Monthly Archives: July 2017

It’s in the Lyrics, Man

Another rock musician of depressing, self-absorbed, snowflake melancholy lyrics has offed himself. Not to comment on the person because I don’t want to speak ill of the dead let alone one that flung a No at existence, or rejected God’s gift (interpret at your leisure). I was not a fan of their music and know nothing about them except what I have heard at work.

But I have to ask. Is this a surprise? I still remember how shocked and saddened people were when Kurt Cobain ate that shotgun. Really? Talk about a walking billboard of self destruction.

Now, if Katrina from Katrina and the Waves (I’m Walking on Sunshine – well – and don’t you feel good!) wraps a cord around her neck, then we can be surprised. A person can show in their product and general “public” persona upbeat happiness, even joy. To you. To the perceiver. And they can be one step from offing themselves at any moment.

But you don’t usually see the opposite. The person who shows utter despair and depression in product and persona but whistling Dixie and skipping down their sidewalk in private time.

Music in general and rock in particular has been in a depressing downward, angst driven spiral of suicidal death worship for about a generation now. And I think it started with grunge.

Of course depression starting in Seattle makes perfect sense if you have ever suffered their 9 to 10 month rain/drizzle/grey sky/drizzle/rain/grey/grey/rope around neck/rain season. It is enough to make Matthieu Ricard take a back flip off the Space Needle and create his own brain omelet on the sidewalk below.

Hey, I’m creating a little depression right here! Hoo Ha!

I don’t listen to any modern music especially youth music. For one I am no longer a youth and a lot of it simply doesn’t speak to me. Second I didn’t grow up at a time when youth thought like that. The depressing kids when I was growing up listened to REM or The Cure, but it was mostly a fad thing for them. A lot of them wore their despondency with the same shallowness that their mall bought goth accessories were attained.

Going further back generation-wise. My brother once called my mother on the telephone, my mother is 75, to talk about how depressed he was feeling. Her response – “Get over it.”

And that is about the crux of it right there.

But I like evidence so let’s take a look at a couple of representative lyrics here. The first is Numb by Linkin Park. This song is almost an archetype of the modern lyric. Note the focus (and the projection) on the expectations, perceived or real, of the other and the victim status of the focal person. This is pure victim music. It is almost a complete lack of self in these lyrics, the person’s existence is really just an extension of the oppressor’s domination which is achieved by the Victim’s supposed lack.

And it is depressing as shit. It is a song of failure. [In fact in looking over this band’s lyrics, I encountered the word failure at least a dozen times in different songs.]

I’m tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface
I don’t know what you’re expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
Become so tired, so much more aware
By becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

Can’t you see that you’re smothering me?
Holding too tightly, afraid to lose control
‘Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you
Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow
And every second I waste is more than I can take!

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
Become so tired, so much more aware
By becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

And I know I may end up failing too
But I know you were just like me with someone disappointed in you

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
Become so tired, so much more aware
By becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
I’m tired of being what you want me to be
I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
I’m tired of being what you want me to be

Now, let’s take a look at 1980’s Back in Black which not only ushered in a decade but is pretty representative for the decade that followed. Note the complete lack of victimhood here. In fact one would have to wonder if the person here possesses victims himself, so over the top is the bravado. There is no depression to be found here, this is spit out a nail and get to work. Yes, I have a preference – I choose anything to despair. This song is the winning throw in the Super Bowl, the grand slam at Fenway Park – it is a maniacal boastful resurrection and winning. [I would have put the lyrics to Walking on Sunshine to contrast but I was trying to keep the genres similar.]

Back in black
I hit the sack
I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes, I’m let loose
From the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I’ve been looking at the sky
‘Cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse ’cause I never die
I got nine lives
Cat’s eyes
Abusin’ every one of them and running wild

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Back in the back
Of a Cadillac
Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack
Yes, I’m in a bang
With a gang
They’ve got to catch me if they want me to hang
‘Cause I’m back on the track
And I’m beatin’ the flack
Nobody’s gonna get me on another rap
So look at me now
I’m just makin’ my play
Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way


Graves, Balls and Crosses

Finished Lafferty’s The Elliptical Grave on Tuesday. The whole focus of the book seems to even come at you elliptically – and at the last minute. It wasn’t until the final two chapters that it all came together. Before that I slogged through it for three weeks.

