Snipping, snapping, snorting, singing ...
Date: 10 Feb 97 12:05:04 EST
From: Discipline Global Mobile <73064 dot 1470 at CompuServe dot COM>
Subject: Snipping, snapping, snorting, singing ...
Thursday 6th. February, 1997.
Snipping, snapping, snorting, singing ...
This is continuing an exchange of postings which began with Matt
Lincoln's letter in ET 327 (January 8th. 1997).
My own reply to Matt is in ET 332 (Thursday 16th. January, 1997).
Matt's "Response to Response From Robert Fripp" is in ET 333 (January
Bret Hart responds in ET 337 (January 27th, 1997). Bret's letter is
forwarded by / via Matt, so I assume they are acquainted.
This is my response to Bret.
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 13:50:43 -0500
From: Matt Lincoln <matt at argo dot net>
Subject: Forwarding letter from Bret Hart
From: Ears Hart <hipworks at ma dot ultranet dot com>
BH: i wish to respond to mr. fripp's queries (#3; i-v) posted in reaction
to an ardent fan's perception that mr. fripp, in pursuit of his aim,
invalidated his very existence.
RF: Firstly, if Mr. Ears is going to link my aim with Robert's response to
Matt at Merriweather it would be better to say: "in defence of Fripp's
Secondly, I am assuming the "ardent fan" Bret refers to is Matt the
Tri-Cranial, as Bret's letter is forwarded by / from Matt.
Thirdly, what happened that was sufficient to invalidate Matt's
"very existence"? What actually happened?
BH: i want to make it clear that this document is not a parody of
mr. fripp's use of the English language...
RF: Parody's fine by me, so long as it makes me laugh and gives me
insights. Or even just makes me laugh. Or gives me insights.
BH: ... it's how i talk.
RF: Oh dear.
BH: indeed, the relationship between artist and art-recipient can be most
RF: Too true.
BH: during the 23 years that I have been performing music for 'audients',
numerous peculiar, troubling, often delightful "acquaintances" have occured
because a listener/viewer felt a need to communicate with me, for some
reason, about my art.
RF: I know how you feel.
BH: often, i have been busy, distracted, or en route elsewhere when these
persons initiated their communications.
RF: I know just how you feel.
BH: on at least one occasion, the physical appearance (which, then, met my
criteria for "unstable/spooky") of the approacher disinclined me to receive
RF: I really know just how you feel.
BH: i kept the interaction brief.
RF: As long as that?
BH: a singer/songwriter friend of mine once shared misgivings about an
"inability" to relate with his listeners. he claims not to have been born
with "The Social Gland", and feels uncomfortable when approached by
strangers at his gigs... to the mildly-perceptive observer, he
communicates the following through his actions/human conduct at
performances: "Get out of my way, insect! No time to talk. I'm here to
RF: That's a good line. I'll remember that one.
BH: ... when a committed artist brings and attempts to deliver her/his
interests/enthusiasms/ personality to that public in the form of live
music...THE ARTIST HAS MADE THE CONSCIOUS CHOICE TO
PROMOTE/MARKET/PROMULGATE THEIR ART AS PRODUCT* (re; corn chips) TO A
RF: Not necessarily. The key factor is intention, not the means or place of
For example, when a musician plays in public it seems reasonable to
assume that they have made the "conscious choice to present their art in
public", conceivably even "promote / promulgate their art in public". But I
don't see how we can jump to the conclusion - that the artist sees their
art as product, or has the intention to market it as such - simply because
the artist is "delivering" their "art" in public.
An analogy: if we see a wedding, with a happy bridegroom, how can
we know his intention or motivation? Is he getting married for love, or
money? To become a national? Or any other reasons? Do we know the
pre-nuptial agreement? All we can reasonably assume from being on the
outside looking on, is that the bridegroom has publicly affirmed his union
with the bride. We are unable to form a judgement as to the quality of the
union. If the wedding was in a church, registry office or Las Vegas
drive-thru service, might our assumptions differ?
