Everything that has a beginning has an end

music

Let’s Study the Weird, Shall We?

Art by Matt Melanson

 

There is a new podcast in town, Weird Studies, hosted by Phil Ford and J.F. Martel –

As they describe it,

“Weird Studies” is a scholarly field that doesn’t and can’t exist.

The Weird is that which resists any settled explanation or frame of reference. It is the bulging file labelled “other/misc.” in our mental filing cabinet, full of supernatural entities, magical synchronicities, and occult rites. But it also appears when a work of art breaks in on our habits of perception and ordinary things become uncanny. ​The Weird is easiest to define as whatever lies on the further side of a line between what we can easily accept from our world and what we cannot. And it defines an attitude towards whatever lies on that side of the line: a willingness to remain suspended between explanations and abide in strangeness.”

In this episode the two connect the dots and discuss those connections and surrounding pathways into the origin of contemporary existential fear and how it manifests in recent works such as David Lynch and Mark Frosts’ ‘Twin Peaks – The Return’.

Along the way their map include signposts from Philip K. Dick, Norman Mailer, Stanley Kubrick, Carl Jung, William Burroughs, Guy Debord, H.P. Lovecraft and many others.

A fascinating and thought provoking look into the abyss, to synchronous expressions of art, and the implications for modern life as we live under the shadow of the mushroom cloud.

 

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They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on

 

This is a repost of Beth Orton’s beautiful rendition of Sisters of Mercy by the dearly beloved and departed Leonard Cohen. His poetry and his life spoke to and through so many who carried his words with them into their own work.

 


The Powerlessness of Self Expression – One aspect of Hypernormalization

 

WE LIVE IN A STRANGE WORLD

OF DREAMS WIRES AND LIES

IT WAS BUILT TO PROTECT US

AND KEEP EVERYTHING STABLE

BUT NOW WE DO NOT KNOW

WHAT IS TRUE OR WHAT IS FALSE

WE HAVE BECOME LOST IN A FAKE WORLD

AND CANNOT SEE THE REALITY OUTSIDE

(HyperNormalisation)

 

Adam Curtis has released a new documentary, HyperNormalisation. This is how he describes its basic premise –

We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, random bomb attacks. And those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed – they have no idea what to do.

This film is the epic story of how we got to this strange place. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening – but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them.

It shows that what has happened is that all of us in the West – not just the politicians and the journalists and the experts, but we ourselves – have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world. But because it is all around us we accept it as normal.

 

In an interview promoting the release of his new film, he discusses how the idea of ‘self expression’ especially radical self expression feeds into the illusion of bringing about change while in fact it only perpetuates the status quo as it becomes an empty symbolic perhaps beautiful yet powerless gesture to bring about change.

 

“I think one of the most fascinating giant shifts that’s happened in recent history started in the late 1960’s and really took off in the 70’s which was the rise of a sort of powerful individualism, a feeling throughout western society… that I as an individual [am] the most important thing and what I feel, what I want is the most truthful authentic and right thing. And the idea that you should be told what to do by politicians, by those in power over you is wrong. Its inauthentic … [and] that you should be true to yourself.

That became a very powerful thing … It was good in many ways. It liberated people and stopped us from being told what to do by corrupt elites … But it had a very strange effect on politics … If you’ve got a society of millions of individuals who all have their own desires, their own truth, their own idea of what is true then it is very difficult to craft a collective movement together … If you then get individualism rising up what you don’t want to do is give yourself up to [a commitment of] years, to a movement that you subsume yourself into. You want to express yourself. And why I think Patti Smith is interesting is that she is one of the first people you see making a shift from the idea that radicalism is giving yourself up to a group and becoming a part of something bigger to an idea that no, to be radical is to be a self expressive individual and the way to do it is through art. And what you can use art for is as an imaginative expression of your radicalism …

[The question is] How much power [do] you have as a radical expressive artist?

