Monday, October 31, 2011


As of this week, I have an agent :)

I am now represented by Richard Henshaw, of the Richard Henshaw Agency.

I hope you know what you're doing :)


So Nanowrimo officially starts in 4 hours and 26 minutes.

shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shitshit shit shit shit shit shitshit shit shit shit shit shit.

See, much of my day job these past few weeks has involved getting a literary programme up and running to coincide with Nanowrimo. And I've done, if I may say so myself, a pretty damn good job: Juliet Marillier is coming down to give two Master Classes; Anna Jacobs and Bevan McGuiness will be presiding over a writing marathon with over 20 sponsors providing prizes and promotional material to give away; I've got regular write-ins happening; and if all goes to plan I'll be announcing a new poetry competition, judged by Maureen Sexton,  to tie in with one of our major sculpture exhibitions. All in all, it's looking like liter-a-frikkin-palooza.

Only problem is, I've done sod-all preparation of my own.

I've never headed into a Nano with anything less than a firm idea of where I'll be in 50K time: whether it be a project I was already 10 000 words into (Corpse-Rat King), or one involving characters I'd worked with 4 times before and a couple of thousand words of notes I'd accumulated over six years of thinking about the plot (Father Muerte & The Divine), I've always known exactly what was likely to happen, where I was going, and where I expected to be at the end of the month.

This time, I have a title and the opening of the first scene.

Wish me luck.


Helen Venn is one of the loveliest ladies in writing, and for a variety of reasons, one of the bravest SF people I've met, reasons which include being utterly willing to stand up and call bullshit on anybody in the middle of an illogical or disagreeable rant. Including me on more than once occasion. I love her combination of gentility and steel, the best example of which occurred during Clarion South when, during a patented Battersby diatribe on the difference between 'jet fighters' and 'bus drivers' she very calmly waited for a break in the action and firmly declared "I like being a bus driver." She's fabulous, as you can discover at her blog and the Egoboo collective, but she never set out to write SF. She began writing literary short stories and poems. Now, no matter how hard she tries, she ends up with speculative fiction.
She has placed in various competitions (most recently a finalist in the first Quarter of Writers of the Future). She attended Clarion South in 2007 and was an Emerging Writer in Residence at Tom Collins House Writers’ Centre in 2009. She is currently working on her second novel. 


I come from a family of artists. One brother is a textile artist, another dabbles in metal sculpture and my niece is a professional water colourist mostly painting portraits. Going back further I had a great uncle who professionally created exquisite jewellery. Hell, I even married into a family of artists. My father-in-law was a talented amateur landscape artist. You'd think some of it would have rubbed off on me but no. As far as the visual arts go anything I produce is derivative and, let's face it, not very exciting, so I really haven't ever thought of myself as an artist. Until now.

Lee's question has had me thinking about my writing in a way I had not before. I've always loved words and what they are capable of.  I taught myself to read before I went to school partly because words fascinated me and partly because they opened up a whole different world to me. As a seven and eight year old I used to sit on the living room floor (because the giant one volume dictionary that stood on the bottom shelf of the bookcase was too heavy to lift) and read it, opening pages at random for the joy of learning new words. i still get waylaid by new words in a thesaurus whenever I venture into one to the point that, unless I have time to indulge myself, I now use on-line versions  or I'll find myself hours later wandering through words that are fascinating but have no connection to what I was looking for.

All this is a round about way of saying that, although words always fascinated me, it took me a long while to realise that, yes, I am an artist in my own way. Unlike all those other artists in my family I use words to create my art. I see myself primarily as a story teller - someone who takes words and melds and crafts them into something that is bigger than its individual parts. Those words (whatever their form they are used in - and my writing ranges from fiction, both short and long, poetry, reviews, blogging, articles and non-fiction) are my paints, the word processing system I'm using - might be a pen or a computer. It doesn't matter  - is my paint brush or palette knife and the paper or computer screen they end up on is my canvas.

This applies to all writers to one degree or another. When I look at the best writers I am struck by the fact that, within the structure of a good story, they do much more. They play with language, stretching it and using it to create images that are as tangible as those on canvas. They don't set out to preach but they do present the reader with ideas. They explore important issues in society and make us think about them. The best stories will stay in our memories long after we've finished them and this is characteristic of all art. It makes us think and expands our knowledge of ourselves, both as individuals and as a human being and this is true of all art.
It speaks to the mind and the heart. It may challenge, delight, infuriate or fascinate us. It doesn't matter which emotion it provokes, as long as it provokes one. It's this quality that defines art and it's as true of writing as any of the other arts.

