Sunday, 12 February 2012

How much do you write? Shiawase nichiyoh bi

Quantity or quality?


It's interesting that we always profess to prefer quality over quantity and yet within the education system in the UK we continuously ask the recipients for a specific number of words or pages!
Yesterday, Saturday, one of our tribe asked a question about how many tales for a children's book should she write and I replied along the lines of it depends on age of the reader, length of the tales and so on. Quantity again.
I also read someone elses blog and they quoted 70k words for a novel.
As a society we love to know 'how much' and the second question is 'how good'? Is this the right way round?
Many years ago I was taking a course in English Literature while at college and the class were asked to review a piece of prose. I replied in about 3/4 a page of A4 and was quite negative as I felt that the piece we were reviewing was not particularly good and spent time justifying my response. I received a 'D' grade and instruction to re-write which I was obviously unhappy with so I asked for an interview with the lecturer. I ended up with a C grade! Another example where the amount influenced the opinion.

The trouble is that with writing, art, music and other forms of expression all of the opinion is subjective.

Modern Art

I visited a gallery close to the Louvre in Paris many years ago and tripped over a steel girder that was laid on the floor. When I looked closer there was a piece of cotton wool wrapped round the centre of the girder. It was one of the exhibits! There was a doorway made from neon lights: the sea constructed of blue ceramic wall tiles; and, other such, in my opinion, dubious works of art.

Modern Music is not exempt. A guy called Cage, not Nicholas, 'composed' a piece that included an ash tray balanced on the strings inside a grand piano and another piece that included several minutes of silence. I've also been involved in a performance of a piece of music where the percussion section included a piece of scaffolding pipe and a hammer. There were also 2 conductors and the orchestra was split into 2 halves. It was a cacophony! My opinion.

My point is this - any one of these examples could be the greatest piece of art, music or writing ever but the amount is of no relevance!

Leopold Kohr born in Austria in 1909 made observations of small city states in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. He protested the 'cult of bigness' and promoted the idea of human scale and small community life. He inspired British economist E F Scumacher to write 'Small is Beautiful'


The subtitle is rather telling.