When I buy a ticket to a public performance by a musician, I can't
make the leap of assumption, merely from the facts of the performance being
in public and Robert buying a ticket, that the musician has made the
"conscious choice to market their art as product". Perhaps the musician
plays music because of an inner imperative, and their music-making
("musicking" in Christopher Small's term) is process. ("Where we are going
is how we get there"). It says nothing of the musician's intention, or
motivation, that a part of this process takes place in public.
May I present a re-phrasing?
"When a committed artist brings and attempts to present the process
of musicking to the / their public in the form of live music, the artist
has taken the decision to present their art in public and accept
money". The key word here is "committed". Committed artists don't play for
money: they take the money for the music they play.
I'd like to add the view that making a "conscious choice" is a very
big thing. Most of our "conscious choices" have little to do with choice or
consciousness. Or so it seems to me.
BH: Q's: "What is the nature of the relationship between
audience/enthusiast/fan (a/e/f) and the musician?
What are the responsibilities and obligations of the a/e/f?"
An answer: the nature of the relationship is based upon everything
Life on Earth, common sense, compassion, and responsible living would most
immediately suggest to either choice-maker, having made one of the
conscious choices identified above.
RF: With the reservation regarding "conscious choices", and noting that
common sense is uncommon indeed, I would agree that a performance of music
is a universe writ small.
BH: the a/e/f is responsible for treating the artist with the respect
accorded any living thing.
RF: I wish.
BH: the artist is responsible for treating the a/e/f with the respect any
person engaged in commerce should have for their meal-ticket ...
RF: Do you mean that this is a marriage for money? Cupboard love? That the
relationship between audience and performer is a trading relationship?
Personally, while I accept professional responsibilities towards
the ticket-paying members of the audience (and those who don't pay) I don't
look on them, or think of them, as my "meal-ticket". This would demean the
relationship, in my eyes, and be insulting. Turning this around, might the
musician be a meal for someone with "consumer rights"?
BH: never with contempt. no argument allowed on this.
RF: No argument offered. I don't remember feeling contempt for any
audience, or audience member (although I can remember running away from
various members of various audiences). I remember feeling disgust and
loathing for two businessmen, but I knew and accepted that the
responsibility for my feelings was mine, and unworthy. BH: if the
artist/musician is sharing the art they create with the public, and
only(*again) through cash transactions (as does mr. fripp)...
RF: How do you know that "cash transactions" are the only way I "share my
art" with the public?
BH: ... then the artist accepts this arrangement, having created and
participated in it.
RF: Actually, not. I don't accept the arrangement, I didn't create the
arrangement, certainly in the terms which BH defines, I don't like the
arrangement, and I do participate in it although with reluctance.
The "arrangement" is one form of relating, and one which is part
of, and increasingly defined by, a commercial culture. I didn't create the
music industry - although I was part of an attempt 28 years ago to
establish a fairer approach in one part of it - and I do participate in it
from time to time. It stinks. Our current (Western) notions of concert
performance date back to post-Napoleonic Europe, the collapse of patronage,
and the development of the concert tradition (with music, groupings of
musicians, the business of music, and the construction of concert halls
developing together). Similarly, the record industry today closely mirrors
the development of book publishing between 1850-1900.
A great amount of my energies are currently being put into
redefining music industry standards and norms (an aim contained within my
larger aim), in and through my tiny part of the music industry (I'm
referring to the establishment of Discipline Global Mobile) in the hope
that ripples will move outwards. I can't change the world, but maybe I can
have an effect in my own little part of the world. My own little part of
the world interracts with the larger world and, since everything we do
carries repercussions (whether we like it or not, intend it or not) if one
little world resonates with "rightness" then maybe a sympathetic resonance
will begin to sound elsewhere.
Readers of ET wondering why Robert might put quite so much time and
energy into corresponding with an Enthusiast-zine might extrapolate.
BH: if it is one's aim to sell...
RF: It isn't my aim, either as a musician or as a professional musician.
BH: ... then that which relates to one's selling must, necessarily, become
the hat on the head of the pantheon of activity leading to/proceeding from
RF: Otherwise, not.
The reasoning strikes me as being upside-down. Surely for a
musician the "hat on the head of the pantheon of activity" is
musicking. Then "that which relates to one's selling must, necessarily,
become" subordinated to the process of bringing music into the world.
