not terrific but competent
**note: this draft was written last summer, that is to say the summer of 2011. do with that information what you may**
Summers are a funny mixture of boredom and freedom and heartbreak. They’re all filled with riverwalking and reading and smoking cigarettes and drinking (in the august sun) and feeling guilty and staying up every endless night of your endless youth. For part of this summer, after reading some existentially frightening things about legacy, I have devoted myself to creating something lasting. I have decided to pump out another post on this here blog.
I thought it would be a good/gimmicky idea to try to match up each brother Karamazov with a Belle and Sebastian song. I thought this would be a good idea when I read about Ivan Karamazov and all I could think of was “If You’re Feeling Sinister.” Then I tried to match up the other brothers but I think “If You’re Feeling Sinister” worked fine for them. Most other songs did, too, in a maddeningly oblique way. You get the sense that the overlap between B&S thematic material/ideas/feelings/affectations and those of the Brothers K is significant but not distinct. You get the sense that your task is self indulgent and maybe a little pointless. You get the sense that maybe not much matters at all but yet still you must live, in spite of it all. Or something like that.
Alyosha Karamazov- Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
Ivan Karamazov- “If You’re Feeling Sinister”
but if you are feeling sinister
go off and see a minister
he’ll try in vain to take away
the pain of being a hopeless unbeliever
Dmitri Karamazov- “The Boy with the Arab Strap”
a central location for you is a must as you stagger about
making free with your lewd and lascivious boasts
we know you are soft because we’ve all seen you dancing
we know you are hard because we all saw you drinking
from noon until noon again
Smerdyakov- “A Century of Fakers”
there are people going lonely, and they’ll stay
lonely far into the year
because you’re making blinkers fashionable
and fashionably you’ll say
“all is equal in love and war” and
“I’m sorry, but I’ve got some things to do”
Sorry for the Alyosha cop-out. You could probably make a convincing case for matching any/all of the pre-DCW Belle and Sebastian oeuvre for his character.
*BONUS, MUCH EASIER, ROUND*^
^I ‘wrote’ this bit this summer, that is to say the summer of 2012
Soothing affirmations? Horrible, withering, invectives?
I made an indiepop/twee mixplaylist for a friend. The A-Side goes like this:
- My Secret World-The Golden Dawn^
- Anorak City-Another Sunny Day^
- Velocity Girl-Primal Scream*
- This Love is Not Wrong-The Field Mice^
- Breaking Lines-The Pastels*
- I’m in Love with a Girl who Doesn’t Know I Exist-Another Sunny Day^
- Blue Suburban Skies-Even as We Speak^
- Our Love is Heavenly-Heavenly^
- This Boy Can Wait-Wedding Present*
- I’ve Got a Habit-The Orchids^
- All of a Tremble-St. Christopher^
* denotes c86; ^ denotes Sarah Records output
As you can see, the A-Side leans pretty heavily towards Sarah and c86- touchstones of ‘indie,’ ‘indie pop,’ and ‘twee’ (as it were). The B-Side will be more ‘diverse’ and feature more recent tracks.
‘Twee’ by Tullycraft was included as an intro to the sensibilities of the genre. I thought ‘My Secret World’ would be a cool leading song on an ‘indie’ mixtape. ’Anorak City’ defined a genre. And the rest are all classics. You will notice that Primal Scream used to be twee.
‘Something for the Longing’ is the name of a song by the Orchids.
Spotify Link: Something for the Longing A Side
I’ve been a pretty big My Bloody Valentine fan for a while. Recently I included the experience of listening to them in a writing sample I submitted. To wit:
“He turned his attention back to the music, and surrendered to the enveloping waves of sound, grinding and bold and somehow miraculously melodic. Errant noises leapt out, collapsed, and fused with the primal, propulsive guitars. The distinction between errant noise and propulsive guitar became unimportant and not even all that extant. He shivered. The vocals reached him like whispers through a fog. He was listening to a memory.”
This cover by Canadian band Memoryhouse is not faithful to the aesthetics of its source, nor is it faithful to the spirit. What it does very well is bare, as it were, the very frail beauty at the heart of MBV. Without all the guitar and feedback and distortion and processed vocals there is after all only a melody- in this case carried by a lonely piano and a trembling voice. It kind of reminds you that you’re alive.
