Monday, December 15, 2014

If I Had a Hammer

"But I'm as priceless as the brass ring
That lost the heat from your hand."

As I let my senses awash in those soothing, familiar cadences, I was reminded of an old feeling. Every little while, as endless thought and revision are forever dispatched in favour of simply being, life seems worth it after all. As long as there is time, I remember thinking once, there is hope. But, sometimes you know your fate is sealed -- as I was ensconced in that mellifluous melody, the conductor's hands gesturing the way to heaven, the dream was suddenly ended when the hand brushed against the table, and an accompanying metallic clink reminded me that I belong here on earth, for evermore.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Parade's End

Whatever lies beyond the rainbow I thought I saw then, I doubt I'll ever see it now.

Friday, October 24, 2014

With each day
Another brick
In your house
Of love and trust
But for me
Another floor
In my house
Of dream and dust.

At this depth
So far beyond
The reach of drug or drink
You either swim
Or learn to love
The freedom of the sink.

Unusually terrible, even for me, but I'm really beyond caring right now.

I'm done with writing
And saying my peace
And making flesh
From word
The shape I'm in
All poetry
Seems vulgar and

So instead
I bide my time
Not looking ahead
Or behind
Working instead
Towards some peace:
An empty heart and

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The rain kisses the roof, softly from where I'm sitting. As my thoughts scatter amidst that gentle percussion, I feel connected to something again. What do I want, really want out of this life? Everytime that melody plays, the answer seems so clear that I chide myself for ever forgetting -- a choice lyric, a song, a way to take the world and hold it aloft in my hand. The daily minutiae that seems so eager to absorb my mind, just let it go. It may take up most of my time, but not those of it which really matters. Let others choose how they wish to survive -- I know what my way is.

The party line on '04 was that it was a result of bad luck, bad habits and being overworked. A distinguishing feature was how seemingly without cause my swims in blue were -- I could never pinpoint why I sometimes felt so empty, or so devoid of energy for the simplest of social interactions. But it was overwhelming, and in part I found my way through it by conscious choice -- surely I wanted to not be so bound up in myself, and I did not want to live as a perpetual recluse. I consider that a personal success, of sorts, in that I found a way to make a perversely resistant thing (my mind) yield just the once for something that was good for it.

The point remains that I treated the cause for this episode as being absent. Just one of those things, an unlucky roll of the die, and so on. I've used it as a warning of what happens when you think and feel too much within -- apparently, my system is highly unstable in the absence of sufficient external intervention. In all, a dark period which to learn from, but not much more.

But lately, I must wonder if an alternate hypothesis is appropriate. Perhaps it was an intuiting of a truth I wasn't capable of fully understanding. Could it have been just that I didn't have the words, the experiences yet to quantify the fundamental bleakness of it all?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just so you know, I'm likely to never stop churning these out.

If I could learn
How to forget
I might just live
A day;
But when memories
Are all that's left
They're hard to give

When at school
I wasn't taught
That life is not
The past;
Nor that there's
But one test
You mustn't finish

Monday, October 13, 2014

Any day that does not begin with serious consideration given to the question, "Is it time to utterly disconnect from society?", is one that runs the risk of a slow slide into delusion. Why do I even bother trying to get to know people? Each time I'm plagued by a moment (or month) of deep black, I get the same misguided thought that my malaise is because of my station on the fringes of society. I solemnly vow then to actively seek out other consciousness, and try to absorb its edges and cracks into my own. And then each time, I'm reminded of why I decided to recede in the first place. If I'm going to be mocked and bullied, I much prefer when it's by me. To think that I actually entertained thoughts of friendship once! No, I'm afraid to say I've quite had it with this world and its myopic inhabitants. From now I will simply survey from afar your actions, and your words will not be deigned with response or reaction. I'll remember better times, better people, and create a world I would like to live in. You are welcome to this one.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

You said there'd be another
And so departed with a lie;
Some have use for goodwill
But I prefer goodbye.