BH: these are the imperative considerations which place occasional**
sandwiches in the hands of artists.
RF: My own "imperative considerations" are rather different and are
discussed in some detail in the first DGM Newsletter, just about to be
posted out from DGM World Central to our mail order customers. Discipline's
business aims were recently posted in ET by my Sister (Patricia is the
Frippster) but here they are from Robert:
"The first aim of DGM is to help bring music into the world which
would otherwise be unlikely to do so, or under conditions prejudicial to
the music and / or musicians.
The second aim of DGM is to operate in the market place, while
being free of the values of the market place.
The third aim of DGM is to help the artists and staff of DGM
achieve what they wish for themselves.
The fourth aim of DGM is to find its audience.
The fifth aim of DGM is to be a model of ethical business in an
industry founded on exploitation, oiled by deceit, riven with theft and
fuelled by greed.
If a small company, which aims to be true, can succeed in the music
industry there is hope for others. We each support each other without
necessarily seeing or knowing how this might be, or when it occurs. But on
the level where things are true, this is true.
Any business will be successful if it provides its customers with
either what they want or what they need. If the public needs what it wants,
or wants what it needs, the business will be very successful. In this sense
public taste can redirect and reconstitute our business culture. There is
hope in this.
The aim is to be the right size, not the biggest size. We only have
to be as big as we need to be to serve our aims, and to operate
efficiently. That is size from our point of view. But ultimately, the size
is governed by the response of our public, which is the audience for
The formal view of Crimson Music and DGM is that business
practices, although widespread and `common practice', which seek to deprive
the creative element of its authority, and artists of the benefit of their
work, are short-sighted and immoral.
Any culture whose artists are directed or controlled by commercial
interests is in mortal danger. Any artist directed or controlled by
commercial interests is in mortal danger. Any artist willingly directed or
controlled by commercial interests is not to be trusted.
The history of the music industry is a history of exploitation and
BH: this answer cannot begin to anticipate potential variants to the
equation...i clearly remember the day john lennon signed an autograph for a
dangerous, unstable fan....
RF: Lennon was acting in accordance with time, place and person.
BH: ...in 1978, an overzealous "fan" gave me the crabs...
RF: Obviously you were born with the Social Gland.
BH: if mr. fripp's reaction to the approaching fan was based upon fear ...
RF: It wasn't.
BH: * the conscious choice of not participating in commercial art...and
devoting that time spent selling to further exploration of the muse, is
RF: Anyone generous enough to take an interest in my "career" will have
noticed that this is a recurrent feature of it.
BH: in so doing, the entire concept of "pesky audience" evaporates and
whistles out the window.
RF: No, it doesn't. An engaged audience persists in time.
BH: KC tickets ain't cheap (...and let's not even go near the table selling
programs and t-shirts...it'll vacuum everything out of that
pocketbook....those 8-page program books cost more per square-inch than
RF: The economics of touring is an interesting subject, and worth
addressing as part of our overall debate on the professional relationship
between audience and performer, discussed by many of the ET
correspondents. But because the topic is complex, touches on ethical
conduct in business generally, King Crimson and RF in particular, probably
best to leave that for a separate posting.
BH: ... they may be folks who feel they achieved some sort of epiphany
through immersion in ideas relating to/proceeding from mr. fripp's
music/writings. maybe, they saw him nearby and, as politely as they were
able, approached him to say a few kind words.
RF: So, why would those who had experienced "an epiphany" make the
approach? Why the impulse / demand "to say a few kind words"? What is the
BH: in this world, we do give strangers audience.
RF: At the right time, in the right place, to the right
strangers. Otherwise, we don't. For example, they might have crabs.
And which world is "this world"?
BH. mr. fripp would surely listen to a stranger alerting him that his hat
was on fire. why not suffer through a few moments of sincere compliment?
RF: This disturbs me. The thinking is sloppy, the argument is manipulative,
the effect fundamentally dishonest.
