Monday August 21, 2017

Everything in darkness brought to light. Imagine trying to know the world exclusively through shadows. That’d be like reducing the objects of the object-world to nomenclatures and calculations of quantity. My friend’s cat raises his eyebrows as Sarah administers to him his eye drops. I ride out my day to the plunderphonic future funk of “CD Player IV” by death’s dynamic shroud.

My view of the song sours, though, mid-listen. It is hard to put thought out to be observed and critiqued by others. We call that “surfacing.” The hiccuping auto-tuned vocals and stately gait of “Tell Me Your Secret” is more to my liking. The Krull tower sends out information-rich bolts of energy. We call these “signals.” There are characters in this town, remember? I am approaching a narrative crisis involving the naming of names. We’re each broadcasting to one another instructions that become like fate. But actors in supporting roles are beginning to show signs of exhaustion. They bite off their lines mid-sentence; they grow visibly impatient. The typecast communicate their readiness to abandon script. A voice states, “Listen with care to the words as they come to you.” The news media deliberately manipulates and casts aspersions, activating doubt patterns to re-contain the militancy of the political unconscious. I waste an embarrassing portion of my life shuffling awkwardly in line through social transactions with service workers in burrito bars, my performance of self choked with a nameless, incommunicable sense of guilt. Part of me imagines a sense of justice in these workers plotting an underground revolutionary conspiracy without me, due to my failure to establish meaningful authentic conversation with others. I wish I possessed divinely conferred charisma or grace or favor, that way I could lead others through the amorphous, self-transcending midsection of “(BALLAD OF) THE HIP DEATH GODDESS,” the rest of the track discarded as a derivative, Airplane-aping pop-psychedelic simulacrum.

Mediocre works are more exemplary than what is best, I offer — a claim I then withdraw for lack of merit. See, for instance, the sentiment organizing Tommy Allen’s “Sea of Same.”

The album art for the album of that name shows the artist as one who floats Indian-style atop action figures poised mid-play. If I were a jukebox, though, the record that would keep playing within me would be “The Worst Band in the World” by 10cc; though I’d attempt to wake myself now and then with eruptive outbursts, as if I set as my alarm Patrick Miller of Minimal Man shouting either “Pull Back the Bolt” or “Show Time!” That’s how I make myself teach.

Sunday August 20, 2017

I release hold of my ego, or maybe I just re-leash it. Emails sound like military bugle calls. The gift of meditation and prayer. The black hole, the abyss that throws up memories. Churches are major structures of social discipline. They create prisons of doubt and fear. But ISAs are everywhere. Clues left behind in the minds of individuals. Drugs can help us release the devils from our brains. Massive criminal conspiracies. Have I mentioned that I became friends recently with a Marxist Baptist pastor? I am excited by the arrival of this figure on the world-stage. Churches remain giants; and as my friend said, “Theology never goes away.” Can churches be reformed so as to help usher in the Kingdom of God? It’s still cops and robbers — but maybe the robbers can act again as Robin Hoods. Perhaps religion is the staging ground for the launch of a new counterpower. We must re-approach the adults who believe the secrets, and for whom the spell has been cast. So many damaged people out there in our midst. Haunted by demons. Survivors of skirmishes in modernity’s and postmodernity’s culture wars. One needs to maintain a distinction, though, between art made for a trip (as a kind of tool or supplement), and art made to re-present in place of a trip. Play “Sensory” by Kill Alters, though, to illustrate reality’s defiance of the above distinction. And follow this with “Ego Swim” as the next phase in our sequence.

What a time to be alive, I proclaim, arms raised to the sky. And the illusion, I should say, looked many-eyed and sang back to me, clothed both in “The Holder” and Do Pas O’s “History of Comedy,” where the universe melts like taffy.

Fierce grotesques profiled as by Diane Arbus. One must command a choir of alternate personalities, each waiting to overtake the others’ transportive ecstasies. Eyes that reveal eyes within. All of us are angels with amnesia, living as humans in the void or simulation we call “embodied presence.” Some of us are pouring fondue on ourselves online. Which makes a lot of sense! Altering, leveling, getting THERE to THAT, begins with our behavior toward one another. It means placing productivity on hold midafternoon. Flip-flops descending a staircase. The world reverberates in affirmation when we allow ourselves entry again to the garden. Calm, deliberate enjoyment as one treats oneself to existence. Uncommunicative, reserved, and quiet, but filled with joy.

Saturday August 19, 2017

Weed affects my perception of my relationship to luck. I find a greater bounty in the bins at Goodwill when I hunt while stoned. And my relationships with others become improvised and more casual. In a word, life becomes serendipitous. The surprise and delight of good fortune can raise my spirit for days to come. Like Horace Walpole, those interested in the phenomenon should read the fairy tale, “The Three Princes of Serendip.” While noting serendipitous occasions, I make no claim that these occasions necessitate belief in a competent cause — though in the midst of the experience itself, I suppose, one assumes this. Sarah toured me the other day through what is now one of my favorite works of residential architecture, Ray Kappe’s home in Los Angeles’s Rustic Canyon. The home as harmonious relation between human and non-human nature. The Strimling House, as it’s sometimes called, with a tree growing through its atrium. House porn is utopian through and through. For cloudform-like extravagance, seek “Live at Goers” by R. Lee Dockery & Smokey Emery.

