Feedback on the essay,

"Visual Music and the iota List"

written by Ron Pellegrino, November 2000

(Within days after the essay was posted, responses to it (mainly from current or former iota List subscribers) began hitting my email in-box. Although the respondents were split evenly in favor or against the tenor of the essay their messages contained precious little discussion of the issues involved. What follows are some of those issues:

Avoiding the real issues in visual music is consistent with the lack of in-depth thinking that characterized what I´d experienced during the 18 months I researched the iota List. The respondents to my essay either nodded in agreement or hurled typical undergraduate vitriolic personal insults, the sort reserved for people not lock-step with the current politically correct view of the world. Nevertheless, the fact is that I always find those who disagree with me far more stimulating and informative than those who agree so you're apt to find more of those negative responses as you make your way through the following material.



Early March 2001 while conducting research for another section of my web site I happened on an iota Newsletter written by Larry Cuba (a filmmaker and one of iota's prime movers) that, with some chagrin, publically announced my essay, "Visual Music and the iota List", and commented on it briefly. Anyone interested in the field of visual music will understand my need to respond to Cuba's newletter piece. The response to Cuba's piece has its own page; to get there click this link.



Responses and replies to the essay,

"Visual Music and the iota List"

written by Ron Pellegrino, November 2000



This response, "A poem for Ron Pellegrino", was written by someone from California Institute for the Arts, probably an undergraduate given the tone of the poem. You´ll see from my reply that I tried to get that person to own up to their work but, no luck, so I honored that person's desire for anonymity. Normally I wouldn´t post a response to my work by a person without the courage to stand by their words but their position is emblematic of the character of the iota List and I did enjoy the "tribute" ;-)

Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 01:49:37 -0800
From: Anonymous <anon@emsh.calarts.edu> (name withheld by request)
To: ronpell@microweb.com
Subject: A poem for Ron Pellegrino

Jungs claimed to be related to Goethe
Hilma Af Klint channeled the misplaced remnants of 1960's acid-rock
casualties
eye of Fischinger tongue of Moritz
First one to the trough, so close to colorless silence
I claim pagan allegiance to ancient fire shadow and flesh
My artforum subscription goes to the cave painters...
they ate mushrooms as well (if drugs must be part of the equation)
divide Pythagoras by Paracelsus
Educated east coast remnants of European Occult echoplex's
The forth the fifth the minor fall the major lift
I´m a fucking Shaman too you fucker
I know what it is, one step closer to art god
here are my credentials and here is comforting compartment
climb into my crab cannon and we´ll collapse the mirrors
perhaps if we try really hard
we can not only stop disrespecting duality, perhaps we might be able to
count higher than three ourselves
But If I get to four, I fucking own it, and no one had better try to
claim other wise
or I´ll cage them to Caucasus and eat their liver
and balance their scales with a feather
until their convinced of the rules of this here club
at least the Major ones a whole whole half
left with only an abrasive micro tone
without an iota of recursive pie to steer clear of Hollywood
the amoeba gets my vote, everything else is just a regurgitate ear with
an eyeball lodged in it so that one can smell a thought
fuck religion when it prevents magic
fuck education when it inhibits growth
fuck limits that have become claustrophobic
fuck Visual Music, fuck the saviors, fuck the high road
fuck music fuck art
If all these artists dreams were actualized, nothing of interest would be
allowed
so many people with "open educated minds" spending so much
time spewing negative criticism just to try to get their mits on history
This is my only reactionary one and
All I know is that this club history is poison to me
And I´m definitely keeping it at an arms length
I won´t write an SA, but I may write to thank you
bitch at you
and sign out at you



My reply to the author of "A poem for Ron Pellegrino":

Date: November 27, 2000
From: ronpell@microweb.com
To: Anonymous <anon@emsh.calarts.edu> (name withheld by request)
Subject: A poem for Ron Pellegrino

Hi Anonymous <anon@emsh.calarts.edu> (name withheld by request):

Many thanks for taking the time to give form to those deep thoughts of yours. Any step in any direction is worth a try. The end is stopping.

I´d like to post your poem on my web site. Any reservations? Any revisions before it goes web?

Ron Pellegrino



The author's response to my reply:

Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 00:54:47 -0800
From: Anonymous <anon@emsh.calarts.edu> (name withheld by request)
To: Ron Pellegrino <ronpell@microweb.com>
Subject: Re: A poem for Ron Pellegrino

Dear Ron,

It was for you, not the world or the club. On some level I thought you may find it entertaining, but as a pseudo-club member, I care not to burn my bridges with what I actually think (at this time anyways)... my support system at this point is far too fragile. That particular reaction came from a disgruntled place (about said topics), and I´m not always disgruntled. Perhaps I´m just a punk. The world does piss me off much of the time (a cool calm sort of pissed) but I don´t really want to piss the world off too often. I find it makes it that much more difficult to change or accomplish anything. And besides, I actually have respect and feelings for many of the club members. But I thought (from your SA) that you may appreciate it, and perhaps even dislike me a bit for it... similar to the reaction your SA is having on Iota folks. So true to the feedback process, the Kettle is once again calling the cauldron black and turning itself a few extra degrees on it´s ear, and then the deviation is amplified by it´s repetition.

take care

Anonymous (name withheld by request)



My reply to the author´s response:

Date: November 28, 2000
From: ronpell@microweb.com
To: Anonymous (name withheld by request)
Subject: A poem for Ron Pellegrino

Hi Anonymous (name withheld by request):

I do find your poem amusing. That's why I want to include it as feedback on my essay.

