I’ve just spent an hour or two with Herbie Hancock: Possibilities. I selected the film from a load of badly-suggested movies that NetFlix figured I’d love (based on my enjoyment of Ken Burns’ Jazz, Ninja Scroll and No Direction Home — a really odd extrapolation). I did love it, in spite of my expectations. (Have I even seen Ninja Scroll? I sure don’t remember liking it.)
I loved the beginning because a famous jazz musician confessed to himself that he was tired of making recordings for the familiar expectations of people who buy them; that making the same creative decisions he’d made countless times before was getting profoundly dull. I think it wasn’t Yoko who killed The Beatles (’twas expectations of their fans).
So Herbie Hancock set out to bridge a lot of gaps in the usual scheme of expectable collaborations by playing individually with Christina Aguilera, Sting, Paul Simon, Annie Lenox, Brian Eno, John Mayer, Wayne Shorter, Joss Stone…because nothing much (apart from inertia) prevented him from doing so.
I loved the middle because stuff I never knew about Herbie Hancock’s interaction with Miles Davis got talked about; that Miles paid his collaborators to practice on stage, exploring unknown aspects of their personal and collective musicianship to see what together might be made of moments when remarkably competent players exceed their competencies in an environment of suspended judgmental resourcefulness, focused on the primacy of radical innovation.
And I loved the end that brought me back to something I read through earlier today:
which leads me to see a single narrative throughline crisscrossing the qualitative/categorical gaps that separate technology startups from feature films from musical collaborations from blogs, fiction and autobiographies:
Media are environmental gaps between A and B. Whether hostile to or facilitative of communication (between A and B) is only a matter of degree, but the ability/inability to connect competent practitioners of one discipline with another can be determined only by building bridges, recognizing story-commonalities on both sides of the gap and overcoming inertia.
I really like the comments that reply to the AndreessenHorowitz post because they emphasise the difference between hired-gun-CEOs and people whose self-assigned mission is to realize possibilities. And I find it amazing how similar are the post’s itemized characteristics of exemplary founders and admirable artists:
- Comprehensive knowledge
- Moral authority
- Total commitment to the long-term
I also got off on the music. Check it out. Stories are people too.
Eleven months later:
I just realized that I forgot to specify any meaning to the term Transnarrative Media. It’s threads of meaningful and valuable sense that run through stories owned by competing entities, and reveal themselves clearly to those of us who regard storytellers as brands, even if some of us are clearly delusional.
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