The argument, as Bret presents it, implies that the two statements
In the first, a stranger extends themself to Fripp in what they
perceive as Fripp's best interest. Actually, Fripp might have been making a
desperate and radical attempt to eradicate hair lice, given him by a
stranger during an audience. But the general drift is that Fripp benefits
from the stranger's alert, the stranger generously and selflessly exerting
themself to / for Fripp. It is in Fripp's clear interest to listen, and
the stranger has nothing to gain.
In the second, the stranger does not extend themself to Fripp, but
demands that Fripp extend Fripp's attention to the stranger. Fripp suffers
because of it.
In the first, it is in Fripp's clear interest to listen, and the
stranger has nothing to gain.
In the second, it is in Fripp's clear interest not to listen (he
would "suffer" because of it) and the stranger has something to gain.
BH: And why not suffer through a few moments of sincere compliment?
RF: And why not?
Firstly, because these might not be the right few moments. They
might be inappropriate few moments. They might be the wrong few moments. A
very little amount of the wrong thing at the right time in the right place
can be very damaging. "You only need one prick in a balloon" - a pin is
very small, after all: why not suffer through one brief moment of poking by
Secondly, it might not be the right place.
Thirdly, it might not be the right person presenting the "few
moments of sincere compliment". What characterises the right person? They
make no demand, and have no investment, in the compliments being given or
Fourthly, suffering "a few moments of sincere compliment"
multiplied by a factor of several is one long moment of "suffering".
Fifthly, how to discriminate between a compliment and a compliment?
A compliment asks nothing for itself.
Here is an example of a few generous words of (I believe) sincere
compliment written from AD of Nottinghamshire in a letter of December 15th.
"I was ordering the Soundbites CD and I thought I would take the
opportunity of writing a few words of thanks and appreciation for the
pleasure and interest your music has given me over the last twenty-six
I learned to trust your intentions and your directions quite early in what
I think of as our relationship, and your work has never disappointed me. To
this listener, that body of work is a beautiful example of continuity and
change: nothing has been lost even though everything is in flux. This seems
to me to have a quality of secular redemption.
It is tempting to ask questions and to gossip, but that would make this letter
something different from what I intended".
1. AD only wanted to say "thank you".
2. Thank you asks nothing for itself.
3. The letter is clean, transparent, straightforward. It has no "side".
BH: *if, i were to find myself face-to-face with any human being (whether
at an expensive rock concert, or in a convenience store), i would expect
them to present behavior which did not threaten, degrade, or invalidate my
RF: My experience is probably different to yours. I would hope not to be
threatened, degraded or invalidated, but I'm not sure I'd expect it. And
I've been in some rough convenience stores.
BH: i would expect them to choreograph their own conduct based upon their
RF: Like running away ...
BH: ... in a way which did not threaten, degrade, or invalidate my
existence. if they could not talk, for whatever reason, i would
understand. this is me.
RF: Maybe Bret, but maybe not Matt the Three Headed Beast. And we seem to
be returning to the idea of "the invalidation of existence". This continues
to interest me.
BH: i will not, as a result of what mr. fripp has communicated to the world
regarding his human expectations, approach mr. fripp if the opportunity
ever presents itself.
RF: Alternatively, find the right time and place.
BH: because i move through the world in as mindful a state as ability and
health permit, i am seldom 'caught off-guard' by elements near me. in so
living, i find little need for social fear or apprehension. i am
in-the-moment and nimble enough to successfully influence the vast majority
of ones which require disarming. most people are.
RF: I'm impressed.
BH: being an artist; really spending a life doing little more than making
things/making things happen, has never conferred any sense of having
additional rights to me.
RF: My own sense is of acquiring additional responsibilities.
BH: for example, i've never felt ethically justified, for any reason, to
invalidate a person's existence by ignoring them completely when they
RF: Once again, I find this disturbing. Once again, the thinking is sloppy
and the argument is manipulative. What Bret seems to argue is this:
Statement One: It is not ethically justifiable to invalidate a person's
Statement Two: To ignore a person's existence when they initiate a
conversation invalidates their existence.
Statement Three: Therefore to ignore a person completely when they
initiate a conversation is unethical.
