Once upon a time while in a Liberal Arts School, I heard a phrase which continues to haunt me. For every compromise you make, you make 2. Originally, it was in relation to making student film. And with how those sort of things went, it was much an insight as it was a curse. The passage from thought to actuality is never a mere straight line. Every decision is a hard fought destination on a line you would gladly given anything to reach.
As I have said here before, humanity in general is taken with the idea of silent perfect communication. It is appealing to us to imagine blue bolt understanding, effortless translation of heart to mind. Much of this is because of how it usually goes between people and their audiences. It is resembles a frantic game of charades rather than some elegant dance. The limitation is how much you are willing to surrender to get that vital piece of communication to lodge into the consciousness of another.
It is this constant state of compromise which why would be artists eventually collapse into states of disgust or doubt. Both of these bolster this love of telepathic messages of ego. Creative types often wish to obscure that initial degree of awkwardness which is required for real understanding. There is a need to be understood which shapes personal value.
Validation is a bareness which may not preclude dignity but certainly implies past embarrassments. If you don’t know the stakes of failure, how can you imagine the fall? Have you ever momentarily imagined how it would feel to fall backwards down a long flight of stairs? Many would think this would imply some impulse to self harm. But to others it may simply be a spur towards caution or awareness of the world. To validate the world with another is to share it: to share yourself is to be exposed, open.
Those compromises I encountered in school were not these noble effortless kinds but desperate last minute ones. If it was ever going to get finished, it had to be done like this. These acts of accomplishments were flawed but glorious just the same. Finishing something is a truly great reward regardless the distance it travels. That is better than effortless telepathy.
So here I am again. I’ve made a non-career of throwing myself at the wall and nothing sticking. But on occasions such as this, the first day of a year, I am taken by the idea of a start. Not so much a change mind you, I have been feeling too set in my ways to con myself into believing that one again. But for some reason I am still empathic to the idea of starting anew. But with deference to the past, of course
I have not bothered to look back at the posts before this one. Often it is this process of reflection on blogging past that stops the process dead in its tracks. What was I going to do? Why did it not happen or who didn’t care; more monuments to blockage and discouragement.
Imagine my surprise when I chose images at random from my stockpile of compulsively collected clips and found I had used all those images several times before! So much for being original!
There is a bit of double standard on the original. Sterne’s Tristram Shandy & Stein’s Tender Buttons are two works written so long ago that you’d think that the techniques employed there would be old hat by now. Nope, they still mark the outskirts, the places where no one but English Majors go. Brackage and Deren took film to the extremes of abstraction and everyone is still pretty much watching conventional narratives. And for the sake of brevity I will neglect the endless explorers of music who sawed away tonality and melody to sculpt sound. When we talk about something original, aren’t we looking for that thing we identify despite efforts by the artistic to obscure?
Believe when I say I am part of this condition as much as anyone else. I make the efforts to push along the edges of my own self confinement but these attempts are simple excursions, day trips to the outliers of the common experience. In recent years, I have built up these limitations on these expansive journeys into the unknown. It’s not the right time to watch this movie or book because I am tired or unprepared for the challenges that something singular will have on my comfortable niche. I often find that the internet has created this sense of over-curation, that nothing is approachable on its own but must be swallowed along with its connected commentary. The irony of modern times is that availability has blown out my ability to choose. Do I have time to give myself over to a book that takes six months to read or a movie that is over two hours?
This is not a desire to return to a point in the past. I doubt I have an insight to select a golden age or still point from which clarity could be achieved. I also do not see it as a complaint. I don’t think that it is a worthwhile means to gain pity. And really anything pity can buy is not much worth owning. Instead this observation is about delineating the shape of a condition for easy recognition. For only when can you see something is there any chance of doing anything about it. The trick is how to know what has past without getting tangled up in the processing of old information.
I had thought for a moment I would seriously just make this blog about how I never write blog posts. Especially since I have inexhaustible things to say about the process of not doing something. Procrastination is like dark matter, a theoretical miasma. I have tried all manner of guidelines to ignite the fires, to get over this sense of being on the verge of gettin’ it on. My blogging was very sparse last year. I imagine that it will still be like this for a while longer. I am still in the midst of finding a way of naturally creating content which does not feel like ambulance chasing the zeitgeist. It has its advantages in terms of visits BUT this was never supposed to that type of thing.
So what I will attempt to do is make TSFI more integrated with my other social media. Twitter and Letterboxd are my primary sources of writing on the web. And to be honest they have more to do with settling within the strictures created by someone else then some idea I’ve had about this type of writing experience. Despite this, I would also like to finish up The Secret Singularity posts I had begun last year and will continue to do that more for myself than anyone else. They are about me trying to work out the contours of a very large maze of terms and contradictions. I am hoping that this will eventually lead to something that frames my posts here. I would like it to encapsulate all my interests as I cycle through them instead of a banging on one of them so I become known as an authority on basketweaving or whatever. I am looking to create a dialog that crosscuts and reflects my interests. I am not trying to be a tastemaker but somebody who can describe what this feast tastes like.
