[Jandek] Response to "tap dancing", Frank Hardy, and a belated salutation

Decisions Laboratory decisionlab at gmail.com
Mon Sep 4 14:57:47 PDT 2006

Christopher suggested that "tap dancing about architecture" is what 
artists generally do.  Interesting point.  However, I wasn't necessarily 
attempting to undermine the validity of writing about music.  Just to 
say it's a different activity and has to be evaluated on its own merits 
as writing, regardless of how interesting its subject is.

A good way of illustrating this is my personal reaction to the Jandek on 
Corwood DVD.  I rented this as a lark; netflix reccomended it to me, 
likely based on some rentals of the Residents (splendid) work or some 
other insanity I've been viewing lately.  from the description I figured 
there was about an 80% chance it was bull and going to be annoying, 
pretentious music.  But based on that 20% chance it is what it claimed 
to be, I moved it to the top of my rentals. 

Viewing it, I became completely enraptured.  I viewed it again the next 
day.  Then I viewed it again with the interviews turned off.

This way of viewing it is indeed the way to go.  For all the talking and 
introducing me to the concept of Jandek that Coley and co did, I could 
just as well that they clam up.  It's not that I don't care about their 
experiences and interpretations of Jandek.  But the director often cut 
it so that they are talking in the aural foreground when Jandek-music is 
playing in the background.  But the music is far more interesting than 
any of what these people have to say.  As an introduction to Jandek, 
perhaps it works for that "majority" of people more likely to become 
interested by the concept than the music.  However, count me as one of 
those lucky few who finds the concept highly stimulating, but the music 
absolutely blissful.  Yes, we are lucky, because we can enjoy the 
concept, and be freed by music which is unlike anything else.

Subsequently I have discovered that I have one friend who knows about 
Jandek music and his experience is much like mine.  We are both 
musicians, and once we heard Jandek, a period of intense musical 
development ensued.  Jandek music reinvigorated me as an artist, but 
more than that, it has reinvigorated me as a human being.

It's interesting that Coley et al know some things about him, and 
without their intervies etc maybe I never would have heard about it.  
But I never plan to listen to their interviews again.  Whenever I take 
that DVD out my plan is to listen to the audio.  Some of the pairings of 
audio and video are quite nice.  Maybe in the gaps I would turn the 
sound on again.  I played the video to someone else uninitiated into the 
Jandek rite, who was also fascinated and opened up some more by Jandek.  
There is something deeply personal between many of us and Jandek, which 
I feel legitimates Danen or anyone else writing a book.  I could 
probably reveal a great deal about my experience in life and get across 
a wonderful neo-existential philosophy* simply by doing a project akin 
to Danen's. 

I do find Jandek "creepy" but maybe not in the same way most do.  
Jandek's photos looks like members of my family, and look like phases of 
mine and others lives that are recognizable.  They are incredibly evocative.

In any case, I don't intend to go on here, because I will save these 
energies for other projects.  To get back to my main point: the DVD is 
video and interview about music.  I feel some of the videos succeed as 
nice videos on their own and mostly superb pairings with the sounds.  
The interviews are all right as far as interviews go, but how may 
interviews have you read/listened to that you would return to and really 
changed your life?  As far as an introduction to Jandek goes, the movie 
could have had more music, more of it in the foreground, and ... well, 
no video and no interviews.  That would have been a fine introduction to 
jandek for me.  The other stuff is not invalid either, but the real work 
of that DVD in terms of saying anything about the music is all done by 
the Jandek recordings.  The videos, as art, make better comments on it.  
The interviews somewhat less so.  If I were doing film at all right now 
and had time to do projects mainly to promote Jandek, I would try 
instead to just make a bunch of Jandek music videos as the introduction 
to Jandek on film, no interviews, no explanation as to where it comes 
from, no attempt to rationalize it. 

(as an aside, the interview among those that made the most attempt to be 
artistic and structured ended up being the worst. I won't say who in 
case he's on here, but it's really irritating and cheesy!)

Now, the subject promises something about Frank Hardy.  All I want to 
say here is that Frank shouldn't have apologized.  Well, maybe for the 
second email, but I think it's fine for him to raise a critical question 
or a contrary view in the first.  This place will really stink if we all 
focus more on having agreement. An occasional gadfly is a good thing.  
By the way, I support the Danen book, I only hope you've got the writing 
chops to back up my hopes for this book!  I worry that it's inevitable 
that anyone undertaking this porject would let me down, as I wonder how 
anyone could tie together all the personal threads tying me to 
Jandek-art, without interspersing their own individuating personality 
and alienating me.  So, I think I might buy your book when it comes out 
to show support, and then let it age like a nice cheese or beer, while I 
work out my own life and artistic issues that have been raised by Jandek.

As for the belated salutation, consider this email a belated 
introduction to me on this list, in writing a "simple" reply to the 
discussion I feel I have said an awful lot.


*I don't necessarily mean anything in the existential "school" of 
thought... it's just the closest framework I can think of.  Jandek 
reminds me of the better parts of what I know about several of the 

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