What was happening was that modern consumer capitalism was looking at this ‘me’ generation and these individuals and going, ‘We can help you express yourself’ and suddenly instead of giving you the same car, the same coat, the same clothes, you can have a whole range of different ones so that you can all be self expressive in your different ways. And there is an argument that … modern consumerism was rescued by the ‘me’ generation because it suddenly allowed you to sell lots and lots of different things to lots of different people who wanted to express themselves in different ways. Which means that the idea of self expression becomes absolutely central to the power of modern capitalism … So then if you have a radical art which is based on the idea of self expression … then however radical your message is and however powerful what you are saying is, the fact that you are doing it through self expression means that actually what you are doing is feeding the underlying ideology of modern consumer capitalism because it depends on the whole idea of you as a self expressive individual.”

According to Curtis, radical gestures are just that – gestures, and are absorbed into the dominant culture and are even, along with some movements, manipulated and in some cases created by powerful behind the scene forces so that the question of what is true or false has no clear answer. This is one of the dilemmas of living in a Hypernormal world. That we are being manipulated and are buying into the manipulation ourselves is just one aspect of the challenges we face at the end of an era. It remains to be seen how to break out of this illusion and see the world for what it really is. Perhaps as the film suggests it is not how we break out of the illusion but that reality will literally come smashing in. It already has begun to do so.

Please see his new film embedded below.

 


I have saved all my ribbons for thee

David Remnick in his profile on Leonard Cohen shares this coda as Cohen discovers his early career muse, lover and long time friend, Marianne Ihlen, is on her death bed.

In late July this year, Cohen received an e-mail from Jan Christian Mollestad, a close friend of Marianne’s, saying that she was suffering from cancer. In their last communication, Marianne had told Cohen that she had sold her beach house to help insure that Axel [her son] would be taken care of, but she never mentioned that she was sick. Now, it appeared, she had only a few days left. Cohen wrote back immediately:

Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.

Two days later, Cohen got an e-mail from Norway:

Dear Leonard

Marianne slept slowly out of this life yesterday evening. Totally at ease, surrounded by close friends.

Your letter came when she still could talk and laugh in full consciousness. When we read it aloud, she smiled as only Marianne can. She lifted her hand, when you said you were right behind, close enough to reach her.

It gave her deep peace of mind that you knew her condition. And your blessing for the journey gave her extra strength. . . . In her last hour I held her hand and hummed “Bird on the Wire,” while she was breathing so lightly. And when we left the room, after her soul had flown out of the window for new adventures, we kissed her head and whispered your everlasting words.

So long, Marianne . . .


The Daemon

I love to speak with Leonard
He’s a sportsman and a shepherd
He’s a lazy bastard
Living in a suit

But he does say what I tell him
Even though it isn’t welcome
He just doesn’t have the freedom
To refuse

He will speak these words of wisdom
Like a sage, a man of vision
Though he knows he’s really nothing
But the brief elaboration of a tube

Going home
Without my sorrow
Going home
Sometime tomorrow
Going home
To where it’s better
Than before

Going home
Without my burden
Going home
Behind the curtain

Going home
Without the costume
That I wore

He wants to write a love song
An anthem of forgiving
A manual for living with defeat

A cry above the suffering
A sacrifice recovering
But that isn’t what I need him
to complete

I want to make him certain
That he doesn’t have a burden
That he doesn’t need a vision
That he only has permission
To do my instant bidding
Which is to SAY what I have told him
To repeat

Going home…

I love to speak with Leonard
He’s a sportsman and a shepherd
He’s a lazy bastard
Living in a suit


An artist trying to find his way through the darkness *

“Most of us don’t want to change

Really

I mean why should we

What we do want is sort of modifications on the original model

We keep on being ourselves

But hopefully better versions of ourselves

But what happens when an event occurs that is so catastrophic

That you just change

Change from the known person to the unknown person

So that when you look at yourself in the mirror you recognize the person that you were

But the person inside the skin is a different person”

*One More Time With Feeling


“Crashing Out with Sylvian : David Bowie, Carl Jung and the Unconscious” by Tanja Stark

Source: “Crashing Out with Sylvian : David Bowie, Carl Jung and the Unconscious” by Tanja Stark

Please read Tanja Stark’s fascinating research into David Bowie’s emergence as a Jungian visionary artist.

