Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Tuesday 25 March 2003

Room Most Acceptable Hotel Quite


#809, Room Most Acceptable, Hotel Quite Acceptable, Seattle.

Today is the 18th. anniversary of the beginning of the first Guitar Craft course. It was held in the Claymont Mansion, near Charles Town, West Virginia.


Mobile HQ, Crimbus of Terror Hurtling Towards Portland.

The Crimbus arrived outside the hotel at 09.50, and left at 11.08.

Yesterday, between 16.30 and 16.35, I committed a sin that, in this band, is almost unforgivable - I was in the lobby 5 minutes late to leave for soundcheck. I had spent 5 minutes on the 'phone responding to a telephone message - this is why I rarely accept calls on the road - and was shunted around the voice mail of someone whose name sounded like Fred Gruber (not the Fred Gruber, I'm sure). Pat & Tour Manager MJK were calling me from the lobby, concerned that I was OK - Robert wouldn't be 5 minutes late unless something appalling had happened to him, after all. To quote Trey from the last tour: in this band two minutes early is late. Perhaps in Crim-karmic recompense, this morning I was in the lobby punctually at 10.30 - for an 11.00 departure. In the words of Michael Giles, pillockry is rife and, in this example, pillockry was mine.

Complementary Ethernet access at Hotel Quite Acceptable (which claims to be the hippest hotel in Seattle) enabled me to get online last night after the show. One of the small treats this confers is to view Bill Munyon's roadcam pictures posted on the Krimson-News site. I hooted gently at Bill's picture of an un-inflated tusk, for example. These are delights provided for those who would like a photographic record of Crimson in action, plus many behind-the-scenes snapshots unavailable even to the front row.

The small-scale ongoing flurry on the K-News Guestbook, as to whether Fripp's supernatural prescience and psychic abilities are real or imaginary, continues to flurry on a small scale. One well-defined view is more or less, even if Fripp believes his experiencing is real, it is imaginary because I haven't had those experiences so they can't be real. Other views, less skeptical, suggest that Fripp may not be entirely the self-deluding prat that he presents himself as being; although evidence to the contrary is admittedly thin on the ground.

From the Krimson-News Guestbook on Monday --

In a way it's just sensing a crowd. When an audience is fully present & the performers are fully present something special happens. When someone is fussing about trying to capture the performance it impedes the ability to be present with the music. So that something special for which Fripp, and many other musicians, lives gets frustrated. I don't think it is as specific as sensing intentions, but simply the mood of the crowd and whether or not they are on the same page with the band.

This is very well put. A good performer "plays" the audience. This is not (or needn't be) manipulation, nor playing to the gallery (mutual masturbation), but reciprocation. When we enter music into the equation of performer + audience, everything may change. Something like:

Before, there is a couple;
Then, there is a child;
Then, there is a family.

Would anything change if a couple doesn't fully embrace? Or one of the parties demands the right to behave as they want, regardless of the expressed wishes of the other? Even, use a prophylactic?

In a musical performance, when music enters the equation, good to remember that music begins in the creative world. In the words of JG Bennett, music can come from a place more real than life itself. (Mr. Bennett then went on to give an example of this, from his visit to the Isle of Wight festival - Who was that guitarist? Ah yes, James Hendrix). In our contemporary performance culture, despite the moderately>extremely inappropriate venues in which music finds itself presented, its origins remain the same. Music is an opening to a qualitatively different way of meeting each other, individually & collectively. We might even find ourselves, instantaneously, in this place more-real-than-life-itself, where we discover that we are family. More accurately, we already were family, but now we know this as if for the first time. When we meet in this place, we find our embrace to be utterly impersonal, yet intimate.

Within a Crimson performance, photography is not a contributory act. It is also non-consensual. The non-contributory act, and the non-consensual act, both carry attitude, convey intention, and have effect. This is true in any context, not only within performance & the performance space. This effect is subtly disruptive, whether we believe it to be or not.

Within a performance & performance space, things proceed as they always do, and also differently. Things are not as they seem; neither are they otherwise. The event has the potential to be exceptional, even special. Within a special time & place & situation, our experiencing may also be special. Our rational & reasonable arguments of why that isn't so, or is so, or can't possibly be so, or might conceivably be so, don't carry much weight with me when I place them against my own experiences and experiencing of performance; particularly when the commentator is untrained and has little practical experience of the matters under discussion; particularly when the commentator is not a subject/object of the non-contributory & non-consensual acts.