The leap between Statements One and Three is the one that continues
to give me difficulty. Exactly how is a person's existence invalidated by
them being "ignored" when they initiate a conversation? What is the
process, the sequence, the mechanics of the "invalidation"?
An ethically sound basis for declining an overture to engage in
conversation, is that the conditions are inappropriate for the person
approached to respond positively. And sometimes no answer is an answer.
BH: certainly, i have truncated conversations when the moment required me
RF: We have that in common.
BH: but, and mr. fripp may differ with me here, i have always sought to
leave those i meet/those who take it upon themselves to meet me with a
RF: The quick answer is no, yes and no. But the point deserves a better
answer involving both specifics and the generality.
The generality is that, where possible, one acts with courtesy
towards others. This is common decency in acknowledgement of our common
humanity. This is not always possible. Failing courtesy, which is an inner
and considerable grace, then we are polite. This is an outward reflection
of the inner grace, and is the assumption of virtue ("Assume a virtue if ye
have it not"). Sometimes, even politeness is not possible. The next step,
or particular strategy to adopt, in an encounter is governed by the
My own governing principle is this:
If you are unable to conduct yourself with goodwill, better not.
Any specific encounter is governed by time, place and person. So,
my conduct is determined by the particular person / s with who I am
interracting, and the conditions under which the interraction is taking
BH: why? perhaps, through word-of-mouth, somewhere down the line, i will
actually benefit from having so done.
RF: Rather than courtesy and respect for our common humanity?
BH: perhaps the profoundly boring sod, parroting the same old gush,
exhaling stale beer breath and flecks of snack, may one day pull me from an
automobile accident ...
RF: Not if he reads ET...
BH: ... or be in the 'right place at the right time' in some other way.
BH: it serves no one's aim to create a hostile impression.
RF: It depends on the time, place and people involved.
Now, back to a central theme here: Bret wishes "to respond to
mr. fripp's queries (#3; i-v) posted in reaction to an ardent fan's
perception that mr. fripp, in pursuit of his aim, invalidated his very
existence". I note here that Bret's comments seem to rely upon Matt's view
of the exchange and that we haven't yet established (to my satisfaction
anyway) how Matt's existence was invalidated by Fripp.
The first (major) clue is in the word "perception". So, the
"invalidation" of Matt, ardent tri-cranial (possibly former) fan, is in
Matt's "perception" of the incident. This seems to be Bret's / Matt's
sequence of events:
1. Matt approached Robert and said `Excuse me I would like to say...'.
2. Robert ignored Matt.
3. Matt's very existence is invalidated.
We move from this to the perception of the event by the other
participant, Fripp the Unhuman. Robert's sequence of events is this:
Matt approached Robert and said `Excuse me I would like to say...'
and Robert ran away.
This is what happened. This is what's left when we take away our
interpretation of that simple event, and the subsequent argument, ballyhoo,
commentary, declamation, expostulation, furore, gabble, haranguing,
irritability and jeremiad kindling of lamentations.
If we add to the sequence of events the subsequent postings in ET
we get this sequence:
1. Matt approached Robert and said `Excuse me I would like to say..'.
2. Robert ran away.
3. Matt posted an angry letter in ET presenting his apology "as well giving
(Robert) the opportunity to behave like a human and apologize to me as well".
4. Robert replied presenting his apology and asking what Matt expected from
Robert, and what response he wanted from Robert.
5. Matt replied with an angry letter suggesting we "treat others as you
would want yourself treated, and be nice"; and "sometimes I guess I expect
too much from a fellow people/ person /human".
6. Bret posts his "reaction to an ardent fan's perception that mr. fripp, in
pursuit of his aim invalidated his very existence.
7. Robert replies asking how we established that Matt's existence was
invalidated by Fripp.
Although Matt has suggested in his last posting that we "treat others as
you would want yourself treated, and be nice" (this deserves a response); and
that "sometimes I guess I expect too much from a fellow people/ person /human"
(which also deserves a response), I remain unknowing as to what Matt expected,
and the response he wanted, from Fripp at Merriweather.
So Matt: what did you expect, and what response did you want, from Fripp
So Bret: how did Fripp invalidate the very existence of Matt at