Freshman year in college I read a little bit of Nietzsche and in particular I remember something about happiness being a fundamentally cyclical phenomenon. I remember too later reading that Freud’s belief that no one understands himself as well as Nietsche.
I’ve been thinking about this not only because I am yet another bespectacled and Smiths-loving miserablist English major but also because (consequently?) I have been thinking that I have had a good run.
For several months now I have been existing in a somewhat other-worldly state- it is relatively uncommon on earth for instance to spend four months in a foreign country with comically little, apart from world class musical acts and expensive alcohol, to occupy one’s mind. I have also been lead to believe that it is similarly uncommon, in the current economic climate, to “win” a “paid” internship in a field that does not require too much compromising (read: drowning) of intellectual and personal values.
It is for this that I have been beginning to doubt my own happiness. That is to say, I have
taken to continued to gaze into my expansive and fickle navel. As you read I am probing my moods and vagabond thoughts for a sign of strife- some unspeakably strident conceit or murmur of floods to come. I mean sure I was sad sometimes in Sweden but under the circumstances (“existing,” etc.) who isn’t?
The short and long of it is that I now feel the “sensation of upcoming tragedy,” to put it melodramatically with the words of Hemingway. I am well aware that whatever tragedy I feel will feel pale and pathetic next to real objective tragedies but that’s not why I keep this blog (speaking of which: if you can think of a good reason why I do it please let me know).
Maybe I’ve been doing all this because I hope that by dwelling on misery and sorrow I will mitigate the onset of the same (in a more reasonable and somewhat perverse version of taking arms against a sea of troubles) who knows? Or maybe I just really like wallowing in sadness because it is life-affirming or creation-fostering or for some other bizarre and almost impossibly obscure reason or maybe it’s because I’m in a hungover haze and have been doing nothing but read depressive Hardy poems all day.
If you are checking this regularly let me extend to you my apologies. I dropped the ball and haven’t shared with the internet world my self-congratulatory epiphanies and tiny thrills of apparent achievement when I labouriously and harrowingly struggle through some problem and come to personally acceptable compromises.
And I think I found a little bit of myself. Or something like that.
Anyways I’ve written down the trials of being a sensitive artist elsewhere so if you are ever curious let me know and maybe I’ll read you a few lines.
The real reason I’ve updated is because another review of mine is being published! (by the campus magazine)
This one is on the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s new Belong. You can read how I feel about it here. Hope you like it or ‘get’ me. But maybe hopefully both.
That is all for now.
I have now spent a week in Sweden. It’s pretty great. Sure I could point to specific great areas like architecture or culture but not doing so is probably more reflective of the sense of being overwhelmed and confused and adrift and being only able to cling to vague preconceptions (like “greatness”) as they crumble away.
Anyways the point of this post was to inform you that high resolution pictures of what I see and think is kind of cool is available here. I keep that blog along with Sam, who is in Cameroon, so it might be worth your time, if that seems kind of interesting, to check it out occasionally.
Class started and I have somehow gotten into this new habit of sleeping for 12 hours every day so I must be going.
I have a recurring dream where it’s the end of high school- the veryendlastdayend, and I have to finish business/homework/resolve lingering personal relationship issues before school completely and irrevocably ends. It is a terrifying and constraining dream that is thoroughly different from how I actually remember high school.
Suffice it to say that I have fond memories. Today, I went out (including to the old high school) with some friends to say goodbye, and we got to talking about high school. I miss it a lot. In the same by-definition insatiable, gently longing way I miss most things in the past. We also got to talking about the music we listened to in high school.
I noticed to my sorrow that I did not have on my phone a lot of the music I used to listen to. I had The Faint and Shout Out Louds, but nothing else.
Where’s The Shins? Arctic Monkeys? Did the fact that I had grown beyond my old music mean that I had lost a grip on who I was? Am? Is that part of growing up? Is it good?
I can’t answer these questions with certainty or to my satisfaction. I do, however, see the value in reflexive and constant self examination, and I thought a cool way to explore all this personal complexity would be to listen to the music in question. To that end, I have intently combed my memory and online records (in hopes of memory association) for the kinds of stuff I listened to.
The result is down below in Grooveshark link form, and is, together with the whole walking/talking around the school with old schoolmates and then reflecting on the passage of time thing, rather overwhelming. The playlist is by no means exhaustive; it is more representative.
