Perfect! Print!

There was a time when I believed it was possible to achieve perfection in art. (See Practice, Practice by yours truly in Helen Literary Magazine.)

Here’s me playing one of the first classical pieces I learned, Lagrima by Francisco Tarrega, recorded at the Blue Mountain Center boathouse (hence the sloshing sounds). I’m playing my guitar, not BMC’s beautiful Robert L. Vincent guitar.

The sheet music represents a kind of ideal; it is very clear what notes are to be played and it is unforgiving. Over the course of my guitar-playing life, I’ve played this piece thousands of times; it is hardwired in my brain and fingers. It’s about 130 notes total, twice that with the repeats. It’s not especially technically challenging  but whenever I perform it I always misplay at least one note. Always.

Here’s a still pulled from A Life’s Work.

We shot this interview at a lovely B&B in Chicago. That circled bit you see? That’s a framed, atmospheric photo of a large elm tree. It was on the mantle in this room and we tried to hang it where the arrow points. We tried to use gaffer tape but it wouldn’t hold. We didn’t want to make holes in the wall, and pressed for time, we let it go and placed it where you see it.

When I look at a shot from this interview I think, I should have tried harder to get that picture up there in the background. That would have made the shot perfect!

So this documentary, I’m sorry to say, will not be perfect. I’ve accepted that; I stopped believing in perfection in art (I never believed it was possible in people and life) a long long time ago.

But I am not dismayed, because there is something more exciting than perfection anyway: the happy accident. And A Life’s Work, like life, is full of happy accidents, like this one. There are many more, too, I’m sure. I just need to be attuned to them. And that is my job as I begin editing the whole film.

I’d love to hear about your happy accidents. Care to share?

Related: More classical guitar music.


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What’s A Life’s Work about? It’s a documentary about people engaged in projects they won’t see completed in their lifetimes. You can find out more on this page.

We recently ran a crowdfunding campaign and raised enough to pay an animator and license half of the archival footage the film requires. We need just a bit more to pay for licensing the other half of the archival footage, sound mixing, color correction, E&O insurance and a bunch of smaller things. When that’s done, the film is done! It’s really very VERY close!

So here’s how you can help get this film out to the world. It’s very simple: click the button…

Donate Now!

… and enter the amount you want to contribute (as little as $5, as much as $50,000) and the other specifics. That’s it. No login or registration required. Your contribution does not line my pocket; because the film is fiscally sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, all money given this way is overseen by them and is guaranteed to go toward the completion of this film. Being fiscally sponsored also means that your contribution is tax-deductible. So why not do it? The amount doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re helping to bring a work of art into the world. And that, I think, is really exciting!

Questions? Email me at d a v i d ( aT } b l o o d o r a n g e f i l m s {d o t] c o m[/color-box]

2 Replies to “Perfect! Print!”

  1. The story behind the failed shot itself is an artistic moment. Or at least an enjoyable one. I don’t think anyone would have noticed that if you didn’t point it out, and now that you did, it makes the shot more meaningful because there’s a story behind it. So in way, you’ve made it more perfect by pointing out it’s flaws. There’s a Japanese word for it, Wabi-Sabi, the “imperfection that makes something perfect.”

    I had a happy accident once. I was writing a story and I was playing with the prose of it and setting the story in no tense, as in everything (past, present and future) was happening in the present, at once, simultaneously. It was difficult, but for some reason I included a bit about sunlight and how it takes 8 minutes to reach us and when we see the sunlight, it reflects what happened on the sun 8 minutes ago. I was going to take the bit out because I saw no place, but I was pressed for time and I submitted it as is to my professor. She later told me that the inclusion was the best part of the story and really made her understand it. I ended up being a finalist for the Norman Mailer contest with that story. Happy Accidents!

  2. Wonderful comment, thanks for sharing.

    wabi-sabi. Your timing is curious, because I’ve been thinking a lot about writing a post about the Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu (one of my faves) and his influence on me and this film. The phrase that’s often tagged on his work is “mono no aware” which has a similar definition/translation.

    There’s also a tradition in Navajo rug making where the weaver intentional includes a tiny imperfection, because only god is perfect. My imperfections aren’t intentional, and that’s a big distinction, but I’ll live with being aware and accepting of the imprefections.

    Finally, Diane Kirsten Martin, a very fine poet, left a comment on my Facebook page about this post.

    “I have had similar thoughts about the impossibility of perfection and the serendipity factor in art. I suspect the latter is a deep secret that most people won’t admit to. Shhhh!”

    I’d love to read this story, Haroon. If you feel like sharing, send it as an attachment to my regular e-mail.

    Thanks for your continued support. You rock.

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