josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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26 Jun '03 08:53:08 AM

The central conceit in Big's "Suicidal Thoughts" is that he kills himself at the end, after rehearsing his litany of suffering ("reasons", you might say, if there are reasons for suicide). But it's also made to sound like a phone call - you can hear the person on the other end become more and more agitated as he realizes what Big is saying, and the longer Big ignores him. Something about this feels wrong. I'd prefer to have just Biggie's monologue. The person on the phone is meant to add some kind of dramatic tension, I suppose, but I don't want it. Big's part has enough of that. I would have liked to have said that it comes from some kind of progression in his lyrics, but looking at them now I'm not so sure.

26 Jun '03 07:07:25 AM

Ice cream trucks, again.

25 Jun '03 08:18:45 PM

Until I moved into my new place in Minneapolis (apparently there weren't enough children near Macalester), I had never seen an ice cream truck before. It took me a while to realize there was one to look at - the driver kept ringing a bell that sounded like an old fashioned fire alarm, and I just got aggravated at whoever was making noise outside. Then he started playing the creepy music.

25 Jun '03 08:45:39 AM

Thanks to the unbelievable generosity of my parents, I now have a modern computer. I'm already amazed at how different it feels, listening to music on the computer - especially having so much at hand.

The top of my "Top 25 Most Played" smart playlist (the new "Tessio" will be at the top soon):

Dexy's Midnight Runners - "Kevin Rowlands 13th Time"
More Fire Crew featuring Dizzee Rascal - "Still the Same"
Beyonce featuring Jay-Z - "Crazy in Love"
Dexy's Midnight Runners - "My National Pride"
Punjabi MC featuring Jay-Z - "Beware of the Boys"
Biggie Smalls - "Party and Bullshit"
Charles Mingus - "I X Love"
Charles Mingus - "Mood Indigo"
Dexy's Midnight Runners - "The Occasional Flicker"
Dexy's Midnight Runners - "This is what she's like"

25 Jun '03 08:22:23 AM

I only have the version of the new Luomo album, The Present Lover, with the copy protection beeps. Like Tim, at first I assumed they were part of the production. This was a stretch - on the new version of "Tessio" the beeps come during the acoustic guitar sections that bookend most of the track. And they don't sound like any kind of Luomo production touch anyway. Still, I told myself that perhaps there was some kind of exciting answering machine thing there. If you don't think or listen very closely, this almost even works for the first track.

The beeps do not sound enough like answering machine noises for me to overlook them and burn a copy of "Tessio" onto a mix, even if I am enthralled by it.

22 Jun '03 07:43:40 AM

It worries me that Stephin Merritt's 'expressive' voice on "Busby Berkeley Dreams" sounds a lot like the one he affects in "Love is Like Jazz" since I seem to be committed to hearing that one as a snide move to skewer what he sees as the ersatz attempts at authentic, spontaneous expression in jazz. I don't want "Busby" to be infected by insincerity.

That would probably remain true even if I could determine some reason that Merritt would knowingly do such a thing. (A tactical one related to the song, not a strategic one related to his more general attitude toward sincerity.)

21 Jun '03 07:15:30 AM

But for my purposes it won't be Marcus Aurelius' indifference.

Meditations 11.2, translated by Gregory Hays:

"To acquire indifference to pretty singing, to dancing, to the martial arts: Analyze the melody into the notes that form it, and as you hear each one, ask yourself whether you're powerless against that. That should be enough to deter you.

The same with dancing: individual movements and tableaux. And the same with the martial arts.

And with everything - except virtue and what springs from it. Look at the individual parts and move from analysis to indifference.

Apply this to life as a whole."

18 Jun '03 05:08:48 AM

'It is most interesting that in Greece, India, and China, one of the paths to wisdom is indifference, or the refusal to accord things differences in value. Such differences express the egotistic, partial, and limited viewpoint of the individual -- the viewpoint of "the frog at the bottom of the well" or of "a vinegar-fly at the bottom of a barrel," as mentioned by Chuang-tzu: "All I knew of the Tao was what a vinegar-fly stuck inside a barrel can know of the universe. If the master had not lifted the lid, I would still be unaware of the universe in its integral grandeur." Such disinterestedness and indifference bring us back to an original state: the quiet and peace which exists deep within us. It preexists the affirmation of our individuality against the world and against other people, and hence preexists the egotism and egocentricity which separate us from the universe, and which sweep us inexorably into the worried pursuit of pleasure and the perpetual fear of pain.'

- Pierre Hadot, What is Ancient Philosophy?, pp 278-9.

28 May '03 08:50:28 AM

At the moment I consider most entries I make here to be little more than mute gestures to the effect that music is still important to me. Though I still often experience those fleeting moments of fascination, excitement, awe, wonder, happiness, clarity, hunger, and love from playing records from day to day, those moments have become isolated. I can't get them back, hold on to them long enough to concentrate and express in words how they affect me. Time was that ten things a day to say about music occurred to me, and I only had to stop to try to solidify a few. I didn't even consider everything I wrote a success, then, but I expressed myself so freely that over time I felt I was able to convey some sense of the overwhelming, ongoing importance of music for me. Now, as those moments become isolated, as I'm not able to integrate them (even for myself - writing aside) into my life, every further experience is correspondingly impoverished. What's left are desultory remarks that merely talk around what I would prefer to talk about, those moments. My favorite thing of the past few months has been a series of conversations I had, during seminars, with Ramona and others. Since coming here, I've had few, which is frustrating enough. But more frustrating: I seem to have lost the easy tendency to conversational thought, so important to how my writing here worked a few years ago. The ability to question myself. It's connected to a sense of possibility: "the ability to conceive of everything there might be just as well, and to attach no more importance to what is than to what is not". Formerly, I thought this might just be because my way of thinking had changed enough that I less commonly slid into having, or at least expressing, thoughts that I knew from experience could prove to be less inescapable, more malleable, than I first anticipated. That was likely optimistic, and vain. I should recognize an alternative. Or several, in combination. Acquiesence: that even if I seem convinced of this now, sometime in the future it will change (or, it will never change). An inability to imagine alternative ways of looking at things. Or, just as bad, an inability to decide which of a host of competing ways of looking at things to pursue. In conversations where I'm sufficiently caught up, unselfconsciously just talking back and forth, though I sometimes still feel the urge to respond in detail to every single little thing the other person says (recalling myself as an eager student, much younger, overly precocious), usually that host of alternatives falls away, and the words just come. (Part of the value of conversations lies not in how well they covered their ground, how completely or honestly or accurately or smoothly or civilly, but in the way we can look back to them as investigations of a sort, with a spontaneity that it's hard to achieve in any other way, spontaneity which can make the investigations revealing and surprising.) This can be joyful, because nowhere else do I get an external impetus for sustained thought, especially one that allows me to string out a series of the smaller sorts of thoughts I am still capable of making (small, and sometimes hard and clear like crystals, but inert) - apparently the only chance those thoughts now get at doing more than circling round the edges of what's important.

The subtext for all of this is depression, plain and simple. But I -

I don't know, I suppose.