For a decade plus, Aesop Rock has been less a rapper as much as a frontline reporter in the war of the modern age against all. The assault perpetuated on us is not a blunt attack, it is the ever present notion that something terrible lurks at the edge of our periphery, coupled with an overstimulation that disavows our instincts to simply look to the left. This war is not simply the inessential bludgeoning the urgent and essential in a mob attack it is the inessential binding our ability to discern what is urgent and meaningful.
Reportage becomes difficult, as the inessential travels and indeed thrives in light; masquerading as connection, friendship, information, and affection. The inessential conflates the words and the feelings into a meaningless and ephermal infection. The modern age produces a unqiue infection, it invades with a sense of despair and stark loneliness, but leaves a deposit of antibodies. It is only from the dark corners of our minds that we can mount a defense, from the muddled and confused but most lucid parts of our being. Aesop Rock identifies and comments on this war so efficiently because he is as affected by this war as he is appalled by it.
The lonely man, arms wrapped around knees, head resting against the wall, too tired to turn around and see the quantum illusions behind him; this is the image of the resistance. Paralyzed but restive, these climates transform swines to men.
There’s a reason why Robin Hood never kills the Sheriff of Nottingham, we don’t want to see heroes don’t win. We don’t want them to lose either, it is simply best that they are propulsed through struggle after struggle, and for that they are endearing. To see a hero as a victor is to cut them off at the knees.
We are drawn to literary characters because we are drawn to what we see in ourselves, art as entertainment is not much more than an overly generous mirror. We struggle and arrogantly enough we see ourselves in the valiantly struggling.
In the same perverse manner that we want to see our hero’s outcome continually postponed, we feel the same for the artists we are drawn to.
The Walkmen have made a career of slight optimism in the face of failure, both through their subject matter and the reality of the band. Perpetually underappreciated, the Walkmen found themselves without a record label and on the verge of a breakup after every album, until the positive reception of Lisbon. They played music centered around broken dreams, shattered plans and impossible loves, but remained slightly optimistic and ever pressed forward. The near reckless abandon they forced through their failures with paid off; Lisbon was a hit, their label kept them around, they played big shows, they all got married and had kids. Their next album was heavily anticipated and even given the time and resources that were lacking in previous releases. The heroes had won, and Heaven is their victory lap.
The Sheriff of Nottingham’s head is on a spike near the castle gates on this one, the Walkmen are now the entirely unrelatable victors wobbling around on the stubby remains of what used to be their kneecaps, offering little more than the encouragement that “we all scrape by” and the “honest man survives” on Line by Line. Heaven is quite an inspirational monument that reaffirms decent things can happen with prolonged effort, but all the while reminding us that we need a fresh supply of heroes to replace the ones who win.
Accompanying presentation was done at a The New Movement thing, www.tnmcomedy.com
Yes, I know there is a typo in it and no I don’t care. Look out for the website at www.coralgardenssealab.com soon
Full text: We stare into each mirror expecting a flicker of transcendence on the other side, always on the verge of awakening only to lose it; constantly searching for the next hyperlink-fed dopamine spritz. Our reflections turn to blue screens and the blue screens flicker to static. The static screen flickers to green and collapses from all sides leaving us alone with everything we’ve lost and a choice to ascend or prey. The predator appears ironlike under the nightclub lights and in front of the teleprompter glow, but it is the weak who prey on the weaker; it is only the strong who fight the powerful so let our tragedies passions and weaknesses tesselate to fight the injustice of the powerful, facing down the blinding light of unnatural men who hate. No longer will be be cannon-fodder or consumers, we will be people navigating the uncharted waters of revolution; pragmatic thought and contingency plans thrown overboard long away and still drifting away. Together we will find the end of an unjust world or we will find the end of ourselves instead.
The infrastructure has been bought and financed, we are simply fulfilling the market demands to keep it at capacity or at least profitable. We are mic’d up with our worst moments caught in a perpetual feedback loop, echoing from now until the sand buries all the wires.
There exists an unfortunate stigma to openly talking about depression, which is a shame because it is much more ubiquitous than we like to pretend. This tendency to avoid the topic can feel very isolating, especially for a condition that is by its nature isolating. Couple that with the the coming onslaught of holiday industrial complex and federally mandated joy and it can become a crushing cycle of loneliness. Even if you’re not depressed, the holidays are a horrible time to be alone. And based on every relationship I’ve had and my general assessment of the dating population, the holidays are probably pretty bad if you’re with someone too. Fuck the holidays.
Its not exactly a secret i’ve been in that cycle as of late, but at this point my refusal to ever go on medication has made me fairly proficient in dealing with it so I wanted to as seriously as possible share my experience. I know a fair number of people that might read this go through and are maybe even currently going through similar periods; and i also know that even you assholes who are happy aren’t actually as happy as you pretend to be.
Since no one will talk about it, and I like doing things no one else will do, this is what has worked for me. I hope it may slightly help out someone, or if not maybe get some ideas going, or at the very least further impress upon everyone how tortured and misunderstood and unique i am.