Because of the nature of my site, anything that anyone sends to me via email is potential material for posting; some sections of the site are much like moderated forums. Normally I don't clear posting with the sender but in your case I had a feeling that you might have some misgivings about coming out. Your poem has punk written all over it; that's a big part of its charm. Are you an undergraduate at CalArts?

You wrote: "But I thought (from your SA) that you may appreciate it, and perhaps even dislike me a bit for it... similar to the reaction your SA is having on Iota folks."

I´m generally very objective about life and specifically about the art scene; no way am I going to dislike anyone who gives thought to my work and responds in an honest, natural, creative way. Regarding the iota folks - nobody is pleased to wake up in the morning, look in mirror, and discover that they have a new crop of pimples on their face; but it just part of adolescence and the iota list is populated mainly by newbies so the pimples should present no surprise. People tend to like what is most like themselves so I wouldn´t expect the iota list to be falling over themselves with love for me or my work.

Reconsider the posting of your poem. Taking a strong clearly articulated stand separates you from the crowd; if you remain stuck in the crowd you become little more than a technician, which is one of the ideas I was developing in the iota essay. And as a support system the crowd isn´t worth all that much in the end anyway unless you actually prefer being a technician rather than an artist.

Ron Pellegrino

...And I haven`t yet heard from that author. Of course I do have the name of the person but their coming out day is fairly far down on my watch list.





It´s a good bet that this response is from a young student and from his opening words - "I have attempted to read..." - probably not all that close to the top of the class. I doubt his attempt "to read" was successful because he didn´t address a single issue from the essay in his response. Notice that the iota List appears in the CC: field which probably means he was hoping to score some brownie points with the iota List based on a little sniping with cheap shots - a questionable view of the iota List's intellectual integrity.

Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 02:22:38 -0800
From: Andy Kopra
To: ronpell@microweb.com
CC: iotacenter@egroups.com
Subject: Visualizing the kettle as black

Dr. Pellegrino:

I have attempted to read http://www.microweb.com/ronpell/VisualMusicAndiotaList.html. I thought you might be interested to know that you were one of the reasons I unsubscribed from the iota discussion list months ago. The discussion was frequently poisoned by your arrogance, your patronizing attitude toward sincere students, and your bullying efforts to claim most of this vast territory as your own. From an artist I would expect a certain generosity of spirit toward others interested in the art, not proscriptive sermons and judgments about intent. Happily, investigations into what "visual music" might mean continue everywhere, unhampered by theory in the service of overweening ego.

Regards,

Andy Kopra



My reply to Andy Kopra:

To: ack@acm.org
From: Ron Pellegrino
Subject: Re: Visualizing the kettle as black
Date: December 14, 2000

Hi Andy:

You wrote:

>Dr. Pellegrino:

>I have attempted to read
>http://www.microweb.com/ronpell/VisualMusicAndiotaList.html.

From what you say below it sounds as though you might have had some trouble following the piece. Read it over and over again until you begin to get the drift. Keep in mind it's about visual music issues not personal insults. As a student one of the best lessons you can learn is that anyone in any field who quests for excellence and honesty must learn to deflect the poison arrows from the cult of mediocrity.

>I thought you might be interested to know that you were one
>of the reasons I unsubscribed from the iota discussion list
>months ago. The discussion was frequently poisoned by your
>arrogance, your patronizing attitude toward sincere
>students, and your bullying efforts to claim most of this
>vast territory as your own.

The leading edge of any field is a very special place. Not everyone is meant to be there. Courage is the ticket to play.

>From an artist I would expect a
>certain generosity of spirit toward others interested in the
>art, not proscriptive sermons and judgments about intent.

If you're truly interested in examples of my "generosity of spirit" check out my web site in detail [including the section called the iota Exchanges].

>Happily, investigations into what "visual music" might mean
>continue everywhere, unhampered by theory in the service of
>overweening ego.

>Regards,

>Andy Kopra

In may be true that "investigations into what "visual music" might mean continue everywhere" but as I say in my essay, the iota list is not where you'll find much of value in that regard unless your interest lies in the past; the iota list is a backwater. Dig deeper into my piece and you'll discover that what you call "overweening ego" and its blind followers is the root of most of what I'm exposing and rejecting in my essay.

Take creative advantage of the energy you get when your cage is rattled. If you quit you're doomed to the middle.

Ron Pellegrino



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