364On critical awareness, leotard entropy + what goes down the toilet

Dear Internet,

Swans have a new album—To Be Kind ... like fine wine, they seem to put out albums in even years. While it doesn't measure up to 2010's My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky or 2012's The Seer, it still kicks booty over most everything else out there. Saw them last night at Bowery Ballroom ... which was, OK (for Swans ... again, there is no better live band out there). Nowhere near as loud + tight as last time they came to town ... which was also around this time last year ... seems we can tell the passing of the seasons by which bands come to town ... Liars (2 weeks ago) + Swans in late spring ... maybe that means we've been in 1 place too long? Our better ½ was back home for 36 hours b4 splitting off to Africa ... missing Swans, again like last year ... she'll have to peck the red dot on our beak to get regurgitated seconds. More generally that's how we see 5cense ... a red on our beak that if u want u can peck + we'll involuntarily regurgitate the contents of last night's meal (which was 4 tacos at La Esquina b4 the show) ... not that any1 gives a shit. But maybe in 10 years we'll want to look back on something or wonder what we thought about X. Or maybe once we're dead people might take an interest. 1 of the reasons we like Swans is that (normally) their intensity drowns everything else out ... but that was not the case last night ... kept hearing people next to me yacking + smoking cigarettes (eww, so rebellious to smoke in public!) ... (+ as always, most people watching/capturing the show thru the screens of their iPhones even tho they are there!) If u can hear people talking, it's not loud enough ... + we were near the front. The speakers at Bowery are mounted high, so we thought moving back might help .... relinquishing our up-front spot to try to find the point of maximum volume ... which we think we found, but at that spot (in the middle) they had the air cranked insanely high (which Gira surely wouldn't have approved of). Like the 3 bears (tho actually only 2—we were w/ the drummer from this fine band) we moved around to find the optimum acoustic point ... but we were always left yearning for it to kick us harder. They did play a couple of new songs that sounded good... a long number at the end that i think he called «Black Hole Man» ... + another song where he kept chanting opium, methadrine, heroin (which i'm sure Gira + co. have done their fair share of ... tho googling now at least as of 1997 he says he doesn't do drugs).

Going out in public these days is becoming more + more of a struggle ... sucky people + their devices + habits becoming too much of a distraction. Wish we could tune the idiots out, but there's a fine line between apathy + being zen. Of being outwardly complacent when shit eats u up inside, which seems to be how most people are these days (pathetically apathetic), Americans anyway. Cigarette smoke in your face + iPhone blocking your view ... *shrugs* ... what are u gonna do. Either that or they are just zombies that don't think, or are on some sort of medication that dulls their senses. Michael Gira seems to be similarly sensitive to such shit ... he used to go off on people in the audience for stupid behavior. He's definitely still a control freak/perfectionist ... he railed into his band members a few times for not playing out whatever vision he had in his head. Seems uncool, but maybe such control is necessary to achieve such perfection. But that's on stage ... in the real world i guess u to some extent just have to accept certain things beyond your control ... tho in many cases (artistically speaking) the hard part is not so much ignoring these things, but living w/ yourself for ignoring these things. At the Liars show some fat guy pushed his way in front of us + started taking the same photo over + over w/ his fancy camera held high in front of our faces ... so after about 100 shots we started slapping him (softly) in the back of the head every time he took a photo + saying «Smell my socks. Eat my face off». People said after, 1 day you're gonna piss off the wrong guy + get punched. This is the whole point... it shouldn't be me that's worried, but the annoying guy taking the photos. He should live w/ the nagging sensation that he's gonna piss off the wrong guy. And for the record, we have yet to be punched our throw a punch (not counting that time in 4th grade...). At another recent show forget which, we happily relinquished our front balcony spot to some1 who wanted to take photos .. why? .... cuz they politely + respectfully asked.

In NYC, these issues go beyond just public spaces to private 1s ... oh, the joys of apartment living ... always some annoying neighbor. And it's usually not so much the noise (or in 1 or 2 cases a cigarette smoker below us) but people's complete disregard + lack of awareness + respect. Just like my dislike of children stems more from bad parenting then the actual kids. And these things really come to a head when traveling ... especially on airplanes, which poor j is having to contend w/ flying all over the place this month, but we are grounded in the doghouse.

All this can be generalized to art ... we should be constantly critical + not stand for mediocrity + unjustified noise (as in praising chatter), otherwise the situation or quality never changes ... we never learn or experience anything new or better. At least we can't accept bad art or annoying people or undeserved hype, otherwise we just couldn't live w/ ourselves. Life is too short. Perhaps a touch of our brother rubbed off on us when he died ... as i think we used to be more compromising + accepting. Part of what killed him was his unwillingness to compromise himself. The secret is picking your battles ... + rising above the superfluous bullshit ... of being ever aware + respectful. As David Foster Wallace put it:

The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams + crowded aisles + long checkout lines give me time to think ... + if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think + what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed + miserable every time I have to shop [...] The whole trick is keeping The Truth up front in daily consciousness. [...] The really important kind of freedom involves attention + awareness + discipline [...] + understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had ... + lost, some infinite thing.

