22 may. 2011

Lorca and 10,000 Hours

Lorca wrote a lot of juvenilia, and it has been published because Lorca is a super-canonical writer. I use the word super-canonical not as a superlative, but as my term for a writer who is so canonical that a drawing on a napkin is deemed worthy of publication. If you found a new manuscript by Dante, it would be a news item. Lorca is a writer in that category. Lorca's juvenilia, plays and poems, is often quite awful. Religious sentimental crap. His first book, Libro de poemas, is still quite immature. His first play after the juvenilia, about a butterfly and some cockroaches, is insufferable. A few short years after that, he was the genius poet of Poema del cante jondo.

So Lorca needed the proverbial 10,000 hours to be good what he became very, very good at. He needed to write a load of crappy work just to be practiced enough as a writer. Sure, some people write for 10,000 hours and are still crappy, so I am concluding that Lorca was working systematically, deliberately, in his practice, that he had some sense of what he was after and was working toward that goal. All of his reading, his work on Flamenco, his musical practice, was also directed toward this same goal.

So yes, Lorca is a genius inspired by the duende, and all that business, but what he was a genius in was figuring out how to get from being a crappy adolescent writer like all of us were, to be the poet and playwright he became.


Coltrane practiced so much that he didn't know who Willy Mays was.

6 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

Where did you get that bit about Coltrane and Mays?

Jonathan dijo...

I don't remember any more the exact source.

Jonathan dijo...


zbs dijo...

The practice-before-all thing has always rung democratic to the point of phony but phoniest especially when one invokes the overdeterminate Gladwellian statistic "10,000 hours."

Jonathan dijo...

It seems democratic until you realize that most people don't have the discipline to put in the 10 thousand or anywhere close.

Also, obviously, it is necessary but not sufficient to put in a lot of hours. The number itself is phony, obviously. A sucpiciously round number.

Vance Maverick dijo...

No doubt it derives from evolutionary considerations, not forgetting the shorter day and longer year that prevailed back then, out on the veldt. That, or it's a symbolic round number like the ten thousand things.