Rely on yourself
This is a tough one to realize. You may have some great friends that have helped you through other tough times. But this does not mean they understand depression and how it is something different that just being sad about something; and this fact does not make them bad friends. Unless you’ve gone through the actual physical symptoms that accompany the emotional state, depression is a near impossible thing to explain. I will spare the detail, but there are very real physical symptoms.
No alcohol. At all.
This is an easy one, and really this is an absolute one. Anyone that thinks they can drink themselves out of depression is engaging in as futile of an endeavor as the people that believe they can think themselves into happiness. Or bomb a country into peace. Its not going to happen and it will lead you on a long path downwards and you know this. Alcohol may make the nights a little easy but the days much harder. Choose the days.
Even if this means sitting at a coffee shop reading, avoid isolation. Too much alone time leads to all sorts of unproductive thoughts, it is the equivalent of picking at a wound. You’re just risking infection and prolonging it. Sitting in bed at home looking at the ceiling doesn’t accomplish anything. as lame as it is, keeping up appearances is a large part of the battle. On a similar note…
Dress well even though you don’t want to
For me at least, if I dressed how I felt people would all assume I’m homeless. Really this still happens, but outward appearances matter (this is a good reason to be depressed, but it still must be dealt with). If you present a better appearance, like it or not, it manifests into an improved mood. This means if you ever see me dressed decently, i need a hug.
I have had to remove approximately 3/4 of my music collection so there is nothing depressing or mood destroying left. No Nick Cave no Leonard Cohen no Elliot Smith no Radiohead no Cat Power no pathetic sad guy/girl music. Similar to alcohol, this is just not going to help. Ever. On the reverse side, there is bound to be plenty of music that can be relied upon to improve your mood. If I knew or cared what spotify was I would upload mine. But I don’t and I won’t.
You should try to drown life
I took this note down a few weeks ago, and while I am not sure of the intent, the way I think of it is in the way a Sigur Ros song will swell and become a wave of aggression even though it starts out weak. From the piercing falsetto to the yarn mallet, each element of the music is still a bit frail, but put together they each amplify the efforts of the other. This is a tough one to explain, just watch the video for Ny Batteri or Popplagio and make sense of it on your own.
Get rid of artifacts that remind you of depression
There is nothing more therapeutic than throwing out memories. Smash the past, if something reminds you of a sad time, or a person who had a role in you slipping back into depression, or whatever reason you have; feel free to destroy. You will never regret it, and chances are you will forget what you threw out in a few days anyway. Time is a tapeworm and getting rid of old sad artifacts is taking scissors to its tail. More will grow back in its place, but in the moment it feels good.
Just joking, seriously, please don’t kill yourself. But in the unfortunate circumstance that you decide to throw your life away, kill a banker and an oilman. Seriously, I’m joking. Don’t kill anyone. Instead, if you become so overwhelmed and can’t keep your head above water, dedicate yourself peaceably to external causes.
1) Lupe Fiasco - Lasers
This is flat out what music right now should be should be: insurgent, bold, and fun. There is a reaction to the state of the world that I have been missing for so long; Lasers for me represents the dying breed of people willing to fight off the coming dark age. Corporate control, corruption, war, the foreclosure crisis, and inequities that lead to generational poverty are favored topics on Lasers (as well as a song about a girl, suicidal thoughts, his father’s death, and a shitty modest mouse sample). Sadly, who else is talking about any of this? For this alone, Lasers will be the most enduring musical release of the year.
Personally, he deserves a huge amount of credit for being the first semi-mainstream figure to get behind Occupy Wall Street, not to mention showing up and purchasing tents for the original occupiers. Its refreshing to hear anyone confronting the challenges of our times through music, a sad reinforcement of the reality that music has lost its edge and artists wield their power only for safe causes.
“Words I Never Said”, “State Run Radio”, “All Black Everything”, and “Break the Chain” bring an urgency to the true inequities we try to ignore and cement him as a powerful voice against a media landscape designed to drown our all voices for peace and progress.
2) The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient
Slave Ambient is either a vicious and biting piece of satire, or proof that many of our peers have now been so empited of meaning the the vaccuum of substance in this ‘highly regarded work” is pressure equalized with their newly dead souls. I couldn’t ask for a better artifact to document the weary desperation and vacuous ambition of our times. Unrealized potential is latent in every song; there is the notion of a transcendental moment just around the corner at all times; but they opt for repetition over progression and I find the metaphor for our societal direction is inescapable. Cocaine induced rattled off lyrics in “Baby Missiles” typifies the running in circles we all do now and “Best Night” sets expectations appropriately low for a band with no direction but the requisite ego to take 5 and a half minutes to go nowhere.
3) Antlers - Burst Apart
Tortured sad indie-jew music, there’s no way this wouldn’t be at the top of my list.
4) Beirut - Rip Tide
What is sacrificed in terms of world influences and a more domestic sound is more than made up for by excellent song-writing. I miss the bands integration of diverse styles from around the world; and I think this album underscores the point that american indie music is so generic that vocals have become the only differentiating factor. But this album is so strong I can overlook it. For now.
