The good old days

In 2004 I had about six months where I wrote a lot of good songs, a bad novel, watched a lot of silent movies and drank.  I also listened to the album Antics by Interpol.  I liked the whole album but became obsessed by the song C’mere.

It’s way too late to be this locked inside ourselves
The trouble is that you’re in love with someone else
It should be me. Oh, it should be me.

That, and wine, and the world of silent movies.  It was a weird place to be in.  I was depressed.  Like, actually depressed, but I didn’t know it.  In 2006 it hit again and this time the doctor told me what it was.  Depression.  It’s funny because it wasn’t being sad really, it was being drained of emotion with a gnawing dread that would rise sometimes to a ragged, choked off sob.

You said today, you know exactly how I feel
I have my doubts little girl
I’m in love with something real

The silent movies have stayed with me.  I retrospectively watched the whole genre arrive, and then settle into conventions, and then push into some amazingly creative and engaging forms before the arrival of sound killed it all off.  It’s easy to think that having sound is just better, but that ignores a fact that is important: silent films were a unique art form created and then killed by technology.  Silent films are kind of an exemplar of how limits can foster creativity.  Not being able to speak the directors became incredibly creative at telling complex, multi-layered stories without any words.  It was also a truly international art form as language was completely removed as a barrier (the few text cards could easily be translated) and so it was an industry that had pan-European contributions that could be consumed by any audience.  I still remember a large number of those movies I watched in a drunken, depressed stupor.

Oh, how I love you
And in the evening, when we are sleeping
We are sleeping. Oh, we are sleeping

And so we make time
We try to find somebody else

Later albums by Interpol have not been reviewed favourably but El Pintor is just as good as Antic and Turn on the Bright Lights.  They have a very specific sound.  The lyrics don’t quite scan.  The feel is deadpan and beautiful.  Much of the criticism is that they haven’t progressed much.  Not always a bad thing that.  Look at Arctic Monkey’s latest album.  I’ve been listening to El Pintor.  The first single from a new album is out now.  It sounds good.  By which I mean that it sounds exactly like an Interpol song.  I saw them live at the Hunter Lounge.  They were good.  A wall of sound and turn on the bright lights.  Afterwards I saw the bass player smoking a cigarette out by the back doors of the student union building.  He was handsome and wearing a suit.  I wanted to be him.  He didn’t see me.

The Shalimar Mini Market sold cheap cartons of wine to the homeless, bums and me.  It was definitely a place of ill repute.  The woman who worked there was brusque and sometimes shouted at people.  The man wore jerseys under his suit and seemed a little like an Indian Tom Jones, or a cat that had just been at the cream.  They must have mastered the art of not asking questions a long time ago.  I mean, no one needs that much wine that regularly.  Mind you, no one needs that many German or Russian silent films either.

Now season with health
Two lovers walk a lakeside mile
Try pleasing with stealth, Romeo
See what stands long ending fast

That lyric was the one that bothered me most.  It doesn’t really work.  And I changed one word to Romeo because that’s what I thought it was and it makes more sense.  Not that it does make sense.  One review I read of Interpol said they sound like Duran Duran.  I know what the reviewer means.  If you take Duran Duran at Rio.

This is all noise.  I’m talking to myself.  None of this matters.

A silent pantomime.

The first song I heard by Interpol was Obstacle 1.  It’s just music.  Yes, but it makes me feel good.  It binds me up.  It lets me out of myself.  I can pretend to be someone else, somewhere else.  Come on.  C’mere.

It’s way too late to be this locked inside ourselves
The trouble is that you’re in love with someone else
It should be me. Oh, it should be me.

