Why do I get so much more of a charge (that is, an impulse to make more music) these days from reading visual artists write about their work than musicians writing about music? Duchamp, naturally, Robert Irwin, necessarily (the new edition of Weschler's amazing book, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees), Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook, with continued pleasure, Ad Reinhardt's Art as Art... Although I see poorly and have no talents for producing objects which one might look at, these ideas shock and provoke my acoustical imagination. They make me want to make noises both gentle and rough, to challenge the nature and limits of my hearing.
Reading Ad Reinhardt, for example, is not a matter of simple agreement but is just as often a matter of productive disagreement. The consequent development of his work and ideas is a model, his ethical stance is admirable, and I agree with his insistance that artwork is not political (other than the fact of its existence in a polity which would rather not have it, or worse, ignore it) but that artists should be politically engaged simply because, as people living in societies, politics is a practical necessity in order to make lives better. But I disagree profoundly with Reinhardt's insistance on painting as THE Art as Art. Music can do that just as well. Or rather, listening more critically to my most recent work, music should be able to do that just as well.