5) Canon Blue - Rumspringa
If you loved Sufjan Stevens until Age of Adz, you will love this album. This is the most interesting collaboration album of the year, a guy from nebraska (or something) went to Denmark to get Efterklang (last year’s winner) to be his backing band, and then got Sigur Ros collaborators Amiina (an Icelandic string quartet) to join in. Hey, more scandinavian music, that’s unexpected.
6) Real Estate - Days
Nothing groundbreaking, but this is as fun of an album as you can get
7) Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
Icelandic chamber-pop style band, the accordion, strings, and horns are put together in a more unique fashion to the obvious corollary bands. To further this differentiation, I like to picture them as the huldufolk, or tiny elves. Think of them as a good male/female vocal duo inside of a volcanic hotspring.
8) Raised Among Wolves - Bear Tracks
More scandinavian chamber pop. I realize I don’t like the word “scandinavian.” It reminds me of the crooked smile of an ex-girlfriend. Anyway, standout tracks here are “Boys will be kings” and “You’ll never be lonely.”
Reykjavik translates to “the smoky bay” in English, it is more an aphorism than a city name. A country rife with advertising agencies would opt for something along the lines of “the magical bay” or something about a forest, but Iceland has no jobs in advertising and hasn’t relied on societal misdirection as a production staple since the Viking’s naming schemes for Greenland and Iceland.
The only misdirection to be found here is in the promises of the tourism industry that the northern lights are easily viewable in October. After or month or a lifetime of wandering around the island, the realization that the closest I will get to the northern lights is to look up at the grey mess overhead as it sets in. Somewhere above, the lights would refract through the upper atmosphere, ions from the sun reacting violently with the troposphere; but under a dull and lifeless sky my ennui is everyone’s ennui.
Still the flags snap in the wind, still the hostel charges $9 american for a cup of coffee, still the streets are emptied with everyone tired from Runtgar, still I am a step behind. 10000 ISK, a commercial transaction, and a Viking Beer later; I am ready to fly home.
Elderly couples wearing matching raincoats return home, only to be replaced by their younger, sexier, asynchronously dressed counterparts. It’s a conflict, that matching raincoats aside, has been a static unwinnable conflict for ages. The most terrifying conflict, the greatest fear, is a boring world in which there are no worthwhile chances to take, because there are no rewards worth receiving, no love and no hope to create it. Each attempt at creating a better world is a shake gesture with an overt Christian undertone that pronounces the inequities rather than blurs them, unfolds slowly only to wither away in a moment.
Watch as the girls pass by on the walk to Kaffi Rosenbaum, streets lit by string lights but otherwise empty. Dim lights and even dimmer prospects for regaining times of long lost importance. The days have flown by, delineated by sleepy anthems, brick walls, the noticeable lack of a dogs bark and sitting alone having the audacity to wonder why. Travel should whittle down the list of regrets, though this list has verged away from recession, more towards regression towards old tendencies. It’s a weight upon artificially old and tired soul, dulled from countless nights at coffee shops, avoiding eye contact with the same rotating cast of happy couples. Smokey patios and smokey bays, the differences are anathema.
For now the walk proceeds at whatever pace it will, my legs have been so tired for so long, and that idyllic feeling where tiny machines carry you across the world while you are too exhausted to move will not be realized for another 8 hours, Halfstraeti is a oath that has to be taken on my own, right hand on an Ishiguruo novel.
You can always tell the Americans when abroad, they talk as if no one can hear their English, just as they cannot hear a language that they do not understand. The rock formations are still in the wind, time had not worn them down as the needs of modern travel and automobiles have, travelers and seagulls alike. She’ll ask what I want and I’ll make a gesture attempting to be someone with a serious answer to anything, the right thing to say, something to diverge from the path I’m on, or even an idea of where I wanted to diverge towards. The rotten shark dish will be good for now. I’ll write that she is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and will be standard by which i judge the beauty of every human, creature, piece of artwork and object in nature; but even now I cannot remember a single feature about her, much less a name.
One can only truly see themselves when thrown into new environment, the dizzying doldrums of everyday not there to obscure matters. But in this new environment there is nothing looking back except the vague feeling that on the other side lies some form of transcendence and breaking through the haze is in perpetuity one step away.
As much as I abhor his politics, at least Ron Paul is consistent. In the minds of modern middle America, he is probably best known for his debate outburst that we should let someone without health insurance die, because what ever happened to taking responsibility and freedom etc etc. I guess the basic idea is that the Founding Fathers didn’t have health insurance so why do we need it?
Because really, living without health insurance in america is one of the most incredible freedoms I enjoy as an american. Las vegas seems quaint in comparison, really it is the most fun form of gambling you can do. My slight beer belly screams “i’m a healthy virile young man” but the bruises all over my body and the sores on the inside of my mouth scream AIDS. Its a constant rush to see how long I can beat the house.