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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13 Aug '01 06:35:45 AM

Sometime last week I told Ethan I was listening to a Soundgarden CD, and as is typical, he made fun of me for (still) liking any grunge. So later I thought I'd listen to Pearl Jam, specifically No Code. While I still listen to Nirvana frequently, and I've listened to a lot of Soundgarden in the past year, and Alice in Chains' Dirt a few times, I've sort of been avoiding my Pearl Jam CDs. I bought No Code during my freshman year, which was right before I started snobbishly disdaining mainstream rock music (or, to put it differently: disdaining my past). We even got rubber stamps with the album art design on them (see the picture three over and two up from the bottom left on the front cover art) because we bought it the morning it came out. At the time, I loved the album, and played it all the time. I also didn't see what the problem was everyone was having with it. (Well, I did see, but I didn't see why people had to be so stuck on hearing the band play the old music.)

But with time, I sort of drifted away from Pearl Jam. I stopped listening to their records. Not really out of any explicit decision to stop - it's just that, whenever it occurred to me that I hadn't listened to one in a long time, it also occurred to me that I didn't really feel like remedying the state of affairs. But the band released Yield just at the tail end of the time I felt like a fan, so I bought that too. It had some good songs on it, ones I that I liked and that affected me. But it all felt too conventional, too plain-old-rock, for me, for the kind of music I thought I wanted to listen to, so I sort of pushed myself (already drifting) further away. Once, looking for something to spend money on and hoping to feel some old feelings, I bought the live album that came after that. But I never listened to it much at all. So by the time the next album came out, I had drifted too far away.

By then, though, it wasn't completely a musical thing. I had since come to remember that I like the simple songs, too, the rock songs, and that the label they're on doesn't really mean much to me. I don't know what their new album sounds like - maybe I would like it. But I've got plenty of other things to hear right now, so I guess I just don't have time. There are other people doing the simple songs.

I regret this a little, partly because of the personal meaning the old records have for me. And I don't mean that like any sort of direct correspondence to real life: hearing "Indifference" come on in the car making a special moment with her, or stewing in my room with "Spin the Black Circle" on - normal teenaged life stuff, sure, but just in the general background, not any big moments.

No Code still sounded good to me. But does that mean I'm going to make more of an effort? I'm not sure.

13 Aug '01 06:18:52 AM

The ending is a dud (in the 'fizzled out instead of exploding' sense), though. Too bad fadeouts weren't widely used on jazz recordings of this time. Cyclic/droney twenty minute songs require good exit devices.

13 Aug '01 06:14:38 AM

At the moment I'm entranced by the long sort-of-Spanish modal number from Coltrane's Ole Coltrane album, "Ole". One way it's obvious that there's "rhythm everywhere," like Coltrane liked: if I try to follow Elvin's pattern on the snare, I get a little tripped up, unless I focus very explicitly on it and not the rhythms from the two bassists, the piano, Trane or Dolphy, or the other things Elvin is bashing.

9 Aug '01 07:34:41 AM

The most touching thing I have heard today: the way Kurt Cobain says 'thank you' at the end of 'Aneurysm' on the live album.

The most exhilirating thing I have heard today: the sped-up intro to 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' on the following track.

7 Aug '01 08:40:23 AM

The preceding is Ludwig Wittgenstein, from Philosophical Investigations. Note to self: don't forget, you want to walk.

7 Aug '01 08:37:18 AM

107. The more narrowly we examine actual language, the sharper becomes the conflict beetween it and our requirement. (For the crystalline purity of logic was, of course, not a result of investigation: it was a requirement.) The conflict becomes intolerable; the requirement is now in danger of becoming empty. -- We have got on to slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to walk: so we need friction. Back to the rough ground!

6 Aug '01 07:35:23 AM

Alex commented recently on how I seem to be 'listening with my brain' rather than with my ears lately. I don't really think that's accurate (and the possibly implicit anti-intellectualism bothers me slightly, mostly because it makes me think I am being misunderstood, and I do want to be understood). But it would be accurate to say that lately I have preferred to write more abstractly about music and listening, if that means to write less about jumping up and down and sweating and whatever else it is I am supposed to be properly writing about. I am listening differently, too, but not a whole lot differently - I'm just not writing about it in the same way.

So what's the difference? For a while before, but especially after moving, I think that I've felt a little down, and especially not in the mood to do the kind of listening or thinking that I am more accustomed to. Almost everything I have listened to has been for comfort, and hearing it has made me comfortable, without much desire to disrupt things. When I do think, it's about things that I've been thinking about for a while, with time to turn them over in my head, thinking about thoughts rather than what-I'm-hearing-and-experiencing-right-now. Maybe.

So anyway, hang tight.

5 Aug '01 07:39:57 PM

Yes that's right this is a song about a superhero named Tony. Can you guess what it's called?

3 Aug '01 08:04:01 AM

Imagine what it would be like if the fussiness, the daintiness, on Larks' Tongues in Aspic were replaced by the kind of messy noisiness that the music seems it could accomodate easily. (Variously: tiny-instrument quiet-music, monster funk, 'shrieking' guitar leads, cod-eastern grooves...) But the fussiness is what makes it prototypical art-rock, I guess.