Read: Daily Rituals

I loved this book. Fascinating vignettes into the lives and habits of a wide range of artists, scientists, poets, philosophers, sculptors, filmmakers, playwrights, choreographers, writers, composers, and painters. If you are looking for photographers, well, keep looking. This should speak volumes about how photogs are viewed, at least in my opinion, and most often rightly so. But, there are a few I would have loved a glimpse at.

Mason Currey’s “Daily Rituals” is well put together. The trim size, the typeface, font size, and paper type are a joy to handle. This is such an important part of paper books and why they still sell in high numbers. (Sorry person who said paper books are dead every year for the last fifteen years.) Don’t read this on a Kindle. Buy it then share it or check it out. Worth it, trust me.

One of the many fascinating things about this book is the consistency amongst artists. Pills, booze, caffeine, nicotine, but also with things like letter writing and long walks. And, for the most part, there is structure of some sort. Structure with things like time, place, duration, and printed goals.

You should know upfront the vast majority of these artists work a lot harder than you do, a lot harder than I do. There is simply no other way, and for many, it is an epic battle hence the pills, booze, caffeine, nicotine, and range of other vices that are at times hilarious.

At the moment, there are plenty of artists living under the internet-guided delusion that instant notoriety is a birth rite. I’m here, now, worship me, but this book is a testament to how long and rocky the road to fame actually is. And, more importantly, how much are you willing to give up? Thank God most of the folks featured came along before the internet and more specifically before social media. Even with minds like these, they would have been no match. Get it, read it.

12 Comments on “Read: Daily Rituals”

    1. Robin,
      It is both illuminating and hilarious at times. It is a miracle that some of these folks lasted as long as they did.

  1. Bummer, looks like I put too much time into the vices, not enough time into the talent. Their choice of omission won’t lessen my appreciation for the art of photography!

    The social media factor does seem to have upended the interaction between art and the world and artists and the masses. I think anyone who can draw more than a stick figure is pretty impressive, so take my use of talented with a grain of salt. But in my brief foray into social media, I saw loads of talented artists showing their paintings, drawings, photography, etc. But the dynamic was more follow and be part of my life than it was gain an appreciation for my art. That’s always been around a little bit. Warhol was amazingly creative, but there was an aspect of following along the wild ride of his life in the moment. But it couldn’t be done on today’s scale. And without the worry of instant posts and branding, in the long run we’d get a slightly more unguarded look behind the curtain.

    Oh look, I’m rambling again. Sorry about that. Hope you’re not paying by the word for comments storage.

    1. Scott,
      I love rambling. Warhol is in the book and his daily life was very different from what I thought.

      1. Oh cool. Definitely checking it out. I don’t know his stuff very well, but the stuff I’ve seen, I like. And he championed a use of photography that I love, and that’s not easy to do these days because of…social media! Also meant to add above in my amateur analysis of the art world that it’s almost impossible to gain an appreciation of someone’s work through social media. At least for me.

  2. Related, but somewhat off-topic. Another site I visit uses links to the WorldCat public library website ( Nice thing about linking to it is that, if the user scrolls down a bit and puts in their zip code, it will tell them the nearest library that has a copy. Most, if not all, local libraries will borrow from another library for you; at least they do in Iowa. I appreciate it when every link to a book doesn’t go to Amazon. (and not in any way implying that yours do; just sayin’)

    Don’t know how links work in the comments here, but Daily Rituals would be

  3. If I remember right, it was my father’s army (Nat’l Guard) Sargent’s name and my parents just liked the name (not necessarily the Sargent?). When I was delivering newspapers back in the day, the local IOOF Lodge was on my route and, when I went there to collect (um, no online transactions back then; no online, period), the receptionist’s name was also Merle, which made me do a little research. Evidently, it’s originally a French woman’s name meaning “blackbird”, though more commonly now used for both sexes. Most of the other Merle’s I’ve known are Iowa farmers, so must be some rural connection somewhere along the line.

  4. Hi, Daniel! If you only knew how many books I ordered based on your reviews… Found this one, too, and even translated into Romanian. Thanks!

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