Monday, July 30, 2007

Right before I went to bed, I drank the last of the milk from this bowl of cereal. I spilled some of it on the crotch of my pants. I am not happy about this.

(This is really funny to me and will be to you as well if you read "I am not happy about this" being said in a very serious voice.)
Here's a thing I heard from a friend: DMT, the chemical released by your brain when you die, that's also an extremely powerful hallucinogen enjoyed by your Philip K. Dick types, apparently smells like death- that is to say, it has the same smell as funeral homes and hospitals.

Wait, I'm not interested in talking about arcane drugs.

I think that since my table collapsed, and I've been sitting closer to my computer (bending over, bad for the back) it's harder to hear music, due to the way the speakers are placed in relation to my ears. So the new Sunset Rubdown album has another obstacle on the road to my enjoying it- I can't really work out the lyrics. The other obstacle is the way it's mixed so all of the tracks lead into each other with one instrument droning or beating on between songs, making everything bleed into blurriness.

I'm trying to work out this mix CD for a friend who doesn't download as much new music than I do- he has reasons to live- and I'm all caught up in this new stuff and I really want to work in other things, older music, for sincerity's sake. Last year I was listening to so much Mountain Goats and Daniel Johnston. I'm also trying to work out this thing where I send one along to his lady as well- I stayed at their shared house when I was in Seattle, and I want to work out this sort of parallel structure- a working title is "parallel lines in a slow decline" a reference to the Guided By Voices song "Tractor Rape Chain"- as a way to include multiple songs by the same acts and show their work in different contexts, but that's a hard thing to work out. Right now it's looking more like one disc will be noisy- starting off with "Mother Upduff" by Can leading into "For Reverend Green" by Animal Collective and the other one is where the quieter stuff will go, which isn't what I want at all.

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's stupidly late. Time for blogging to the max!

Some people just stumbled in, a crew of people that included one person who used to live here, as well as one person I used to live with- Luke, the guy from J208 who I didn't know when me and my friends descended upon that space. It turns out he didn't graduate either, despite being a year ahead of us at the time of that cohabitation.

But before that I watched Beetlejuice and the Strangers with Candy movie, and had a big old discussion about the nature of human experience that started off just being about DMT.

Two days ago my table collapsed as I was standing on it, wheatpasting construction paper to the ceiling.

The other day I read an interview with Brian Chippendale conducted by Dan Nadel that was really inspiring. The best bit: "I think it's good to model yourself after plants: Head toward the light, drink lots of water, get dirty every day."

I need new patterns. I realized that this weird esoteric code of references to The Best Show On WFMU and Paper Rad and 30 Rock and rock criticism is, now that Alex has moved away, a dead language. It is like I was cryogenically preserved.

I am sad once again about the things I've forgotten- the actual language of Spanish, the meaningless abstractions of higher maths, physical activity. Somehow I've abandoned them, and in their dormant state, half-internalized, I've become more socially assured, more aware of the type of person that I actually am, but feeling like that's hollow and incomplete.

The Brian Chippendale interview gives a guide to new patterns, in the things I've been neglecting. This is why it is so inspiring. But that guy doesn't have a real job, and that's the other thing, that's what makes his art so pure- it's all based on creative work, none of the weird dilution of having a day job and writing at night, which seems to me like a thing to do as a way to grow. It's not as pure, but- you know, his stuff, all of it, works on these notions of purity and expressionist catharsis, it's an energy that burns through everything. In the new Comics Comics, there's a letter, that ran right after one I wrote, but it's a much better letter- It talks about how superhero comics aren't adolescent power fantasies, but infantile ones, of bright color and violence and confusing plotting- It is called something like "the mental equivalent of jumping around a fire." Brian Chippendale's Ninja comics are pretty much superhero comics, and while they're not in color, they have that same ritual energy that is present at a Lightning Bolt show. I'm kind of dealing in different tones, but, weirdly, I still made a movie where a girl expressed a desire to become a plant. That same character lived in a backdrop that I'm turning the ceiling of this room into, that I broke my table trying to accomplish.