So yes, I can finally acknowledge I am an artist.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


A teensy-tiny little MOC I absent-mindedly piggled together last night while watching The Deadly Assassin. 7 pieces each, which is my mini-est mini so far.

First one to call out "Walllllll-eeee" gets a pair of binoculars in the bathers area....

I think they're kind of cute. They're also symptomatic of the problems associated with keeping 6000 pieces of LEGO in one big tub but not wanting to sort it all out into separate boxes because you don't want to a) stifle the kids' creativity and b) sort the bloody things back into separate boxes when the kids invariably mix them up.

If you don't want to make a massive clatter shifting plates large pieces around because you're trying to watch your show, this is the sort of thing you end up with.

But I do think they're kind of cute.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


As if anybody ever needed proof that Rory is rapidly becoming the Best Companion Ever (tm):

sci fi fantasy - Rory Williams Facts
see more

Smurched from Authorised by the first precepts of Universal Truth.


Anywhere But Earth, which features my story At The End There Was a Man, is now available from the Coeur De Lion online store.

29 stories of humanity's experiences of, well, anywhere but Earth, featuring the likes of Margo Lanagan, Richard Harland, Robert Hood and Jason Fischer, and clocking in at a spine-bending 728 pages, this is going to be the biggest anthology released in Australia this year. Quite literally.

Yon Liney Uppey:

Calie Voorhis-- Murmer 
Cat Sparks-- Beautiful
Simon Petrie-- Hatchway 
Lee Battersby-- At the End There Was a Man 
Alan Baxter-- Unexpected Launch
Richard Harland-- An Exhibition of the Plague 
Robert N Stephenson-- Rains of la Strange 
Liz Argall-- Maia Blue is Going Home 
Chris McMahon-- Memories of Mars 
CJ Paget-- Pink Ice in the Jovian Rings 
Penelope Love-- SIBO 
Donna Maree Hanson-- Beneath the Floating City
Erin E Stocks-- Lisse
William RD Wood-- Deuteronomy 
Robert Hood-- Desert Madonna 
Steve de Beer-- Psi World 
Damon Shaw-- Continuity 
Wendy Waring-- Alien Tears 
Patty Jansen-- Poor Man’s Travel 
Jason Fischer-- Eating Gnashdal 
Kim Westwood-- By Any Other Name 
Brendan Duffy-- Space Girl Blues 
TF Davenport-- Oak with the Left Hand 
Sean McMullen-- Spacebook 
Margo Lanagan-- Yon Horned Moon 
Mark Rossiter-- The Caretaker 
Jason Nahrung-- Messiah on the Rock 
Angela Ambroz-- Pyaar Kiya
 Steve Cameron-- So Sad, the Lighthouse Keeper

You know you want one. No more talking. Just go.


Smurched from Roger Ebert's Blog, via a head-up from Cat Sparks. I'm just all warm and fuzzy inside knowing I work in a genre that contains the inventor of the DIY steampunk gimp mask....


Trent Jamieson is a stylist, as anyone who has read one of his lyrical, poetic stories can tell you. He's published over sixty of them, as well as the Death Works Trilogy with Orbit Books and the Nightbound Land duology with Angry Robot Books. When not writing, which as far as I can tell, is never, he works at the Avid Reader Bookshop in West End. he lives in Brisbane with his wife Diana, and has a funky website over here.


Art for me is breath. It's the rough stuff, the rhythms that are life. It's the truths that come out in even the most fantastical of writing.

I think we're all art and flawed and wonderful, and all those other things that people are. Art's the honest and the lying structure that binds the structureless. It's like those pockets of order that form out of chaos (those pockets that make things like matter and thought possible, we live in one of them).

It's the pompous, bittersweet lines of a Smiths song, or a poem by Blake, or that scene when the first bear enters the magical (but oh so stifling) world of Margo Lanagan's book Tender Morsels.

It's high, it's low, it's clever, it’s as stupid as a pulse. And just as vital because it signals life.

I think the moment that you set out to capture something in words, music, talk, drawing, mathematics or whatever, you're making art.