... then again, DFW killed himself—something he eerily refers to earlier in the speech—so probly not the best person to be taking such advice from. Proust used to get bent out of shape about such petty shit, as did Schopenhauer who particularly hated noise, especially the sound of cracking whips. He's a bit high + mighty about it, but u know what he means (or if u don't, go back to sticking your head in the sand):

«Noise is the most impertinent of all forms of interruption. It is not only an interruption, but also a disruption of thought. Of course, where there is nothing to interrupt, noise will not be so particularly painful.» 

Schopenhauer's inability to tune it out led to his demise ... after getting sick of hearing some obnoxious woman chattering outside his door 1 time, he pushed her down the stairs + had to pay her a monthly settlement for the rest of his life.

22.05.14 > think we've got the 1st draft of 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY' more or less nailed down ... to a point we can print out + work on by hand. Everything (as far as existing material) in it's right place more or less ... w/ thanks to Homer/Joyce for guiding the way. Now it's just a matter of finding the glue ... to figure out to collage it together, to stitch up the seams. So if u notice anything weird around here ... that's just us method acting. Tho form-wise it will hard to recreate or practice what is we are doing w/ SSES in this online space ... we are definitely embracing the restraint of the paper-based page ... not that it is linear narrative ... far from it. Voice-wise we've already been getting into character here (in case u didn't notice) ... speaking in 1st person plural, authored as it is by a 'Chaulky' collective ... at least as the book progresses. And (spoiler alert) towards the end, the 2nd person (u) is directed at our dead brother ... the intended audience. So this will be the summer's project, finalizing SSES ... providing continuity, reassembling + weaving the otherwise disparate texts into a book object. Stepping out of our immediate environment for the summer will help ... getting a different perspective ... lounging on a beach chair in Brighton ... long runs on Beachy Head.

Jackson Mac Low Representive Works

We've been reading the Representative Works: 1938-1985 of Jackson Mac Low. We're not much for poetry normally—especially works seemingly intended to be performed—but dig most of Mac Low's stuff. The preceding descriptions of how a piece is to be performed is perhaps what we liked most. Think we said in the last post—or if we didn't we intended to—about how the book is the perfect art object cuz it requires no technology ... the necessary technology to "use it" comes embedded w/in the object itself. The only other art u could say that about is art itself, where the viewable object is the art. Music + film require a recording + playback device ... unless u count the actual performance as the art, which we do, it's just more fleeting + ephemeral + not an object, which is what we covet more than anything (except when it comes to eating ... ). Suppose u could embed music or film in a device w/ a play button built in ... but then (we're thinking apocalyptically ...) comes the issues of batteries ...

Again, it's a fine line ... where the true value of a book lies ... is it in the object or the reading? 1 way to think about it is to consider Hemingway ... not his books, but his everyday drunken actions. Rumor was that he stole the urinal from his favorite bar + mounted it in his home, arguing that he deserved it since he'd «pissed away» so much of his money into it. Put another way—suppose you eat some expensive caviar that costs $100 ... + then you get sick + puke it up. Was it a waste of $100? Depends on why you eat ... if you live to eat, then no, the value is in the tasting, the eating experience. But if you eat to live (to get nutrition/carbs) then yes.

a urinal to most, a Fountain to Duchamp

Perhaps this is why (getting back to Mac Low) we don't relate to most poetry ... not just cuz by virtue of calling it such puts it on a pedestal ... but it always seems like it was meant to be performed, it demands attention be paid to it. What u read on the page is more like a score, which in itself could be considered art, but more often than not key background information necessary to fully understand the piece is missing. The beauty of Mac Low (at least in this Representative Works volume) is that the performance pieces come complete w/ detailed instructions on how to perform the piece ... + more often than not it's these protocoled methods we found fascinating. Mac Low, along w/ Cage (not sure who was 1st ... they perhaps fed off each other) were the 1st to use systematic chance operations to create their works. There's a method to their madness + that is that there is no method. Mac Low leaves creation up to chance + his role becomes more as curator ... as does the role of the reader, specially if like us u cherry pick. Reading Mac Low is like reading the I Ching (which u don't read but 'consult') ... u don't read it cover to cover like a novel. U read what reaches out to u at a particular moment in time. Like for whatever reason, this excerpt from 4 trains—4-5 December 1964) stood out for us, maybe cuz of our preconditioned experience/associations w/ these particular words, who knows:

Trains rule atom intricate nitrogen.
Rule unusual leotard entropy.
Atom train ostrich might.
Intricate nitrogen train rule intricate casual atom train entropy.
Nitrogen intricate train rule ostrich genealogy entropy nitrogen.

Rule unusual leotard entropy.
Unusual nitrogen unusual social unusual atom leotard.
Leotard entropy ostrich train atom rule dies.
Entropy nitrogen train rule ostrich pope yearly.

Atom train ostrich might.
Train rule atom intricate nitrogen.
Ostrical social train rule intricate casual holiday.
Might intricate genealogy holiday train.

... + it goes on .. for 6 pages. He keeps rearranging the same lexicon, throwing the occasional new word into the mix. Can't even say what it is about this particular arrangement of words that strikes us + perhaps it's precisely this that strikes us. A certain appeal is also lent by Mac Low place-date marking almost every piece, as if they are historical record. Most were written in the Lower East Side or the Bronx in the 60s + 70s. Some good concrete stuff too, like this 1.

That's all we have to say for now ... we leave u w/ these lightning strikes from a passing storm last night...


 > 365 > Trigger warnings, the sanctity of self-desecration + the summer of SSES


[  (ɔ)om.Posted 2014  derek white  |  calamari press   ]