Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Anyone remotely different always gets misunderstood

I maybe romanticise about the outsider too much: I often think all people rejected by society choose to be outsiders; I often think that all outsiders are hermits who indulge in the esoteric occult; I often think that all outsiders are into avant-garde art and write poetry. One thing I know for certain, however, is that when a person stands out and differs from the rest of the crowd, the person will instantly be misunderstood.

Most people are physically aware of themselves: they know what they look like on the surface. So they then judge everyone else by that very same standard without realising what goes on under our skin. Whenever a person differs from the rest of the crowd, it is difficult to reach an instant judgement on the person, so the populace will conjure up a label for the person and throw him out to the garbage.

'Different' people often have different motivations and orientations. Their motives are never the same as the crowd's. When a 'different' person happens to be an artist, that person often feels the urge to go into the 'prohibited' zones of the human psyche with his art. Society instantly feels repelled by this subversion, and applies their judgement on the person. The artist's intentions gets lost amidst the tumultuous controversy and he gets misunderstood.  

Society always has norms, conventions and standards which are then imposed over the individual. When the individual's mind-set doesn't correlate with this specific ideology of the prevailing fashion, the individual stands out. Whatever his intentions are, they will always be scrutinised and laughed upon. 

And what's sad and pathetic about all this is that people who are subject of this 'dismissal' from society often attempt to hide their idiosyncrasies and will do nothing about getting ostracized. All these new, exciting tendencies they experience are suppressed so that they can be part of the crowd or at the very least (in the most extreme cases of the eccentricity of the individual) obtain a couple of friends.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Pop > generic rock

Most rock consumers sneer at pop because they think it's garbage with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, but they are mistaken. The structure of a pop song is exactly the same as that of a generic rock song, but the surface of it is altered with a slightly darker sound and superficial stance. Pop is exactly the same as a standard rock song - 4/4 time signature, predictable chord changes and dumb lyrics about love - but the only difference is that it's promoted less rebelliously. 

The great thing about pop music is that it's completely unpretentious - it's not claiming to be anything more than it is. Generic rock claims that it's serving some sort of purpose and message, but it's ultimately completely meaningless.  Pop is meaningless too, but it's not claiming to be anything other than trivial. It's amazing how easily deceived people can be; it's amazing how teenagers how can think that these repetitive and monotonous sounds hold some sort of key to their life and some sort of passage into eternity. 

People always have preconceived ideas and prejudices prior to approaching something. This applies to all facets of the social spectrum; this applies to both 'high' art audiences and 'low' art audiences. People always look at the surface of the music without looking at the subtleties and details. People always have a fixed idea of what they like and don't like, and whenever they come across something that doesn't correspond with their preconceived vision - their ears turn off. 

Avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis said that 'even the most trivial pop music can teach you something'. This is especially true if we apply anthropology to the equation. Pop is specifically indicative of traditions and trends of different times. If the entire race were to vanish overnight, it'd be possible to reconstruct it by looking at how pop sounded during different eras. Pop derives its material from the prevailing norm of the time, and it is far more valuable than generic rock which serves no purpose other than itself.

People use music as a way of symbolising themselves as individuals. Generic rock is used for this idiotic purpose far more than rock. Pop is ultimately just used as a product and is left as it is, but generic rock is often used to designate teenagers into groups and to measure the value of a person by the mere sounds they hear and parade with their clothing.

I find the whole way rock bands are conceived and assembled extremely boring. It's usually a few mates who grab hold of instruments and start a band for the hell of it with no overall concept. It's always far more interesting when rock deviates from that standard template in order to explore the sounds themselves

Monday, 9 February 2009

Time-travelling belt

Themo Lobos' creation Mampato is a Chilean boy who acquires a time-travelling belt (a 'cinto-espacio temporal') from an alien named Xse. This alien gives him the belt as a thank you for freeing his planet from the tyrannical oppression of Mong, a cruel and vile being who condemned many of Xse's fellow friends to slavery. With this time travelling device, Mampato consequently travels around many moments in Earth's history where he solves many dilemmas and gets himself into innumerable adventures. He goes to medieval England, Baghdad, the Easter Islands, Troy and many other places. 

This was a comic book I read over and over again during my childhood. This blog entry is devoted to what I'd do if I were to acquire a time-travelling belt.

- I'd have sex with exotic and erotic women from different times, places and ethnic backgrounds. 

- I'd go to the house where Trout Mask Replica was made in. I'd live there for a short while, and I'd see how Beefheart hypnotised his Magic Band. I'd be present during the incessant rehearsals that took place, and I'd have talks with the band members and, of course, Beefheart himself when he was at the height of his powers.