I think it's the second most important thing to life, and love (maybe the most important thing, because it gives those other two voice). It's play, pure and simple, even when it's the most important subjects that are being discussed (and don't forget that play is how animals learn to hunt and to flee the hunter and both skills are as serious as life).

Sometimes we're frightened to say that we're artists. We're frightened to commit and be true to our desire for a voice.

I say, fuck that, we're artists one and all.  Even if we don’t recognise it. We all say and dream things, and, occasionally, we bridge the cruel gap between our skulls and those of others. Art is the tiger burning bright, it is the destroyer and the creator and the double-decker bus. It's the world that we have made and unmade.
Art is breath. And breath is voice. And sometimes it stinks. Art isn't always good, but who says it has to be good. Who hasn't woken up to the love of their life and breathed in their morning breath? And what heartless bastard would stop loving them.

Art's like that.  Well, at least I think it is, which will have to do.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Wanna see my impression of someone who's only just learned you can cross-post a Goodreads review to his blog?

The Mind and Times of Reg MombassaThe Mind and Times of Reg Mombassa by Murray Waldren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fascinating and comprehensive look into the mind of a genuine art polymath. The design of the book is beautiful, with countless Mombassa artworks displayed throughout the 400 pages-- the dust cover even folds out to reveal one lurking on the flip side-- and the wit, humour, and down-to-earth nature of O'Doherty the man, as well as Mombassa the creation, shines.

My only criticism comes from Murray Waldren's journalistic writing style: events are presented with little variation in sense of importance-- the fallout from the band's 'Australian Made' appearances is presented with the same level tone as O'Doherty's childhood holidays, and occasionally things are left in the wake of Waldren's rush to fit every available anecdote into the page count-- for example, when brother Peter O'Doherty decides to leave Mental as Anything after 24 years because of health issues, it's the first time his health issues are even mentioned, which lessons the impact.

But there's simply so *much* of Mombassa's life to fit into the book that it's a small complaint, and overall, the book is a superb encapsulation of a music and art career that has not only accompanied a critical period in Australia's cultural awakening, but been central to the greatest part of it.

View all my reviews


We had a bit of extra money drop into the account this week, so it was decided, on the way home from work yesterday, to swing into the shop and pick up the Christmas layby. Yes, we had the kids with us, but that wouldn't be a worry-- the stuff you layby is always wrapped up in thick black plastic bags and is pretty damn unidentifiable.

Quick lesson: if you've forgotten that you've bought your daughter a hula-hoop, she's gonna notice when they bring it out. Unwrapped.


So we apologise to Erin, and ask her what she wants to do-- would she like it now, or would she like to wait until her birthday, knowing that it will be one of her presents?

Before she can reply, we get this from Connor:

"I know! What if we cut her head open, pull her brain out and replace it with another brain so that she doesn't remember?"

His sister's reply? "Ummmmm, I think I'll wait."

Connor. The problem solving animal.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


The latest Writing the Science Fiction Short Story course begins tomorrow at the AWM Online Learning Centre.

Six weeks of my uninterrupted attention, advice, warm crumpets with lashings of butter and snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rugs at bed time.*

Get on it!

*Let's be honest. There are no crumpets and snug-inna-bugs. But there will be strippers, honest.**
** Let's be honest.... 


Tansy Rayner Roberts is a phenom. Winner of the George Turner prize, author of the Creature Court trilogy (HarperCollins Voyager) and short story collection Love and Romanpunk (Twelfth Planet Press). Bloggerer at and at @tansyrr, Galactic Suburbia podcaster, reviewerer of works at and she runs a doll craft business, makes fabric art, raises her two daughters and can type really fast, not to mention I'm pretty sure she's also a Doctor of something or other historical and she probably solves crimes in her spare time.  Frankly, I think she died ten years ago and was replaced by a robot.


Far too often, writers get bogged down in the art vs. craft divide, as if those who prefer one term are automatically elitist geniuses, and the others are hard-working plebs.  One lot wave their hands and expect their work to magically appear with a swish of their keyboard, while the others are so obsessed with wordcount that they wind up typing gobbledegook and extra gratuitous sex scenes or descriptive paragraphs just so they can hit their day's quota.

I know all these people. I have been all these people, at varying points in my career.  Most writers have.

