Monday, February 9, 2015

Amanda Palmer, Lessons In Asking, Listening & Facing Fear

I was at the Forest Park Library last week checking out some books and cds last week. It's amazing that you can check out The Stooges “Funhouse” from the library, but I digress. As I was leaving I took a quick look on the new releases rack. There was a book with a half naked woman on the cover with “The Art Of Asking” artfully scrawled on her chest. The author was Amanda Palmer a name that rang a bell so I checked it out. Maybe there would be more revealing photos inside.

Once I started reading it I realized why her name was familiar. Amanda was one of the “Ted” speakers I had watched her along with millions of others give her talk on the art of giving. For those of you who don't know her she began her career as a human statue in Harvard Square. Amanda would stand on top of milk crates dressed in a wedding gown and white face standing still until someone dropped some money, or other gift, into her hat. Then she would present the giver with the gift of a flower. The exchange was without words.

Anyway that's about all I remembered from the speech or I didn't watch the whole thing. That's kind of the way it works when with online videos for me it's hard to stay all the way through. A book is a different medium when you pick one up it's a commitment without distractions. You tend to give a book more of a chance. At least that's the way it works for me.
So it hooked me I read the story of the human statue. Then she become a musician as half of The Dresden Dolls and would later go on to raise over $1,000,000 on Kickstarter to finance the recording of an album and tour. How she used her blog and Twitter to grow and maintain her fan base. There was also her personal story culminating with her marriage to author Neil Gaiman.

Throughout the story underlying all the different parts was the same three interrelated themes asking, listening and facing fears. I don't know if it's a great book but it is very entertaining it's message spoke to me and showed me something missing in my own life. Apparently she is also a controversial figure who a lot of people dismiss as a greedy egotist. Well that may be true but she wouldn't be the first artist to be guilty of those “sins” and shouldn't diminish her art or message.

Now I've never heard her music until just this moment as I'm writing this part about how the themes of her book/life related to my life. Or to be more precise didn't relate to my life because as I was reading I could see that these were things that I was all terrible at. People kind of scare me so I've never been good at asking, listening and much better at hiding from than facing up to my fears. Maybe I realized the different parts but never got how they related to one another.

It goes a long way to explaining how I find myself at sixty having lost everything I ever had and desparatly trying to create a new virtual life here online and even after six years finding it hard to connect with people. Well it's never to late to learn. Thanks Amanda, good book and some pretty bitching tunes.

Find out more about Amanda Palmer by visiting her web site.