- I'd go to the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring where I'd be present at the tumultuous and hectic riot that took place.

- I'd go to see John Coltrane perform in 1964 with his all-star band.

- I'd go to 1920s Buenos Aires, so that I could participate in the congregations Macedonio Fernandez led where Borges was his devoted follower and amanuensis. I'd converse and take part in their literary/metaphysical/philosophical endeavours and I'd see the early stages and the shaping of Borges' phenomenal mind.

- I'd go to 8th century China to wander around the landscapes Li Po portrayed in his poetry.

- I'd go to medieval Japan - especially during the time the film Ran was set in.

- I'd go to early 20th century Mexico to wander around the plains and countryside in order to witness the hopeless and wretched poverty that Juan Rulfo conveyed so very powerfully in his fiction.

- I'd go to late 19th century Chile and around the time it conquered its independence.. I'd go around the capital Santiago and the rest of the country to experience the extremely varied culture and climate. I'd also savour the wonderful atmosphere that can't be experienced anywhere else.

- I'd have sex with exotic and erotic women from different times, places and ethnic backgrounds. 

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The end times

I have reached the end of an era where everything in the past must be burned and destroyed and where I must recommence.... I have reached the end times.

I always saw 2008/2009 as 'the future' when I was younger. I looked at some photographs of the people from my old school in Chile graduating and leaving school... They have reached the future have reached the preconceived future I had in my head, but I am in the ditch...

2008 was a pretty sterile and lethargic year, but I'm going to rectify that in 2009. In that year all I did was wank about and fantasize about the future, but I'm becoming far more realistic now... I'm looking at things in terms in terms of whether they're achievable or not, and then go on to actually do them... I'm going to write YET ANOTHER post of my re-considered future plans, but this time they will be achievable. I'm now planning out future writings which won't be lame meta fiction where I cop out at the end with implementing myself into the story, but I will actually have a preconceived plan and I will actually study and research some topics prior to their writing.

2007 was the best and worst year in my life where everything reached its culmination. All this ultimately imploded and counterattacked against me... 2008 was a year that marked the end of that period where I took the time to lie about and rebuild my energies, and it also was a year where I read as much as I could... 2009, however, points the way forward...

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Fractured time

I have posted elsewhere that 'beginning, middle and end' aren't an accurate representation of the human condition. Our unconscious works in a free-associative manner where anything can happen randomly at any time. I'm not saying that all art should stick to one particular framework and canvas, but I'm saying that people should become more aware of the possibility of fractured time

People always crave some sort of stability when reading or watching something: a structure that prevents everything from falling apart into chaos. There are ways of structuring something - but it takes a lot of discipline and craft - to consciously create an unconscious disorientation of memory. In this 'disorientation of memory' time is fractured and broken up to the point where there is no discernible middle or end, but where we can approach time from any angle we want. There are ways of breaking with grammar or eschewing standard film techniques to create this, but I still think that it has to be done with some sort of self- awareness in order to prevent the art-form from regressing into.... well, wank. Stream-of-consciousness and other intuitive forms of expression are more suitable for other artistic terrains where one can explore subconscious anxieties and obsessions, but when one deals with the task of structuring a novel where time is 'fractured', it can actually demand far more energy and determination than constructing a linear narrative.

A novel that really impressed me (I read it in a flabbergasting single sitting) was Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo. It's a novel where many points of view and angles are all portrayed at once. Because the characters are dead, the sense of time is fractured and there's no 'present'. Similarly, Faulkner plays - far more axiomatically and blatantly - with time in the first two chapters of 'The Sound and the Fury'. The character Quentin in the second chapter is obsessed with his father's watch, and this acts as a role for constant shifting from time and mood swings which ultimately culminate in the character's suicide. In this chapter, the grammar deteriorates as the character's state of mind deteriorates. All this symbolises the idea of 'fractured' time.

In dreams time is fractured, and that's perhaps something wonderful that can't be experienced in waking life. Dreams follow a deviant logic where anything can go anywhere for no reason at all. These oneiric landscapes should be replicated in some form or another in waking life, because dreams have all the answers to ourselves as individuals - everything about ourselves is there. 

Friday, 6 February 2009


Around all the social classes and elites of the world, people conform to a super-imposed identity. People feel a need to belong to some sort of group, and they believe that the specific ideology of the certain group represents them as individuals. People then make the terrible assumption that because they belong to the certain group that they are completely similar to the remainder of the people constituting it, and that their thoughts are all veered towards the direction of the group.

