Muck and Nettles, 10th Anniversary

Ten years and seven thousand posts ago, I started a little personal blog that was meant to be a kind of breadcrumb trail behind my web-browsing. Being a bit of a neophiliac (a lover of the new and different), posting quickly became a daily habit. Thankfully, my love of the new is balanced by a complete and total love for quality work. New ain’t enough. It has to be good.

As you can imagine, I have a massive bookmark library. But it never seems to be enough. I rely heavily on the ‘favorites’ of artists I like and on the tastes of audiophiles who have bought the same music I have. Still, with the whole internet at my disposal, I find myself wading through tons of dreck every single day in search of some little shred of awesome I’ve never seen or heard before. Why? Because I know the thrill of discovering something amazing. It’s like losing your virginity all over again, every day. But it’s also something more.

The routine of daily life can really start to get to you. I spent decades in an office doing essentially the same thing every day. A little particle of relief from a great song or an amazing painting was always welcome. I know my tastes don’t always converge with the mainstream. But if I can give the jaded a little jolt out of the mundane for half a minute, I figure I’ve done some good in the world. Plus, I get to give a bit of a platform to artists who are good at their art but not necessarily good at self-promotion. They sometimes need a little love to keep going and finish that next piece. If I can send a few people to their website, hey, one of them might buy a painting or a song and keep the artist in porridge for another day.

To you, I must say thanks. Thanks for visiting Muck and Nettles and thanks for caring about the arts. It’s has been a thoroughly enjoyable decade for me. I just hope I have enriched your day a couple of times along the way.


The Third Self

“It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

“But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley’s birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back into the mist.” -Mary Oliver

Article: Mary Oliver on Time, Concentration, the Artist’s Task, and the Central Commitment of the Creative Life