Because I thought there was nothing behind the curtain. Oh, there was something behind the curtain alright. A bet. That was what was behind that curtain. A bet of ultimate consequences.

This is one of those Lafferty books that I find slightly annoying in that, although I will want to reread it anyway, I have to reread it because I am sure I missed 99% of the fruit’s juice. He can throw so much indirection and misdirection at you (to say nothing of the constant word play) it is like coming into a joke at the punchline. You thought you were in a joke or a jest but only opaquely – and then the drum snap and the crowd laughter. Hold on! Back to the beginning.

If Lafferty were instructed to write the plain fact that a cat is on a mat, he’d entertain us for 40 pages and we still wouldn’t have a simple fact, but a multiplicity… a multiplicity that may involve a cat (a feline of some sort at least) and some derivative form of dorsal support. But the cat would have died and resurrected, or simply continued to decompose, or assumed a chair at the Institute for Impure Science and the mat would be constructed by St. Joseph himself (bonus points to whomever can guess the Lafferty reference there).

But once I got the hook. What a story! His stories are like the Spanish Inquisition – no one expects it!

Now to the balls and the crosses.

I was talking to suspected android/writing machine author (or time traveller, or possessor of the 48 hour day) John C. Wright the other day (actually he was talking, me and a few others were listening) about religion in science fiction (talk about an untapped field) and he mentioned G.K. Chesterton’s The Ball and the Cross.

Few authors will get a pass to the front of the line. G.K. Chesterton is one of the few. I already own and am a HUGE fan of his books Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man, and I love his Father Brown stories. So when I heard mention this book about a duel (and one supposes debate) between a fledging secular atheist at the dawn of the 20th century and a Christian (I suppose a stand-in for Chesterton himself although I haven’t got that far yet) well, how can one resist that?

Think of it though. That was a new creature (pretty new, anyway) in 1905. Fresh and full of vigor, and full of utopian answers that were yet to kill millions upon millions of people. Although the French had the news.

Over a century before he and his brethren whittled down the edifice of Western Civilization enough where we can start to see the prayer mats our grandchildren will be kneeling – or bleeding – upon.

This should be a fascinating read.

California Typewriter

Usually I loathe documentaries and only watch a couple in any given year. Mainly I don’t like material presented to me in such a manipulative format. I like it to be as close to data as I can get it and form my own opinion.

Or put it this way: If you are watching a Michael Moore film and you think you are getting facts, you live in fairytale land.

But this one is right up my alley. It is about typewriters! And how awesome they are. Although I had to abandon the idea of exclusively writing on one. I like to sit at it when I have a moment and have a continuing narrative going on with it.

The trailer was pretty interesting. It’s nice to know I’m not the only typephile out there. Tom Hanks says he has over 250 typewriters. Way to go, buddy, I feel your love!

Still in the Grave and Summer Vacations

I am still reading Lafferty’s The Elliptical Grave. It is slow going. One, I really had this amped up in my mind. Two, this is one of his later books which consists mainly of dialogue and some pretty bizarre action. It seems to belong to a family of later Lafferty works like East of Laughter, Aurelia, and Serpent’s Egg. They are, all four of them, very similar in a lot of ways.

They are sort of like carnival philosophical dialogues if Augustine liked to write such things while slightly high on peyote. While the characters and the action are as some distorted, highly stylized cartoon/animation, the subject matter (both overall and in dialogue) center on technical theological and philosophical points. And on a first reading you can only get a flash – hold it – is he actually talking about eternity and the concept of time in relation to resurrection?

This is certainly NOT one of the Lafferty novels to start with. If one starts reading Lafferty from here, they probably won’t get very far. Better to start with the pretty straightforward Past Master.

I’m three weeks into The Elliptical Grave and I’m not sure what I am reading.

No news on the writing front, although daydreaming never stops. I am covering summer vacations at present and only have one day off at a time. And, being too old for the job, it usually takes a significant part of that day to recuperate to functionality!