It does interest me, though, the hang ups so many of us have over one word or another - it's like that sticky divide between 'author' and 'writer'.  We all have our own personal, occasionally quite emotional definitions of certain words that relate to our career.  The words we embrace, the words we disassociate ourselves from with flappy hands, and the words we're totally not ready for yet.  (at least in English we have the privilege of several words to describe people who write - in Swedish there's only one, which is most closely translated as 'author' so if you don't feel ready to hang that particular word around your own neck, you don't get a label at all)

I get very impatient with the idea of writing as Art, in the same way I get impatient with the idea of muses - too often it seems to suggest a romantic, film montage sort of life, where inspiration strikes, something moves THROUGH the writer who types manically for 24 hours and suddenly the work is done.

But that says more about my own preconceptions about Art in itself than it does about the (straw) writers who call themselves Artists, Darling.  Do all novelists eye visual artists suspiciously and mutter about how long it takes to fill a canvas vs. how long it takes to produce a novel?  Are we also affected by the film montage view of reality, where we think all it takes is flourishing a paint brush or squishing our hands into wet clay, and magically the work is done, sitting on plinths, being peered at by New York critics?

When I peel back the layers of assumptions that pop culture has apparently taught me about artists, and remember the people I actually know in reality who work as artists, or as craftspeople (or, just as commonly, both at once and more besides) I recall that art is in fact largely about using and utilising techniques.  It's about practicing, and improving, and while there are elements involving inspiration and all that fancy stuff, there's also a lot of bloody hard work.  So actually, there's not that much difference between art and craft at all, as a useful metaphor.  Except maybe artists get paid more, while craftspeople get paid more often.  But not always.

Likewise, it doesn't matter whether a writer (or an author) thinks of themselves as someone who produces art or craft.  They're all just words, and writers know better than anyone that they can make words mean anything they want.  We use them to trick ourselves into feeling better (or worse) about our work, into writing more (or not writing at all) and into feeling like the writer/artist/person we want to be.  There are so many elements of a writing career that the writer themselves has no control over. But what we can control are our working methods, our goals, the techniques we work on to improve our art or craft or just plain writing, and the way we present ourselves to the world. 

If we didn't have our little quirks, our pet metaphors and endless different methods of talking about ourselves, we'd probably dissolve into puddles of paranoia and panic about this unstable, rocky industry we have pinned our hopes on. We'd be no fun at dinner parties. We might never leave the house.

The kind of artist a writer most resembles is a con-artist.  But trust me, that's a good thing. 

Sunday, October 09, 2011


Stephen Dedman has been just about everything in SF over the years: the author of excellent novels like The Art of Arrow Cutting and Shadows Bite, more than 120 short stories published in an eclectic range of magazines and anthologies, editor, magazine head honcho, bookshop owner, international man of mystery, and guru. He's also my very good friend, and was best man when I married Luscious Lyn. We get together nowhere near as often as we should, due to distance, but with new work constantly appearing (he's currently due to appear in Midnight Echo #6, Exotic Gothic 4 and Zombies versus Robots, and it's only Saturday...) he's always somewhere close in fictional form. He's always pretty damn close to the top of the list when I'm inviting people into writing ventures, and my League of Treacherous Carrots was no exception. 


Ars gratia artis, pecunia gratia deus

I've loved museums for as long as I can remember, but have spent relatively little time in art galleries. Tempt me with a few dinosaur skeletons, a moon rock, a mummy case, some suits of armour, experimental aircraft or even vintage cars, and I'll walk straight past a load of Pollocks without a second glance. It's not that I don't respect visual artists (well, some of them, anyway); it's more that many are communicating in a language that I have never made much of an effort to learn.

That said, there is one art gallery I visit whenever I'm in London; indeed, if I were pressed for time, I would go there and skip the famous Museum of Natural History just down the street. It's the Victoria & Albert, and quite apart from its delightfully high weirdness factor, much of it is devoted to design: artistry applied to things that serve a purpose beyond adorning a wall or a courtyard. Things that work.

Which conveniently brings me to the art in writing. The main thing I look for when I write a scene, or a sentence, is whether or not it conveys the information I wanted to communicate - i.e., whether or not it works. If not, I rewrite it until it does.