At some point I must have lapsed into the Other, because I no longer feel this is my world anymore. Part of it is the realisation that I'm no longer young, but only part. I get a sense that society is moving and weaving in ways whose meaning and motivations I am incapable of understanding. I've become a passerby who occasionally glimpses at things sometimes repellent, sometimes fascinating, always alien. The world is bequeathed to people to whom I am a shadow. It doesn't help that I can't let go. CDs, books, blogs. I am surrounded by graveyards.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Game Over

While I've spent most of the last ten years looking back, I've done so with a realisation that it's no way to move forward. So when I have thought about the future -- which has been quite often -- I've always been unsure of how it was ever going to be different. Of course, there have been the obvious changes of physical surroundings and the like. And perhaps there have been a few unexpected shifts emotionally, mostly for the worse. But I've been proven consistently right about the seeming impossibility to do away with my worst limitations, and the effects they have had on how I live out my days. The more this goes on, the more self-fulfilling it appears to be; and the less hope I have for the sort of impossible miracle that a naive, younger me used to hold out for.

Every time someone asks me what must seem a perfectly reasonable question -- are you making any effort to meet people? -- I find reason to dismiss their concerns as misunderstanding something fundamental about me. True enough, it reflects a lack of knowledge of the depths of my mixture of solipsism, shyness, and general comfort with solitude. But while it's accurate to say that's not me in the sense of the way I've lived life, is that the me I want to be? Judging from the excoriations I subject myself to on a regular basis, in some part at least the answer must be no. So what stops me from trying to become the person I want to be?

The trouble of course is that I've never been sure who that person is. A simple starting point is to posit that it's the logical continuation of the person, impossibly foreign to me now, who was fairly open in interactions, and maybe more importantly, a lot less bogged down by his failings. But then I remind myself that there's a reason all that changed, in response to a world much darker than I dreamed possible. So, fine, an adaptation that didn't involve such an unquestioning acceptance of nihilism, hard as that is to picture. Why not make steps towards that ideal, vague as it may be?

In part I think the answer has to be that it all seems so pointless now. I do feel as though the only people I had any chance of allowing into my life more than superficially are beyond communication, in the sense of no longer affording me any special status in their consciousness. I don't fault them, and if anyone is to blame, it's me. But that's irrelevant, because the fact is that I do feel at times that such chances get rarer the more we go along. What are the odds I'll run into someone at this stage who has similarly been waiting for a comrade with whom to discuss at length the pleasures of honky tonk? Everyone has found their match, and rightfully moved along. I now have the walkway all to myself. It's a lot of space, but I don't know where it leads to.

I'd like to think that it's possible to make peace with what I've become, and to embrace the pleasures it affords. Surrounding myself with art, for example, in hopes of seeing deeper into man and myself. It's often enjoyable, no doubt, but I can't shake the feeling that it's ultimately an admission of defeat. (There's that weakness again -- judging myself to some imagined standards laid down by some imagined arbiter.) Social stigma is often insidious, possibly corrosive in development of a sense of identity. But it sometimes help regularise personality, and I think this might be an instance of it. People my age I run into simply don't act this way. They don't give off the sense that they're going through the motions, biding time till something extraordinary changes all the rules. They, very sensibly, pursue things they desire out of life. If any of them spend as much time in desperate introspection as I do, they hide it much better than me.

Of late, I've realised that a lot of time has passed, by objective standards, since days that for whatever reason I've treated as being more real, more alive, than anything I've experienced since. While I'm constantly filled with regret at what I lament is, in more melodramatic moments, a wasted life, there is also a sense that I'm owed something more for being such a dutiful servant of a particular code of conduct. It's as if the time spent living out someone else's dictum as to what I was supposed to be doing -- bad study choices, all that -- should not weigh the same as the time that was afforded to others who chose more wisely. When I look at people who I once painfully left, I'm left wondering if I could have completed a carefree youth in another life. (Likely I'd have found ways to complain about that too, of course.)

This has been unusually long, and disjointed, but it's a serious subject, and deserves more than my usually pithy platitudes. All said, as things stand, I don't see any reasons to pursue anything. Part of me thinks I can be happy locked away by myself with my books and poetry to protect me. But every year the evidence to the contrary mounts. I know who I want to be. But I want what I can't have. So what am I waiting for, exactly? I am beyond change. I am what I always have been, only now, more honest about it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

And so I join those great men
Who learned to mute their heart;
Silence, if you do not listen,
Sounds sweeter than any lark.