“Jungian concepts are so inextricably woven throughout Bowie’s multi-decadal tableau of creativity that in Bowie’s synthesis of mythopoeic themes of the Unconscious with the zeitgeist of pop culture, together with his palpable struggle for meaning, catharsis and knowledge, Bowie has become a poignant contemporary representation of Jung’s ‘visionary artist’, potentially illuminating his deep resonance in popular cultural consciousness.”


A Tribute – Bowie Who Bonded Us to Our Weird Selves

 

Bowie-AFP-COVER-option-2-EDIT(Art by Sarah Beetson)

Amanda Palmer assembled a troupe of musicians, artists, photographers, technicians, family, friends and supporters to feverishly within two weeks produce this tribute to David Bowie.  Titled – Strung Out In Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute” it features integral contributions from Anna Calvi, John Cameron Mitchell, Neil Gaiman, and her music partner in this enterprise Jherek Bischoff.

She writes,

“We’re really, really, really proud of what we made, even though we cranked it out in a short time.

Music is the binding agent of our mundane lives. It cements the moments in which we wash the dishes, type the resumes, go to the funerals, have the babies. The stronger the agent, the tougher the memory, and Bowie was NASA-grade epoxy to a sprawling span of freaked-out kids over three generations. He bonded us to our weird selves. We can be us. He said. Just for one day.

It didn’t hit me until a week later, in the studio, why this was such a fitting project. We were immersing ourselves in Bowieland, living in the songs, super-glueing up some fresh wounds. Not just “knowing” the songs, but feeling the physical chords under our sad fingers, excavating the deeper architecture of the songwriting (especially with a tune as bizarre as “Blackstar” (which we realized was constructed like a sonic Russian nesting doll).

Bowie worked on music up to the end to give us a parting gift. So this is how we, as musicians, mourn: keeping Bowie constantly in our ears and brains.

The man, the artist, exits. But the music, the glue; it stays. It never stops binding us together.”

 

Listen below to all six songs preferably with headphones!

In an interview with Maria Popova, Palmer explains why the timing of this project was so crucial,

“When David Bowie died, I wanted to immerse myself in David Bowie and give myself a work project, because I had been so immersed in motherhood and was struggling with reconciling that with my identity as an artist. I wanted desperately to work, but had cleared my plate of projects because I didn’t know what my life as a mother would be like and I needed to make room for that. So I had this semi-vacuum of time where I was coming to terms with mother-schedule, but I looked at the Bowie tribute and realized I could do most of the project from home, on my computer, in collaboration with Jherek, and I could spend two days at the studio and find a babysitter. I looked at the entire project and thought it was manageable, I could do it right now, which is the way I like to work — fast and furious and surprising and very chaotic and manic.

Jherek was on board to go with the pace, and I knew that if we waited seven months to put out our David Bowie tribute, it just wouldn’t feel the same. It is of the moment, and it was of the moment to sit on the couch and listen to Bowie songs with Neil [Gaiman] and read my patrons’ favorite Bowie songs and go on hunts for obscure tracks and sit there with the baby between me and Neil, immersing ourselves in this artist’s world — because all that felt like part of the project, it felt like part of the patronage.

That was our way of mourning, and that became our ritualistic David Bowie funeral.”

Palmer is asking for a $1.00 donation for the price of streaming the music. As she explains,

“Since it costs me/us about $.54 ($.09 per song x 6 songs) in licensing fees to the bowie estate every time you stream for free, please consider donating that $1 on bandcamp. Any leftover money from the $1 will go to the cancer research wing of Tufts Medical Center (https://giving.tuftsmedicalcenter.org/give) in memory of David Bowie. listen on bandcamp: https://amandapalmer.bandcamp.com/album/strung-out-in-heaven-a-bowie-string-quartet-tribute

Check out the website http://amandapalmer.net/strungoutinheaven to see more artist, musician and technical credit for all who made this happen so quickly and in such fine fashion.