I encourage you all to piece together the music of your past and then to dwell on the hopelessly rich and melancholy array of memory tinged feelings and feeling tinged memories. There is a sentimental heart to which music penetrates, regardless of the passing on and on of time- it brings you back to the most intimate layer of immediate vulnerability and it takes you outside of some temporal construct. Maybe this is timelessness in music. Maybe this last bit of abstraction isn’t all that helpful.
During Thanksgiving break I really didn’t do much; I pretty much stayed still at home for an entire week. To help me cope with the crushing boredom of suburbia, I bought Red Dead Redemption.
If you have not played Red Dead Redemption, it is an expansive and immersive game set in the last days of the Old West. You ride around the lonely desert, lonely mountains, or lonely prairies and you complete missions and help strangers and hunt animals and you engage in various other activities. The game is gorgeous and there is nothing quite like the in-game sunset. Or the way the slanting light strikes the snow and makes it sing with golden colour. Or the way the grass billows in the wind and the wind whistles in your ear. Or the sharp crack of a rifle and the sight of the pale smoke. Or camping at night under a full sky of stars with just your horse.
All this, set to a sparse score that simultaneously invokes the vast majesty and loneliness of the American West. (Music is mainly strings, but depends on where in the world you are; for example, in Mexico, the score is soft acoustic guitar, while in Blackwater City the music is ominous and creepy). Anyways, the point is that the game is fun and gorgeous and beautiful. It has almost inexhaustible replay value. If it weren’t for one thing:
It is so hauntingly sad.
You live as John Marston. You become him. You come to care about his wife. You come to share his values and you come to understand the people you work with. You come to fall in love with the Old West. You make yourself familiar with his world through his eyes. You memorize every small insignificant feature in his daily life- from the way his door swings to the stamina of his horse. You live as John Marston.
But he dies at the end. You come back as his son, fifteen years later, to avenge him. You tail the government agent responsible to his fishing trip with his brother, and you kill him in an anticlimactic duel. The credits roll. You have the choice to keep exploring the world as his son. I tried it.
It was so hauntingly sad. Everywhere you went things remained the same and yet you have access to none of your previous relationships. The largest degree of interaction is eavesdropping on NPCs who talk about how much things have changed. The world has forgotten about you, but you have not forgotten the world. The safehouses are still the same, as is the music, as is everything else, really, but you aren’t the same:
You are no longer on any official missions. You find yourself abandoned and forlorn in an indifferent world.
You have no more relationships to nurture. You find yourself alone and wholly isolated from a world that has no need for you.
You, the player, recollects early memories and states of mind. When you first started playing you were giddy and tentative with excitement. Then you were familiar and thrilled with gunfights and (out)lawing. Then you were satisfied by your work in progressing the storyline. Now you are irrelevant, and now you hold none of those feelings, and yet because the places and lights and sounds have stayed woefully unchanged all those feelings come back and the ghosts of those feelings obsess your mind.
You realize you are too sad to play this game again.
Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into this solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying to-night or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.
This is a poem I am writing about for my 20 page paper on lyric poetry. I think a lot of what I wrote will bore you, so I will simply say that at the moment- 2:50 AM two days away from completing this semester and going home I am feeling not too fine. In fact, you might say that I am appreciating and living (as it were) Thomas’ lurid, melancholy poesy.
I recognize the inherent tension in whining about my workload on the internet; but I really do have a lot of work. After I finish this paper I have two more and a final exam. I have to also pack up all of my stuff for storage. There is a lot to be done. I suppose I should keep doing it.
Attention loyal readers:
This is one of my promised sporadic posts. I have a radio show now! Wherein I share music that I like with whoever listens and then sometimes talk about it. It is all very nice and enjoyable and is every Friday from 2-4PM EST. You can listen to it at WAMH. (I’ve been working on recording it but streamripper hasn’t been cooperating)
Also, I have written a lengthy review of Belle & Sebastian’s latest album for my campus magazine! I posted a version for my blog. Read it here.
I suppose I should share some of the things I enjoy right now:
- A Sunny Day in Glasgow
- The very immediate physical and mental anticipation of studying abroad
- The season of autumn, now in its soft dying phase
- Oh No! Oh My!
- Kate Beaton’s historical and literary themed comics! Comics you want to hug
I realize now that this post has gotten more and more teenager tumblr, so I will stop indulging myself.
Thanks for reading again and I hope you like some of the things I like!