But theirs was a love forbidden
By laws of God or man;
And what's tragic when by a villain
Seems trite when by your hand.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Reactions to Moz's book have been mixed. (Personally, I think it's one of the best things he's ever done.) One line of criticism has hinged on the inherent inferiority of popular song, and the general deadening of culture that the respect afforded to Moz portends. This tripe again? There appear some chasms that will never be bridged. I've spent life perennially comforted and validated by (among others) Moz's words, melodies, sensibilities. I see no reason for this to change. Perhaps people like me really are crashing boors. What does it mean about life, and notions of art, that we spend it convinced otherwise, reaching what we see as the heights of exaltation through whatever little we manage to grasp at from an unkind world?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Your smiling face
Did not make
The sun shine
Any brighter
The moon seem
Any bigger
The clouds hang
Any lighter.

But any happiness
Since that goodbye
Has been from memory
Not the sky.

So when the day
Finally comes
From my times
To pick just one
That I could live
And breathe again
It is the hour
You were my friend.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I have the luxury of carefully considering the discographies of songwriters I enjoy in any order I like. As a perennial songwriting hopeful, this offers access to an amazing source of inspiration. But the listener's illusion is such that it is hard to escape the feeling that I can never hope to reach the levels of even the most minor of efforts of one's idols. Why illusion rather than fact? Because it's rare that one does not find significant growth, or least sharpening of style in the songs as time goes by. So while I invariably measure myself against the best, that is usually not how things began for them. Which raises at least a couple of questions in my mind.

First, what really prevents us from getting things right the first time? Practice and maturity are often claimed to be essential to honing's one skill as a writer of any form. Both make perfect sense to me when it comes to technical writing; with artistic writing, less so. I assume that inspiration, and strength of feeling, are not things we can hope to control with any amount of practice on our part. It might partly help with channeling of these ingredients. but surely no more than partly? It is true, of course, that inspiration grows out of what we see and experience, and the general array of faces and ideas we are exposed to. Perhaps "maturity" just means the ability for us to process these things effectively. The unsettling alternative is that it is a confounding with sheer random chance, meaning that there are works of greatness lost to all time simply because an inopportune coin flip that prevents one's mind from being unlocked.

Second, it is likely apparent to writers themselves the flaws in their early works -- for songwriters, it is typically being too wordy or deliberately "poetic". As this is an area I have some expertise in, I am thus curious: what keeps them going through that time? Were they too close to the material and think it all good? Or did they feel there was still something inside that they hadn't explored to their satisfaction? As someone who has the further luxury of dispensing frightening doses of doggerel and general vapidity, it's always felt like the latter, but I'm not sure if it generalises. Personally, each time I've felt the need to express something, even upon trying and failing, there has remained the sense that perhaps with time, I will attain the means with which to capture what it is I am feeling. As a favourite songwriter put it, there's just something in my soul -- what can I do?

Progressively glum though I may find myself, there are still things that cause me to sigh in gratitude, and consider my fortune at having been born at precisely the right time. Here's one: the opportunity to periodically glimpse at Moz's life as it filters through to lyric and song, and to be able to project it onto my own, for enrichment, support, or simply auditory pleasure. Fated as it may be for my pointless life to end, there were good times in his company, his songs a remarkably prescient intersection of his public and my private life.

Having spent some time away from his world,  I am struck by many things upon returning. For one, he's given this shy sad-sack more moral support than likely any other songwriter. For another, how he represents a kind of ideal when it comes to expressing the dour -- while it's absolutely essential to acknowledge the insufferable, why let it envelop you? That's fun in its own way, but it's also easy, and the result invariably fades with the sorrow. The void is a humourless thing. So reporting the journey with with on your side, there's no fear of ever losing yourself.

Implicit in all of this is the unconditional empathy I get from his words. When he rallies against the carnivores and destructors, and threatens to slit their throats, you know that he has someone like you in mind. If you ever need someone on your side, you have a great heart in your arsenal.

I'm sure Lou would agree:

I found a reason
To keep living
And that reason
Dear is you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The attentive reader will recall that I often question the point of continuing this exercise in therapy and egotism. I doubt it will ever cease as long as certain fracture points remain unresolved. (Having compiled the latest evidence, I have full faith that they are on track to provide several more years' worth of material -- lucky you.) But even accepting the personal value of these writings, of late I've thought about the apparent futility of their longevity. (You caught me -- to admit that this is painful is to also admit that, despite my protests to the contrary, there is (at times) effort and feeling put into these writings.) I don't know quite what I'm after in terms of long term rewards, but gathering dust until the singularity doesn't seem particularly inspiring. So where is any of this going?

