Archive for February, 2011

19 February, 2011

In which we are chased by the bliss…

I love how sometimes people and things sneak their way into your life. This is a very Campbellian “Follow your bliss” kind of moment for me, so I hope you can bear with me here. Sometimes you just have to let go and let the world take you where it is going to take you, and accept the fact that your input, at this point and time, does not matter in the least.

Is this an invocation for fatalism? No. There’s a difference in not having freewill and not having control. We rarely have control. Control is collective. Right now control rests with five grad school committees, two hiring committees, and people I never have and never will meet. What I can control is myself, the number of books I read, the number of tea cups I empty, the number of walks I take, and other microscopic things.

That being said, in the dozens of touchy-feely conversations I had about life and its direction last year, all of them inevitably mentioned that the right path will seem easy– it isn’t the easiest path, but pieces fall into place. The path feels right. There’s a part of me that feels like that’s happening right now. I’m not following the bliss…it’s kind of stalking me. One of the things I continue to be is an artist, and I keep selling stuff, and showing stuff, and making stuff. Seems pretty natural, but I never intended to be a professional artist– I actually turned my back on that avenue with all the venom I could manage. Now I’m beginning to wonder if that was the right choice. If the bliss tackles me and beats my head into the pro-art direction (why not, I’m going to be poor anyway), I’ll let you know.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.
-Joseph Campbell

Also, Adele has been sneaking into my life for a while without me realizing it. Every time I saw the I Am Number Four trailer, I went “I like that song a lot.” I finally looked it up, and found out it was hers. Then I looked her up, and discovered that I knew five or six of her other songs, too. I’m being stalked by music! Blissful, bluesy music!

Anyway, enjoy.

Here’s the official video. It won’t let me embed it, but the official video is nice and pleasantly bizarre (there are ninjas and lots of broken white things.) I actually went through about twelve videos before I could find one that would embed. By the way, no one seems to know what she’s saying in the “lay your ???? bare” line. I’ve seen ship, shit, and sheet.

(lyrics after the cut)

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12 February, 2011

Alles Neu / All Is New

I burn my studio, snort the ashes like coke
I slay my goldfish, bury it in the yard
I blow up my digs, I let go everything I’ve got
My old life, tastes like a sloppy toast
Roast me a grand steak, Peter cooks finest meat now
I am the update, Peter Fox 1.1

I want to dance, celebrate, but my pond is too small
Grow me new chompers like a white shark
Waxed, doped, polished, brand-new teeth
I am euphoric, and have expensive plans
I buy me construction machinery, diggers and barrels and cranes
Jump at Berlin, press the siren
I build beautiful speaker-towers, bass stimulates your soul
I am the wrecking ball for the g-g-g-german scene

Hey, every thing’s shiny, pretty new
Hey, if you don’t like it, make it new
The world covered in dust, but I want to see where this is going
Climb the mountain of dirt, because on top the air is fresh
Hey, every thing’s shiny, pretty new

I’m fed up with my old stuff, let them rot in a sack
Throw my clothes away, and then I go naked shopping
I am completely renovated, chicks have something to stare at
Right as rain, well-toned, world champion in chess and boxing
From now on only concrete talk, give me a yes or no
No airy fairy, I stop with the old grimaces

Should I ever smoke weed again, I’m gonna hack an axe into my leg
I want to never lie again, I want to mean every sentence
My head bursts, everything has to change
I seek the button, meet the most powerful men
Force the land into luck, buy banks and broadcast stations
Everything goes nuts, shaky sheep and lambs
I look better than Bono, and am a common man
Ready to save the world, even if that’s maybe too much

Hey, every thing’s shiny, pretty new
Hey, if you don’t like it, make it new
The air here is all consumed, breathing is difficult
Bye bye I’ve got to get out of here, the walls are getting closer
The world covered in dust, but I want to see where this is going
Climb the mountain of dirt, because on top the air is fresh
Hey, every thing’s shiny, pretty new

Translation borrowed from Last FM’s Aroused Ninja.

 

The first time I heard this song I was really intimidated by its tone. The second time I followed the lyrics (I don’t speak more than a pathetic smattering of German, but there are enough random cognates and words like “gluck” and “alles” in the song, along with natural pauses, that I actually was able to follow line by line through the translation) and I feel like I got it.

I’ve been wondering for a while if lyrics matter. A lot of people ignore lyrics in songs, and I myself have a difficult time following lyrics the first, second, or even eighth time I listen to a song. It involves real effort on my part. I have to say, though, I think this song is a great example of a song whose lyrics matter incredibly. Without them, you watch, more or less, wondering “why are things exploding,” and realizing “Oh my god, the monkeys are following him!” With them, this is an anthem. It’s really something special, I think.

This song originally came to my attention through Goodmorning and Goodnight.

I could wax poetic/philosophical on the ramifications of everything being new, and the utter radical nature of the declaration, but not today. Or, at least, not right now.

6 February, 2011

How about a little exploration of Emily?