Astral Spirits is killing it. I’m fascinated, too, by the remarkable self-investigation undertaken in “Note to Self” by Jill Pangallo. Disturbingly aware of selfhood’s manufacture. My most impressive psychedelic aesthetic encounter of late, however, came to me in the form of Eisprung’s “Ivan’s Need.”

Sexuality as synesthetic inner-space fantasia: ASMR-intense, but giggly and filled with joy. And of course, lathered in Freudian condiments. How else shall I conduct my days? Swimming, reading, returning to work under extreme financial duress. I enjoy retiring to the crisp air of my basement on hot summer nights here in the South. The basement is also a place to bunker down — a bit head-in-the-sand-ish, maybe, but necessary for one who thinks of himself still as “from up north.” I relate to life as do the figures in the foreground of Daniele Luppi & Parquet Courts’s “Soul and Cigarette.” The singer indulges hints of Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman. ‘Tis the video, though, not the song, that does it for me. When Sarah and I started the Netflix Original documentary miniseries The Keepers the other night, I immediately noted parallels between the show’s initial foci (the 1969 Baltimore murders of Sister Catherine Cesnik and Joyce Malecki), and the murder of Barbara Ann Butler, an event that occurred in Dayton, OH the year prior. William Clark wrote about this latter case in his 1971 book, The Girl on the Volkswagen Floor. Tentatively optimistic, but impatient for connections, the true crime genre holds great potential for cognitive mapping of the social totality. But the crime at the map’s heart must be the crime of capitalism. Whereas the crime at the base of The Keepers is the priesthood.

Friday August 18, 2017

The return of Westworld may prompt the return also of my obsession with the religion or belief system known as Gnosticism. How odd, to re-watch the title sequence of a TV series repeatedly, as if one were practicing its memorization. Repetition isn’t a world we can easily escape. Art is the simulation’s equivalent of the shot-reverse-shot. A cry when confronted with the psychedelic sublime. What do I fancy myself with these scribblings? Is this the kind of writing that results if one were to follow the advice of voice-oriented “expressionists” like Peter Elbow? Doesn’t this confuse making with the one doing it, linguistic reality laid out like the map of a game-world? Life is but one possible play among many. When television bores me, I bear down upon the taste of a sour gummy lips. Volcanic explosions among the taste buds toward the center of my tongue. Which tasks shall we suppose will be required of us next? Let us tire of reading about the deeds of our betters. How are artists able to achieve what they do despite no coherent theorization of themselves? Why ever do we find pleasure in self-consciousness? Best to become absorbed in New Argentine cinema, thus staving off the thought of thought’s decline. Alejo Moguillansky‘s Castro uses kinetically edited transition sequences to tell its story as protagonists run through the streets. The urban environment becomes the labyrinth through which desire flows. Better to live one’s life than to waste it on a living earned. I’m not sure those of us on the Left know anymore how we’ll win, but this fight is on, it’s happening — so we’ll do what we can. No need to reproduce a scene for today’s events. I sometimes become glassy-eyed and uncommunicative. Too much going on upstairs to bother with the speech acts of others. Words topple and collapse around me. Part of me feels unjustly treated and run ragged by my community; but the only way I know to right this (and thus “write” this) is to use weed to make myself more generous, more sociable. Proceed with the reinvention of the process of communist socialization. Reality delivers to those who dispose themselves accordingly. One’s face becomes like that of a rabbit while asleep.

Thursday August 17, 2017

I act like others know something I don’t know. And vice versa. I become uncaring and detached. Hiro Kone’s “Less Than Two Seconds” returns to me a sense of direction.