The basic problem seems clear -- as long as this diary remains private in spirit if not execution, private these thoughts will remain. This by itself is the end of any initial discussion on the subject. But even if they were released to the world as an educational exercise, who would care? One of the few truths I have confidence in now is that, contrary to the wishful optimism of my writings from the decade prior, I am really no more or less than any of the others who cohabit this world at this point in time. My painstaking recording of thoughts and feelings does not afford me any special status. But again, even assuming a sect were devoted to studying the words of wisdom strewn about here, what would they really find? A consequence of having everything kept under wraps is the sadly solipsistic nature of what I've found comfortable to write about. While the byline of the diary is to record moments that mean more than they let on, a generous survey reveals perhaps a (stolen) turn of phrase or two that gives me pride -- which, personally pleasurable though they may be, I doubt they say anything about your life, or for that matter anyone else's.

About that wishful optimism -- I think if you pressed me to admit it then, there was always a dream that this diary was only a means to a grander end. I think I saw it as a testing ground, where I could sharpen my writing skills to the point of seriously pursuing the writing of a novel, poem, song, or anything of more lasting and broader value. Failed though my early exercises in this were, at least they put up a fight against reality, and in doing so yielded one or two things that still surprise me today. Any objective study of what has followed since must conclude that what followed since was essentially a very public admission of surrender.

Why did things change? Apart from the realisation that writing was harder than I gave it credit (!), there was a discovery that I have just too many unsaid thoughts and emotions which started to demand some outlet. Being unkind, one would say this was a betrayal of principle; being unkind back, I would say that one had best try living a month in my mind to understand why it dwarfs any sense of beauty in this world. For better or worse, then, I went down the path of focussing on the inner monologues. Finding a way to express them in words was challenge enough; further forging them into something more broadly palatable, that is work for another life. As these things go, it's sadly not one I will ever get to visit.

So. What I leave behind is not, as I once hoped, a collection of letters and poems that someone on Mars can one day read and marvel at. It is a gallery of daydreams and nightmares that happen to frequent my mind. There is no objective reason for any of this to be preserved. But I expect that through this channel, no more noisy than other common surrogates, you have a glimpse at the arc of a private life, from Oliver to Fagin. That this world will be forgotten seems no less tragic than the fact that my public one will fade twice as fast. What is one to do in the face of that truth? Perhaps step away from the quill from time to time and look for another way to trick myself into believing otherwise.

Monday, July 21, 2014

At times it seems truly impossibly that this life can continue. What am I trying to achieve with each increasingly gormless move? What plausible future exists where I am not forever drowned in shadow? I must be violating some basic laws of existence by even being here. Because whichever empty room I happen to physically inhabit, I know that my soul is still trapped, waiting at that station, in perpetual hope that the brakeman will turn my way. Someone tells me that was ten years ago -- I can process the words, and understand them rationally, but I see no competing explanation. My mind travels back to that place every day, but my aging body inches farther and farther away. Thus increases the gap, the pain at the sight of this, and then the gap once more; what life is this? Every future I can see is a desert that cannot be conquered. In the one I seem to be edging along by default, my only means of quenching thirst is by shedding an ocean of tears with each step forward.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I've come to realise that I've always put too much faith in what people tell me. Much grief has been caused from the belief that words imply meaning, that statements reflect intention. Whether violations of these beliefs were from flippancy or a genuine ignorance, I don't know. But I know now to place no faith in assured proclamations that I'm told in utmost confidence.

When, as now, I reflect on alternate timelines, I am struck by the desire to bring up those words to the accused, and ask: did you ever really mean them? If not, I wish someone told me; I wouldn't have stayed up so many nights in worry, and could have done other things with my time. Maybe then I wouldn't have felt the need to escape, and seen false hope in a fresh start that took from me more than I thought I had. It's not the giving I take objection to -- it's the giving when there was no need, when there was no value placed on it, when there will never be any acknowledgement of a sacrifice of self. Knowing no that no arbiter takes note of one's selfless acts, except perhaps to damn you further should they be performed unquestioningly, I wonder just how much is owed to those youthful errors.

