Pepe Romero, arguably the world’s greatest living classical guitarist, often says that the only great music is that performed for free. Spontaneous acts of love and charity embody heart and soul and meaning that is visceral. Unselfconsciously, the Spanish born American guitarist often plays at the bedside of a sick friend or alone at midnight on the steps of the Alhambra. Reportedly, hearing the magnificence resonance, the dogs in Malaga howl and make love.
Our most precious memories of loved ones are seeing them in the kitchen covered with flour or stomping rosy cheeked through the woods. Souvenir boxes contain as many scribbled notes and worn snapshots as they do carefully written formal letters. Such are treasured as much and often more, than the framed portraits sitting on pianos or carefully hung on walls.
Two of the most beloved and famous drawings in the world were created, one for practice and the other in a private journal. Yesterday, attending a non-denominational breakfast commemorating the National Day of Prayer at the Granbury, Texas Convention Center, I was intrigued that one of these iconic masterpieces, along with prayers and lyrics of hymns, was presented over and over as part of the Power Point presentation flashing on screens lining the banquet space.
Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) was a German painter, printmaker, mathematician, engraver, and theorist from Nuremberg. Dürer made large numbers of preparatory drawings, especially for his paintings and engravings. Many survive, most famously the Betende Hände or Praying Hands (1508). Praying Hands is a practice drawing, a study for an apostle in the Heller Altarpiece commissioned by Frankfurt merchant, Jacob Heller, in about 1510.
Another iconic sketch was found in a personal journal. The Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (around the year 1487), and is accompanied by reverse writing, translated from work by the famed architect, Vitruvius. The depiction, pen and ink on paper, is of a male figure in two superimposed positions, his arms and legs apart and simultaneously circumscribed by a circle and square. The drawing and text are sometimes called the Canon of Proportions or, less often, Proportions of Man. Proportions of Man is stored in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, Italy, and, like most works on paper, is displayed only occasionally. Both Proportions of Man and Praying Hands have for centuries been reproduced untold millions of times on coffee cups, tee shirts, tote bags and fine prints. The patron, Jacob Heller, is almost forgotten, but Durer’s meticulously planned and executed Heller Altarpiece is studied and enjoyed, primarily by aficionados of the arts.
Spontaneous expressions from Pepe Romero, by their very nature, are experienced by a precious few lucky souls. Such expressions by writers are usually unavailable to the public, unless published posthumously.
Yesterday, The Daily Beast published Salman Rushdie’s post entitled Pakistan's Deadly Game. So after the prayer breakfast, I was able to contemplate this world-class author and thinker’s spontaneous, visceral, reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden. If Rushdie’s post ‘goes viral’, millions will read it. If it is exemplary, it will endure.
As writers have an astounding new forum for their spontaneous notations, they also have formerly unheard of competition. Last year, at a symposium hosted by Texas Christian University, Pat and Bob Schieffer and the Schieffer School of Journalism, New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, commented on the competition opinion makers have from massive social media. There is some good news for Ms. Dowd. Even though Lady Gaga is the most-followed person on Twitter, she is not considered the "most influential" member of the Twitterati. The New York Times is still in the running. Research, conducted in 2009 by Daniel Romero, Wojciech Galuba, Sitaram Asur and Bernardo A. Huberman of HP’s Social Computing Lab, ranks Twitter's most influential news-media accounts by how many followers each account has and how engaged those followers are. New Scientist reported the findings, which show that feeds from the most influential news media had some surprising results. For instance, the New York Times (2,502,914 followers) ranks at #22. “
Spontaneous and heart felt or skillful and professional, which tweets and blogs will last? As with the celebrated expressions by da Vinci and Durer, as well as stellar public performances by the likes of Pepe Romero, I am betting it will be those that communicate both heart and proficiency.