There are grand patterns at work, bigger than our own behavior. And how the conversation about DMT with a roommate started was my saying that it seems too big a divergent model of reality to confront, especially because other people who I like have confronted it, and processed it on to me, and now I would be processing such a thing through them. There's something overwhelming about how things are already processed, as opposed to unmediated experience. The same feeling of being overwhelmed that I get from certain supermarkets. And how in the past when I've been overwhelmed, it's because of the presence of the past in the present, causing an inability to make a clean break- Having things in a place I need to move out of, even as I don't know where I'm going to live, to cite an example of something overwhelming, as opposed to just rolling with what happens.

And I didn't know where this was going when I listed off the things that I could blog about, but it turns out that that's it. But the patterns internalized give you something to go off on. Like a dress made of geometry stretches on into the infinite, even as geometry joins the long list of half-remembered maths.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This blog is called "More self-absorption, more apocalyptic thinking."

I am frequently labeled as a contrarian, especially by people I've been in classes with. There is a lot of argument about this- contrarianism is linked to assholishness. You know that Onion headline "devil's advocate really just an asshole?" There's truth to that, which is why being labeled a contrarian irks me to the degree it does- I'm not playing devil's advocate, I mean the things I'm say. I do it a lot because I'm frequently presented by people who are being ideologues, and the world is more complicated than that. I feel conflicted about a lot of things, but I'm at the point where I can see things and disagree with them on the basis of there being things I disagree with, rather than just agree on the basis of there being things I agree with and end up in a cult. You know, the point is progress- thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

Note that for one class I was known for saying that Hegel, the philosopher associated with material dialectics, was a douchebag. This was specifically in the context of me disagreeing with the idea that followed, from Marx, that you're either a master or a slave. Come on, that's not true! I do agree with the fact that ideas if presented with their opposite lead to compromise at some point in the future- Which I think is what makes me not an asshole just saying things for the sake of saying them, because I believe in compromise.

What I want to get to is apocalyptic thinking.

But first, a digression- The fifties version of the future is a lot better than the one we have now, but couldn't modern technology be selectively applied to have that happen? So much of that was design.

Anyway, things get weird because there's this feeling of the conflicts ending. The idea of post-modernism is based on there being a lot of threads and people not feeling objective about things, there's this "end of history" phrase used by certain people in association with the end of the cold war. The latter is an especially stupid term. But still- there's a lot of conflicts which just kind of don't matter anymore. A lot of the positive thinking done by hippies with regards to an idea of enlightenment is that all conflicts will cease, because they'll realize they're all part of the same thing- which is basically humanity, but can also be described more complicatedly.

But I was thinking about the conflict between hippies and reality. Oh, that's putting it harshly. How about between the culture at large and the counterculture? I know that using those terms is stupid, because of how many different tangents and subcultures abound in each of them. That conflict has maybe largely been solved by appropriation. Which I don't mean in a bad way. Gary Panter's Rozz-Tox Manifesto works for me better than most manifestos.

So another way to phrase it, the thing I care more about, would be a conflict between spirituality and actual day-to-day living in a practical manner. This is I think where hippies are hoping to make real progress, when the shit goes down. But oh wait hey, the reason this blog exists, is to say that maybe that's already ended, and the good side lost, and that now what persists is this awful bullshit found in The Secret, and megachurches- you can pray for wealth or you can have positive thinking for wealth. A fake spirituality? Arguably, but it makes people feel the same way as the real stuff, seemingly.

So- yeah, apocalyptic thinking. The awfulness of that last bit combined with a lot of other things is what strikes me as symbolic of the end times, like there's this paradigm that exists that's just kind of terrible. Probably because it's one thing where I'm stuck on the thesis and the antithesis and trying to square out my own solution.

I don't know. I guess going back to that tangent is the solution- That we have alternate futures already envisioned instead of the one that we just slowly progress towards. There's the fifties one and also the Fort Thunder one. Oh and going back to victorian times there's also time travel and undersea adventures postulated. But we don't actually have time machines, same as we don't have jet packs. You know, I think it's better to stick with the recent past- a lot of people who decide to opt out of the future go back to a cavemen future, where they hunt and there's not actually agriculture, but there's technology like guns to make hunting easier, which I'm sure was basically imagined by some caveman.
"Decora" is Yo La Tengo's best song.

Also, once I work out a sidebar of links, I will link to the WFMU blog, which once a week reminds us that the world is weird, and if you have a dark sense of humor, amusing, and that is beautiful.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This blog post is called "Hot for discourse." I don't know how to make this blog have titles, nor do I know how to operate a links sidebar.