It's a cruel irony that others seem to have reached my epiphany much earlier, because in my own time of need, there's no one to listen to these words. Now that everyone's world is brighter, and the struggles deemed but memories of a past to be forgotten, I seem to be no longer needed. So I sit trying to sort through these memories and regrets, because I don't remember what else there is to do. As soon as the thought of reaching out surfaces, it is flattened by reality -- no one wants to go back to something they deliberately left behind. I didn't realise it at the time, but I now see what my station was -- a collector of nightmares, insecurities, and sorrows, one who relieved the sufferer of their malady by bravely wearing their problems on my own crown. It was only when I realised that the words of thanks were as hollow as those of torture that I started to feel the weight.

What use in saying more? That is how it is. Newly enlightened, I can only shake my fists at ghosts who will never haunt me again, no matter how much I taunt them.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happiness is
An empty sky
To mirror not
Your eyes.
The very thought
And sleep no more
From moon to black

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?

It feels slightly awkward to watch the watcher -- especially one who is good at his craft and whose observational skills are the result of years of tireless practice, rather than a common charlatan like yours truly. But I was struck by a certain sadness in his performance which seems worth exploring.

I was conditioned to feel so, I think, by his comments about how this could be his last attempt at reaching to an audience that the numbers say simply isn't there. It was halfway through the show, when he exhaled in earnest after another crowd-pleaser and looked kindly upon the few score of us who were very pleased indeed, that I started wondering to myself (yes, would that this endless chatter inside cease if only for a minute) -- how did it all come to this? Not that the place or the people were anything less than reputable, you understand, but simply that, one can't help but feel that he is owed more. Comparison is a dangerous beast, but sometimes a useful one -- my mind went back to seeing his compatriot in spirit only a few years prior, with an army of thousands of disciples hanging on every word. Sterner stuff though he may be made of, I dare say a similar thought must cross his mind some nights as he stares into the dark eyes, blankly processing the carefully crafted lyric from an album long after his brief glimpse at fame.

Living as we are in the age of perennial enlightenment, where the issue of what's good has been decided, it's easy to forget that not all who are worthy have been lucky. I've been raised on countless myths about the un-appreciated genius, but everytime I see them mentioned or, when possible, in person, it is as one face in a sea of others. By definition, I rarely see or hear about those who didn't make it into the public heart after a long struggle. Of course this is to be expected -- the heart can only accommodate so much. But it is a sobering reminder that there are likely countless other voices passing us by everyday, lost forever to the caprices of time while we convince ourselves that we have unearthed all that is worth consideration.

More cosmically, I suppose it is easy to argue that these superficial signs of success are fleeting, and needn't be paid any mind. True enough, and I do like to think that if he knew, for example, the many times I've brought his words to mind and nodded at their wisdom, that that would make his day or two. And I think of all those who lined up once the performance was ended, all eager to finally meet and talk to this person who has only been a name in their lives for so many years. Living halfway across the world, and coming to realise that for decades you have been in people's homes and hearts -- that must be something.

But the world itself could, should, have laid at your feet. And if you couldn't make it happen, what hope for the rest of us?

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The last year has seen an unusual rise in the amount of film and TV I've engaged with. The strongest link connecting my choices has been, roughly, things I've known and thought about for many years, but never got around to experiencing. Unsurprisingly, my mode of choice in this conquest has been the medium you're using to read this. As a longtime critic of said medium, especially when it comes to music, it's good to have been exposed to this way of doing business to update my beliefs. Which are: yes, it is convenient; yes, it is superior to having to trawl through VHS bins; no, I'm not convinced the current models are sustainable; and no, I still refuse to use this for music.

Why the different standard when it comes to music? Frankly, because I treat music with more reverence. It's more personal, more spiritual, and requires rapt attention and concentration. This is something mass consumption does not lend itself to. I don't claim that people haven't trained themselves to retain the best of the old world and new. For me, the finality of a record, not to mention the tangible history embodied in its physical form, seems pretty optimal. Convenience without moderation isn't axiomatically a good thing.

