The Art of being David Sylvian

I have been a fan of the work of musician David Sylvian for a long time. From his early days as part of Japan to his current solo collaborations.

I recently came across a review of one of his recent projects. The review goes into detail about how people’s reactions and expectations of his work where mixed. The actual review itself isn’t important, what it did was reinforce for me, something Sylvian himself has stated: that all the music he has created was out there, available to people to choose from. So if your idea of his work is Voice of the Beehive then you can own it and listen to it all you want. It does not mean he owes you Voice of the Beehive2.

Thinking about creative work and expectations. Saying you are a ‘fan’ implies that you really like what someone has produced, and you feel a connection to the whole body of their creative work. But do you have to love all the work produced? I don’t think so, if the work is broad and experimental than how could you? It is an unreasonable goal.

For an artist the work leads to the work, and the criteria may be joy or release or satisfaction, or learning from failure, it all comes from the work process and the results. In the end the work may take you away from what you have already done and this is a good thing. But it may cost you the support of those who see your future work as your previous work. Even those who are able to travel with you may not be the best source of internal guidance, they are still rooted in what you have already done.

When I apply this to myself, it has made me realize that right now I am outside my own work process. Which is why I feel lost. I’m looking outward for direction like a fan instead of as the creator moving through a series of challenges and discoveries to get somewhere.

So thank-you to the Ghost of David Sylvian, for having this internal dialog with me.

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