63 Comments

The last one is the most important and difficult. Will keep that in mind to make our words on Substack improve the world’s discourse. As a fellow occupant of the messy middle between generalist and specialist, I appreciate everything you write about!

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What makes you think generalists have to be superficial? In our age of overspecialized “experts” we desperately need generalists with the ability to integrate information from multiple disciplines.

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Love this Ted, I think I have a dozen problems too that I have been working on my whole life. You inspire me to write them down. You and Feynman.

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I admire those who seek out and find newer music. Important to avoid the common pattern of locking-in to the music that mattered to you in the past. ("Your comfort zone will kill you.") And yet here's something to be said for revisiting older works. If you read a truly rich book at 25 and read it again at 50 you may find that your younger self missed a fair amount. And it's not just that you have changed: sometimes, somehow, contemporary culture brings out a dimension of an older work-- it will seem relevant in a way it never did in the past. If art is deep, its depth (or its superficiality) gets revealed in time. So: in the same way you say "Yes" to High culture AND Low culture, "Yes" to specialization AND the joys of more broad or superficial learning, well, keep on with the new but why revisit the past now and then? Some of those older works, forgotten artists, deserve another opportunity to be heard, or barely had that opportunity to begin with.

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My fav article since I joined Substack. As an old musician and writer, now retired, doing what I want artistically, still hoping for someone to get something out of my work, that all hits home. The concept is great, and your particular problems -- yes.

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Simply wonderful compartmentalization.

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I love this idea! I definitely agree that having questions is worth more than having answers and it’s nice to see that the questions you have here are all questions that really can’t be given a definitive answer.

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I liked this for the title alone, first time I’ve ever done that. Then I read the first line: solution seeking over problems. Similar to my mantra “questions over answers”.

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Young people would do well to emulate the Guiding Questions model. It's also interesting how these questions change over time. I myself am grappling with Simulation Theory and how the belief and/or fact of living inside a computer program might change both my personal questions and my responses to them. I've found Howdie Mikoski's work on this subject to be the best so far.

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Criticism; I always frame it in the same sense as literary criticism - not opinion first, but a careful and meticulous reading, discerning patterns and nuances of text. Then, the opinion comes in framing those discoveries in a context - current? At the time of the writing? Across space and time? And, then, what do I infer from that frame. Murray Kreiger - The Play and Place of Criticism - was one of my teachers.

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Wow, I loved this. I really relate to the specialist vs generalist problem as a music-maker… jazz takes a lifetime to learn, I’m still trying after 3 decades, but so also does my main passion electronic music and then there’s songwriting… there’s not enough time to learn everything well enough! Production/mixing/lyrics/composing/sound design… the list goes on and on. Haven’t found the solution but this framework will help me think about the problem in different ways. Thank you!

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I'm running a little behind and catching up, but this is one of my favorite pieces in the Gioia canon!

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Thank you so much. You are a reasonable human being, (always in short supply). Inspirational for me.

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Fascinating piece Ted. Like all good writing it made me think. It made me think about my own writing. This is a keeper. A "re-visitor." If there is such a word. Well, there is now. Thank you.

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All the best questions defy easy answers. Yours are terrific. One reason: many seek to balance competing claims that share legitimacy. For example, breadth and depth of knowledge; universal and parochial beauties; judgment and generosity. I keep coming back to things too, and now I should probably make a list like this. Thanks.

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founding

“I spend a lot of time seeking out music from different countries and regions, and with each passing year the challenge of finding something distinctively local diminishes.“

Is this what you meant to say Ted? Did you mean to say the *challenge* diminishes, meaning that it gets easier to find something distinctively local? Or did you mean to say the *possibility* of finding something distinctly local diminishes each year?

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