Labels for yourself aren't adequate for a description of you as a person. For instance, if you call yourself a 'mosher' then you are scrutinising all your existent 'goth' tendencies. Some of the more intellectually-oriented identities are just the same but on a different level. Choosing an 'existential' identity or 'marxist' identity is merely futile intellectual comfort. Writers who are a victim of this 'intellectual comfort' shut their minds to one particular aesthetic whilst ignoring other new possible ways of conceiving a creative project and of expressionism. Writers often make the dreadful mistake of conjuring a conscious, pre-conceived template and canvas for their written work where everything follows an intellectual formula. Out of this formula they consciously stick to one specific genre - be it 'existentialism', 'baroque', 'social realism', 'surrealism', etc. etc. - which they religiously devote themselves to whilst ignoring the possibilities of other forms of expression. There are more than one way to things, but the adopted superficial identity of the intellectual often opts for one path of self-fulfilment whilst ignoring other possibilities and mediums of writing.  

Identities are often ways of measuring someone as a person. People reach the vile decision of whether they are 'good' or 'bad' by their superficial clothing, appearance and the group they belong to. Music seems to be a way people reach these sorts of conclusions. How in fucking earth do sounds define you as an individual? What's worse than that is that because a teenager has chosen a group and an identity, he consequently rejects all the other genres of music available and conforms to the group he is part of.

The realm of politics is quite possibly the archetype of my disdain for 'identities'. Politicians constantly apply their 'left-wing' or 'right-wing' views towards a current event no matter how much their subconscious differ from the matter. This is why politicians constantly lie: they can't keep to their promises because their thoughts don't correlate with the identity they are part of. This is why politicians constantly fight: they all differ in opinion despite being part of the same identity and group. Whenever a politician approaches a situation, his decisions and thoughts on the matter are already ingrained in his mind and he automatically reaches an instant move in his head. Politicians always generalise over the populace; they reach conclusions on what the 'republican' section of the population believe and they reach conclusions over what the 'democrats' believe.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Watershed art

'2666 is a book in which the devil drives, each narrative searing its path among others, each eventually coursing a snake track through the Sonoran desert and around the stinking dumps of Santa Teresa, with accordion music and laughter on the wind. Much of the writing goes beyond any recognisable model and can only be approached on its own terms. As the Argentinian writer Rodrigo Fresan has observed, "what is sought and achieved here is the Total Novel, placing the author of 2666 on the same team as Cervantes, Melville, Proust, Musil, and Pynchon." Like eaach of these titanic forebears, Bolaño has come close to re-imagining the novel.' - Richard Gwyn reviewing Roberto Bolaño's 2666 in The Independent. 

The appearance of Bolano's 2666 in english is a monumental event in the history of contemporary fiction. Many people seem to proclaim that our era has experienced 'the death of the novel', but the appearance of this marvellous book completely re-defines the possibility of the novel as a literary medium and shuts that naive and presumptuous claim into a hatted cock. Watershed art can come at any moment and at any time - especially when there's been years of sterile productivity. 2666 points the way forward, and it will without a shadow of doubt set a standard for the remainder of the 21st century; it will also give birth to new original novels and will incite more new, fresh ideas. The seeds for an awaiting generation of artists have been sown with the publication of this book.

Watershed art is usually developed by solitary characters. The established academies always measure art by its historical development. The most fatal mistake when measuring and discussing art is when one applies it to history. There are many poets and writers who never became well-known because they were nothing more than great writers who didn't alter the path of history. Fresh ideas are rarely perpetrated by groups of people self-consciously trying to churn out something 'original'; fresh ideas come from one single person pursuing his own vision whilst ignoring the constraints and limitations of academia. It's through these routes that one accidentally stumbles across 'originality'. It's also usually from these solitary people that the academies usually draw their conventions and norms from.

Watershed art usually provokes extreme reactions from an audience. Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, for instance, caused a riot in its premier. Because people are so accustomed to conventions, when one is confronted by something which has no preceding style model - something which is a phenomenon for itself - it scares and intimidates people. Perhaps you might say that with the excess of violence and sex in the media that these sort of reactions from the audience have subsided, but I still defy a mainstream audience to dismantle and confront some of Webern's compositions or Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou. I don't mean to come across as elitist or pompous, but watershed art has the quality of sustaining its sheer innovating power amidst the prevailing conventions to the point of mystifying and bewildering the mainstream punter who is accustomed to straightforward tonality and a linear plot.