Topic: “art”

About that book…

So about that book I’ve been working on.

I’m still working on it. Whether it’ll be a book or not, when all is said and done, however, is a bit of a different question. A few things became clear in the last week as I continued discussing and working with the good folks at Cruciform Press — specifically that we had differing visions for the best way to approach the content of the book and the finances of publishing a book like this. (A lot of this falls on me, for not getting clearer details up front on all of the above.) As such, we’ve amicably parted ways. It’s been a pleasure working with their co-founder, Kevin Meath, and I appreciate his giving me a shot along the way.

As for The World As It Is, I don’t know exactly what it will be. What I do know is that I have about eleven thousand words done and a pretty solid plan for another ten to twelve thousand words, and that I’m going to finish writing what I had planned anyway. From there, many opportunities await — the publishing world has seen a resurgence of interest in solid long-form nonfiction essays, and this might slot nicely into that terrain with some revision and restructuring. In any case, it’ll be a fun ride. Of that I have no doubts whatsoever.

A distant, glorious echo

In his foreword to the second edition of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien boldy declares his dislike of allegory and notes that, whatever critics and readers have suggested, the novel is most certainly not an allegory. Nonetheless, Christian readers have insisted on finding parallels to Christian theology throughout his works, to the extent that they commonly consider various characters—Gandalf in particular—to be explicitly Christ-figures.

orthanc

The Tower of Orthanc—Illustration by Alan Lee

Given Tolkien’s adamant rejection of any sort of allegorical reading of his text, we surely cannot admit of an accidental allegory; such a thing would not make sense. More, when we hold The Lord of the Rings up against works that are explicitly allegorical—C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, for example—we note that there is a real and even profound difference between the two in character and tone. We should therefore grant that Tolkien is not to be argued with here and move on.1

Still, Christian ideas keep popping up in his works: the death and resurrection of Gandalf, the unambiguously demonic evil that the heroes oppose in its various incarnations of Sauron or the Balrog, the king returning to claim his throne after a long stewardship, the long-awaited marriage of that triumphant king to a radiant bride, and so forth. While these do not have the sorts of explicit allegorical turns that characterize, for example, Lewis’ explicit identification of Aslan with Jesus, clearly there is something going on here. What is more, Tolkien himself would freely admit it.

The answer is simple enough. What many readers have mistaken for allegory is typology instead. Read on, intrepid explorer →

Announcement: The World As It Is

I’m writing a book. The kind that gets published, not just the kind that people talk about and then never finish. I’d better finish it: I have a deadline for the manuscript and a publisher who already has cover art done. You might call that pressure. (I do. But it’s of the very best sort: the kind that makes me buckle down and get things done.)

In which case, you’re guessing about the sort of book it’s going to be. After all, I’m posting it here, on Ars Artis—not on Ardent Fidelity—then it’s going to be about art. You’d be right, of course, though I had to think a little about where to post this.

It’s called The World As It Is: A Theology of Art. Read on, intrepid explorer →

On Avid and Sibelius

Avid, the company that currently owns Sibelius, has decided to shut down the main development office and outsource development to a much smaller team in the Ukraine. You can read my general thoughts about the results of selling small, successful companies to bigger ones here:

There’s a takeaway here for developers. If you care about your product at all – and I’m assuming you do, because if you’re just in it for the money, you’re probably not making the kind of product I buy anyway – then don’t sell. The moment you sell your company, no matter how good the sum, you’ve sold out. I’ve seen it happen too many times to believe otherwise.

Don’t Sell (Out)→


Today, I published an open letter to the executives at Avid, imploring them to take the right step by their customers: sell the product back to its inventors, Ben and Jonathan Finn, who have already offered to buy it twice.

Sell Sibelius. It is public knowledge that the Finn brothers have offered at least twice to purchase the software back from you, in the dual interests of maintaining the momentum of the software and of taking care of the employees you have let go. Selling it back to them is the right move – for your customers, for the product, for the developers, and most importantly, for Avid. The goodwill of your customer base and the trust of your own employees are not small things in the long run.

Dear Avid: Please Sell Sibelius→


Will this – or any of the similar efforts being made in the broader Sibelius community – make a difference? The truth is, it’s unlikely. But it’s worth a shot.

Evangelistic tracts, and real art

You know music has power when it has you shivering while running in hundred-degree heat.

Güngör’s Ghosts Upon the Earth is like that, though. From the opening track, the album screams its willingness to be and do something terribly different from most Christian music of the last quarter century. For one thing, this is an album, not just a collection of songs. For another, the musical skill on display here combines with a willingness to forge a new sound, rather than retread the same old pop-rock milieu one more time.

Musical and lyrical unity in an album is a rarity today in any genre, but this album tells a story. Indeed, it tells the story.

But back to those shivers. Read on, intrepid explorer →

The Return of the Shadow

Tolkien was, unquestionably, a master of his art. There has never been anyone quite like him – not before him, and not since. I have written about this at some length before, and I suspect I will again.

In reading Christopher Tolkien’s The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part I, one salient point about artistic endeavors came into sharp focus: Tolkien’s remarkable self-discipline and work ethic. He just kept at it. Read on, intrepid explorer →

And the stew tastes good

Art is always a thing of its own moment. Not in a postmodern, deconstructive sense, but in the simple reality that it is created when it is created, and not at some other time. I first conceived this post walking home from Hastings last night – I’d spent the evening preparing to teach a class at church this morning. Ideation, then, happened in a particular environment (walking down a sidewalk beside a reasonably busy street) at a particular time (between 9:15 and 9:30 pm on a Saturday night). More than that, however, it happened this Saturday night after that study. Had I been thinking another night, or after some other study, I would have thought different thoughts. Read on, intrepid explorer →