Bravo Amanda!

Amanda-Palmer


A Painter Who Writes Songs

 

“On DON JUAN’S RECKLESS DAUGHTER,  I gave Jaco some instruction (the one and only time) and he took it without resistance.”

“The title song is a long song — around six minutes long. My guitar has a rhythmic drive to it, and Jaco and Alex Acuña (the drummer on the date) had locked up together and were pushing it along with a Latin feel. It made the song seem even longer. I decided to break them up and put them on one at a time.”

“I told Jaco, “This is a kind of surrealistic tune — a lot of Scorpio metaphors and Yagui Indian mysticism. It needs a tom-tom feel — but not 4 on the floor.” It needed a repetitive figure with space between figures to kind of half-time it against the drive of the guitar — something like . . . (and I sang a part to him, making sliding gestures with my right arm), “Ga-ga-ga-goom, ga-ga-ga-goom.” Jaco cradled the neck of his bass in his left hand. He tuned the strings to an open chord and he played the figures without any fretting. He banged the strings at the top of the neck with his fist and he slid to the bottom for the “goom.” Halfway through the take, his hand was shredded like he had run it over a carrot grater. We stopped tape, punched him in, and he finished the song playing with the heel of his hand. At the end of the song it was shredded, too. We wrapped his hand in a paper towel and played back the track. When the song was over, he turned to me and said, “That should’ve been on my album!” I said, “Who cares whose album it’s on? It’s you and it’s on tape.”

 

(Photo by Norman Jean Roy)

“Then it was Alex’s turn. I had the notion that he should jingle and thump — that pow-wow sound. I had some native ankle bells — big harness bells on leather straps. We tied them on him. We placed a baffle on the floor. It was slightly curved. Henry put a mike under it and one beside it and Alex danced a Peruvian salsa to the track. I loved it — jingle and thump. It blended into the guitars in an unusual way. It was a bent-knee dance and when the song was over, he limped off the baffle. He couldn’t straighten up for an hour, but he agreed it sounded great.”

“There was one more casualty on this record date — “the split-tongued spirit.” Boyd Elder, a painter from Texas possessing Cherokee blood and a native sounding voice, was to double my voice with spoken word. He stepped up to the mike and froze. We sent out for a bottle of tequila to loosen him up. Next thing I knew, he was lying on the floor by the mike — the bottle nearly drained and he was saying, “I can’t do it Joan.” His wife and I and his two daughters kneeled beside saying, “Yes you can. Yes you can.” After much coaxing, he was on his feet and the lines were on the song — shadowing the sung words! What a night.”

(Listen with  headphones)

“The spirit talks in spectrums
He talks to mother earth to father sky
Self indulgence to self denial
Man to woman
Scales to feathers
You and I
Eagles in the sky
You and I
Snakes in the grass
You and I
Crawl and fly
You and I”

 


John Trudell

 

 

 

“See, when they got off the boat, they didn’t recognize us. They said who are you and we said we’re the people, we’re the human beings. And they said, oh, Indians, because they didn’t recognize what it was to be a human being.

I’m a human being, this is the name of my tribe. This is the name of my people. But I’m a human being.

But then the predatory mentality shows up and starts calling us Indians and committing genocide against us as a vehicle of erasing the memory of being a human being. So they used war textbooks, history books, and when film came along, they used film.

You go in our own communities, how many of us are fighting to protect our identity of being an Indian. And 600 years ago, that word Indian, that sound was NEVER made on this hemisphere. That sound, that noise, was never ever made, ever. We’re trying to protect that as an identity, see, so it affects all of us. It’s reached the point evolutionarily speaking, we’re starting to not recognize ourselves as human beings.

We’re too busy trying to protect the idea of a Native American or an Indian, but we’re not Indians and we’re not Native Americans. We’re older than both concepts. We’re the people. We’re the human beings.”

 

John Trudell (1946 – 2015)