Anyway- One of my favorite critics is Douglas Wolk. He writes about music, including a book about James Brown, and was a WFMU DJ who once played six hours of mostly-rare James Brown on Christmas. Currently there's a review up on Pitchfork of a James Brown singles compilation, but he likes a lot more than just James Brown. He writes about comics, and both of these things have that combination of depth of knowledge that comes from pursuing a lot of different things, but still keeps a sense of value and quality. Anyway, he combines talking about the two at this link, which is why I feel obligated to mention it. His review of Brian Chippendale's Ninja that ran at Salon was one of the best I'd read because of his twin understanding of comics and music. At the link I just posted, there's links and talk of all sort of rare music. Oh, he's also going to start writing comics reviews over at The Savage Critics, home to some of my favorite other people I only know from the internet, like Abhay Khosla. That's a link to his first post, which made me gleeful at its apocalyptic thinking. If you can parse the nerdiness, you will be amazed. Some people can parse the nerdiness and then just get mad at it, but those people are not people I would ever socialize with, and so they don't read this blog. Alex, if you're reading this, this is a guy, who's message board ravings I would frequently read aloud, and also who first brought the movie Little Murders to my attention, for which I am forever grateful.

Sometimes I think for myself, but not today.

Friday, July 13, 2007

So, I've been going to this liberal arts college, doing creative work- Writing stuff, making movies. I've been doing it kind of outside the main channels for these things- Not taking the big writing classes, which are largely focused on experimental poetry, and not taking the big film classes, which are largely focused on experimental documentary work. I read the school newspaper and go "wow, this is really shitty," and chalk it up to the lack of editorial standards. Sometimes I go to the film screenings, and find some stuff that's pretty good, usually made by friends of mine. This was something I noticed in an animation class- That the people I was friends with did things I like, because there were shared aesthetics at work, and similar points of view.

Anyway- There's also a school literary journal. It's mostly poetry- almost all poetry, I think, but it does accept prose submissions. Anyway, I submitted this past year, kind of on a lark, and was rejected. Which wasn't really a big deal. The editor's someone I'm not really friends with- Someone I don't get along with at all, actually, and I realized I was just being sarcastic to her all the time, arbitrarily- somehow I'd never talked to her honestly. Until the whole literary journal thing, which was confrontational. I brought up that she mostly ran stuff from a circle of people that took classes taught by the same guy, she said she felt most comfortable coming up with a context to present that work, because she was familiar with the people who made it. Fair enough.

But anyway, here at this new place, that literary journal's in the bathroom. And there are people in it I'm on friendly terms with, or at least kind of know by acquaintance- We've taken the same classes, gone to the same shows, ridden the same buses, been at the same parties. I don't know, I figured there'd be something there in their work that I'd think was interesting.


Seemingly, the whole experimental-poetry thing had filtered out all of the feelings and experiences that I had in common with these people. I don't know if it's just a result of their work being distanced from themselves, or if their work really does reflect them and my feeling of revulsion (a strong word, but yeah, pretty much) is just a reaction to that whole unbridgeable distance between two people thing. Either way, it's kind of a drag. What the fuck are people doing? Am I the only one at this college who takes the fact that Matt Groening is our one famous alum deeply to heart, as a signpost to try to be as real and iconoclastic as possible?

Come the fuck on, you assholes, you know deep down that The Simpsons is better than The Age Of Wire And String.

(This post's title should be: Jimbo In Purgatory.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I don't know how to start this blog off, because I want it to go in a clear direction, but start from an odd place.

The thing about the whole porn-going-mainstream, debutante-sex-tape, pop-star's-vaginas, youth-of-today, that whole scene, thing, is the feeling of dishonesty. There's nothing wrong with being proud of your body, it gets weird when the idea of your body that you're presenting is distorted. Likewise, there's very little wrong with communicating your sexuality- except for the fact that sexuality is a really complicated thing that probably can't be communicated by having words written on the ass of your pants. Sometimes dreams show up in the subconscious that are really oddly sexualized, but not in a way that can be codified into fetish pornography- there are things in this world that are mostly just the province of our minds, that can't really be communicated by lifting your shirt up when the cameras are rolling. A shirt that shows a lot of cleavage projects sexuality like wearing all black depicts depression- not really getting at the core of the thing, to the point of maybe missing it completely.

