A word on the disappearance of my Instagram project Desert Rhodes.
The idea came all at once. A roving outdoor piano sketchbook and inclusive micro-commissioning project. Everyone could write me a piece and I’d go make a video of it someplace in the Southwest. People liked the idea. They sent pieces. There were limitations: the piano was heavy, time scarce. It turned out the Rhodes is a great textural element but not necessarily a great solo instrument. It turned out I don’t like asking people for pieces. I have other ways I’d prefer to call in my favors. I thought maybe I could offer something this way, but I’ve found it easier to meaningfully contribute to the musical community in other, less digital areas.
More pressingly, it was just time to delete all of my social media accounts. I don’t know what the answer is, but for me at least, it’s not happening on there. The decision to leave social media was complex in a way but also, in the end, incredibly simple. A month or so ago I picked up Jaron Lanier’s book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. The arguments were persuasive, but this turned out not to matter, because I saw right away that I’d already made the decision and was only looking for confirmation. I did a lot of arguing back and forth in my head, but the truth was I really wanted to delete the accounts already, in fact I had for years. I had essentially stopped using Facebook by about 2016, and my relationship with Twitter had become unhealthy.
I could write about this more, but basically, these are silly websites and I didn’t want to waste any more time on them. Moreover: they’re addictive, they’re exploitative, they’re cheapening and flattening our lived experience, and they’re fucking up our politics. For this last reason especially I felt compelled to delete Desert Rhodes also. Instagram is, of course, owned by Facebook, a company clearly unprepared for the amount of power and responsibility it now wields, and while I recognize that not everyone can walk away, I can. So I did.
I regret the disappearance of Desert Rhodes. It was a fun idea. People were nice enough to write me pieces, and I don’t want those pieces to disappear. There are still unrecorded pieces that were supposed to be part of the project. So it may reappear in a different medium.
Then again, it may also be important to simply cut ties and accept sunk costs. Let a project be what it was, and move along. Part of the joy here has been simplifying my digital life and web presence. I have this website, which catalogs and organizes my work. It is not a marvel of design, but at least it's regularly updated, including a weekly blog post. And I have the music, which was supposed to be the point to begin with. I’ve been practicing and performing, but I want to do a lot more listening. I hope this renewed dedication and focus bears fruit that will be of value to others, regardless of the medium of communication. Thanks for reading.
10 Best of 2014
January: Wyoming and the Open
February: New Mexico and the Holes
Notes on The Accounts