From Robert Fripp
Date: 13 Jan 97 05:16:45 EST
Subject: From Robert Fripp
Monday, 13th. January 1997.
1. Harvey Keitel and Kevin Spacey should play Fripp in "King Crimson: The
Movie", in alternating scenes. Who cares if anyone's confused?
2. Stop arguing about Fripp's attitude towards you, etc., and acknowledge
he's the greatest guitarist in the world.
3. Would ET readers be kind enough to consider, and respond, to these
i) What is the nature of the relationship between the audience / enthusiast
/ fan and the musician?
ii) What are the rights of the audience / enthusiast / fan?
iii) What are the responsibilities and obligations of the audience /
enthusiast / fan?
iv) What do you personally, as an audient / enthusiast / fan expect of your
v) What do you personally, as a KC-RF audient / enthusiast / fan expect of
Since 1969 I have received reviews, articles, interviews, commentaries, and
letters from fans and enthusiasts numbering in the thousands. Since it
began, I have scanned and read Discipline / Elephant Talk. For several
years I have undertaken this as part of my personal discipline. As part of
a discipline, the question is always: how can I use this to help me serve
No other musicians of my acquaintance or knowing read as widely as myself
the commentaries and chit-chat concerning them. My hunch is because, in
various ways and for various reasons, the musicians often get hurt,
sometimes injured, and even damaged. To put it another way, most public
commentary has negative "side" (in the country use of the word) to it. To
put it differently, the net benefit is negligible. And to get to net
benefit, you have to read it all. I don't see how anyone would want to read
it all for fun.
My personal approach is to either read everything or nothing. In between
can be harmful. If you read nothing, it doesn't reach you. If you do read
it all (pretty well) probably the net balance (in a love / hate, nice guy /
creep way) simply balances.
Whenever someone gets really nasty or personal, it doesn't touch me.
Firstly, because it has nothing to do with me: the commentator is
commenting on themselves. Secondly, it's like walking through a farmyard:
if you step into a cow pat, it's not particularly informative, or
instructive (other than telling you to wake up and look where you're
walking) but, because you wear Wellington boots, it doesn't touch you
either. Although it may make a nasty smell. And then you wash your boots.
Occasionally I receive a letter, or see one in ET, that gladdens my heart:
someone has actually seen how it works! Clean feedback is a joy, a reward,
a friend. It is impersonal.
Where the elephantosities touch upon the relationship between musicians and
enthusiasts, fans and followers, my responses have moved between
bemusement, amazement, laughter, anger and sheer disbelief that mature and
reasonable people might come to their expressed opinions and judgements,
often with some heat, on the basis of a clearly developed sense of what
they expect of the artists they patronise; umbrage when these expectations
are not met; with clearly implied assumptions on the part of what the
artist's position is / should / might / can only be, and certainly is
despite anything, in any case, anyway, because I've bought my ticket with
hard-earned pay and that gives me rights.
So, what rights? What obligations? What expectations? What assumptions?
4. Very little in my life is arbitrary.
In all the comments on "Fripp's 'tude" I don't recall anyone commenting
that my onstage and offstage behaviour might simply be practical, and in
some way serving my aim. Also, that this is itself part of an ongoing
exploration and learning curve for me of how I do what I do.
This is an alternative approach to "Fripp's a jerk, so who cares?" or
"Fripp's a genius, so how can we know?" lines of enquiry.
If any commentator did burble and banter about that one, the first question
is probably "What is Fripp's aim?" before moving to how this eccentric /
standoffish / egotistical / rude / kind / brilliant Englishman's behaviour
might serve that aim.
5. Actually, I am very grateful for the level of public support which has
enabled me to remain a musician, or at least a guitarist, for 38 years. My
own feelings towards this public are intimate, yet utterly impersonal. And