A corollary of my earlier post on art never aging is that, as a general rule, time is rarely kind on mediocrity. Of late, I've been revisiting an area of perennial fascination -- anime -- and have mostly been greeted with grand disappointments. Being raised in a community where people spoke glowingly of the complex stories and characters, it's a bit sad to see that in many instances, either they're fooling themselves or there are profound differences in culture and aesthetic that I will never learn to appreciate. My fascination still remains, largely based on hope -- it's one of the few mediums that explores fantasy really well, I think, and as a veteran BG2 player, this is something I have a significant soft spot for.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The evening's ritual was a walk down the quiet, dimly lit road in the dusk. Behind me was another lost battle, another lost chance at a redemption I think I knew I would never receive. Ahead was nothing more than the warmth of familiarity, but I would take whatever I could get. Every walk, all I wanted was for it to be the last, because that would mean that the battle was over -- defeat had to be preferable to this. So one day I fled, and that was that. But now I walk down a different equally dimly lit road in the dusk, and all I can think is how gloriously real that shuffle in the quiet was, with only the streetlight, my thoughts, and me. Every footstep thus seems an echo of a past that, by any measure, was not worth living -- and yet, which I cannot seem to escape from. Is the only way to make my peace to relive everything, and prove that I have learned how to survive? Or is it to dig deeper and deeper, till nothing, man or memory, can find me?

Anytime discussion turns to what it is we do, there seem to be a few ground rules. First, it is certainly important, and not pointless -- anyone who feels otherwise has made some baffling life choices. Second, it is by far more important than any other triviality that the masses distract themselves with -- this is, after all, the pursuit of knowledge in its purest form! Third, this is not work, really -- because it is what we love spending your time on, and it is suspicious that anyone want to disconnect from that.

There is much to commend about these views, and I can't claim they aren't true for other people. For me, as always, I find reason to question these pillars, and ask if the tower is as strong as it appears. The unquestioning party line seems unaware or uncaring of the faults that surely exist. For one, the culture encourages a dismally one-dimensional view of the self -- perhaps being judged on (the perception of) your brain is preferable to being judged on your body, but it is demeaning nonetheless. How pathetic to see the wonder of man reduced to a pocketful of equations and ideas. The pity of the matter is that one starts to believe in this hollow ghost, and imagine that this is what all others must see -- which, in my case, is perpetually a shadow of failure.

Of course, one-dimensional views are popular everywhere; it's the way we're wired, no doubt. But it seems to play a stronger role amongst us, because of the belief that this is anyway the only thing that matters. When there is an understanding that what you do is, at the end of the day, just a bit of theatre, there is the opportunity to see others for who they are behind the curtain. I think that's what missing -- a sense of who people are as people, rather than as machines that produce theorems.

My Illegal Self

Sometimes my existence utterly boggles my mind -- and that takes some doing, given the thoughts that ordinarily pass through it -- and I find it hard to imagine that a more unlikely individual has ever walked this planet. I almost pity the unknowing others who look into these eyes, seeing whatever image it is I project. No one's image is their whole story, but how many have kept up so massive a charade so consistently? How many have managed to have more or less conformed to the norms of society, while amassing an unbelievably detailed array of thought and emotion borne from isolation, longing, and denial? An array which, when its hand is revealed, would leave me standing alone as the earth and everyone in it scurries in fear.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Can't Make A Sound

For three minutes, the world seems like it has stopped spinning. As my mind adjusts to the silence that follows, it is with some disappointment, and doubt -- because what else is left to feel? I have resolved everything, and having discovered my final words, I see no better close to the chapter. All remorse has been shed, because I must be blessed to be able to feel so strongly and, I think it must be true, purely. Perhaps there is a world as bright as the poets tell, but I don't lament that I will not see it. Even if I've been walking in the dark these many years, it was always to this place, where I may bask under a sky of glorious gray. I'd like to stay here, I tell the world, as I feel the wheels stir slowly into motion.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


"No one deserves it": it was around this point last night that I felt my throat start to clamp up, and it started getting tighter still with each following word. Because that's really all you can say, isn't it -- this amount of emotion could not be owed to anyone, no matter the path they may have chosen, or the things they might have done. Ergo, we find ourselves an unfortunate casualty of chance.

You'd think all this wise reflection and introspection would offer some solace, and steer one's thoughts away from that which has no answer. But there is still a resigned admission of guilt that, even knowing all that one does, there is something inside -- a piece that went missing, and which each day seems less likely to be found -- that refuses to let go. What else to do, then, but to embrace the night in the hopes that it will help one forget?

