JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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Post-Gladwell, I was about to declare myself to be like Cezanne, then I read a little further.

Two nights ago I fell asleep right after reading a Malcolm Gladwell piece in his book “What the Dog Saw”. The piece was about how there are two different types of artists in this world, the prodigy, who does his best work young (Picasso) and the late bloomer, who does his best work old (Cezanne). 

As with almost all of Gladwell’s writings, this piece instilled a certainty within me of Gladwell’s rightness. He had cracked yet another of those everyday mysteries that sit right in front of us, yet we neither notice nor solve. More important, he had made me believe that, even at my advancing age, my best art was still ahead of me. Just before I dozed off, I started to think about how Gladwell’s notion of the prodigy vs. the late bloomer would make good blog post about me, since I am most certainly no prodigy and, if anything, a late bloomer.

But before I started writing my post, I did a little research, meaning of course, I googled a few terms. After entering in Gladwell, Cezanne and Picasso, I was presented with a list, number one on which was “Annals of Culture: Late Bloomers : The New Yorker.” I was about to click, when I notice that number two was titled “Steve Sailer's iSteve Blog: Cezanne vs. Picasso vs. Gladwell”. No contest, I clicked number two.

What I discovered was a very compelling counterargument to Gladwell's. To sum up iSteve's point, there is no pattern, no such thing as a neat dividing line between prodigy's and late bloomers. iSteve makes his case by pointing out how Cezanne had painted his whole life with little success, because he never quite mastered perspective. Then perspective became passe and suddenly Cezanne's warped reality art was hip. Is this true? I dunno, but then, who's to say Gladwell's thesis is right? Further, iSteve rightfully questions Gladwell's measure of success, which is prices paid for paintings.

In the end, because I am way more likely to believe things that take me down a notch than things that build me up, I went with iSteve. And if my art ever makes a dent in the world of music, it will be as much because of chance as anything else. And hard work. And The Maton.