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I Know My Lovers By the Height of My Flame

Mummer-Saint Andi always responds to me by email and never in the comments box, which is fine, but it always means that I have to drag his tempered, charged considerations over to this blog afterwards; I always get a little wince when Andi writes, the "I can't believe I didn't think/say/realize that beforehand, I can't believe I wasn't honest" wince.

A couple things:

He's probably right about "pillowy drama-nerd indie-rock" not being the best kind of poetry; in my fever/fervor, I probably overlooked the fact that while the phrase has its heart in the right place, it's ultimately squandered language; it doesn't build itself into something effective. I'm not picking on anyone specifically, just the general trend to overuse the hyper-hyphenated style without trimming the fat. When it works, it feels like a writer crammed 1,000 words into 200 (sorcery! vertical stripes! corsets!); when it doesn't work, it feels like the writer jogged into the room while being chased by a small bear, typed hurriedly without sitting down, and then was prematurely dragged away, screaming "QWERTY" and clutching faintly-considered cliches in his/her strained fingers. I'm for hyphens; MF Gill said once that my writing was really "dense," and I take that as a compliment. I want to be like a delicious fucking eclair: in your haste and excitement, you wolf it down and then realize that you're completely full and riding untold waves of narcotic sweetness. I think this is the proper metaphor; I'll have to abstract on it a bit.

Anyway, Plumber-Caster of Nets Andi gets on to better things:

"when i come across phrases like "Crampsian swamp-gurgle", i usually just ignore them, read right past them; or, i might remember the part about the Cramps, but ignore the part about the gurgle, because it's not clear EXACTLY what is meant, EXACTLY how and where the music gurgles, and what is description if not some fairly precise measure of the world."

This is where all the computer colors in my brain really started flickering. I wrote a long-ish paper in college for an Aesthetics philosophy course on the question of ineffability in music, phrased as a yes/no situation. In my mind there are a couple courses: first, there's the effability of our emotional experience i.e. this is exactly what I feel when I listen to music, my true emotions articulable in words; secondly, there's the re-creation/imitation of the music listener's dazzling sensorium, i.e. by the power of my words can I recreate the kind of emotional charges I get from listening to the music without necessarily describing the music per se. Of course, both of these things presuppose our emotional stimulation as the primary objective, which it isn't always. In the interest of feeling though, let's sidestep facts/"journalism"/background stories for a little bit.

I could chew on a book about this subject, but my ultimate conclusion is that in either case, you're relying on language, which isn't a science; it's practical but fallible. Example: for some minds "weak grooves" would be a potent enough phrase to use effectively; for others, "flaccid, a-syncrhonous polyrhythms" is more resonant and therefore more effective in conveying a sense of the music. We're not of one mind. I mean, when I say "sublime," you're activating you're long chain of thoughts and experiences and I'm sailing through mine and they're not always the same. So sure, "swamp-gurgle" might not do a lot for you. The word "gurgle" might be a pale pink fizzy to you, for me it might be a nauseating purple-green. So sure, we're getting back into the pre-verbal fireworks of synaesthesia, what else did you expect? Either way, I think the goal is to try to do either of these things but preferably the latter; I think it's to a writer's great sensitivity that they can "get" an album's feel, though that puts me firmly on the side of advocating artists from the get-go, something that not everybody's out to do (and I respect that, for sure). Blather blather, blah blah, let's get on with it. Like the new banner? Things are slowly getting finer & silkier, though I think it could use a gentle tweaking (what doesn't?). Adley did it; maybe once either he or Dania start getting laid regularly again, they'll update the blog.


Blogger Ian said...

I have no idea who Andi is, but I disagree with this:

"because it's not clear EXACTLY what is meant, EXACTLY how and where the music gurgles, and what is description if not some fairly precise measure of the world."

On a whole host of levels. Just for starters, I'll take the communication of sensation over literal description every single time, which is because of/tied in with/identical to the fact that even EXACT, precise measures of the world must transmit to us what a messy, foggy, UNprecise world it is that we're talking about. As long as our phenomenological accounts of the world as lived are messy, our writing should/must be a little messy too.

Although I'm not particularly committed to defending the specific phrase "Crampsian swamp-gurgle". I like it, but it's not what my viewpoint is standing or falling on, you know? To me that sort of language communicates something to me, maybe something ineffable but definitely something wordless, and (to me) that's a thousand times better than precise description.

All really good music writing, to me, should cause at least a mild tinge of synesthesia in the reader, if they're receptive to it.

And yeah, I like the new banner. Is that a picture from your birthday? I reminds me a little of the image on the front of that "Taste of TG" compilation that came out this year.

1:45 PM  

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