"I've got a joke I've been dying to tell you": the sun rises again, and in the daylight, it seems like there just might be hope.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Before the great sleep, my mind tells me it is awake and that it is ready to conquer anything I should throw at it. What you see are the feeble attempts at capturing that, mostly unsuccessful. Try as I might to capture the mood, they are often escaped. I can only hope they intend to visit someone else's dreams.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Back when I was learning how to become both a collector and a snob, I had invented several now-ridiculous rules regarding how and when it was ok to consume an album. Recalling them brings waves of embarrassment, but I would be remiss to not offer one example -- that the album is, minimally, a work of art, and one that demands utmost attention. Being lyrically minded, this in particular meant hanging on every syllable, parsing every intonation, decoding every reference, and of course, collecting the best turns of phrase for a purpose I knew existed, even if I didn't know what it was at the time.

It may not surprise that this meant a great many albums were purchased on the advice of my guides and teachers, but were listened to once, and shelved after I had concluded that they required a mood or point of view that I did not possess at the time of listening. Not wishing to disrespect the artist, I of course did not want to project my own deficiencies onto their work -- thus, they were saved up for a time when I did have the means to fully understand them.

That time is now, apparently. Whenever I encounter one of these albums from nearly a decade ago, collecting dust but always a reminder of a certain failure in my appreciation skills, I now see it as a challenge that must be bested -- my credentials depend on it. Having taken up a few of these challenges now, I am very pleasantly surprised to report that the value and merit of these works is largely unaffected by the hang-ups I've imposed on it. How blessed I am that great, and even good art, doesn't have an expiry date.

A corollary is that another class of albums -- those I saw something powerful in, but consumed only a few times in fear of the power overwhelming me -- are also ripe for rediscovery. I'm now starting to think that some of them may even be as good as I remember wanting them to be. On the one hand, this is all great news. On the other hand, I worry what this says about the hundreds of carefully considered records I've conquered over the past few years. Might the day come when I decide that I never really listened to them in the first place? But I shouldn't be surprised were this to unfold. I've always believed that my tastes were well-formed and my own, even when they were wildly changing; as Lou would say, belief is never sure.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Time Out Of Mind

Having spent three days in a different environment, constantly surrounded by pleasant company and occupied by all manner of activities, I am struck by one thing on my return to normal patterns -- the blissful absence of the internal monologue, of this incessant ritual I play out for reasons that are sometimes unclear. I've occupied many pages with measured consideration of how important these discussions are to me. But, to be perfectly honest, I can't say that I missed them at all.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm guilty of many things, so detailing every one of them is of limited value (though this act has given the present blog many resuscitations). But the dour mood I find myself in today comes from an offense that explains some of my other behaviour, and so is worth noting: an obsession with the imagined "normality" of the salt of the earth, and a yearning to leave behind my perennial morass of idiosyncracy to join my brothers and sisters on the open plain of possibility.

No sin is without reason, and in my case, it is the years surrounded by some of the most elliptic, oblong, eccentric individuals that walk this planet. The dissatisfaction I felt in that environment made the promise of normality seem wondrous, and a cure to some of my other ailments. But, I'm saddened to report, the promise sets up only to disappoint. The reason isn't, I think, that the "normals" don't exist; it's that I have been for too long steeped in an odd diet of isolation and introspection, and so, despite my best attempts to feign otherwise, I find myself squarely in the camp of the "other".

Conforming to the majority is the absolute opposite of what most people of import practiced. But they had at their disposal better tools than I to rise above their situation, and over time change what is thought to be ordinary, usually for the better. And, perhaps, more importantly, what they refused to comprise on was, axiomatically, something they saw as valuable and worth fighting for. In my case, these points of difference are rarely the result of a reasoned, principled philosophical stance -- more typically, they are an instinctive reaction that allow me to defer the uncomfortable process of change.

And yet, for someone who claims to have shut his heart's door, I seem to take these blows pretty hard. So I think I shall continue to seek out other clubs, even if so far they've only made me seal myself off even further. Because I do not believe this particular party of one can sustain.

Sunday, March 09, 2014


David McComb is at his best, and with each lyric it's as though I'm easing myself into the warm ocean. I'm no longer in this room, this world, this universe. Everything I have experienced I feel again in one instant. The sun's under eclipse, but there is nothing I need see anymore. Lying in this ocean of ceaseless calm, I have no more need. If he speaks one more word, I may never come back. My life hangs on the next syllable, and the universe trembles in anticipation.