That is, I accept myself as an authority in my life and concerns, subject to those who have greater authority and experience. When I comment that, in the exceptional (and sometimes sacred) environment of performance, my experiencing goes beyond mundane sensory input, this is not to claim unusual personal gifts. Public performance is part of what I do, and have done over a period of 45 years. Mere duration doesn't mean much of itself, although long experience does confer its own powers. The gates of heaven open in front of persistence. Performance, for me, is supported by a personal practice & long engagement in the act of music from several directions.

If we sit for 7 years, we discover our noise;
If we sit for 14 years, we discover our quiet;
If we sit for 21 years, we meet silence.
If we sit for 28 years, we may find silence coming to meet us.

Listening begins from a place of quiet within us. Until then, we only hear what we believe ourselves to be hearing. This doesn't imply that performance, even Crimson performance, should be a place where we behave ourselves: earnest audients, sitting motionless & reverently - perhaps in front of the Beastly Belewbeloid, showing us how to have a good time with guitar and voice; or Beast-of-Terror Mastelotto, effortlessly demonstrating how natural modesty need not constrain & restrain having a good time, supporting your Band Buddies, while hitting all manner of things electronic & acoustic simultaneously and in more time signatures than is possible to remember anyway; or Trey, presenting presence, listening, humour and ongoing invention. But you should sit unmovingly and silently in front of the grumpy old man in the blue-dark because, if he manages to live until the end of the show, he might be mean to you and spit on your foot.

With Adrian, what you see is what you get;
With Robert, what you don't see is what you get;
With Trey, what you see is not what you're getting;
With Pat, it keeps going.

Which leads right along to several review comments along the lines of, Wow! It's amazing that a man that old can even pick up his guitar and breathe for the length of a show which is too short anyway but maybe has to be short because he's very old or his prostate is shot.


The Crimbus is now pulling into downtown Portland, and that on a day when I don't have time to get to St. Powell's Shrine To Bibliophiacal Tumescence.


This is an e-mail just opened from a martial arts' teacher --

J, a student from Texas visited for classes over a long weekend, the time was spent in a number of long yet productive sessions. In the last hour of his trip J and I were working on the most basic technique in our art... it is the one taught first, on the surface it is the simplest, but in truth it is one of the deepest. Typically a lot of time is given to this simple movement.

Over and over we went through the technique, I could feel so much static in his body that I was repeatedly asking him to sit up straight and relax. He finally said that he had, I guess so that i would stop asking him --

I explained that the reason I was asking is because usually when I ask a student to sit up and relax it usually momentarily releases the static in their technique, and least momentarily. And I hadn't felt that effect in his body. The difference is really like night and day, I can see it from across the room.

So we spent the rest of the hour working on the same technique, but with special attention to when the static came and when it went and the difference between the two.

Without static the techniques are magical, and with the static there is separation and struggle.

In working this way, what became evident was that these two states are related to energy. That was obvious but what was so proving was that there could be a tranformation (perhaps) of energy that close and immediate.

It was as though when we relaxed new energy would course through the system but it quickly became stale. the stale state always has the feeling that I am trying to push the technique around, trying to do it. But when I let that go the fresh and open energy is a totally different level.

My usual training state is such that there is almost never this static in the system, or to be clearer it is so much more subtle. But with his in-your-face static we could really get into this.

Again it was immediate observable changes of state.

Perhaps I should write back that the martial arts' specialist is claiming supernatural abilities for themself? Ask, what does he know that I don't? Perhaps he should pull his head out of his butt? Or maybe I should reply that his practical observation, by one whose competence in their field is based on instruction, application & accreditation by those with greater authority, mirrors my own observation in my own field.

Perhaps acquiring a more subtle perception does not arrive by accident? Perhaps recognizing this in others requires more experience than merely standing around and watching a martial arts contest? A master in the martial arts registers the intent of their opponent before this intent moves to action. In this way, the master has already moved the blow on its way before it is delivered. How can this be? It must be magic!

Without static the techniques are magical, and with the static there is separation and struggle.



Crimbus, Outside The Roseland Theatre, Portland, Oregon

When the Crimbus dropped off the other members at a Very Acceptable Hotel for their afternoon, I stayed on the bus and came to the venue, then headed off to meet two very good pals that live locally.

The soundcheck was close to impossible. So, we were warned for the show. The show was also close to impossible, made more difficult for me by an absence of light on the guitar. More accurately, the angle of the lighting cast shadows over the position markers on the guitar neck. There were three or four strong flashes in the middle of the set. So, a hard evening but with a strong & supportive audience & some very, very good audients. Overall, tonight was rock 'n' roll.

After the show, the Crims discussed our next step.

Now, I am tired and dribbling gently. The Crimbus is hemmed in by the Crewbus, so we have a later departure for the hotel than anticipated; and a later departure in turn for our overnight drive to San Francisco.