This is where Shary Boyle's art comes in. I posted a link to her website when I first found it, after it was announced she was going to be in Kramers Ergot 6, but I didn't really talk about it. My first thoughts were probably "huh, that's interesting imagery" and "I like her color sense." But her drawings and sculpture capture bigger things than most art does. It really short-circuits my ability to talk about it, besides just giving that general context. It sums up other things as well, the general idea of having things inside you that bloom in such a way as to explode your body, which is largely separate from anything sexual besides it being tied to some kind of disassociation between body and mind. Her work screams. I read somewhere, from someone who's seen her earlier work, that it used to be concerned with awkwardness, shame, and trembling. But now it's moved on to be this vision of what the world should be, that exists on the other side of all the nervousness, where things go wild. It's related to surrealism, but free of the misogyny that tends to pop up with those dudes. I don't blame the surrealists for having that pop up, I understand how it happens. I'm just saying, that's not in her work, for reasons that should be self-evident. I did read, however, that Shary's work almost was on display at the Sea-Tac airport but was rejected for its "lesbian overtones." That's in quotes, but it's a paraphrase- they might've been "lesbian undertones" as well, or just subtext. It's a thing that bubbles up, and then only barely- I don't think it's crass, but I think it would be an odd thing for an airport, if only for the explosive quality of it.
As I wandered into the common area of this new living arrangement, I heard in the back room, where the women were, "You make me feel like a natural woman" playing from the stereo, and for a brief second I imagined someone was singing along with it, which I think is maybe always how it should be with that song. I attribute my logic about this to lingering Murphy Brown memories, but now that I type this I'm probably thinking more of a commercial for Herbal Essences shampoo than an actual episode of Murphy Brown.
I pointed this out to Alex before he left- The new M.I.A. video, I guess for "Bird Flu," is kind of biting the Paper Rad aesthetic. So is the album art, which I've since seen..

Just a note. I look forward to that record though- I like that M.I.A. I posted about her website before her record came out, talking about her little visual art doodles.
"Bird Flu" is named because "the beat gon' kill everyone!!!!" which I think is funny, and then holy shit that is indeed a good beat.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

This is what I'm doing right now. I'm living out in the woods of Olympia, in a place with a broken dryer, so clothes dry by hanging on a line. It's nice to feel like you're in a position to aid escaped convicts and people caught up in slapstick shenanigans that have left them in the nude. It's the opposite of a luxury to get up in the morning and wander outside to pick up a shirt and socks and then put them on, but charming all the same, in a way that's preferable to a luxury, at least to me, right now.
The last Liars record, Drum's Not Dead, was pretty cool, but I had some reservations about it. Part of this was the weird rip I had which killed the flow. I got more into it when I heard it on vinyl. But part of it was this feeling of doubting the sincerity of the band. They had put out a record I liked, They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top, and they kept on switching it up, various EPs. There was this impression they wouldn't stay still, and then their second record came out, which a lot of people hated, and they said they consciously removed everything that people said they liked about the first record, so it wouldn't become a crutch. I think all of this is great, and I liked They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. I saw a lot of continuity between that and all their other stuff. Then Drum's Not Dead came out, and it actually did seem really different. I read an interview where they talked about listening to Sunn O))) records. The first record was compared to post-punk, and it just started to feel a little bit like trend-hopping, somehow inorganic. But there were moments that still felt really sincere- notably the last track, "The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack." The first time I listened to the record I was so excited I just say down in a comfortable chair to listen to it as intently as I could. I ended up falling asleep, but that last track woke me up. Not because it's loud, there's just this clarity to it, this palpable emotion that's completely different from all of their other songs I would consider favorites. Someone posited it as a response to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps," because both bands lead singers were dating for awhile, and this seemed likely. Anyway, that song was like placing a flag at some very high point, the peak of a mountain, to use their metaphor. It claimed some territory for its own, after sneaking there in the night. It's a sudden moment, although it brings out a lot of the record after you've heard it. Like, "Oh, that's where this is going."

The new record then is able to roam around this territory, broader than it's been before. And so Liars are a rock band now. It's not just all these type of dancefloor fistfights and broken windows of the first few records, or the weird night in the woods of Drum's Not Dead. Emotion has been addressed by "The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack," and now it's just a thing that can be there, that can pop up on a song like "Pure Unevil" and not be a big deal.

