“Return”

My band mate and fellow musical conspirator did an i-ching reading for me a few weeks ago as a fun exercise. My number was Hexagram 24. Here’s an interpretation of this that’s pretty consistent with most of the interpretations I’ve seen: http://theabysmal.wordpress.com/2006/10/25/i-ching-hexagram-24/. I liked it, as I saw it as an optimistic view of the future, but all interpretations seem to suggest an impending return of some sort. Whether I’m the one who has to return is still a mystery to me.

Returning and coming around full circle have been recurrent concepts in my life. As an immigrant, I’ve been struggling with a lot of issues over the past few years that come as part of the package, over and over again. These issues have provided some fuel for creativity and a way to really test my problem solving skills, which is a good thing. But there are times when I wonder why the hell I’m still here, and why I’m still trying to make things work. I’m as much a part of the American landscape as anyone else on the street. I’ve lived in the US longer than I’ve lived in any other country. But I grew up all over the world, so no one place has really been home unless I choose to call it home. My childhood is quite literally a figment of my imagination now, as the cities and places I’ve lived in have changed beyond recognition.

My most recent immigration related hurdles have included trying to get funding for my first album idea through Kickstarter. Given my visa status, I can’t get any compensation for work done outside of the company that sponsors my visa. Not a problem, I don’t care about the money I generate with my art, I just want to be able to generate it. A friend very kindly volunteered to act as my financial manager. I thought we were in the clear if we set up a defined contract saying I relinquish all rights to any funds generated. I do, however, want to retain rights to intellectual property. It’s my project, after all, and I will be producing and managing all the creative work.

Unfortunately, this may still be in violation of my status as I’m producing materials that are of value to me. I am willing to make all my art for free, but I’m not willing to lose ownership over it, even if it means relinquishing all future funds generated through the distribution of these materials to make them have no monetary value whatsoever. If that’s not possible, then I’ll simply have to fund it myself without Kickstarter. This is a monumental task given that my predicted budget for Kickstarter is about $10,000. I don’t have that kind of money lying around. Maybe it is time to let go of any rights to everything and succumb to my hippie side. The scientist and businesswoman in me are not going to agree.

Perhaps it’s time to draw some lessons from my roots and go back to the work of Indian poets I read as a child. Two main traditional Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, were both written over the course of several centuries. Legend has it that each epic was written by one sage (The Ramayana by Valmiki, and the Mahabharata by Vyasa) but practical, modern knowledge of the human lifespan tells us that there were most likely several authors. If this is true, these other authors were all willing to relinquish credit for their work to further the artistic project as a whole, and all wrote under either Valmiki or Vyasa’s name to complete each epic.

My mind still disagrees. My work is still my work, darn it. And I want to be acknowledged as its pioneer.

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