I reject Adorno’s belief that enduring suffering is the only way not to collude with its manufacture. Is that the same as what Jameson meant by “History is what hurts”? I insist that there are other means by which the ineffable manifests itself, like those experiences to which psychedelia bears witness. We demonstrate the contingency of suffering whenever we transmute it or chemically alter it into joy. As Daniel Colucciello Barber notes, “the exodus from this existence is to practice existing otherwise” (171). Barber believes with Adorno that this othering occurs through thought’s alliance with animality (and with the suffering of animals in particular), whereas I propose thinking otherwise via plants. Once inhaled or ingested, plants rewrite our scripts, re-script our minds. The one replaces parts of the other. I’m really intrigued, by the way, by that Stone Fruit cassette by Primitive Fiction.
The B side in particular is just magnificent. A massive, sprawling, morphing abstract soundscape. I guess I’ve committed myself to this world, though a strong faction within me, perhaps a majority, would prefer not to. I contemplate writing about political stupidities uttered by certain of my students, but a voice from the back overrules by shouting, “The heck with it. Why bother?” I ordered the ocean blue and commanded a fleet of dolphins, and now look at me, I mutter with an eye roll. My soundtrack on the ride home from work yesterday was Categorize Your Dose, particularly that track “Therapeutic Firearm,” by Ben Versluis.
Well-timed beat-based techno. Long live the exploratory self, habitual reality ties suspended. I slide my chair down a snow-covered hill. My legs yell, “Use me! Use me!” But all roads point toward archives. The bread and the butter of my discipline. Part of me wonders: does the plant want to be inhaled? I would say, I would think. Do they think? And do they communicate only by bonding themselves with neurons? Chemical fusion, psychotic reaction. We’re thick here with the rest of the world, the multitude of material things. Beyond words and without time, hurrah.
All of us become part again of that from which we came. Plant matter. Primordial soup swamp scum. Others but me get to be free, as complains Pearl‘s jeweler. How are we to conceive of the voices that speak for us: manipulable, or objectively other? I get sucked up into the aerial contortions of Joy Division’s “Atrocity Exhibition.”
I used to have such a positive outlook. What scripts have I forgotten? Are there mantras I should be reciting constantly under my breath? Eyes struggle to decide which light scheme to adjust to: inner or outer? Assimilative or immersive? The body communicates its irritation with our behavior by coughing. Follow me with emotional awareness through Eyeball Under
by Weeping Icon.
Echoing hand gestures, BMX racers, stickers on binders: the band’s forward-driven noise-punk conjures these. An underlying propulsiveness amidst muffled, anguished languor. Heads can swim themselves between left and right speakers. But voices can’t always contend with it, can they? The body grows restless from too much repetitive mindlessness. “Turn off that damn racket!” yells a head popping out the window of an upper floor apartment. Receding feedback spray feels good, though, dunnit? The texture of the time is full-blown totalitarian. I am the cherub with the flaming sword, my own worst enforcer of the Big Other’s banishment of me from Paradise. Is it superstitious of me to regard the compositional process as fundamentally inexplicable? Perhaps — but the important thing is to connect the act of writing with the self’s refusal to be made someone else’s means. The world can be wonderful so long as it quiets to outdoor sounds like engines and crickets and birds. When we psychonauts forget what we’re supposed to be doing according to others (working, behaving productively for society), the moment-to-moment becomes a consistently joyful opening onto an endless becoming. (Consistently, that is, until our phones push-notify us of Trump’s latest atrocities.) Today’s high mellows me; sense data hover above me, a fog-covered nighttime skyline. I soundtrack it with Stone Fruit by Primitive Fiction.
“Huge buzzing synth drones”: think of that as denoting an affect. Moments later, Sarah calls and scares me half to death when, mid-conversation, she narrates what she thinks is a blown tire, but which proves later to have been no more than the breaking off of some plastic molding from the wheel well. Never a dull moment.