Monday, February 03, 2014


Of my voyueristic subjects, I think the slacker is one I have a particular weakness for. How at odds with the company of highly motivated and passionate folk I spend most of my time with. In the spirit of sweeping statements that I don't have to make good on, permit me the following: if you removed all incentives and societal expectations, and asked me what I wanted to do with my time, well. Sprawled on the couch, a book always within reach, the headphones playing the comforting sound of country and western. I suppose writing every once in a while, if I could stand the stress of introversion, and the reminder of failure from these ventures never really amounting to anything. (As for why they persist, well, at least there's commitment to failure.)

But I stress voyueristic. Because I seem unable to cope with the real thing. When I go through it myself, I get a crushing sense of uselessness. Is it the inability to let go the shackles of expectation that have controlled nearly every decision up till this point? Or is it, more simply, the pretty fantasy colliding head-on with the slab of reality I seem so keen to escape? As with most personal experiences, it's hard to disentangle everything, and so all hope may seem lost. But. When I see it in others, whose life course bears no impact on mine, I must admit feeling that it is the latter. I can't help but feel I am witness to a life unfolding before my eyes, squandered to no end.

Time is fixed, but what we do with it isn't. I don't know what we're meant to be doing. But nothing, tempting as it is, doesn't seem the likely answer.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blue and Grey Shirt

As a pleasant respite from the usual pattern of my processes, I've found myself looking back on certain times from the past few years with, dare I say it, nostalgia. Now that's something I never saw coming. In my defense, I never thought I'd find myself here in the first place; I imagined the experience was the sum total of existence itself, and that its conclusion may as well never happen, because it's not as though I'd be around to appreciate the freedom.

Anyhow, one lesson today is simply what Joni Mitchell famously sang about. It may even be a statement of the tenacity of the heart: even when what I had was barely worth calling a life, it seems that some things were still able to move me. Were it possible to pick out the greatest hits, I suppose near any life might seem not so bad. True enough, taking too much out of this is the likely cause of innumerable bad decisions, made out of simplified nostalgia and the belief that life can always be better. But I'm not claiming anything more than what I've been feeling: as a whole, things were probably as bad as I remember, but that doesn't mean there weren't things to hold on to.

All of which is warming, but I hope that it's a lesson I don't need to be taught too many more times in the future. I'm tired of a life that's just a series of goodbyes, of doors to other hearts shut because my restless spirit demands wandering. And yet I seem unwilling to do what is required to make that not so -- unpack the flag, set it down, and call someplace home. I'll admit there's something vaguely poetic about carrying on as an eternal wandered, stopping ever so often to write fondly about people that are gone. But sometimes I don't like poetry much at all.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

1) Elliott Smith, "Can't Make a Sound". The effective closer to probably Smith's weakest album has always been arresting because of the melody and sound, but to me the lyrics have never been more than merely fitting to the mood. After returning to it several times, I think I've now determined how my senses choose to interpret them -- the repeated last line is surely not to the one thing found, but a mocking question to the narrator himself. As it happens, a question I've had to ask of late, hence this missive. Songs like these remind me why I'm happy to have a weakness for the melancholy -- while I understand the (critical) majority's distaste for the style, if you happen to be afflicted with a pensive persona, it isn't always easy to wish away the shades of pale that sometimes cross the mind. Having this struggle expressed by someone else does, at the end of the day, offer solace in that your struggle is by no means unique. Sometimes it also offers hope, which Smith does to an extent (treating the circumstances of his exit as accidental). Of course, all of this knowledge is only any good if you can do something with it; but until you name your foe, you have no chance of besting him.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Boys Happy

I think I've collected enough data to conclude that on the inside, I'm still not far from a precipice, and that it doesn't take much to make me peer over the edge. Old lesson, but it bears repeating: serenity is best measured when things aren't going well. But this is not to imply that what I've been experiencing prior to this point is illusory, or naive: just that more is needed to truly consider myself far from the edge. Given the circumstances of the latest recurrence, I'd have to begrudgingly admit that they probably would not have come up had I decided to do something else with my time. But things don't seem as hopeless as they used to. Because I'm genuinely optimistic that in the long term, this gig will do me some good. In the off chance it doesn't, there'll be no stopping me from saying goodbye to this path once and for all, and find something more within my capacity.