Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's frustrating that experiences are inherently one-way; I feel that by probing the aether, summoning it to answer all my questions about your life, I ought to be entitled to have you do the same. This is an oddity, one I don't believe the cliches address. When the heavens part and you see a sunlit figure in the distance, what happens when they don't notice you?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Reflecting on some of my recent work, I wonder if I've fooled myself. It's quite possible that I'm not significantly more mature than a few years ago, or at least, not to the extent that I wish. The big difference is that I have a larger arsenal at my disposal to express my thoughts, and so it's easier to dress up emotions. Which brings us back to art-as-a-crutch, funnily enough. That's my observation for the day: no point dwelling on it, because we can't will ourselves to turn mature overnight.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm usually happy to chug along listening to whatever album catches my attention. Sometimes though, when the album isn't particularly spectacular, I take pause and wonder if anyone on earth has put as much effort as me into the music in question. There's the worry of time being wasted, for one; I start wondering if there are other things to do besides yielding three-fourths of an hour to something I don't feel a strong affinity towards. Of course, one can't know beforehand if something is going to be above average, because no matter how much background reading you do, there's no accounting for emotional reaction. It leaves me mildly suspicious of people who claim to be consistently discovering great albums: is it just that they have different standards? Or is there some trick to sussing out mediocrity that I've yet to discover?

My suspicion is that the "fault" lies with my ol' principle of listening to albums straight through, even when there are empirical signs suggesting it isn't a wise course. I can imagine that it's significantly simpler to get the feeling for mediocrity through a random sampling - while you still "waste" time listening to the tracks, at least you spread your bets out. The downside is that you leave to chance the possibility that there's some great (or even just good) that you miss out on. Then again, it leaves more time to focus on things that reward close attention. That seems like as laudable an end as any, but there is also a joy in really understanding an artist through their albums. There are quite a few albums that I recall fondly because they teach me something about the person behind them. When I perceive that they have similar traits to me, that creates a stronger emotional connection to the music. Is this empathetic connection "better" than that created purely through the music? Of course not, but it's not apparent to me that the converse is true either.

Sigh, so that means there's no definitive answer, as I suspected: it's all a question of choosing the trade-off one is comfortable with. Another spin of Set the Twilight Reeling, then? (I feel bad calling it mediocre, but I can definitely say it's disappointing. And I've got statistics, I've got facts to prove that basically no one has heard the darn thing.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jackie Wilson said

No pragmatism here, for sure. But sometimes I can only faithfully report what certain moods and thoughts whisper to me. (The messenger defense, you understand.)

The angels drew a hundred stars,
Made them glitter and glow
And scattered them across the night.
I wasn't tempted;
After the heaven of your smile,
The one above seemed less bright.
I somehow ended up with a dose of pragmatism here, which makes me mildly impressed with myself.

When you smile
I am changed,
The only one living
No longer.

Don't love me
If you prefer,
But consider growing
A little fonder.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I used to think it was a great thing that computers and the internet make it effortless to keep every scrap of our lives intact, retrievable five, ten, fifteen years on (2012 notwithstanding). There is undoubtedly a pleasure in reading something I wrote five years ago, because I can almost remember my state of my mind. If it's something good, I can pat myself on the back for being so good for my age (!), if not I can marvel at my progression since (whoever said I was pessimistic?). And heck, I always need to remind myself that life is continuous, and it's as good a way as any. But it's sometimes not what you want, in that it's proof that things were a particular way. The occasional faults of memory at least used to leave open the possibility that things were misremembered, that because of our inability to recollect and remember everything, maybe, just maybe, things were the way we would like them to be. But now you can dig through the archives and be presented with cold, unarguable truth. Reassuring when that's what you want, depressing when it isn't.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A common question when listening to some particularly bad piece of music is, "What were they thinking?!". In many cases there are reasonable explanations - the lure of money, too many drugs, and the like - but sometimes it's just the result of a perfectly natural artistic slump. Then one wonders if the artist knew they were in a slump at the time, just because it seems so evident to us. I'm starting to appreciate that it's not so simple to be a judge of one's work. I can determine my outright insipid writing (none of which get published as a post, naturally), but sometimes it is hard to figure out if something is deep or trivial. I especially get worried about rhymes being too simplistic. (It doesn't help that I sometimes raise my eyebrows even at an Auden couplet - I invariably like them all, but wonder if I'm not being critical enough.) So it goes with this one, which you could probably accuse of being callow, but hey, it feels earnest enough. How it comes across to the world at large, though, I have no idea.

The soft music of chance
That's what I hear
Every time our eyes meet;
Would that I know it some day
Because each time you look away
All I can hear is defeat.