WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
S T E V E R E I C H
NEW YORK CITY
Photograph by Isaac Rosenthal
I. When I first started then working with tape loops, I was interested in sports recordings from the 1940s. If you pick out the right part of it then you will discover it has a melody to it. When you focus in on those fragments of speech which are very melodic, it isn’t the same as when a composer sets words to music. Your voice is as much who you are as a photograph of you. Perhaps more so. How people speak is how we relate to them.
II. You realize that no matter how much you rehearse, no matter how well you know the piece, you are going into uncharted territory with each performance. From the start of the piece, to the end of the piece, you are swimming around and trying to hold onto something which is inherently irrational. And yet you are trying to get from one rational place to another rational place.
III. I have a short fuse. It’s gotten longer as I’ve gotten older, because I just don’t have the energy to have a short fuse. But it’s still too short! If you can control that, that’s a step for your betterment, for the people around you, and for the world in general. That’s the only way the world really progresses. Jews say, when will the messiah come? Well, the messiah will come when we let him in. When human action has reached a level where things are really good, we’re really acting good to each other.
IV. Bob Hurwitz at my record company always says: the first 90 seconds, otherwise you’re dead. Otherwise it’s like fast forward, or next track and that’s the world we’re living in. I think that music you either fall in love instantly, or you can learn about it, but I’ve never found something that I’ve disliked and then later on I grew to like. I’ve always continued to dislike it, but respect it in retrospect but the magnetic attraction, for me, has always been instantaneous.
V. There’s a concept called Lashon Hara. The evil tongue; it's the concept that if you know something bad about somebody, seek out the good. When human action has reached a level where things are really good, we’re really acting good to each other.
VI. When these black people were shot in Charleston, they were all church people and came out and showed sympathy and forgiveness to the guy who did this monstrous thing. I’m struck with the enormity of the content of their character; these people are giants. So whenever people are able to do something really good, like the guys who jumped the terrorist on the train, the three American guys, it becomes wisdom when it is manifest. It’s in the doing.
VII. I am for the religion of doing.