Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I really hope I'm an AMATEUR

It's the 13th of January, and I've got a resolution for the New Year. So, while I missed the hard deadline, I've made my very own "soft deadline" of the end of the month, and I'm going to share my goal with you today. I was reading an article by Terry Teachout recently in the Wall Street Journal. This article was about Gilbert Kaplan, the gazillionaire who fashions himself a conductor and buys time in front of world famous orchestras to conduct one piece, the Mahler 2nd symphony. This is an interesting "the Emperor has no clothes" sort of story that you can read about here and here. And probably other places, too. It's one of the biggest buzz topics in the arts world recently.

My post today, however, is to comment on Mr. Teachout's apt description, and reminder, really, of what the word AMATEUR really means. He says:

"...the word [amateur] itself descends from amator, which is Latin for "lover," and throughout much of its history it has also been used to refer to people who engage in an activity for love rather than money. The world of art is full of such passionate and admirable creatures, some of whom share their passions with the public. If you've ever heard a concert by the Doctors Orchestral Society of New York or seen a play performed at one of the innumerable community theaters that dot the American landscape, you know how useful a role the serious amateur can plan in the life of a culture. Anyone who seeks to make art rather than merely receiving it passively is on the side of the angels - so long as he doesn't succumb to delusions of grandeur..."

He goes on to cite Winston Churchill as a purveyor of this tradition and surmises that Gilbert Kaplan is not such a good example - showing us what the delusions of grandeur might lead one to believe.

I am also reminded of a great This American Life episode where they talk about what happens in today's day and age when someone has a little bit of knowledge about something. One woman talks about how her group of friends, when one of them has clearly steered further into an area than they should based on their knowledge of the topic, they ask one another, "Oh, did you read about that in Modern Jacka**"? (it's a family show, folks)

This is all to say, people, gentle readers of my blog, friends and family alike, that I hope - I yearn to be - the good, wonderful amateur as described by Mr. Teachout. (There are days, of course, when no art or love is shown on this blog, but this goal is for the days when I'm attempting to photograph for art's sake, of course. Other days be damned.) I have no higher aspirations but to love to chat with you here and share my feeble attempts at taking some photos. If I ever share something here that you think is gospel, think again. It's all made up out of my little head and based on opinion and experience only - no cold hard facts! And, it could very well be dead wrong. Proceed with caution!

So, thanks for reading. I very much appreciate it. I'll keep striving to be a very good amateur.

Until tomorrow...

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