Jason Bateman ends and begins episodes shouting, “Jesus! Fuck! They put up a cross.” To me, those people are invasive of ecosystems, turning every town into a bait shop. Zombies pissing into oceans. Starlings in Central Park. Established entities like that worry me. Drug money, narco-dollars: that’s the world for me. The weeds, the rich earth: which are we? Is drug money the capitalist economy’s pump primer? So says Ozark, as I try to get my bearings. Voiced bodies make me laugh. Among creatures, they’re pretty peculiar. We shouldn’t be arming them. Many of them also know kung fu. Reality becomes gridded as I relax in my mission. I started this blog out of a perception that present iterations of the maze-world lack authentic, whole-person modes of communication — modes attentive as well to the always schizoid, always provisional nature of contemporary subjectivity. Bath products hanging from my shower-head advertise themselves as “Damage Detox” elixirs and provisioners of “Nature’s Therapy.” Let this blog extract from all such things the kernels from the husks. Let it compensate for the fact that a student of mine showed up to class this week wearing a “Raised Right” GOP hoodie. (Alas, my only remaining hope involving this country is that I may one day escape it.) In yesterday’s case, “Nature’s Therapy” meant sitting in a room, drinking from a thermos, listening to the progression of sustained and unsustained notes that fill the air below the vaulted ceiling of Sarah Davachi’s cathedral, The Untuning of the Sky.
To transform ourselves, we must allow ourselves to wander. By the way, Full Spectrum Records was founded by a pair of heads in Greensboro in 2008; they’ve been churning out high-quality head treatments ever since. Check out Build a Mountain Where Our Bodies Fall, for instance, by the Andrew Weathers Ensemble, or beneath the by Des Moines-based artist Lindsay Keast performing under the project name Tree branch Twig.
Witness, too, the heartbreaking window onto the canine soul that is Laika’s Lullaby, Keast’s collaboration with animator Julia Oldham, for a 2015 exhibition at the Portland ‘Pataphysical Society. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a city where that was a thing? All right — enough, then. Go lightly on thy way.
Pour water on fish from a glass decanter. It was like Medusa: you can’t just rationalize it away. The Self models a home and stages a territory. A whole new game: small beginnings can bring down mountains. One must imagine trying to play the game: hands there, on the joystick, a voice says, pointing. I hope to spend some time, perhaps next summer, exploring the contents of the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection at Harvard’s Houghton Library. It’s the world’s largest private collection of material documenting altered states of consciousness. Since the bulk of the collection came from Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr.’s acquisition of San Francisco’s Fitz Hugh Ludlow Library in 2001, Harvard now refers to it as the Ludlow Santo Domingo (or “LSD”) Library. Time to start hunting for grant money. “Wow, it’s really coming down out there, man,” says a gloriously reverbed voice belonging to a member of The Electric Peanut Butter Company.
That guitar solo mid-song, and that drum solo that succeeds it, shall serve as my coping mechanism, a memory of a lofty peak on an otherwise dreary work day. Joy is a revolutionary hammer and sickle that one can deploy in plain sight. Heavens are portals everyone can step through into blissed-out, gravityless, non-dimensional modes of being. Alien creatures like Chocolate Vine fruit start showing up in a side garden: light shines down on one’s shoulder. A new development: I feel alright. Beautiful weather today. Getting high resembles the shape of Ought’s “Beautiful Blue Sky.”
I hear in it nods to Native Nod, The Van Pelt — a tour de force
spoken-sung vocal performance taking some inspiration, perhaps, from Life Without Buildings. “Goes fast. Don’t waste it,” says a voice: “Afterwards, it’s cold.” Speaking of wasting it: the Netflix Original series Ozark
sickens me with its perverse valorization of the hypertrophied work ethic, its characters flinging themselves through life in pursuit of money. Fishing is the name and metaphor for this mode of being — except capitalists drop their hooks on their peers.
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.