On Being A Hero
PF David Bowie sang: We can be heroes – just for one day.
RF So, if we can be heroes – just for one day – can we be heroes for longer than that? And if we can’t be a hero for all of one day, can we be a hero for ten minutes? Or an hour?
PF What is a hero?
RF What does it mean to be a hero?
The hero aspires to three qualities:
The clarity to see what is required of them.
The courage to accept what is required of them.
The capacity to discharge what is required of them.
Clarity, courage, capacity.
Three categories of hero:
The unlikely, or occasional, hero.
The everyday, or ordinary, hero.
The occasional (or unlikely) hero is one who responds honourably to an unlikely or unexpected event: they rise to an occasion, to a challenge, when it presents itself. They are called occasional or unlikely because their heroism is unreliable: the next time a challenge presents itself, they may not be able to respond heroically. The challenge comes from the outside and their heroism is externally driven.
The everyday, ordinary hero is reliably, repeatably and responsibly heroic on a daily basis. They are proficient and sufficient. The world continues to run because of them. Although this category of hero is described as ordinary, such heroism is already extraordinary. The world continues to turn because of the heroism of ordinary heroes.
The superhero is one who directs the way the world runs. They hold the overview of the whole of their particular field of endeavor, undertaking or corporation. They see the operation of all departments, on all floors, in all the offices of the corporation; and most likely, all the people who work in them. The effects and repercussions of their decision-making, initiatives and actions extend in time and space. Not every corporation is fortunate enough to have a superhero.
The heroism of ordinary and super heroes is internally driven. Their heroism grows from a sense of necessity, rightness and personal discipline.
The ordinary and superheroes bring a degree of quality to what they do, a level of care and attention, on a regular basis. These heroes do-what-they-can-do plus-10% on a daily basis. They manifest acts of quality, regularly.
PF How do we become a hero?
We practice acts of heroism. The characteristics of heroic behavior are to undertake, manifest and demonstrate acts of quality on a regular basis. The two key points: quality, regularity.
Two approaches to practising: the extensive and the intensive.
The extensive: the hero does what is possible for them – plus 10%. This gradually extends the parameters of our competence. We begin with what is possible and move gradually towards the impossible.
The intensive: to undertake an act of quality. In Guitar Craft, this is addressed in the Exercise of Qualitative Endeavour.
A third approach is extensive-intensive: we undertake acts of quality on a regular basis.
PF What is an act of quality?
RF An act of quality follows the injunction: honour necessity; honour sufficiency.
Honour necessity is the Rule of Quality.
Honour sufficiency is the Rule of Quantity.
When we honour necessity, we do what is required of us; regardless of like and dislike, personal interest, what we might want to do, and not acting on arbitrary impulse.
When we honour sufficiency, we use the right amount of the right kind of the right energy necessary to discharge the function. That is, we address the economy, ecology and efficiency of the energy supply: the quality, quantity and intensity of energy needed to do the job.
The aim is effortless effort; grace in motion; beautiful strength, that is, a developed calisthenic.
The aim is to do as little as possible, and as much as is necessary.
One practical example from my own field: holding the guitar pick.
On Guitar Craft courses this has been presented to perhaps 3,000 people…. (as of December 2011) on four continents over a period of 26 years. It is necessary for the guitarist to hold a pick. Very little energy is required. This is effortless effort. Nothing is wasted. The action is necessary and sufficient. Even if you tried to pull the pick from my hand with pliers, you would fail.
In the Exercise of Qualitative Endeavour we choose one small task and discharge it superbly. This one small thing must be available to simple and clear description, execution and verification. The principles from any one field are the same principles from another field. So, how we hold our pick is how we live our life.
In practice, an act of quality is governed by the quality of our attention. So, an important part of practising acts of quality is in practising the attention.
PF Why is an act of quality important?
RF Because this is how we transform our sorry world, one small act at a time.
The first principle is: Quality is ungovernable by number.
So, one small act of quality is as big as one large act of quality.
In the Gospels, we have the Parable of The Widow’s Mite.
In the World of Quantity, her donation was worthless.
In the World of Quality, she gave all that she had. The Widow was a hero.
The second principle is: Quality spreads.
An act of quality moves out and into the world, and has effect in ways we’ll never know. Although we may never see the effects and repercussions of an act of quality, we may have faith and confidence that Right Action has Just Consequences.
Our prime concern is the quality of our undertaking, not the effects of the undertaking.
PF If this is true of the individual, does it also apply to a corporation?
RF An act of quality is true. A Company that acts truly, or rightly, will be an Ethical Company.
The Four Pillars of the Ethical Company are:
Recognisable features of the ethical company involve these attributes:
Straightforwardness + Transparency translate as Honesty.
Accountability + Owning-up equate to Responsibility.
Distributive justice + Fairness we understand as Equity.
Common decency we recognize as Goodwill.
Honesty, Responsibility, Equity and Goodwill are the Four Pillars of the Ethical Company.
In the music industry, the Four Pillars are notable by their absence.
PF So, when do we practice being a hero?
RF Every day.
We don’t become a hero by accident. Heroism requires practice.
We begin when we get out of bed in the morning and our feet hit the floor: our day begins with clarity, definition and certainty. When our feet hit the floor, we say Hello God! – whatever God may be for us. We call on, invoke and invite what is Real and Good and True to enter our day.
As our head hits the pillow, our day ends with clarity, definition and certainty. Before our head hits the pillow, we say Goodnight God! – whatever God may be for us; with gratitude for this day in our lives.
But before we say Goodnight God! we recapitulate our day. We go back through the events of our day, in reverse order.
PF Why recapitulate? Why in reverse order? Why the whole day?
RF Nourishment; unseating mechanical mind; seeing the whole.
We recapitulate the events of today, that we may better digest our experiencing and nourish our tomorrow.
Recapitulation in reverse unseats associational thinking and the hold of mechanical mind.
We are training ourselves to hold the overview of one whole day, to see it as one complete moment in our lives.
PF Is being a hero a lonely occupation?
RF It can be, but not necessarily.
If a music-lover works in a major record label, this may well be a lonely life.
If a respecter-of-artists works in an artist-management company, they may well feel lonely.
There is the Heroic Group.
A group forms in service to an aim.
A common aim is closer than blood.
The members of a group wish for each other what they wish for themselves.
The synergies of Group Heroism:
One person: a solo.
Two people: two soloists & one duet.
Three people: thee soloists, six duets, one trio with 6 forms of interaction: ABC, ACB, BAC, BCA, CAB, CBA.
Four people: four separate trios: ABC, ABD, ACD, BCD, each of which has 6 forms of interaction.
(The number of distinct quartets that can be formed from a pool of 6 people is 15=(6*5*4*3)/(4*3*2*1), each with 24 possible circle/cycle forms. The number of distinct trios that can be formed is 20= (6*5*4)/(3*2*1). Personal communication David Snyder).
The support of family and friends. They are not directly part of our heroic undertakings, but offer goodwill, support & kindness.
The first fifteen years of my touring life, at least, would not have been possible without the support of my Mother and Sister.
The Performer As Hero
PF Is the performer heroic?
RF The Performer as Hero is a book in itself.
Guitar Craft is one approach to answering the question. The work of the Guitar Circle and The Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists are part of a continuing answer.
Fripp & Fripp Public Presentations; 2008-2010.
Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Francisco.