Old weirdy/genius/recluse J.D. Salinger wrote some stuff that foresaw the ascendancy of vapidity in our culture and the resultant evaporation of the human soul. Then he gave us all the proverbial finger for a good 40 years and never fully expounded on said digit until the day he died. Even then his final word was probably little more than a quiet sigh. Guess nobody knows for sure.
As much as Hemingway or Vonnegut, Salinger captured a mindset -- a sense of dissatisfaction -- the lone voice asking above the rabble, is anyone else really listening? It's there in the pages of Catcher in the Rye, ideas that live on in Rolling Stones and Joy Division songs and pervade our alienated/confused psyches to this day. He was right, of course. At one time I saw some Holden in myself. Still do even, but over the years things changed and my understanding of the inconsistency of humans (or at least myself) became more clear. The more I thought I knew, the less I realized I did know. The more I wanted to be Holden, the more I realized I was closer to the object of his contempt. Depressing, ain't it? But, then, this is what it is to be alive and aware, or maybe the character John Locke on Lost.
These days I spend a good bit more time unlearning, returning if you will... To where? The name of this blog offers a hint, and that's NOT a roundabout way of saying I need to get laid -- though, I probably need to get laid.
Now I think that we all basically start life as imitators, or "phonies," and through some searching, real work and/or old fashioned luck, we might grow into something closer to real. The problem is, thanks to the redundant illusions of mass media today and its subjects being rehashed/repackaged/remarketed ad nauseum, it's easier and easier to try on different avatars which we present as ourselves and harder and harder to find our own true voice amid all the chatter.
In this brave new world, bullshit comes as a torrential downpour and everyone has an opinion. It matters not that we have VIRTUALLY NOTHING to say; what matters is that our thoughts don't fall on deaf ears. It's the tragedy of the human condition recast as abbreviated tedium, writ large and "shared" exponentially. Thanks to Twitter, you can now watch someone's mental breakdown in real-time in syncopated bursts while browsing through the latest Photobomb over at Visboo. Points of view are tried on like new hats, or pea-coats, or Lady Gaga's latest face-mask artistic statememt shocker (though on one level a nifty culture-jamming snafu, I still suspect designed to make us think her flavor-of-the-month dancefloor music actually matters) and all of it ejected into hyperspace for the final half-acknowledged, numbskulled reception.
One simply need a good avatar, which is why things like The Grammys and other mass media fellatio fests strike me as so fascinating. I guess I blame MTV. I blame Hollywood. I blame myself. Yet I thank all those things (and myself), too, for so adequately illustrating the divine comedy that is life today. It's ironic to think that the things that make us the least interesting as people often define other species at their best. I'm thinking of ants, honeybees, trees and flowers. Hence Communism and Socialism are so enticing to young and hopeful minds. Perhaps this desire for collectivist information reception, no matter how meaningless, is why trash like the VMAs, MTV, The Grammy's and The Things Famous People Do are all so darn important to us, or at least more important than they should be.
Now to be completely honest I'm too busy pulling off my balancing act between being a good little worker bee and contemplating The Infinite to really be bothered with mass culture today, but never the less I remain a part of the mass: The Grand Material Whatever It Is That Unfolds Randomly through seemingly endless space, spitting out gaseous giants, quasars and photons in all directions every step of the way, and me, the fool trying to assemble the puzzle that was never designed. There is something magical at work here. And spontaneous. We only see a sliver, yet we see so much. No wonder we're so delusional, so lost, trying to put it all together. When I think about it, I feel less guilty for being Holden Caulfield and a big fat phony all rolled into one. All that really matters is where you wanna go, and how you intend to get there. Can you tell I'm in serious Lost mode currently? Metacontemplation, baby.
I'd like to send out mad props to all involved for bringing the second installment of the No Idea Festival to the Dallas area late last month, this time at the Phoenix Project Collective. I meant to give this thing a proper review days ago. Events like these are a real blessing 'round these parts, and I'm thankful to Chris Cogburn, Aaron and Stefan Gonzalez and the other amazing musicians that played this night, Dave Dove, Jesse Kuddler, Lucas Gorham, Phil Brewer and Remi Alvarez, for making it one to remember. My favorite set was probably the opening duo of Cogburn/Kuddler with Kuddler's muted Onkyo Music inspired electronic hums conversing with Cogburn's unconventional pats, scratches and bows on drums. I hope there's more to come from these two. The Dove/Gorham duo, operating under the designation Screwed Anthology, delivered the goods in spades with way gone trombone/lapsteel blues/jazz workouts that rubbed elbows with prechosen selections from the vast mixtape library of the legendary DJ Screw. The final trio of the Gonzalez's and Mexico City's Alvarez (sax), along with Phil Brewer (trumpet) on a couple pieces, offered a good hour of exploratory free jazz aural-kinesis that dipped into the most jagged spiked rock valleys and ascended to blue-green windswept highs. Ego-destroyed.
Rewatched Avatar (at home) - definitely better than Titanic, but I don't know about this Best Film Oscar stuff. I'm thankful for prime-time pulp sci-fi entertainments like Lost and Fringe, as they keep my busy brain energized and stimulated in interesting new ways. The former will be remembered as one of the most influential and thought provoking shows of all time, where the latter is closer to a theoretical-physics-meets-Paranormal-Investigation answer to The X Files. Both are highly recommended if you want to try to shed your typical 4-dimensional mindset. Also rewatching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (out of order) - unable to escape hobbit roots. They may be too long, but they beat the hell out of those awful Pirates movies.