Yin & Yang

By Mimi Dionne posted 04-08-2010 15:53


I have two loves: jazz and Records & Information Management.

The two are inexorably connected in my mind. I came to appreciate both art forms when I was young—ten years old, to be exact. I was taking notes on a biography of Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII. Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain played in the background as I read contentedly. I wrote down important pieces of information, found an old alphabetical file, and placed my stack of notes in subject content order. “I wish I could do this when I grow up,” I thought. Click. I’ll never forget the moment: the sultry tones of Miles Davis’s jass became the soundtrack of my dreams for the future.

As I grow older, I understand why jazz is my yin. Identified as the dark female force, she is a masterpiece by midnight. She is the amalgamation of the spicy beat of the West Indies, the call and response of religious fervor, and the voice of the people. She demands excellence, a selflessness that only high art elicits, and like an occultist, slowly reigns the fortunate musician into an obsessive devotee. If the artist fails to worship accordingly, she casts the doomed player into an abyss of despair. She is the true—and the only genuine—American art form.

In contrast, records and information management is my yang—the bright male influence in the balance of my cosmos. He is my light and my inspiration. He is my science, my education, and my future. RIM may be a business, but he never recognizes a dull moment: even the most mundane and rote activity of filing may reveal in the course of lazy conversation across the stacks an interesting observation from my colleagues. Records support historical fact and the present era. Records, like light, are everywhere.

Jazz is a reflection of race and a musician’s world. The technical mastery of jazz is comparable to the project work of records and information management. If jazz is the art of the individual contribution—if musicians transcend themselves to create a holistic sound for the benefit of the group—RIM is the syncopated rhythm of business processes. Cutting and jam sessions improved the sound of jazz because that was the arena in which players bested each other and their art; jazz grew from sessions that began and ended after midnight until morning. Business process improvements are found through time and experimentation as well.

I recently re-read Ralph Ellison’s work, “Living with Music” from his Collective Essays. The following passage struck me, because it summarizes so nicely our contributions to RIM. Substitute “jazz” for “RIM” and you arrive at the same conclusion.

Now, I had learned…something of the discipline and devotion to

his art required by the artist. These jazzmen, many of them now

world-famous, lived for and with music intensely. Their driving

motivation was neither money nor fame, but the will to achieve

the most eloquent expression of idea-emotions through the technical

mastery of their instruments (which, incidentally, some of them

wore as a priest wears the cross) and the give and take, the subtle

rhythmical shaping and blending of idea, tone and imagination demanded

of group improvisation. The delicate balance struck between strong

individual personality and the group during those early jam sessions

was a marvel of social organization. I had learned too that the end

of all this discipline and technical mastery was the desire to express

an affirmative way of life through its musical tradition, and that this

tradition insisted that each artist achieve his creativity within its frame.

He must learn the best of the past, and add to it his personal vision.

Life could be harsh, loud and wrong if it wished, but they lived it fully,

and when they expressed their attitude toward the world it was with a

fluid style that reduced the chaos of living to form.

#records #ElectronicRecordsManagement #Career #jazz #informationmanagement