Improv

A lot of Asian art emphasizes improvisation. Classical Indian, Balinese, Chinese and Japanese music all have enormous improvisational elements, as do many traditions of painting and martial arts. In the west we have Jazz and maybe comedy, but not much in the way of traditional improvisational arts.

But improvising within a medium, once you’re technically amazing, how is that a special feat? Yeah, I know, some people still can’t do it. What improvising really means though, is learning to see how things flow together. Or if you hate the term “flow”, it’s how things naturally connect, change and evolve. Improvisation is like, you have a basic idea and even mistakes lead to more ideas. Everything moves naturally and falls into place. Not death, because death is stagnation, the inability to change or adapt.

So what I want to know is, what is ultimate improvisation? Wouldn’t that be like, moving naturally without having any prior skill in the area one is improvising? Isn’t that the ability to change and flow naturally in every single brand new situation, without any understanding of it? That’s what I want. Ultimate improv ability.

It seems like there are exponential levels of improvisation. My level of choice is like… the total infiltration of the way of things. Or adaptation to the way of things. Merging with the Dao. That’s the ultimate religious goal, I think. And why is that even a goal? How are we not already naturally a part of nature’s fluxuating improvisation? I think we are. Duh.

Anyway, I’m not surprised that there are few improv traditions in the west. European traditions are all about precise measurements, control, distinction, reputation! Which is funny because I think of Asian traditions in that way too, but from a different angle… like everything is more group-oriented there. Of course, that’s not entirely true because people have a tendency to be greedy, arrogant schmucks no matter where they live.

Sometimes I really think humanity is composed of a bunch of “spiritual teenagers”. We think we know everything, but we know nothing, and we’re obsessed with sexual feelings and get all emotionally complicated because of them. We’re just a bunch of fleshy bits who temporarily open our eyes, see that we have a physical form which makes us laugh and cry, and then go back to sleep. How nuts is that?

Sometimes, right after I wake up in the morning when I’m still really tired, I’ll suddenly think about how incredible it is that every single one of us has this same experience of life (albeit each with a different flavor) that is so lonely, painful, scary and ambiguous in meaning.

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