Friday, April 22, 2016

Freak Flags, Funk and Purpose

The deaths of David Bowie and Prince are similarly devastating to me in two ways; they both amassed truly incredible artistic outputs, and unapologetically flew their beautiful and unique freak flags. Perhaps this total embrace of the self had much to do with their abilities to create so much evocative and impactful art that dressed in drag as entertainment.

Or was it entertainment dressing in drag as art? Or does it even matter? These two irresistible auras took these artifices and threw them to the wind, using creative wellspring cultivated from the most powerful source: being oneself. They both allowed their electric lives within their own skins to surge vulnerably out past themselves to pass along the spark, building community among those who needed it most. This is the work. THIS. Work I'd call 'serious fun.' At a time when understanding the beautiful simultaneity of difference and similarity is so important, what better a role for art than to help people find themselves while simultaneously finding compatibilities with others?

Jazz music and movement and their offshoots (like the beautifully-accessible nasty of Prince-brand funk) are exactly this; the value of self expression soloing within the support of a community holding down the percussion. Improvising your own solo take on the melodies that run through our lives, moving toward harmony with others, as the beat marches ever forward.

But funk? That's just plain and simple fun, right? Plain and simple? Yes. JUST? NO. Creating your own improvised take on a shared jam, whether through sound or motion, is vital and important work. It produces the vulnerable, authentic and truthful joy that is so often in short supply in the world, yet a key ingredient to a balanced life. Grooving is so much more than 'a fun Friday night.' It is self-actualization, shared freely with others, while celebrating the fullness of the moment. Here is an example of Prince doing the WORK:

I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone right now who doesn't deem his unique brand of Serious Fun as incredible ARTISTRY. He was, after all, The Artist. To the foot-tappers, booty-shakers and everybody else taking their fun seriously, I'm right there with you, in everything I do as an artist. My passionate professional commitment to groove isn't 'just fun.' It's Serious Fun. It's self-actualization. It's celebration of the beautiful simultaneity of difference and similarity. It's experiencing the fullness of the moment. It is purpose.

So, go on with your WORK. It's what he would have wanted, because he knew it's what we need.

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