apologized to Derksen about the hypersensitivity (after jumping down his throat for yet another music thing), and told him that I didn't know why it was happening. He responded:

If I could hazard a two-second guess based on very little true understanding of you as a person, it would be that your life is undergoing a number of dramatic changes in focus as you move ever so slightly away from the music you love as a full-time proposition to embracing a graduate program in computer science?

Zing.

He's right. The language he's using is a little precious, but the idea is dead on.

* Last night it turned into something like "I redecide hourly if you're self-aware", but that's a pretty distorted way of saying what I mean by it, which is: "Either you're this amazing and you really have no idea, or you're completely aware of it and just faking like you aren't; I can't figure it out, but either way it's a mindfuck." If I could figure out a way to shoehorn that whole concept into one line, it would be a great way to set up the song, but it's not the sort of concept that takes well to shoehorning. Besides, I need something that transitions into "all angles and eyelashes" a little more smoothly. And anyway, "redecide" is such a good word that I feel it would be wasted in that spot. Because I can't have more than one song with "redecide".**

** Can you tell why I never fucking finish a song?

LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: glowing_fish
2006-11-02 09:20 am (UTC)
Actually, I didn't notice you looking sad at the time. But I think it did come out wrong, you know.

You don't seem to have problems getting up and doing something. How do you do all that running if you don't like getting up? Although actually, running, once you start doing it, becomes another form of sitting still. At least it did when I ran regularly.

Anyway. I think that in balance, you could really slack off and let yourself do nothing good at all before you would have to start worrying about criticism. I mean, you have a professional job, you are artistic, you are athletic...most people don't even have one of those facets.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-02 03:33 pm (UTC)
You don't seem to have problems getting up and doing something. How do you do all that running if you don't like getting up?

Heh. I'm not really doing that much running these days. It's mostly lifting weights. I'm still running a mile every time I go to the gym, but it kind of sucks. Oh, well, it's better than what I did after the first two marathons, which was to not work out at all for eight months each time.

Although actually, running, once you start doing it, becomes another form of sitting still. At least it did when I ran regularly.

Yeah! I know what you mean. Once you get started, it's just coasting. The starting's the hard part.

Anyway. I think that in balance, you could really slack off and let yourself do nothing good at all before you would have to start worrying about criticism. I mean, you have a professional job, you are artistic, you are athletic...most people don't even have one of those facets.

Thanks, man.

I think that it's the fact that I am interested in more than one thing that's the problem. If music were all I cared about, I could throw myself into it with no regrets.

Maybe it's just that music is what I most want to be successful at. If I'm successful at something else, it's great, but it doesn't come with the same feeling of accomplishment.
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[User Picture]From: glowing_fish
2006-11-02 07:10 pm (UTC)
Well, personally my biggest problem about art is that I can't find a way to make a difference or support myself with it. But I have actually reached a level where I just accept the fact that if I use art in every facet of my life, I have succeeded at it. Like, I may or may not reach economic success and social fame as a writer, but as long as I use my skill at writing whenever I write anything, even a short postcard, that is success for me.

Oh, and there is one thing you should do to be even better. You should learn WML, the computer language of the future.

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[User Picture]From: jes5199
2006-11-02 05:48 pm (UTC)
eep! I find that I'm made nervous of the possiblility of changes in one of my favorite songs
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-03 05:18 pm (UTC)
Heh. Well, first of all, it's not like every previous recorded version of the song is suddenly going to vaporize if I change it. And second, dude, it would be so much better if I could figure out what to do with that first line.
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[User Picture]From: jes5199
2006-11-03 05:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know.
Sometimes a person will sing a song they wrote for years and years, and then one day a patch for one of the lines will occur to them

but I can't imagine that song starting with anything but "It's the way..."
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-12-29 03:11 am (UTC)
You know, you're right. Regardless of what else might change, it needs to start with "It's the way...".
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[User Picture]From: cerulicante
2006-11-02 11:24 pm (UTC)
I guess it depends on how close you feel the criticism is to you? I mean, your friends might pick apart your stuff, but you might not feel they're criticizing you...but sometimes, you feel like you're being insulted or something?


I don't know...I'm just a PhD failure with a consolation prize. I will have to get a real job, soon.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-03 05:16 pm (UTC)
Nah, it's totally what Derksen said. For a long time, I thought that if I didn't pursue the music thing right now today OMG, it would get away from me, and then by the time I finally got around to it, I would be terribly old and ugly and un-hip and nobody would even want to look at me on stage, let alone listen to me. I guess what I've come to realize is that a lot of the musicians I love are old, ugly and un-hip by the same standards I was using to judge myself, and it doesn't make me love them any less. And that's a huge load off my mind, because it frees me up to go to grad school if I want to! Which I do! But it means letting go of the idea of doing music right now today.

That's not to say that someone can't be a good musician and a good computer scientist -- very much to the contrary! -- but how many good lyric-oriented singer-songwriter computer scientists do you know? Meanwhile, there are tons of people who write bad songs. And I'm always a little bit nervous that I'm one of them. Statistically speaking, going for a computer science Ph.D. doesn't do a whole lot for my chances of being one of that handful of good songwriters that exist, know what I'm sayin'?

As for you, I've been thinking for a while that you seemed unhappy in the Ph.D. program. Leaving something that's wrong for you isn't failing. I think you should try to go to Japan if that's where you want to be.
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[User Picture]From: cerulicante
2006-11-04 04:16 am (UTC)
Meanwhile, there are tons of people who write bad songs. And I'm always a little bit nervous that I'm one of them.

But while they might be bad songs to others, if the people that wrote them like them and writing those songs was good therapy/release/expression for those musicians, then there is inherent value in that, ne? Even if no one liked your music (which is obviously untrue-lots of people love your music!), there would be value for you in that your love for creating music is sated. I know that if you don't write songs for a year, you'll probably explode...so even if you just write songs about turnips and walruses, you're keeping yourself "limber" as far as your creativity goes. So, once you're all wrapped up and we all have to call you Dr. Kuper, you can have the time and resources to go fully into music.

I am happy doing research...just not at this school. I was mislead into thinking that they have a very nice Micro department when they, in fact, are barely alive and struggling to maintain their current students. I gambled that we could get a key grant and lost...so I get my door prize and move on to a job and save until I can find a nice school with money. Of course, I might go MD/PhD because those students are highly recruited and offered better deals than regular PhD students. In any case, I am just delaying my degrees a little while. Age doesn't matter to me, anymore.

I've been thinking better thoughts about research and I will try to juxtapose them with thoughts of Japan. I'll figure something out!


Good luck on your GRE work!
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[User Picture]From: glowing_fish
2006-11-17 02:15 am (UTC)
Rereading this entry, I have to comment, Lindsay, on how I wonder if you are aware of how great you are. Although the two things that I admire you for most (functioning knees and employability) are not perhaps what you are focusing on.

Until those knees stop working. Then you will understand.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-12-29 03:15 am (UTC)
You're sweet. I think I do know what you mean about the knees, too. There's nothing like having some part of you stop working to make you stop taking it for granted.
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[User Picture]From: glowing_fish
2006-12-30 05:00 am (UTC)
All sorts of sweet.
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