Friday September 1, 2017

Darkness pays me a welcome visit. I become absorbed in particular parts of my body, consciousness narcotized through repetition. We experiment on our selves with rhythmic object exploration, all parts deliriously looped. Can’t I become helplessly far out for a change, as with Stopped Clock’s “A Bed & Breakfast”?

A movie/videogame soundtrack splinter array of bits of beeping honking consciousness. Tracks like that can knock you into flower-sprouting head-space. From there, we’re marched through the thrilling nightmarescape of Tanked’s “Car Crash.”

Just so long as we avoid that this evening, we’re all good. Their song “False Start” is worth a listen, too — as is the rest of the cassette on which those tracks appear. A darker, deeper successor to Lightning Bolt. These are spaces the psyche reaches toward: “the old fight of man against gravity.” Whose voice is it that reads the eulogy? One finds a whole other palette of psychedelic voyaging when one tunes oneself to recent releases from Portland’s Never Anything Records, like Fletcher Pratt’s Selected Works (2015-2016). And let’s not forget Tombed Visions.

The world of head culture is fit to burst these days with things of great beauty — more than anyone could singly contemplate, given the shortness of life. Nevertheless, any one of these, but especially Ex-Easter Island Head’s Two Commissions for Cassette Tape, can stage for us a deeply personal ritual of sound and remembrance. Yesterday’s drive to dinner felt like it took forever. Sky grey. Needle pricks of rain. I felt bad for Sarah, as she’s been sick with pneumonia recently — a string of ill health over the last year or two, really. It worries me. I wonder aloud to her, “Is that an appropriate thing to include here?” She nods and says it’s fine. One needn’t fear: I shall build a pyramid or a sweat lodge in which to heal us. Welcome to the augmented reality videogame known as consciousness. Camera swoops down and surveys a virtual terrain. Don’t stress about work, don’t allow it to occupy any more than a minimum of thought. Use the rest of your time to roam free. Where are we when we enter a fiction? And why need we fear it if the fiction is to our liking?

Thursday August 31, 2017

Time to go “Up Top,” inhabit life differently, as in Joseph Frank & Zachary Reed’s Sweaty Betty (2014). Due to a past incident, I’ll admit, the film’s dog narrative filled me with dread. Formally, though, it resembles a sequence of YouTube videos, brilliant in its use of unsettling song choices to provide glimpses of subjective interiors. Black holes of infinite sadness. Ontologically protected realms. Time moves as slowly as the wheels of a cassette tape. When I’m not teaching, I’m exploring psychedelic space using new tapes from labels like Moss Archive and Nostilevo. Tendrils of vine with curlicued ends hang down from the trees and reach for me. I wish that by assigning readings, I could hypnotize whole classes and help students burrow en masse out from under capitalist realism. Shit, though: grok this mind-melter of a track from the Watchword / Stopped Clock split on Cleveland-based cassette label Polar Envy.

Guitars and synths form a locust-like freak-out of lacing spirals. Laying down on the pavement, blissed out, purring, looking up at the sun: that’s how it feels as I walk semi-passively, trailing behind comrades, through the winding hills of our neighborhood. I become the ghost in the box who gesticulates for a camera-phone. I become “life in the age of public performance of selfhood.” Is it at all compelling to converse with AIs, or to imagine humans as conveyance mechanisms for the upload of consciousness? “Of course it’s not! Of course it’s fucking not!” I shout in my best imitation of Feeding the 5000-era Crass. The Deuce, by the way, far surpasses my initial take on it. Sarah spots me sitting on a bench reading a book in the neon light of the show’s nighttime seventies Manhattan. Why were residents unable to defend that era’s liberties when finance capital’s push came to shove? Why was capital so successful in its war on urban vice? “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD,” and just like that, the city’s polymorphous subjectivities dropped dead. The above questions, however crude in formulation, speak not to capital’s strength but to its weakness. Police, under different regimes and pressures, can be compelled to let things slide.