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Ian Shoales Commentaries: College: and more recently talking about dualism:
Shoales also has a web site:

In which John discusses inspiration and how sometimes think you don't even remember can shape what you do and how you go about doing it. Along the way, he discusses Ian Shoales (aka Ian Schoales), a public radio commentator with whom Hank and John were obsessed. Also: John calls Hank and attempts to broadly define art. Furthermore: Husky voice.

The Art Assignment video in which we talk about the definition of art:
Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday. I got a little bit of the tiny chicken disease. Hence, the husky voice.

So, I really loved your snow goose migration video. I thought it was fresh and smart and really just lovely, but I can't help but notice that for the first time in, like, several years, you ended a video without saying, "John, I'll see you on Tuesday."

Actually several nerdfighters noticed this, and by several, I mean, these two people and myself.

Anyway, leaving off the "John, I'll see you on Tuesday" was definitely the correct artistic decision, but it still felt weird to me and it made me wonder why we have a sign-off in the first place. Like, Ze Franck’s ‘The Show’ inspired most of the conventions of Vlogbrothers videos, right. Like the jump cuts, the ‘Good morning’ etc. But Ze never had a consistent sign off, so for a while I was, like, reveling in our originality and creativity and then I remembered something from the hazy distant past: ‘I gotta go’.

Now to the vast majority of you that means I have to go but in fact I think it will mean something else to Hank. As an experiment I’m gonna call him right now. (On phone) I’m gonna call you back in about twenty seconds. I’m gonna play you a short audio clip and I want you to, uh, video tape yourself. OK, hold on.

Audio clip: And now here’s Ian.

Ian: I’m one of those guys who went to school until I couldn’t get any more degrees. Young people today could probably benefit from my twelve years in college so here’s some advice. Avoid any course called Colonial American Literature. You will read smug creeps like Benjamin Franklin, psychotics like Edgar Allan Poe, half-smart mystics like Ralph Waldo Emerson and turgid pulp writers like James Fenimore Cooper, all of them dull.

John: What I’m hoping for is I’m hoping you will remember the three word catchphrase of that guy.

Hank: Is it 'I gotta go'?

John: YEAHHHH!!! It is 'I gotta go'!

Hank: I don’t even know where that came from.

John: Perfect. I’ll talk to you later.

Hank: It’s deep, it’s deep in my brain John.

John: Alright, I gotta go. I gotta make, I gotta make a video. So Ian Shoales was this public radio commentator and when Hank and I were kids our parents had his tape called ‘I Gotta Go’. How do I explain tapes to young people? They were kinda like Spotify only not free and it only came with twelve tracks on it and it was literally made out of tape. It was very weird.

Anyway Hank, when I was, like, fourteen and you were, like, eleven we listened to Ian Shoales constantly and we loved him because he was funny and he talked fast and he was smart without seeming snobbish or inaccessible, and plus he never got boring because his commentaries were never more than four minutes long and they always ended with him saying ‘I gotta go’. I mean Hank, we listened to that tape hundreds of times, the fact that you remember ‘I gotta go’ even though it’s been twenty years since you last heard Ian Shoales say those words, that says something.

And we were clearly hugely influenced by Ian Shoales, not just because we have a sign off, but because everything he was doing in 1985 is stuff that we’re trying to do now. By the way Hank, it turns out that Ian Shoales is a character created by a guy named Merle Kessler who is still doing theater and radio work in northern California and who is still very funny. He’s still working, and his work is still rippling outward, and, for me at least, that’s the definition of a successful creative life.

In a recent episode of The Art Assignment a viewer asked Sarah what her definition of art was and she had this great answer about being comfortable not having a definition. And then I, like, blathered on for a while without saying anything. The thing is we tend to imagine creative enterprises as, like, singular feats of genius, right. You know, James Joyce, half-blind holed up in an apartment writing Ulysses or Beyoncé releasing a brilliant album without assistance or warning. But even if you’re James Joyce or Beyoncé, your network of influence is vast and it stretches back further than human memory.

In the United States it’s almost a national obligation to praise individuals but in truth I don’t think individuals really make stuff so much as they process their influences and try to build upon them in the hopes that they can make stuff that will be helpful to others. Contrary to the prevailing narrative, I don’t think art is really a story of great individuals trying to make their mark upon the world. It’s really lots of people working together across time and space trying to make the world suck less for ourselves and for each other. That’s my definition of art actually.

You can find a link to a couple Ian Shoales commentaries in the dooblydoo. Mr. Shoales, I'm a little bit embarrassed that I’ve been making videos deeply inspired by you for the past seven and a half years without knowing it, but belatedly, thank you. Hank, I gotta go.

Alright Hank, while I have this husky voice I’m just gonna try and sing Whitney Houston’s, uh, The Bodyguard song. Ready. This is just the refrain.

‘And I-ee-I will always love you-oooooo-ooo-oo’ (ooo barely audible and squeaky)

Didn’t get there.