Of course, tone and style and pace also convey information, so I have to get those right, too. Sometimes I want to suggest beauty; sometimes horror; occasionally both at once. Someone once said that prose should be like plate glass, not stained glass, and sometimes that's true. Sometimes, however, I need coloured glass, or frosted glass, or half-mirrored glass, or slow glass, or glass that's cracked and crazed so that it distorts the images, or glass so dirty you only get a vague impression of the shape of whatever's outside. Or inside. Imagine, if you will, that you've come around to collect the rent from an unreliable tenant, a young woman who sometimes calls herself Marie Jeanette though she was actually born in Limerick and christened Mary Jane. The window of the room is filthy, as befits her trade and the area. Spitalfields is a perfect name for it; if there truly was a white chapel here, it would be so besmirched with soot and mud and obscene graffiti that not even God would know his own house. You knock on the door of Mary's room, but there is no answer. You do your best to peer through the grimy window, and discover that the pane is cracked and can easily be dislodged. You reach in, and push the threadbare curtain aside. What you see, sends you running to the police.

No-one alive knows what sort of blade or blades Jack the Ripper used to mutilate Mary Kelly; one was at least six inches long, but must have been small enough to hide in the clothing of the time - lethal, certainly, but probably cheap and commonplace, deniable, furtive, sly. Now look at this display of katana from the V&A.

Try to see this weapon through the eyes of the swordsmith who took pride in making it beautiful, or the samurai who took equal pride in wearing and wielding it as an ostentatious reminder of the prestige that only comes from generations of loyal service to the emperor combined with the power to kill with utter impunity. Both blades can cut, both can slaughter, both are serviceable tools in that sense, but they are not the same.

Words are the writer's tools, and our language is blessed with many thousands of them, a vocabulary so large as to dwarf even the V&A's wondrous hoard of strange apparatus. When I want to tell a story, I have a choice of devices which I can use in different combinations, but as Mark Twain once said, the difference between the right word and the almost right word, is like the difference between lightning and a lightning-bug. Some phrases guide you from A to B, step by step; others transport you without giving you time to catch your breath. Some are subtle and simple as a Zen garden, some as big and brash and boastful as elephant armour. Some of them reshape landscapes, interior or exterior Some of them frighten, or wound, or caress, or tickle. .

And sometimes, it may suit the writer's purpose to distract you by playing music on a pipe organ shaped like a tiger eating an Englishman.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


When I decided I was going to invite other authors to speculate on the nature of writing as Art, Adam Browne was the first person I asked. Indeed, it was the thought of what he might say that prompted my initial desire to spread the question around. When it comes to writing as art, no other author of my acquaintance writes with quite the same combination of style, artistic intent, and outright froodiness. If you've read his work, you know exactly what I mean-- stories like the Bangkok-as-you've-never-imagined-it Heart of Saturday Night, or the Aurealis Award-winning The Weatherboard Spaceship, or Neverland Blues (Michael Jackson has evolved into an immortal spaceship, and needs a boy to, uh, enter him...) ......Once read, they can never be forgotten. Adam is that rare kind of artist, whose works can genuinely change the way you see the universe. If his novel makes the final leap from hopeful to actual Angry Robot publication, placed as it is in the same editorial lottery queue as mine own, then a much wider audience than ever before is going to know what we Browneaphiles have already discovered: he is one hell of a singular talent.


I once heard a painter say, I think it was in The Shock of the New, that the urge to paint is the urge to match the beauty of flowers. He said it’s clear we’ll never come close. Maybe we just don’t have flowers in us. Or if we do, they’re bursts of artillery fire, or the questionable blossom of an earmouse, or an efflorescence of leveraged buyouts branching through the ramifying layers of Sony or Safeway or MGM.

As for representation, I say the Impressionists were closest to getting it right. They represented a flower by not representing it. The same principle works for writing. So many ideas and experiences don’t survive direct contact with words. A friend once said that I work by surrounding an idea with literary ornament - I make Faberge eggs, he said: the fragile shell is scarcely touched, but it’s there for the reader nevertheless (we’re told show, don’t tell; sometimes, though, it’s best not to show at all).

But is all this what I set out to say? I don’t know. Whatever it is I’m trying to say, maybe I’m trying to surround it, orbit in on the flower inside the egg without ever touching i

I know I want to say that I love art. High art and dirty art. The beautiful and the grotesque, far more closely related to each other than the merely pretty or tasteful.

What else do I love?

The merry hideousness of a rundown circus.

The feeling that the acrobats and clowns, no matter how they try to glitz up their acts, belong to something as old as the tarot deck.