 

The Characteristics of Nonsense and Sense

How to stop making sense:

  1. Spend a lot of time questioning the terminology of the issue.  Rootle around in the playground of definitions for so long everyone just gets fucked off and lets you define the terminology by which point time is usually up.
  2. Isolate and then question statistics you don’t like until they become nonsense just like saying the word “avocado” over and over for ten minutes can make you doubt your sanity.  Any statistic can be made to do what you want if you want it enough: to jump through the hoop you want it to, or roll over and play dead.  Also, use the statistics to talk about the exceptions and then say “why isn’t anyone talking about the exceptions?”.
  3. Generalise confidently about very important nuanced things in a way that suggests everyone agrees with your generalisation and that you’re just saying it as you pass to more important points.
  4. Confuse being offensive with “telling it like it is”.  Offer false apologies (“I’m sorry you’re offended”) or talk about how people are too politically correct while hijacking “being polite” and “not assuming everyone is the same as you”.
  5. Think that “what I like” is the same as “what is rationally best” and class people who don’t like the same things as you as irrational.  Which allows you to start labelling people, which dehumanises them, and slips quickly into talking about them as if they are animals or monsters.
  6. Never, ever remember that indigenous people exist except when they pop up to offer a different version of events or different ways of thinking and then see point 5 above.
  7. Use code words.  IQ.  Law and order.  War on drugs.  The people who built this nation.  Civilisation.  Agency.  Freedom.  Equality.  Code words sound ideologically open, and neutral but are in fact heavily loaded, politically charged ideological weapons of the dominant narrative.
  8. Take the language of philosophy and/or science and use selective findings to bolster your credibility as you extrapolate from a study about something – often biological – that applies to mice (it’s almost always mice, although lobsters work) to humans “proving” something about gender or race.

Examples:

  1. What does the word genocide even mean?
  2. Where does this dubious statistic about rape come from? (Why is no one talking about the rape of men?)
  3. We can all agree that men and women are simply biologically and intellectually suited to different realms.
  4. Some people just need to harden up and parent properly.  I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is.
  5. Sitting down and talking calmly about something is just better; look at these hoodlums with their placards, screaming at the police – they’re no better than animals.
  6. If you come to this country you better learn to speak English.  That’s the language we speak here.
  7. There are some communities that simply do not respect authority, who are engaged in crime, who perform badly at school and – as a result, and quite fairly – end up in prison.  They are paying the consequences for their own poor decisions.
  8. There are species that breed for quantity like rabbits and species that breed for quality like wolves.  Some people are like rabbits and some are like wolves.  Rabbits like welfare.  Wolves like the free market.

How to try and make sense:

  1. The story is almost always about power, and power is about who can make decisions in a society.  In our current society the mechanism for freedom is often money.  The more you have the more choices you have.
  2. Those who generally benefit from the current model of power will not generally be motivated to see themselves in this way.  Even those who believe in collective ideals over individualism are still likely to be NIMBY’s.
  3. There is a tension between wanting to have complete freedom to make all decisions, and the collective benefits of pooling resources which limits individual freedom.  Neither extreme is desirable, and the middle ground is often frustrating.
  4. Think about who generally benefits, and who generally doesn’t in a given situation.  Try to understand why by looking at how the current situation developed.  This involves looking at history and the ideologies we have used as tools in our heads to create things out of faith in those ideologies.
  5. Be honest about your position regarding power, about how it was achieved, about who it benefits, about who it harms, about how it is maintained, about where you feel you fit on the line between the individual and collective, and understand that it is just a position and not an objective truth.
  6. Put all human activity back into the context of the cosmos.  In particular the global ecology.  Decide if we are meant to dominate or to be part of that ecology, consider the impacts, and then – again – be honest about your position.
  7. Remember that people are hypocrites; or that they are inconsistent; or that they change over time.  Judging on actions is often more trustworthy than judging on words.

Examples:

  1. People who say private schools and hospitals provide choice.
  2. #alllivesmatter or #notallmen.
  3. Libertarians v. Communists.
  4. Any indigenous population in the West, the settler population and colonialism.
  5. I am towards the side of the collective, but hate being part of a group.
  6. We are part of the system and acting so individualistically as a species will likely be the downfall of all.
  7. Final score for the author of this very post: Talk – 9, Actions – Nil.