Posts Tagged ee cummings
“King Christ,this world is all aleak;
and lifepreservers there are none:” -ee cummings
There is no Overman…only an Outerman.
We are The Outerman. They are The Innerman. Made from the same material. Subject to the same illusion. The two share nothing in common beyond circumstance.
The Outerman does not stand above the world of The Innerman, rather we are mired in it. We watch its absurdities not from a distance, but from a terrible proximity.
We bare the scars of The Innerman’s creations. We live in the demented cesspool of their need for acceptance. Adoration that will never come from the other Innermen. They are blind. Each alone in the company of Others. Each pantomiming human form. Each actors on a stage that stretches from dawn till death.
Both The Innerman and The Outerman are prisoners of the same sickening carnival, the only difference between the two is The Outerman recognizes it to be what it is. No superstition can save him. No machine can revive him. He walks to his fate with the dignity and honor of a man who will not accept the debasement of delusion.
The Outerman looks in the mirror and sees a product of alienation. An alien in a world of aliens. A jigsaw piece that does not fit. Awake among dreamers. There is no Hollywood ending for him or anyone else. There is only decay.
The Innerman looks in the mirror and hopes somehow to mold his face to the reflect the blank stare of the other Innermen. He can never get it right no matter how hard he tries. Never fast enough, never strong enough, never smart enough. Everyday he hopes he’ll see a different image in front of him. If he could just find the formula. The Man With The Answer. But there is no Man and there is No Answer.
The Innerman’s world is one of violence. Violence not in the sense of harm towards others (although some choose that path), but a violent ignorance that turns a blind eye to the suffering in their midst. The Cause portion of the equation forgotten. The Effect always a mystery.
“Why do they hate us?” they wonder aloud, never seeing the answer apparent to anyone not forever trapped in fantasy. Violence is the righteousness of the provincial and the tyranny of the obvious. The world of the Innerman is a dream inside of a dream inside of a dream, with a waking nightmare always somewhere in the corner of his eye.
The Innerman is doomed. Even God won’t save him. Why would He bother? He is too busy poisoning children with cancer, creating horrors like ebola and teaching his followers to hate that which makes them human.
He is the God of letting good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. He is not The God of Love, He is The God of Pestilence. The best thing God could be is a fantasy. For if he is not, He is a sadist.
Both The Outerman and The Innerman are bound together. They walk to the same gallows, suffocated by the same rope. The Outerman calls it a hanging. The Innerman calls it salvation.
“children guessed (but only a few and down they forgot as up they grew)”
The music review has been pronounced dead in many quarters. Some say it has lost its relevance, some argue it no longer has a story worth telling. I think there is some truth to this idea. There is a formula for a standard review and it is tried and true. A few strong metaphors, a band comparison or two, a reference to earlier work and the albums place within its genre and you’ve got a review. This is not to demean much of the writing that is out there. There are some truly exceptional writers who can take the standard form and make it deeply engaging, but there are a lot of reviews out there that simply don’t make an impact on me. I don’t believe that this is the fault of the writers but rather the fact that the medium they are using has confined its creator to the narrow world of observing and reporting. I think it is fair to say the music review as pure informational medium is probably on its last legs. While I believe that its role as informer of music fans is ending, I believe that it is in the process of going in a bold, exciting new direction that can make it relevant again and even an art form of its own.
Audiences no longer want to be informed, they want to be involved. They are not just looking for information about a band; they are looking for a deeper understanding of what it is like to experience the music. Audiences want to connect to the music, not just read about it. The dramatic shift that I believe is taking place is moving the review away from being about the artist and towards about the experience the artist has created.
The star of the review is no longer the band, but the audience as voiced by the writer. The goal of the writer used to be to melt into the background and let the band be heard. Objectivity was a characteristic to be aspired towards. The idea of the writer as passive communicator no longer has a major place in the all-at-once culture of engagement that we live in. More and more, the writing I see is coming to reflect this truth. The writer, no matter how much he or she tries, is a subjective creature. This is not a liability. The experience had by the audience is, in my opinion, the single most interesting thing about music today.