August is always the cruelest month. When I arrived Tuesday morning to the first of several all-day faculty and staff meetings — events where my coworkers and I are forced “captive audience”-style to listen to the euphemistically-titled “president” (rather than “boss” or “CEO”) of the institution where we work wax on about vacuities like “excellence” and “grit,” I quickly found a seat and prepared to cast elaborate hexes on those I hate. Above me stood the usual theater-sized screen (adorned, naturally, with American flags on each side of the stage); but rather than begin with slides featuring self-aggrandizing quotes from corporate leaders, as has been the tradition in years past, this year’s presentation began with a video of a five-member all-male black song and dance troupe covering Bell Biv Devoe and Boyz 2 Men hits from the 1990s against an unchanging solid white background. Message received loud and clear, I thought to myself: this is apparently all my institution can muster as far as “valuing diversity.” In all other respects, the presentation was exactly what I’ve come to expect: a near-endless rehearsal of credentials as the institution welcomed new hires; a near-endless rehearsal of financials to assure us that “all is well.” “Growth mindset,” we were told, “is in our institutional DNA.” The president waddled across the stage stating, “Life muddies you up, grit, faithful courage, value in global marketplace, blah blah blah.” To survive such events, I deliberately zone out and find joy whenever possible. Later on, some bullshitter from a company called “Generational Insights” provided a bullshit cart-pulls-horse account of labor-management relations, suggesting that “individualistic Millennials” are the ones demanding precarious workplaces, rather than precarious workplaces producing the individualistic mindsets of Millennials. I love it when corporate schmucks in ill-fitting suits complain that others in our society lack empathy. And yet, to either side of me, lemming-like coworkers of mine from business and sports medicine laughed at each of this dude’s potted one-liners. What can I say: you can’t judge a fish by looking at a pond, but cluelessness abounds these days in the groves of the corporate pseudo-academy. The Left may have embarked on a long march through the institutions following the impasses of the 1960s — but those institutions in many cases are drifting rightward again day by day.

Wednesday August 16, 2017

Warts and all, my friends. ‘Tis my motto, as I soak in the wood-paneling-meets-burnt-orange-Naugahyde interior of an Arby’s. The working class eats beside me on its lunch break. Customers can ring a bell of gratitude hung by the exit whenever the spirit moves them. But no number of bells, I think, could ever address the humiliations and degradations inherent to a service-based economy. Several hits, like my middle-school asthmatic self with his inhaler, and I sink and recede inward. Gone With the Wind can be heard, but only as a distant old-time ambience, whispered from another compartment of reality. The ancients spoke of a method of remembering called the mind palace or memory palace. To underscore, tune yourselves to SPELLLING’s “Tremble Dancer,” or better yet ZEEK SHECK’s “7777-01-07 Son” off the ROGUE PULSE / GRAVITY COLLAPSE benefit comp from Ratskin Records.

This is the world of the heads: a vast network burrowing outward from a rasterized, “Dig Dug“-shaped cosmos. “We all make believe / What is can be.” Is it capitalist to think that desire can restructure reality and give one what one needs? One of these days, I’ll unlock the capabilities contained in Frances A. Yates’s The Art of Memory. Inspiration, I take it, for the album of that name by John Zorn and Fred Frith. The imagination never fails to provide, so long as one allows it. One wakes, one becomes, one finds oneself. If one wants to visit a memory palace, one can do so by listening to Kosmiche duo Art of the Memory Palace’s collaboration with Scottish author James Robertson, “Your Soul Is Not a Bird.”

Devoting oneself to becoming conscious of this makes for a joyful passage of time. But being a brave comrade also means learning to give account and modeling for others a way to be present. It means taking control of the narrative. Is my consciousness behind or ahead those of my comrades in thinking we need as one of our priorities “encounter group”-style retraining at the interpersonal level of how we relate to one another? Tearing down a statue is as easy as gathering enough people willing to do it! Just make sure someone holds up a camera and takes a nice shot. One hand in pocket, other one flicking a cigarette. “Nothing of him that doth fade, / But doth suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange”: so it goes with one’s rebirth as a revolutionary subject. But what if, instead, we become men in boxes in the ruins of a new Pompeii?

Tuesday August 15, 2017

I wish it were as easy as intoning, “All is okay. One is one’s best self. There is no dark cloud hanging over one’s head.” But my emotions resonate more with Drugdealer’s “Sea of Nothing.” 

Those are companies I should investigate, I tell myself as I spy a pair of corporate logos in a “bad things happen there” industrial park beside a highway. This is what I call my conspiracy thriller “social detective” persona. Seeing a Subway worker in a green t-shirt, a green apron, and yellow shorts, I’m put in mind of a Keebler elf. When Sarah and I drive through the lushly vegetated rural towns of the southern coastal states, we notice churches with names like “Overflow,” and white pickup trucks in our rear-view mirror whose occupants remind us of the white nationalist militia fucks who marched in Virginia. Dérives through these regions lull one into a sleepy boredom.

You can approximate this state by listening to Harmonia & Eno ’76’s “Welcome” while picturing the following appearing like ruins among a sea of green: modular home manufacturers, tool and machine works, a field of zinnias at the center of an exit curve. But my head is always snapping out of this hypnosis due to the region’s abiding hints of danger. Standing in the grass of a park Sunday night, I listened to comrades share their concerns at a local vigil organized in unity with antifascist forces in Charlottesville. But the Democratic Party organizers of the event formed us into no more than an inert mass, clapping when expected to clap, faced back to itself with speakers urging it halfheartedly to launch a love-fest. Years of declining people power have left the local Left lacking even a reliable public address system. But it was energizing, ultimately, to hear comrades who had been there in the streets of Charlottesville share their perspective on what had happened, and to hear as well the newly established local DSA chapter representative, a dear friend of mine, properly naming capitalism as the system we must fight. Despite the odds, the collective lighting of candles successfully cast its spell.