It keeps on popping up. There's anthems and there's pop songs- Some people were making Jesus And Mary Chain comparisons, but "Houseclouds" makes me think of some Blur song or another. Alex also pointed out that some of the songs are like some of their more abstract b-sides, which is also true, only they've been turned into songs, albeit some of the less poppy songs on the record.

The first song starts off not so good, as the bad kind of drone-rocker, where "rock" is the goal but "drone" is what's achieved, seemingly accidentally- where the chords are being slashed away at, but it just seems tedious, like the chords aren't being changed enough, and there just isn't enough a sense of dynamics- but then there is a shift, and the second half becomes really interesting, and it becomes clear that the opening was just a further carving out a place, another flag planted. Liars are an amazing band.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I have the internet in my new home, but still no phone. Anyway, here's a blog I wrote late last night going on early in the morning.

When I think about what I would like this blog to be, I envision less personal talk and more writing about art and music. I would like to get my criticism skills up to snuff. But when late nights turn into early mornings and I feel the need to write things down, the thing I'm most likely to be critical of is myself.

Basically I worry about the way maturity is manifesting itself. I find more and more I'm acting in ways based on some kind of concept of coolness. People do this when they want people to like them. People wanting other people to like them and then acting in an artificial manner is kind of a hallmark of social interaction, but it's awful. Especially the whole "coolness" concept. Because coolness more often than not translates to emotional distance.

I'm finding this really hard to articulate. I can articulate it in fiction where you can maybe grasp it intuitively based on your own knowledge, but I'm trying to put it simply.

The issue that arises is that, in acting cool because you want someone else to like you, it becomes really easy to not actually care that much about the other person, because they don't know the entirety of you. And this is the thing in relationships- all of them, not just those based on undercurrents of lust, friendships as well- that always striked me as fucked-up. To phrase it in terms of romantic relationships, that element where saying "I love you" becomes a massive thing. It seemed to me so simple, there were times when I loved everyone. Why would that be problematic to say? But now, it just seems like there are very few people that I love, and a lot more that are kind of bothersome and problematic for one reason or another. And those reasons all translate to not actually being yourself around them to the extent that you feel you should be. The idea of "coolness" begets actual coolness, i.e. an absence of warmth.

It leads to these weird imbalances in relationships where one person likes the other person much more than their feelings are returned. I'm using the term relationships in the broad sense, but when you start to think about in the more common and more specific sense you find a situation that people take for granted as fact and turn into power dynamics and that is really disgusting and troublesome.

What I'm saying is that I very genuinely do not want to care what other people think about me. Or at least, I don't want that to dictate my actions. I think that's the ideal place to be. It puts you in a space where you can actually love people. This is idealistic, an urge towards childhood rather than adulthood, in a way that does seem problematic. It also points away from hipsterdom towards nerdiness, but clearly that is the way to go.

It can't all just be making art that reveals our deeper selves in the hopes that someone finds that presentational form attractive.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

So I have a house. It's very close to the Evergreen campus, despairingly so. It's off in the woods, and the phone jack is busted and there stands a circuit board which connects to a phone that doesn't work. I feel like a guest there, off in my room, away from the people who seem nice enough.

Anyway, things worked out, is what I'm saying, although I'll be harder to get in touch with. My wireless card got bent in the move, so I can't access the internet in my new home for the time being. It will be replaced.

I feel distracted by the internet.

As I walked over to the school library I was thinking about horror films and how it's kind of not really my genre but still Alex and I were attracted to watching them. I think the deal is that the things horror deals in are things that are adjectives that can be attributed to good art, even if most horror isn't actually good- it always strives towards intensity, and to induce dread, which- I was reading someone talk about Brian Chippendale's Ninja, and he talked about how seeing something like that induces this existential dread, in that it's something you need to confront. Or Art Spiegelman, talking about Gary Panter's Jimbo in Purgatory, said that seeing it made him break out in a cold sweat in the presence of real art. So yeah, that intensity. It's also related to the way that even though that most of the music I listen to is gentle, there are things that are loud and intense in a way that wins you over easily in a live setting, because it's so impressive. Yeah.