The advantage, from an audience perspective, of music over painting

Joshua Cooper Ramo’s got some great schtick his new book about Picasso that has me pondering again the remarkable intellectual trajectory that leads from the raw innovation of Les Demoiselles to the crisp completion of the thought in Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. Lots of cubism after that point, but in some sense the space by Duchamp had been pretty thoroughly explored during that five-year period.

I’m way out of my element here, but I’ve been trying for years to complete the analogy between the invention of cubism and what happened in jazz between Kind of Blue (recorded 1959, the year of my birth) and the stuff in the mid-’60s, when Davis had just about finished working out the details and was ready to head off in a new direction (which, parenthetically, I’ve never quite understood).

My point here is simply this: much easier to pop in a CD and listen than it is to jet off to Philadelphia to stare at Duchamp.


  1. John: Thanks for asking. I have now prepared my 7-hour (audio), 147 page (single-space typing, 10 point TNR) response explaining both the flaws in your cubism/jazz analogy and the evolution of Miles Davis musically between “Kind of Blue” and the Davis/Shorter/Hancock/Carter/Williams quintet. And here it is…

    Damn…I seem to have lost it. My life’s intended work gone forever. My purpose for having been on Earth now forgotten. Humanity is now deprived of perhaps its single greatest treatise…ever.

    Oh well. Buy me a beer sometime, and I’ll give you the 75 word version. It won’t have the flowchart, Venn Diagram or interactive 3-D timeline, however.

  2. Scot –

    I lieu of beer, how about next Sunday on the bike? Hard to write it down for posterity, but we wouldn’t be doing that over beer anyway.

  3. Next Sunday to the Ski Area (and perhaps a tad bit beyond?). The altitude light-headedness will only improve the quality of my pontification.

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