The French composer Claude Debussy is quoted as saying that, “Music is the space between the notes”. I think that’s a very apt recognition of the shared responsibility between artist and audience in unearthing the latent content of any piece of art, and I very much like it. Make your work too overtly programmatic, and you end up with stale self-parody, a la Norman Rockwell. Overburden it with too many layers of obscure, self-referential ciphers, like Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake”, and risk alienating your most enthusiastic audience.
But if you have a lot to say, it can really be difficult to avoid the “Finnegan” trap. The very fact that you are capable of generating enough observations worthy of communication, of making very fine distinctions in kind and degree, springs from a hypersensitivity that can seem emotionally overwhelming, and very much at odds with one of the inviolable principles of effective communication itself: clarity.… Read the rest