Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Sunday 10 May 2020



Rising 06.30. While opening the curtains, Toyah crept behind me and slipped into the shower, so as I was attending to dental hygiene she could leap out and make me jump. Clearly, I’m back to normal health if my heart can withstand the ongoing tricks of Sneaky Toes Willcox.

I Advance Masked – Day Fifty…

The street…

Morning writing and reflecting, continuing from yesterday: how to present an accurate report of my professional life without repelling those readers, who would rather engage with positive and uplifting accounts of the musical life? Perhaps, two reports are necessary...

The first: on musical life in the real world (whatever we understand by real).
The second: the delusional/exploitative/stinky world of the music industry.

The report on a real world: the world of Guitar Craft and the Guitar Circle. The GC current is primarily experiential and direct, its work mostly outside public view (although with public manifestations).

The professional world: the life is conducted mainly in full public gaze. Experiencing is mainly indirect, mediated by press, publicity engines and agents of commerce. The primary exception is live performance. Even here, the performance event is compromised by commerce and the actualities of the event and venues – sight lines, acoustics, secondary ticketing – and the weather (it rains at open-air venues). But something remains available to us, if we are also available. Even here, often not – consumer rights, photography, viddying et al – all militate against the direct engagement in the moment.

So, how might I begin to present these two reports?

The positive: the first volume of The Guitar Circle is being published this October by Panegyric in a tri-lingual edition: English/Spanish/Italian.

Musical support: Quiet Moments

These are almost all live performances, often appearing in contexts unsupportive of quiet, sometimes even loudly-unsupportive (eg booing). How to find a moment within the maelstrom?

How to present a one-sentence introduction to each report?

  1. The real world begins when we are present.
  2. Grace is present, even in Hell.

10.38      Here in the modest kitchen of Fripcox Palace, with boundless country park and lake in the centre of this small, wonderful country town, Toyah and Robert have decided to continue celebrating our Family Heroes of VE Day for Sunday Lockdown lunch…

Many people have posted, and contacted us privately, with profoundly moving stories of their own Family Heroes of that remarkable generation. Thank you.

14.51 From yesterday’s Diary: The Wasps’ Nest has been buzzing recently, although recently is redundant: the Wasps’ Nest never goes away.

 Kicking The Wasps’ Nest of the DGM Guestbook…
Thursday 27th. September, 2007
Super Audio Mastering, Monks Withecombe

The evil eye
:: Posted by Mechkov on September 26, 2007

Possible cure: should time and inclination be on your side, stroll over, shake a hand and say "hello". people will love you for it.
Short of time and inclination, a wave and smile can work wonders.
Short of time, a smile is rarely seen as anything bad.
Or am I being naive again...

Firstly, naïve isn’t the best word.

Secondly, the (no doubt) well-meaning Mr. Mechkov is clearly uninformed/unaware of my various strategies in attempting to intentionally engage with audiences on four continents, in all manner of contexts, situations formal and informal, professional and personal, on and off-line, public and private, and other, for almost four decades. And why should he be? And if he is not, why recommend his courses of action? As a brief information-update, I have tested all of his suggested strategies.

Thirdly, I’m not sure what cure is available and which ailment it seeks to remedy.

Fourthly, popularity is not an aim of mine, neither do I seek unpopularity. Why would anyone seek popularity? The answer to this question tells us much about ourselves; and better, when we have the answer, not to attribute our motivations to others. Popularity can be readily achieved by giving people what they want. This comes with a train of unintended consequences (note: this is written from practical experience, resulting from applying and testing all Mr. Mechkov’s suggestions and more). Better to act on what one sees to be right, and accept the consequences and repercussions that follow. Right Action generates Right Repercussions, these usually more apparent in the long term. If we act rightly, the repercussions tend to be manageable; these may include popularity, unpopularity and disinterest. None have relevance. What is inherent in Right Action supports us through the lot of it.

Fifthly, Mr. Mechkov’s suggestions come with an implied imperative – do this! His implication is, that although I may not accept his suggestions, I really should. But a problem with removing my capacity to say no to his counsel of actions, neither am I able to say yes. And if I can't say yes, I have to say no.

Sixthly, if the aim of a wave and a smile is to work wonders, it undermines the generosity and warmth that accompanies a freely-offered wave and smile extended in goodwill, given without concern for personal benefit; and comes close to manipulation.

I hope Mr. Mechkov forgives me:

  1. I find his suggestions insulting. He assumes that in over forty-eight years of playing in public, forty professionally, I have not concerned myself in engaging with audiences/the interested public; neither learnt anything in doing/not-doing so.
  2. His tone is patronising.

I note that our interests in performer/audient interaction are inverse. Mr. Mechkov addresses the personal; my interest is engaging the impersonal, that part of us where we are already the same person.

So, if we are already (rather more than) connected, why and how is it so easy to overlook our essential unity, so “difficult” to connect with each other? One answer: the demand our egotism exerts to gain acknowledgement and strength, at the expense of the essential and the real. Anyway, why bother about fancy ideas when we can wander about shaking hands and taking photos? Puffing up our vanity and sense of self-worth? We have the right to be acknowledged! We have the right to demand attention! And I only wanted to say hello and be thanked for being here! Who does he think put him there, anyway? Now give me the attention I deserve – and I have the right to attention! All you have to do is smile and wave and shake my hand and have your photo taken with me – and then you can sign it to your dearest and oldest friend – little me! That’s easy enough for you to do, after all! Don’t bother about the other people – they’re the time consumers! You think you have the right not to? That’s not a right! What a jerk!

If for a moment an aspirant hand-shaker and photographing/viddying/recording audient (even when they can’t be seen! even when they only do such a little bit of it that they can have no possible effect on anything at all! even when it’s only one autograph! only one photograph! only one question about that show in 1973 when I was in the third row wearing the t-shirt! when you looked up and saw me!) were to pause and consider this, they will not be persuaded otherwise. If they were, they would remain unable to direct their behaviour in accordance with requests/House Rules (why is it that policing and security staff at performances are a growth industry?).

It is not possible, when we are in The Basement, to move outside the rigid and determined parameters of our entrenched opinions, key to which is our right to do anything we want – because we have the right! Movement is only possible when we find ourselves, mysteriously, outside of The Basement, even for just a moment. Then, we see other people as-if for the first time; there may even be enough light available to see other opinions and views. This is a long distance from developing respect for those other-views; a much longer distance from being able to act in accordance with respectful-disagreement; and much much further from being able to enter the experiencing of others.

For now, please, anyone interested in being part of the performance conventions referred to above, I am clearly not a performer for you; and certainly not one that you want to know personally. If impersonal is not what you need, please give your patronage / matronage to artists grateful to receive it, and take no further interest in anything I do.

14.57 Listening to possible future Quiet Moments.

19.13 To the Cellar and practicing.