Monday, February 21, 2011

A twist in my sobriety

I don't really want to discuss subjects as dismal as sobriety, but sometimes you have no choice; appears not all that much else has been happening. Anyhow, even when desperate, I have standards: I'm not in the mood to have a serious discussion about whether teetotalers like me are basically hypocrites who should be exposed as such. Instead, I would like to point out that I was struck by someone asserting that teetotalism is "irrational". I feel this strikes upon something very deep, because even if true, it seems irrelevant to me. I really don't want to make every decision rationally, scientifically. When it really counts, sure, rationality usually ends up with the optimal reward. But stuffed if I'm going to let that dictate things as trivial as alcohol. Without a little playful idiosyncracy, even if it is irrational to the heavens, what good is any of it? I rather enjoy having a certain stout constancy, even though I honestly don't care about the meaning behind any of it. The source of this constancy isn't (primarily) a sense of principle, it's more a result of this being the way things unfolded from the start. And why should that be so strange*? Just another trait that seems to suit my character, and which offers some topic of conversation as an ice-breaker. (An annoying topic for me, but good if it makes the other party feel better about themselves!)

Alright, I can't resist, I must make one more comment before retiring, even though you may think it smug: I wonder whether a lot of the appeal of spirits is lost when you have access to the spark of lunacy. Having seen many a young dude in high spirits, laughing uncontrollably at what are rationally (!) trivialities, I totally sympathise with the desire to reach that state of mind. But I think I can summon at nearly at will; I've gathered enough experience over the years to serve as all the stimulus I need. That's a gift I was given long ago, and I've tried to put it to some use. It's probably how I've come so far. Maybe with an added catalyst I could go even further and start recording gripping post-punk records that reveal my genius to the world at large, but I choose to live with that mystery.

* I do understand there are other reasons why being seemingly deliberately contrarian might upset people, but I don't much feel like belabouring this subject.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

1) Lou Reed, "Don't Talk To Me About Work". While I own 9 of this guy's albums, I still feel like I have only a vague sense of what he's about. Maybe he does too. This uncertainty manifests itself from time to time, and I wonder whether I've been tricked into thinking that I like some of his songs; maybe I'm mistaking banality for realism? But this song is an example of his ability to pull out a resonant line that takes you by total surprise: it's one of those emphatic transmissions of feeling that popular song conducts best. It also doesn't hurt that I sympathise with the subject, as some of you might know.

2) Lou Reed, "Bottoming Out". I sympathise again, but thankfully only in spirit. I mean, good lord! The sequence with his doctor! The threat of murder! And don't get me started about the ending! Yes, there certainly is truth to that cliche of him being dark, but as with any great songwriter, he's capable of doing it subtly. It's hard to be sure, since The Blue Mask has been cemented in my ears for a long time, but I feel this sort of casual, matter-of-fact style must have few precedents in the rock canon. By almost downplaying the subject, it becomes all the more affecting.