Brittle circus merriment, I love that. A bit alarming, like the manic behaviour of someone teetering on the shivery edge of something terrible…

The sacred and the profane… Profound nonsense… The courageous coward in Huysmans’ Against Nature… Fellini telling Nino Rota to compose a carnival tune that’s sad and happy at once… And Rota getting it right…

Lies that tell truths…  

That’s what I’m trying to find, always. That’s art…

What don’t I love? What’s not art?

I’m unmoved by the feats of athletes and businesspeople whose supposed greatness comes from measuring themselves against the achievements of others.

Measure yourself against bigger things, that’s what I say - against the world, the universe - people are afraid that doing it will make them smaller, but it doesn’t, it makes them bigger.

The anxiety that crackles around me whenever I write, I dislike that. That’s not art (not anti-art, which is Dada, which is art). It’s the unvoiced voice of I don’t know who telling me I’ve wasted my life pursuing this thing.

Here I am, struggling for money, in dodgy health, fabulously obscure - and still I keep doing it, hopelessly… Wile E. Coyote, super genius… How many times have I plummeted, whistling, into the canyon this year?

But still I keep going after it, the Roadrunner, the flower inside the egg; because what’s the point of a goal that can easily be achieved?

That’s what I tell the anxiety, that’s how I silence the world that loves athletes and money. And I keep on writing…

The carrot will always be there. The classic target-that-can-never-be-reached, always ahead, drawing me on, mulishly.

I’ll never reach it, and that’s the way it’s meant to be. That’s art…

Saturday, October 01, 2011


Laura Goodin is a jet pilot.

Let me explain: I met Laura when I tutored Clarion South back in 2007. One of my major rants was on the difference between artistic styles. There are two types, I pontificated-- bus drivers, who always stick to the speed limit, never risk anything, but can be trusted to trundle from spot to spot on a timetable, safely, slowly, and allowing you to concentrate on other things all the while. And there are jet pilots, who may crash every now and then, but make us all look up and shout 'oooh' and 'aaah' as they streak past in their supersonic, supercool, brightly coloured sensawundazoommachines.

Laura, a transplanted Amerkan living in New South Wales, takes risks and makes us go 'ooh'. So far she's done it in markets like Wet Ink, Adbusters, ASIM, and The Lifted Brow. She'll also do it soon in Daily Science Fiction and Michael Moorcock's New Worlds, a sale that makes me shiver with unrepentant, blood-spitting jealousy. She's had plays produced here and in the UK,. and her poetry has been set for performance internationally. All this and she's pursuing a PhD at the University of Western Australia. Frankly, I'm a little concerned that she may have given up valuable sleep time to compose her post for me. 


The point comes up with depressing regularity:  "No, you must create for yourself!  Not for an audience!  Banish all though of the audience from your mind!"  The idea seems to be that if you create for an audience, you are, by definition, trying to please them.  I would like to assert that the only true art is exactly that created for an audience. 

Before you dismiss me as being either an attention-hungry crawler or a money-grubbing hack, let me elaborate.  I believe a crucial distinction must be made between writing to please an audience and writing to reach them.  If I have something I desperately want people to know, to care about, of course I'm going to write (my art is writing) in such a way as to make that message as clear and effective as possible.  This requires that I think long and hard, with love and with daring, about the best way to say it so that my audience will understand.  This is a very far cry from fawning on them!  Chances are quite good they won't thank me, particularly if the message is an uncomfortable one.  But my art demands that I try.

If I'm writing with literally no thought to anyone else in the world, and no-one will ever see the piece except me, you could say that that's art for an audience of one, still created out of love and daring.  In contrast, if I'm writing to lash out at my audience, make them feel shame, make myself feel better at their expense; no matter how skillful I am, that's not art.  And if I'm writing to manipulate them into giving me their money or their approval, because that's what I crave, that's not art.

In his truly excellent address given at the Boston Conservatory, Karl Paulnack makes a distinction between being an entertainer and being an artist.  He says, quite unabashedly, "Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet."  His practice has led him to realize that art is serious business for all of us, audience and artist alike, and everything depends on it.

A work of art, true art, reminds us of the best that's in us, and calls us to claim it: "Remember what you are, O human being:  glorious in power, magnificent, brave, kind, wise, beautiful, and very, very good.  Remember."

When any woman, any man, any child experiences art and becomes thereby more truly themselves, the world is healed just a little bit.  Artists have a wonderful and terrible job, the best job ever, the scariest job ever:  healing the world.  And that's why true art demands an audience, and why the world demands true art.