Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A few nights ago I was thinking about the connection (or lack of connection) between an artist and their work.

What brought this to mind was that Marcus had a little trouble sleeping (poor parenting on my behalf facilitated an over-indulgence in chocolate). Unusually, he requested patting to help him sleep. Most parents would, I think, describe this as a very pleasant activity – lying next to a drowsy child and patting them until they fall asleep. Marcus has pretty much grown out of it, but Gina and I still get to fight, occasionally, for the honour.

Marcus also requested “Enya”. Since he was very little, Enya’s “A Day Without Rain” has been a preferred CD to fall asleep by. When he was really little (and extremely stubborn), I stumbled across its magic powers.

There’s something very personal about being sung to sleep (if we’re not in the mood for Enya, he sometimes gets my singing instead). Of course, Enya has no idea that a little kid on the far side of the planet has listened to her CD hundreds of times, to the extent that it has an immediate calming effect on him.

I was also reminded of the cartoonist Gary Larson, who has written as follows about the fact that he doesn’t like his cartoons to be reproduced without permission:

These cartoons are my "children," of sorts, and like a parent, I'm concerned about where they go at night without telling me. And, seeing them at someone's web site is like getting the call at 2:00 a.m. that goes, "Uh, Dad, you're not going to like this much, but guess where I am. " (http://bit.ly/8jCXe)

It’s increasingly difficult for artists – and indeed anyone who publishes anything – to keep track of their children. I remember Ken Carroll at ChinesePod (www.chinesepod.com) saying to me that you have to accept that anything you put on the web will be clipped and copied, and accordingly look to make a living from “edge competencies” instead of getting income directly from your primary work.

Anyway, I can assure Enya that at least one of her children has been in the best of company for the past few years, helping my child to drift into a peaceful sleep.