So that’s it for now. Let’s see what happens. This was written with a minimum of edits and with the spirit of getting it done in full effect.
The other day I was deflated by the fact that someone had already gone to the trouble to break imagination down into several types. As someone who has always lead a life engaged with my own bit of surreal estate, I often become so enamored with a concept or conceit that I don’t realize it is a museum piece. This often becomes the end of the fascination. That the latest was an ideas about imagination has given it some resistance to the cruel way dreams are some times treated.
I am not claiming to be the creator of anything new. I am not make large efforts to connect it to the rubric of ideas we all live under. This is not about claiming great ancestors but rather seeing how the imagination operates in the wilds of the mind. It could be said that it is this ability of the imaginative mind to pull ideas and connections from the ether which has lead to the death of the fact. In current conditions in my part of the world, fiction has only just begun to breed lethal strains again. A whole complex of ideas has shielded the majority of two generations from the extreme consequences of associative thinking. Dream thinking has teeth: just asking anyone suffering from addiction or mental illness about the connective power of the mind.
Now playing my own devil’s advocate, I need to note that the foundational ideas which create defense from harmful delusional strains of thought began as guesses. At some point, a dreamer took a step off a cliff and kept walking. How long it takes for a value to emerge is an intriguing side road, it is not the idea that has brought these words together before us today. I wanted to talk about the species of imaginary things not the environment so much. This act of recognition has to be addressed.
When considering Imagination, we often forget to consider whether we mean upper case or lower case. The Capital I version is all about boundless extravagance, the garish parade floats of the daydream. This is the imagination of eye candy, an amoral sprawl with ego at the center. This is the place where desires are slacked without consequence. Many people love it for this reason, though they don’t recognize it. There is something more obscure than that rapport, the lower case imagination.
To know lower case imagination is to know it by another name: intuition. This is an associative leap made through memory connections. Building an understanding of the future by seeing the past in the present is alchemical: it happens in a mental space where structure is a mirror of social processes. We know how someone will act or a situation will play out based on a comparison to our ghosts. Whether or not this is positive or negative experience is outside of the fact that intuition and imagination are entwined.
It is bothersome to do all the discerning required in life. Is it imagination or intuition? Is it beneficial or malignant? Often they are entwined. Though It is not a polar condition, we often ask ourselves the question is it love or confusion: it is a dangerous proposition in a world that can turn harmful with little provocation. It is not one person trying to determine meaning but a mesh of interpersonal groups looking to express a collective dream in the well lit waking world.
Often when I want to write about some pop culture/art object that I enjoy, I find it difficult to separate the experience from the thing. While I think it is a fool’s errand to try, I find myself trying to do it again. The deepness of the connection to certain items is hard to ignore. We all want for our favorite things to also be culturally vital
The truth of the matter is a vast majority of things are actually only significant to a subset of people. The first impulse when confronted with the “totem” of another “tribe” seems to be one of dismissal if not recognition. Personally harboring so many interests, I have to set some aside to pick them up later. The advantage in being obsessive on one particular thing, like Star Wars for example , is that a majority of your ever-shrinking leisure time is consumed by that one thing, the only thing that really speaks to you. I want to say that I envy that person’s dedication but I’ll be honest. Without variety, I don’t think I could be excited in anything. Contrast invigorates me.
The personal affirmation element found in pop culture/art objects is severely underestimated. Most people are drawn to items which overtly express their personal values. The confusion between an actor and a role or author and a character are good examples of this association. It seems to be that no matter how much we are told that media does not drive behavior, we look to the book and record collections of famous and infamous people to be indicators of identity. Personality is ephemeral yet objects are not is a hard thing to parse. To be truthful this common confusion is discomforting to me. I think while our choices in entertainment or art do say things about us, we are the final arbiters. We are more that what we own and less than what we dream.
Though it is only in our actions that we exist in this world, the way that our imagination threads through our daily lives is striking. Often it is the one thing which keeps alive if not always safe or successful. There is a resonance in our choices, the ways we wile our time and the characters we chose to fixate upon does indicate something. I am just not sure that a majority of people are very good at valuation.
Hello invisible denizens of the web! Guess it’s funny to realize that none of us are truly unseen. And when say funny I mean not ha ha but strange. A persistent dream of the early internet surfer was the that the experience would open a new world, a secret world, where personality would become fluid, almost molten, and could be cast into any shape. It was not so much untrue as it was such a linear way to look at the way the human mind could be affected by this technology. It is certainly an oversight when you consider all the predictions made by cadres of science fiction writers since…well, forever!
