This is what happens to a post when things get shaken. Noted before that the earthquake in Italy served a greater purpose for me. Anytime things get shaken up and nobody is seriously injured, there’s a great case to make that it’s beneficial. Truth be told, I can only speak for myself, but that 4.9 Naples twist and shout was a boon for me, and coincidentally, it happened in Italy. Why a coincidence? I’ve been reading a lot of Italo Calvino lately, particularly The Complete Cosmicomics. In doing so I realized that, along with PKD and Ballard, it’s impossible for me to omit Calvino as one of the four or five major writers of the latter half of the 20th C., for his insistence on incorporating various scientific fields into his work (at the service of his art), for his bold experimentation and, like Beckett, his emphasis on the universals of the human experience and cosmic conceits (How It Is). It was apropos to be reading Calvino in Italy during a seismic event. Anyone who has read Calvino will immediately understand what I’m saying.
Here’s an email to a friend. Pardon the vernacular, or don’t. Revel in it.
The Complete Cosmicomics is essentially four books of short stories, utterly mind-blowing in scope and wit and, for reasons same and dissimilar, I put Calvino in the same league of importance as PKD and Ballard for late mid-late 20th C. writers. Calvino is unquestionably the superior writer, more erudite, dextrous and witty, but he shares Dick’s cosmic themes, though more scientifically motivated than religious and/or quasi-mystical, and he swaps lit spit with Ballard in that they’re more overtly sociological and psychological and, dare I say, purely scientific, and at least Ballard kissed experimental form on occasion. They’re all essential for their own reasons, PKD obviously being the easiest to read and easily as prescient as any writer of his time. Calvino is the most challenging and, therefore, by far the most rewarding of the three. It’s hard to construct a triad of The Three Most Important Writers of the Latter Half of the Last Century, but there ya’ go, more lint fallen lint off my tattered cuff.
So not long after I return to the Police State Light, I finally acquiesced to the surgery I’ve been putting off, wherein the doctor removed the C3 and C4, replaced them first with a metal plate and thenimplanted semi-sentient prostheses, complete with dynamic AI which possesses vast potential for information acquisition. Needless to say that tech has been backdoor’d at the manufacturing facility by the NSA, making their ability to potentially harvest my thoughts and create predictive models of my behavior and actions a snap, a rather ironic way to put it if you aren’t aware of what happens to discs as they get blown out over time. Infuriating? Sure it is, but I got this gnarly scar I can brag about next time I’m on a cheap shrimp trawler comparing scars over coffee mugs of rotgut with a posh college boy and a grizzled fisherman.
Music: Ostensibly one of the primary subject of this here “webzine.” I’m currently listening to Rave Tapes by Mogwai. Honestly, I haven’t decided if I truly like them (I loathe the bulk of their back catalog) or if it’s merely an infatuation based on a few tunes that may be the exception to their rule. On Rave Tapes, when they’re good, they’re good, but I’ve not heard anything at all that would qualify them as great; certainly nothing to sustain that description. And they have that awful name. That has to be purposefully stupid, because the most productive thing I can think of when I picture a Mogwai is a Mogwai with a well-manicured Columbian necktie. But the bloody good cut here, for me, is “Simon Ferocious” for all its tactile glory. It may not be the most beautiful (bear with me) slice off this slab, or clever, or the finest composed tune of the bunch, but the textured bass line is the stuff of pineal ooze. I’m so easy sometimes.
In contrast, I was listening to Dan Bodah’s show on WFMU and, speaking of cosmic-ness, he played a tune by bluegrassman Tim Erikson entitled “Every Sound Below” off of the album John Colby’s Hymn which suffused bluegrass with throat singing as successfully as Henry Flynt joined the form with raga. The link above is to Dan’s playlist and, while I encourage you to listen to his entire show (his is one of my favorites on WFMU’s schedule), you can easily pop-up Eriksen’s spellbinder via the playlist. Or, you can listen below to the YouTube clip, but I’m a fan of Bodah’s, so like a good drug, I recommend his direct route because it’s a rush…of sorts. Besides, I think the version Dan played is better for the emphasis on the subject of throat singing, not to mention the juxtaposition of that song in the mini-set. One could make the connection of the preceding track by Cul-de-Sac with John Fahey, a song which brilliantly segued out of The Necks’ excerpt from Open.
I haven’t listened to Cul de Sac since their debut back in the 90’s, a CD entitled Ecim, which was more overtly indebted to German Komische in a more ham-fisted but ultimately satisfying manner. Also, one of the most elegantly subtle and equally sublime tracks ever recorded, World Standard’s Fire And Rain, would have been an ideal addition to that sequence of songs.
As I noted, there are times that he reminds me of Henry Flynt, what with their ingenuity in an allegedly irrelevant genre. Hold on…whether or not the music is “relevant” today seems like an almost inane question or point to make. The answer, as if it deserved one, is only whether the music is relevant to the listener, and maybe why it is, provided the listener bothers to intellectualize about such matters. Or not. When it comes to why Judas Priest is Heidegger in disguise is the often risible (but somehow engaging) cottage industry of the Klostermans of our manufactured and marketed culture. I will admit that his (Chuck Klosterman) best, most “important” essay was the one about the cover band. Was it Motley Crue? Metallica? I can’t even remember right now and I just read the book (Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs) a month or so ago. That’s telling in itself. Not that I forgot who the band covered, but that his subjects are the plastic disposable razors of what he calls American “art.” Oh, he’s so democratic. Stand up and give the guy a round of significant canned applause. Do you think he has an applause sign above his “sleep machine?” His acknowledged ability to write well is exceeded by his desperation for meaning. It’s frequently embarrassing, but I guess that’s what gets you a gig at New York Times these days, alongside the risible Thomas Friedman (strip mall multiculturalist extraordinaire) and vainly clever Maureen Dowd and her puddle-deep, labored puns. But I’ve strayed, haven’t I?
Last thing before I depart tonight. I am working on a write-up of Yek Koo‘s Desolation Peak, but with the transatlantic trip and the journey to the center of my spine that forms a Golden Corral combo-platter of soggy fried chitlins style pain and heat lamp hardened hamburger steak insomnia and despair, I simply haven’t afforded it the treatment it deserves, i.e. the precise angles with which to form the most cogent piece possible on a record that means quite a bit to me. Just think about the title. You other depressives out there will, like readers of Calvino, instantaneously identify my fascination with it.
It may not have been as stirring for you, but shaken, whether it happens to a novel’s structure, or a blog’s post, is as cool as a trapdoor that drops into a shark tank.