What’s in a name, exactly? It’s incredible how many things can share a name. Are names arbitrary? Shakespeare famously says in one of Romeo’s lavishly cheesy entreaties to Juliet, “That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet,” but like so many things in life, names take on meaning because we, as humans, put that meaning there.

This started out in my head as a poetry post, featuring Emily Dickinson, and look what happened (dammit, brain!)

Names have meaning, but from where? Some names harken back to old languages– Melissa comes ultimately from the Greek word melitta, or “bumble bee.” Christopher literally means “bearer/carrier of Christ,” also from Greek. Some names are synthesized, created new by parents (or so they hope), perhaps in search of something unique that their child can have that is theirs, and only theirs. What a gift to give a child; what a burden. Having a history to your name at least gives you something to lean on, and humans love to lean. We love to be a part of something. It’s when we’re unchained that we tend to come unhinged.

Why do we track the popularity of baby names? Seriously. They put this stuff in newspapers. Why, though? I’ve always found it weird that people would want to know how popular the name they’ve picked is. Do you want an Emily, or do you want an Orangejello? What’s better? What’s worse?

At least if you’re Orangejello, you begin your own legacy. You might not be a link in a chain; you might be something new, shiny, and interesting. At least you don’t have a billion people, and at least a dozen songs named after you.

Let’s do some Emily-legacy, because this started out with Dickinson.

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3 February, 2011

The Belly of the Whale

Six years ago (woah, that feels weird) I was writing a senior thesis for AP English Literature about Campbell and the Hero.

Every hero follows the same journey, according to Campbell. There are several pit-stops in the journey. Today, as I was doing someone else’s laundry and watching a rom-com, I started thinking about the Belly of the Whale– it’s the lowest point in the cyclical hero’s journey.

The Belly is the darkest place– its where all hope seems lost. It’s name, of course, comes from the Biblical Jonah, who was swallowed not by a whale but by a giant fish (being a pseudo-classicist means I get to occasionally be fussy and split hairs like that.) What makes this agonizing literary midnight interesting, however, is the fact that the hero can’t climb out alone. He needs assistance to get out of the disastrous mess he’s in. Theseus is dead until Ariadne gives him the string to help him navigate the labyrinth; Jason is dead until Medea gives him the tools and the magic he needs to get the fleece; Psyche is dead until everything from Cupid down to the lowest ant gives that dumb butterfly the assistance she needs.

I often wonder if there’s any parallel in real life. If mythology is a functional understanding of the world, surely its mimetic qualities are myriad. Sure, strip away the minotaurs and the Argo, but underneath, a lot of things hold true– team work, jealousy, interdependence, complicated family dynamics, angry mothers, chutzpah, fearlessness, and most importantly, the ability to take that hand up when you need it.

Maybe that’s what mythology’s most important lesson is– you can’t do this shit alone, and that’s okay. To any of you hanging out down here in the dark with me, it’s okay to accept help– if thousands of stories and, if the shared wisdom of the human race is any indication, you’ll need it in order to move onto what comes next.

3 February, 2011

Dark days, snow, science.

Today was feeling horrible until this:

I promptly got out of bed, went outside, stared at Mars (the only thing I could see around the clouds), and covered my face in snow. Yes, it was weird. But oh, it felt so good.

Tomorrow will be a little better.

“I stood still, vision blurring, and in that moment, I heard my heart break. It was a small, clean sound, like the snapping of a flower’s stem.”

~Diana Gabaldon

(re-blogged from goodmorningandgoodnight)

This might be the first flimsy piece of scotch tape on the flower’s stem.

I hope so.

2 February, 2011

Groundhog’s Day; Stubbornness

There are several blogs I read, for the sake of preventing my brain from turning to mush, for the sake of happiness, and for the sake of just blind indulgence.

The Worst Professor Ever has a brilliant observation or six about Groundhog’s Day (the movie). {x}

 

Sometimes things get hard. A lot of people live with regrets. I try not to. That doesn’t mean that I don’t– it mostly means that those regrets get compressed and tucked neatly into the back broom closet in my brain, waiting for the day when they are shafted, like remains of the dead, and forgotten for good. I am very good at forgetting. I am also very good at hiding. These are survival traits, pure and simple.

Hope is stubborn, though. Helplessly stubborn. Despite how many boxes and closets you put hope in, it worms through the cracks, back up to the forefront, like some bolded, triple-underlined, size-256 flashing neon sign behind your eyelids.

Hope is painful. It flies in the face of what we know is most likely true. It stares down fact and empirical observation and just snorts and giggles like it heard a hilarious fart joke. Hope is the death of a realist.

I wish I didn’t have hope; I have no reason to, and yet there it is– snorting and giggling, flashing in neon, despite my best efforts to remain firmly grounded.

Stupid people always dismiss as untrue anything that happens only seldom, or anything that their minds cannot readily grasp; yet when these things are carefully inquired into they are often found not only possible but probable.

Apuleius, The Golden Ass

 

Enjoy your days, friends. You don’t know how many of them you get, and hope is a terrifying buoy.