Director Jean Luc-Goddard supposedly once said the only way to review a movie is to make a movie. To me, this is a near perfect description of that the type of writing that will move the review to its next level. The review itself is an act of creation. A review can exist nearly independent of the original material. It can be a story unto itself that uses its source material as a beginning step into a labyrinth of unbridled creativity. A review can mark a unique moment in time, the moment when the artist meets the audience. Inspiration transfers from musician to writer and a new world is created. This world would not exist without the musician but it has transcended the original idea and morphed into something beyond its original intent. When the writer simply describes, it short-changes the audience of the revelatory power of the music. What has the music awakened within you? What did you see? What did you find? What did it genuinely make you feel? Instead of a medium that narrows the experience, a review can be something that becomes more than what was originally intended expanding exponentially through each person it comes into contact with.
In order to achieve this the writer must shun the formula and go beyond. The review need not be constricted by anything, even words. It can be photography, painting, sculpture, and maybe even more music. It must be an original statement of experience. A confession. That is its only qualification. It may present itself in a form that may be at times incoherent, but sometimes visions are not easily explained or understood.
The label often placed upon this type of creation is self-indulgent. There is an unwritten rule that good writing must purge the self as much as possible and fit neatly the pantheon of writing that came before it. What that really means is that in order to truly create we must forget who we are. This is insane. The unedited self, allowed breaking free of the artificial covenants that chain it to the floor, is capable of bringing a new vitality to a stilted form of expression. Imagine six billion selves illuminated, simultaneously witnessed and witnessing, all expressing unique shades of humanity and learning in fullness what it is like to human from every possible angle. This is what music reviewing can be.
“Infinity pleased our parents, one inch looks good to us.” –ee cummings
The worst kept secret about America is that it is horribly boring up close. Terribly boring. Horrendously boring. Catastrophically boring. Worse than could ever be described justly in words.
Jack Kerouac had some ideas about how being on the road is an amazingly illuminating experience that cleanses the soul of stagnation. He saw magic around ever corner. The country Kerouac was looking at had about as much to do with the modern day Ohio Turnpike as the surface of Mars does. What would Jack have made of the Wal-Mart truck that I’ve just watched next to us for the last two hundred miles? Or seeing 100 McDonalds parking lots in eight hours? Or having his 6-year-old daughter splash a Capri Sun on to his neck while trying to outrun a truck driver who watched Duel to many times? Or the Hampton Inn billboard that shows a family so overwhelmed by happiness over seeing their 89 dollar a night room that they look like they are spontaneously going into anaphylactic shock? The America that I have been driving though for the past three days would have made Neil Cassady jam a knitting needle through his forehead.
There are no metaphors that do it justice. Every year the family and I hop in The Misery Machine (our name for the fine piece of engineering that is our 2001 Ford Windstar van) and drive and drive and drive and drive until we reach Valhalla (or Minneapolis, which ever comes first). There was a time where travel promised unbridled joy and freedom to me. Now, it promises discomfort, mind-numbing boredom and bitter, gut-wrenching sameness.
Geologist James Hutton once described the Earth as having “no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end.” He could have been easily describing Northern Illinois or Southern Indiana or Western New Jersey. There is no America per se. There are stores, there are signs, there are cars. If you take away the accents, there isn’t much to distinguish Alabama from Pennsylvania. The seasoned traveler can tell where they are by when the Waffle Houses stop and the Perkinses begin. Otherwise, it is one endless slog of chain restaurants, rock quarries and churches stretching on without origin or conclusion.
When you done the Death March long enough you start to become enamored of the bizarre similarities. Every rest stop in the entire state of Ohio looks exactly like the next one, right down to the distance from the “throw a quarter in and see your weight machine and lottery numbers” machine to the pile of 7 dollar and 99 cent grinning stuffed animals. All showerheads at Holiday Inns are exactly alike. The identical picture of a sailboat in the sunset has been in every hotel room I’ve been in since I was 27. A Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard in Tupelo, Mississippi is a Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard in Flagstaff, Arizona. There are no surprises awaiting the weary traveler.
It’s not that I’m against standardization. I know I probably shouldn’t admit to this in writing, but I find it comforting to know that I can find certain products that I like everywhere I go. My blood is probably 15 percent Diet Pepsi.
I don’t really want to tear down the strip malls and replace them with workshops run by friendly, well-mannered artisans. I really don’t need every town to look like Asheville, North Carolina. Truth be told, the Stepford Zombie Nightmare that our nation has become is probably the only world in which I’d know how to navigate.
What I am finding about myself is that the part of me that was once capable of romanticizing the American Road has long since died. I am not capable of finding beauty in this. Not anymore. It’s not America’s fault that it is so menacingly ugly; it is mine. I cannot make this anymore than what it appears to be. There is no poetry on these roads. Not once you’ve been down them a few times.