We’ve been working on this for a long time. Maybe not in this shape or form, but the seeds were always there. Careful is the accumulation of years of conversations, an ending in one sense and a beginning in another.
A professor of ours once told us that acts of resistance, no matter how tiny or futile or retroactively irrelevant, still carry deep significance, if only to demonstrate to yourself, in the moment and in spite of all the voices telling you not to go through with it, that change is indeed taking place. There’s a lot going on out there, but we’re gonna start with music.
In all honesty, we don’t know what this blog will mean to other people, but we know what it means to us. So stick around. Move a little. Dance or do something. It’ll sound good at least, and that’s a promise.
Peace and love,
Ziyaad & Jamaal
Before we get to it, there are some things you need to know about us, our values, and our guidelines for Careful as we move forward. This is by no means a be-all, end-all declaration of intent — things can (and likely will) change, hopefully in collaboration with all of you reading this right now. Let’s get the conversation started.
1. Productive discourse begins with positivity and welcomes constructive criticism.
We believe you should start off on the right foot. As audiences, we tend to assume that our expectations mirror creators’ intentions. Therein lies the origin for much of the negativity in public discourse: the inability to engage with an artefact on its own terms. A constructive assessment begins with acknowledging something for what it is. This is the fine line between constructive criticism and hate. While we are open to expressing your dislike, attacking the essence of an art piece discourages comparable work in the future.
2. Imperfections are the lifeblood of discussion.
Human beings are living contradictions. We’re complicated, filled to the brim with thoughts and opinions that run counter to other thoughts and opinions. The only thing certain about internal logic is that, more often than not, it doesn’t make any sense. There are holes in the system, errors in our code, and oh is it something to behold. Because our inconsistencies make us who we are, and the goal of discussion isn’t to pretend they don’t exist; it’s to confront them head on.
3. Each one of us is a product of our time.
It would be a massive oversimplification to suggest that personal taste is entirely a product of the environment you grew up in; we’re more than passive vessels just waiting to be injected with ideological values and preferences. That being said, no one exists outside their time, and we shouldn’t automatically dismiss the effect that our settings have on us. There are generational biases that exist, and as the structures that dictate discoverability, shareability, and saturability change over time, so do our inclinations as an audience.
4. Art has no expiry date.
The Internet has dramatically changed the way we perceive time. Like the evening news before it, people now turn to the Internet en masse to stay informed. We’ve been conditioned to live in an eternal present — that is, continually foregoing the old to make room for the new. If the root of this panic truly spans back to a yearning for information, we should keep in mind that taking our time and being patient with art can be even more informative. Like the natural wonders of this world, art will withstand the test of time. Don’t rush to experience it all because you simply cannot.
5. Art is an open and ongoing conversation.
Seldom do opinions welcome civil conversation online. If you chime in on somebody’s thoughts, they see your responses as either an agreement or disagreement, and in turn, identify you (in your entirety) as agreeable or disagreeable. Online dialogue has become a critique of the commenter rather than the comment. But people and art are fluid, and it’s imperative we treat them as such. Only when you accept someone else’s thoughts as one possible truth can you come closer to understanding the cultural significance of an artefact, revealed to us over time as a by-product of meaningfully prolonged back-and-forth’s.
6. The pursuit of objectivity is self-defeating.
The topic of objectivity in art criticism is largely clouded by a narrative suggesting that to adhere to a set of criteria deemed impartial is the most honest form of critical engagement. However, to play the role of an unbiased observer is to play a role nonetheless. Too often, the desire to maintain an objective point of view inspires dialogue based on disingenuous, dispassionate rhetoric, wherein participants run around in circles attempting to satisfy an ideal of impartiality that just isn’t true to the way we experience, interpret, and internalize works of art. Passion doesn’t diminish integrity or credibility, and static, all-encompassing labels like “good” or “bad” don’t accurately convey the potential fluidity of reception.
7. Numbers are efficient, but efficient isn’t always better.
With so much out there to see and hear and consume, our culture’s impulse to numerically evaluate creative works is largely a means to an end, allowing us to circumvent the paradox of choice and make snap decisions about how we should spend our time. A nine is greater than an eight is greater than a seven; it’s easy to speak numbers, but something is always lost in translation. And to place numerical scores at the forefront of critical analysis is to encourage discussions based on very limited encapsulations of limitless aesthetic experiences.
8. For us to grow, we need to be challenged.
The human experience is defined by growth, the potential for changes small and large, incremental and immediate, due to continued exposure to new experiences. But embedded in the architecture of the most popular online platforms are complex algorithms working to decipher what makes you you, only recommending that which already aligns with your preferences and filtering out all else. The result of personalization is a form of guided tunnel vision, sabotaging our capacity for discursive empathy by reinforcing our biases, and ultimately locking us in place.
9. For music to evolve, so must music discourse.
To incite change we need to lead by example. The art world has transformed and yet the priorities of those who bring it to light have not. Art is ever-evolving and we must adapt to it in response. When the rulebook on discourse is dated, you write a new chapter. That’s Careful’s plan: to re-examine our models of discussion and criticism, and create a platform that is a truthful representation of our likes and preferences. A platform that inspires thoughtfulness and passion. A platform that empowers artists and their art.