Diary 2020 – 2022, part I

First entry. Not dated.

I didn’t buy it with those intentions, but either way this will, at least initially, be like my: A Journal of the Plague Year.

The point is: I want to get rid of the feeling that someone is going to read me. I want to stop writing thinking of readers because what is worse is that I think of readers as Facebook followers. I think of reactions, likes, comments; acceptance and applause. Right now, while I’m writing, I feel it and that’s what dictates the lines. Or rather, a voice behind me, like a cursed editor whispering to me what to say.

Why write a literary diary if no one is going to read it?

How to be honest with myself and in my writing?

Second entry

I started writing on Friday, April 3, 21 days after we were ordered to work from home and therefore three weeks into quarantine or isolation, or social distancing.

Yesterday, Saturday 4, I did not write anything although I wanted to. What I write now is then what I thought of writing yesterday. My thoughts of today will perhaps remain for tomorrow and thus the days are deferred: Today is yesterday and tomorrow.

Yesterday I watched the documentary Miles Davis: The Birth of Cool. It filled me with joy. At one particular moment my eyes filled with tears.

Seeing it I thought the following:

Miles Davis was always, from the start, at the vanguard. The first band he was a member of had as creative leaders Dizzie Gillespie and Charlie Parker, two of the titans and founders of bebop. Miles moved to New York to be in the mecca of jazz and devoted himself to studying the sound that was brewing on 54th Street. But at the same time, and like any true avant-garde mind, Miles also studied classical music, the tradition. He enrolled at Juilliard and dedicated himself to learning from the historical quarry of Western music.

Like a boat, like the sharp bow of a narrow boat, Miles parted the waters throughout his career, always in the same disruptive spirit. It was almost fatal that he would change music. Kind of Blue was meant to be.

Now, the curious thing and what interested me the most was the shift starting at the end of 1960. A turn that was announced with the introduction of an organ in some pieces of Miles in the Sky and that was consumated in Bitches Brew.

Since Miles Davis was not only a musical genius but also a keen reader of the signs of the times, Miles saw the change. Rock n’ roll was the new jazz, the new counterculture taking Culture with a capital C by storm.

Like other artists who knew how to transform themselves in order to always be on the crest of the wave (I think of Picasso, The Beatles), Miles not only appropriated elements of the new trends – he interpreted and transformed them.

And yet there is something… From Bitches Brew onwards, something different is heard in Miles Davis. Sounds that are clearly from his time. Just as the clothes he began to wear influenced by Betty – the princess of Funk and briefly his wife – and her circle, many of his albums from that era undoubtedly speak of the 60s and 70s. Meanwhile Miles Ahead, Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, Workin’, etc., like the outfits he was wearing then, genuinely have a timeless quality. Abstracted from time, floating in their own orbit, these albums endure intact.

There is a meditation within all this that concerns creation in general. But I do not know right now what that may be.

Drawing by J.L.F.

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