I was drawing pictures before I could even write my name. From that starting point, I’ve pursued most of the visual arts, from drawing and painting to graphics and lithography. From photography to cinematography. And through it all, writing – in a multitude of its forms – has been a sort of unifying factor. What’s truly amazing is that all these elements are related in some way. In my own practices, they’re co-dependent on each other. That’s half the fun of creating stuff, as one can cheerfully lead to the other, back again – and beyond.
I find that I have to do something creative every day. All through the day, if possible! It’s just a way of life, perfectly normal for me, and in the scheme of things, nothing out of the ordinary. The mundane, the everyday, and the randomness of life itself can be just as intriguing, stimulating, and meaningful as special events, big deals, and publicized climaxes. Indeed, specialness can be a bit overrated...
I’m a perfectionist – but in theory only. I’m too impatient, restless, and keen to ‘get-on-with-it’, whatever it is, to get too carried away with refining things past my passion limits. I suppose I get this attitude from my dad, who was a sculptor, educational filmmaker, and art professor. His sculptures always had a rough, semi-unfinished look. I used to be uncertain about such choices of completion, but I’ve come to like, and even prefer, them. Probably because the majority of our popular culture is so over-produced and merchandised, some relief is desirable. In publishing books though, everything has to be resolved, wrapped-up, and indeed, perfect. With this in mind, I have to say, in such undertakings, this child is about as perfectionist as he is likely to be. One of my favorite quotes comes from the great Richard Strauss: ‘I aspire to being a first-class second-rate composer!’
Many people like only certain types of humor, but I guess I’m pretty broad in that department. From goofball vaudeville to drought-dry Brits, I’m either chuckling or howling. The Firesign Theatre, Monty Python, or the latest nebbish from Brooklyn, my mind’s wide open. Insults can be an art form. Don Rickles is hilarious, but forget about the mean, put-down stuff so rampant today. Way too many examples to list. I like to play with satire because, while I’m a pretty darn serious person in numerous ways, keeping funny items handy is always a good idea. Satire performs a big role in my Forward To Glory saga, because even though it’s a big epic-like thing, with plenty of drama, co-existent humor is (thankfully) a constant companion along the way.
Of the arts, I find that the most seductive are music, photography, and film. Especially the cinema, the movies. Yes indeed: film – and filmmaking. I’m a movie fan, cinephile, and student of film. Always have been. I generally think in cinematic terms. Life may not be a movie, but I make it into one as much as I can. I’ve made my own films for many years, but really, it’s much easier being a fan than a maker. Also, I’m a pretty good reference for films up into the 1980s. After that, with numerous exceptions, the pursuit and relishing falls off. But then I think of David Lynch, the Coens, the Brits, others, and all I can say is that I’m more selective now. There’s simply too much to keep track of, and there’s something for everyone. So I take the most pleasure in film’s Silent, Golden, and Silver Ages, though the ages of Brass and Lead have amazing offerings here and there.
Travel has always been a passion for me. My wife Sandy is my traveling companion supreme, and we’ve covered a fair array of tectonic plates on this planet. Needless to say, travel is one of the great educators and edifiers in the human experience, and extensive experiences in North America, Europe, and Asia have imbued as much insight as they have discovery and pleasure. I’ve always been keenly aware of environmental issues, and nothing is better than travel to witness conditions, needs, and urgent priorities, firsthand.
I worked in an academic library for quite a while. I looked after maps, documents, serials, microforms, etc. etc. I love libraries, and my approach was one of a staunch preservationist. Libraries have to be reliable sources for what we’ve done and where we’ve been. Not to mention where we’re going. And just because a mind-boggling and ever-expanding array of proof-of-life-on-Earth items appear (and disappear) in cyberspace, doesn’t mean that libraries, with their tangible and tactile realities, will ever be obsolete. Indeed, libraries rule!
The Indian subcontinent, and most things Indic, are one of my main passions in life. Three of my published books so far concern the subcontinent. The Grand Trunk Road From The Front Seat (1st ed. 1993, 2nd [expanded] ed. 2000) is a travel memoir covering the storied route from Calcutta to the Khyber Pass. Calcutta’s Edifice: The Buildings Of A Great City (2006) is a major appreciative examination of an under-known city’s unique architecture and ambience. Running parallel with my other interests, Indian friends, culture, events, and other subjects steadily occupy my attentions.
Much to my surprise, after many decades away from dogs, I became a fervent devotee to the hounds that share our household. Cats have always been a welcome fixture, and still are, but when Sandy suggested we take the canine plunge, and we came up with our noble Hugo, I’ve never looked back, and can only regard them with love and admiration. Now the excellent Hudson is carrying on the distinguished tradition, and we are in a constant (well, almost!) state of delight with his character and presence.
I’m afraid I’m really not that much of a reader any more. That is, straight, sit-down reading of a worthwhile book. I’ve always been dismally slow at marching through a given work, probably because I’m ‘converting’ it to a movie version, or musing on directions I myself would add to the book at hand. Plus, I’m easily distracted by the world around me. The angle of light falling across the page, the embellishment of an ampersand in the chosen font, seeing if the Knopf tome I’m holding has the Borzoi Book seal in the lower right-hand corner of the back cover, or not. I know this stuff really gets in the way of maintaining the extreme pleasure of soaking in the pleasures of Bleak House and the like, but I just have to accept my limitations! Indeed, I’ve disappointed many a properly equipped reader, anxious to compare notes and share their joys in what they’ve read. Alas, I’m too busy with my own scribblings to be much of a ‘writer’s writer’. Still, books are one of life’s treasures I’ve seriously collected. Penguins, Baedekers, Kipling, Sir Walter, travel books, art books, movie books, India-oriented books... It got out of hand. Back in my ‘car phase’, when I referred to myself as a ‘car-oholic’, I had too many fixers and junkers from the 40s, 50s, and 60s lying about. But I got ‘clean’ by getting rid of ‘em. I have yet to reach that carefree plane when it comes to books though. Not the worst addiction I can think of.
About the author: Brian Paul Bach is a writer, artist, filmmaker and photographer; he has worked across the entertainment business, in theatre, music and as an academic. He now lives in central Washington State with his wife, Sandra. His previous works include The Grand Trunk Road From the Front Seat, Calcutta’s Edifice: The Buildings of a Great City, and Busted Boom: The Bummer of Being a Boomer. Forward to Glory I: Tempering by Brian Paul Bach (published by Clink Street Publishing 21st March 2017 RRP in paperback and ebook). For more information, visit https://forwardtogloryquartet.wordpress.com/.