(The corrective statement might be that most people aren’t reading SF but watching SF movies. And those movies are barely in the same orbit as vintage science fiction. Enough digression return to the main thoroughfare!)
I must admit that I find the development of internet culture to be as confounding as I find it to be wonderful. I am able to find my niche and squirrel myself away in a manner that would have fried my 80s kid mind. And whose to say it has not made my great candidate for a dopamine drip feed? Even in this narrow field of interests I live in there is still a dissonance. I should be glad for these voices of dissent but they just make me uneasy.
To posit there is only one universe after spending most of your days on the web is difficult. The fervor of belief that courses through humanity is scary thing to behold. And its on display 24/7. Outcomes are myriad in the human heart so why not the stars as well?
Yes, I am feeling introspective and a bit raw these days. And when I say introspective I mean misanthropic. And when I saw raw I mean open, exposed to the nerve. I am trying to avoid self pity and reconnect with my weary muse. Imagination is the skeleton key to my survival. How about you? To those who have started noticing my small corner of the world, the feedback has been appreciated. I am going to try out some things in the next couple of months to goose things along here. I am tired of doing lists not because they are hard but because everybody does them. I get the work to time ratio but it is just not giving me that kick I wanted to TSFI to give me. It was intended as means to keep my brain moving and not to settle into boring patterns. In my arrogance I have tried to reign in my wide range of interests because I thought no one could “handle” it. I need just to stop hedging and go all out. That’s why I am here in this sphere. To have ideas and to express them.
To anyone who has bothered to visit here with any regularity, this latest delay should come as no shock. Like so many of us in the world today, I am getting my ass kicked. The plethora of entertainment options, the shrinking clock, and the need to recharge have conspired against me!
I ask for no pity since I’ve done it to myself, or at least took part in this squandering. I am actually just trying to find the thrill again, that sense of rejuvenation that the arts can give. Not just as a consumer but as a creator as well. It is so easy to get distracted when trying to remain open to possibilities, to not see all change as a bad thing.
In Taoism, the concept of Wu-Wei, action through in-action, has always intrigued me. Often in my life it feels that if I do nothing then nothing happens. After many years of just going all passive aggressive in hopes that something would fall into place, I have tried to be more considered in my presses towards action. Still working it out, still getting kicked around.
Some days it is easier to go along with this struggle than others: in some instances it is an hour by hour climb towards tolerable. So we leave this entry to be the marker. It is part of what I do and, by extention, who I am. Still here and will be again.
I got a New Year’s wish. And I know I can fulfill it. One of the reason for creating TSFI was an unchecked desire to write about music. I was posting reviews on Amazon near compulsively. While it was fun to get feedback and the baby rush of forum posting, something was lacking. So that lead to blogging and shortly thereafter my problem. The form of the expression started to dictate how I would do this. More correctly, my perception of it started to mess with me.
As a firm believer in I would never write something that I would not read, I started to look at how I “read” the web. I am a nibbler, I am a saver, and I am a surfer. So this told me how I had to create a blog. The rest I learned after I got going. I don’t want to spend a day making a post. Simply there is not enough time. The first sites I followed were very opposed to this and all the better for it. There was thought, density and, importantly, length. And all for free. I was estatic! Imagine my disappointment when I realized I could not do it that way!
Sometimes when the site would go dormant, I’d think you just gotta post something. These post are always done in the spirit of the show must go on, keep the party going. After a few of these types of post, certain corner cutting tricks became evident. The world makes it impossible to be all soul all the time 24/7. Not to say I’ve ever supported something I did not love just it’s never been in the way I would present it if time was no object. Time? That shit’s priceless.
Which brings me back to my wish. Writing about music. I am not saying that I have not written about music in the past, online and otherwise. I mean something like Lester Bangs or Greil Marcis or Ira Robbins. The Trouser Press Record Guide, like The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, has been guide to me. I’ve spent a majority of my life living in areas where I am the torchbearer of the weird and off-beat. Hair always a little too long, no odd facial hair, no tats or piercings, and this unruly mind. So I don’t know no icons beyond the obscurest kind for me. To be honest, I have yet to figure out who I am writing for. The best I can up with is my audience is mixed. I am going to pretend you know somethings and not others. I could be wrong.
So for the next few days, I am going to try this experiment. I am going to do a four part list of my favorite music of the year. This will be in three parts. My favorite five new “albums”, my favorite five “old” albums, and a third part which will be much less list-y and way rambly. Could be done as early as 31st of December or as late as 3rd of January. Anyone who saw my twitter posts about songs of 2011 this is what that turned into. Should be fun to see where this goes….
This is the street of the mundane