Impermanence and Surrender – A Lesson from Brian Eno

Brian Eno

Brian Eno at CSU Long Beach

What a rare experience, to see Brian Eno live in this day and age. From a musical perspective he is relatively reclusive and so when the opportunity arose to see him give a lecture at the Carpenter Performance Center at CSU Long Beach, I jumped at the opportunity. They no music was performed, he spoke eloquently for just under 2-hours to a sold out crowd of just over 1000 people.

In a simple black suit, he was calm and comfortable on the stage. He spoke with a simple projection system in which he shared images, screwdrivers, and interactive drawings. No PowerPoint here. He told some jokes and primarily shared his philosophy of being an artist in this day and age. He mentioned Jon Hassell three times and harangued the Los Angeles Times art critic David Pagel at the same time as recognizing how the criticism helped him to look more deeply at his art.

The talk began with Copurnicus and that we aren’t the center of the universe and then moved on to Darwin where we aren’t the center of creation. Closely followed by the art of haircuts – haircut space.

Here are few choice notes I took from the talk:

I’m either thinking about something to create or I’m making something.

Art is broadly defined. Anything you do stylisticly. Even a screwdriver. Seperate from function.

Art is everthing you don’t have to do.

Art is a conversation.

Complexity out of simplicity.

Steve¬†Reich‘s “Its gonna rain”
Terry Riley “In C”

An artist plants a seed and watches it grow. My work is more the work of a gardner.

Impermance. You’re constantly losing the work (in the case of his current exhibition – 77 Million Paintings). The combination of possibilities is 77 million cubes. You can’t revisit it because of the constant change.

Surrender. Control.
Has an interest in surrender. Control is a relatively recent experience, in the scope of human history.

Sex. Drugs. Art. Religion.
These all fall under the umbrella of surrender. We give up control.

The value of surrender. Also knowing how to balance control and surrender.

Overall, an interesting exploration of his work and art especially as it relates to impermance and surrender. Well worth the time and the money.

  • I saw Eno in conversation with John Hassel last year. I was especially interested in his comments on surrendering control. I am an artist – a painter and I have started to surrender control to see where my work goes. Early signs are encouraging…

  • What a treat that must have been to see Eno and Hassel together; Brian mentioned Jon Hassel several times in his talk in Long Beach.