Is there any word more misused than nihilism?

Or maybe it's me who doesn't get it.

I had already been thinking about this a few weeks ago and had forgotten I had been doing so when I was reading a review of a book in the New York Times and there was that word again. If I were to mention the book, the author of the book, the author of the review, we would all get quite distracted. 

As far as I can tell, most people accused of being nihilists seem to believe quite deeply that life is meaningful, and often despair of finding evidence for this belief due to their sensitivity towards the prevalence of unnecessary suffering experienced by others. Nihilism is an insult directed towards those whose capacity for empathy distracts them from "proper" levels of self-interest.

I don't understand why the capacity to not be distracted by the suffering of others is not considered nihilistic.

Isn't a notion of meaning entirely circumscribed by the limits of an individual's desire by necessity dismissive of any social foundation of meaning? Isn't that, um, nihilism?

I admit the first sentence of the preceding paragraph needs to be rewritten. I could distract you instead, though, by taking a cheap shot and reminding you that the New York Times supports coups, and the inevitable death that follows, but that would make me a nihilist.

When I'm 64

It's been a little while since I've thought a lot about The Beatles, which is only to say that I can't remember exactly which tunes of Paul's John derided as "granny music". I don't find it difficult to imagine "When I'm Sixty Four" being one of them. Well, at the risk of making some of my older readers feel, well, ancient, which is not the case, keep your heads up, etc., well, all I can say is that, well, punk is now granny music isn't it?

Youtube just told me I should go and listen to this band that are currently doing a version of punk that is so perfectly spot-on 1977 that it's eerie and, well, let's do the math. It's not unreasonable to consider that a punk could have been, say, twenty-two in 1977, born in 1955, like, I dunno, Steve Jones or Glen Matlock, which means that they are, erm, sixty-four this year.

I don't know what I'm trying to say it's just still mind-boggling that its been almost twenty years since the "return of rock" retro bollocks (or even further - Oasis blah blah) and it's still, well, it's still going. What's really baffling about this band is that they seem to go even deeper into the ventriloquism; the music sounds angry because that's what punk is meant to sound like, right?

I mean, I guess it doesn't matter. It's a fairly marginal band, though no band exactly seems marginal on Youtube (except for the old ones who, still, "nobody" cares about, and whose fans still bear the scars, sometimes decades old, evident in the comments section).

What's funny, and I've been noticing this trend for years now, maybe even, almost, decades, without commenting on it (I think?), is that a lot of (milquetoast indie) bands, for whatever reason, maybe a half-hearted bid at coming off as contemporary or open-minded or whatever, seem to always reference some significant hip hop act as being significant to their music. This band in particular, whose entire aesthetic universe exists across the great expanse between, say, the second verse of a C-grade Stooges song and the second chorus of the exact same song, takes the trouble to mention Cardi B as an influence. To what?



I think I only live in New York to heighten the possibility that I will meet other people as willing to complain about the misery of living here as I am.


a capitulation

the thing is is that

the specific amalgamation

of whatever the material

I think it is called brass

that blows me into

a place

where I can sleep without disapproval or interruption

I think it is actually called brass

where I can sleep unmolested

it must be brass

or so it is called

there are certain days where I can skate upon

the ice of ontology oblivious

that I could fall through

at any moment

which I don't

though I can see it

below me

not inferior


Note On The Death Of Religion

I was about to console myself with the thought that there must be a special place in hell for those who arrange their books by color of spine until I realized...


Ignoble Sacrifice

Mr. Epstein dead.

I can't believe he wasn't on suicide watch. I can't believe he wasn't kept like a rare flower, protected from the elements and under constant surveillance. Not that he deserved the care, but his victims did. They deserved their day in court, a full accounting of what happened. They deserved to take small comfort in the fear that those not-yet-caught must have been feeling when there was a chance Epstein could talk. Not only does it anger me that a big piece of this puzzle is now missing, that he and, most likely, others, will get away with it, but I'm angry that, especially given the nature of these times, whatever idiots were in charge of this whole situation didn't even have the pragmatism, well outside of the realms of justice or morality, just the day-to-day selfish self-interest, to prevent what will now come: the conspiracy theories, the perpetual speculations, the increased distrust in institutions and authority figures, and, in case morals are actually present, the impossibility of anything approaching justice.

Of course, I'm being, though, fucking, really, fucking, naive.

The "post-truth" era is ultimately not destabilizing to power; the opposite.

Myths make deities.

If anyone gets fired, I'm guessing, eventually the people who took orders make less money and the people who gave them, more.

I Don't Have Twitter Pt. x of x

Why does Google ask me to justify my decision to dismiss ads? I'm not even complaining about the ads themselves (gmail is free, after all). I'm not even leading towards some sort of complaint about Corporate or self-pity at My Complicity (cheers!). Just, what, I can'd delete them without having to answer to someone? As if I am being abnormal somehow? Even ads that are relevant don't need to persist past the point of "data internalization", do they? I mean, even if the ad is "your favorite band is releasing a new record!!!" I'd be "yay". And then what, keep the ad? Until the 10th anniversary reissue? The 20th anniversary reissue? The super-deluxe 25th anniversary bonus track reissue? Do I still need to know that the album is going to come out then?

This is why I don't have twitter btw.

I Don't Have Twitter Pt x of x

DJs are the cover bands of the 21st century.


Quick Obvious Statement

Well, should be obvious, but I don't see it written often so I will.

When Corporate intervenes in political culture and cultural politics, it's, whether deliberate or inadvertent, a means by which to delegitimize the state as a means of rectifying social problems.


Nobody Left To Talk To

I'm here again for a moment. I miss doing this. I keep saying it, don't do it, though.

At some point in the past, you would come to this website and see, underneath "Airport Through The Trees", "To Suffer As A Genius Without The Genius". It was just, you know, a bit of a dig at myself, lighthearted, really, to just, you know, relax. I think I've written about this before, maybe not, but I think I stopped writing the more people cared that I wrote because the expectations of others causes me to feel a very intense anxiety and to lose myself and my voice. It's not just in writing. Music, too, or really anything. It's not just anxiety, though. I seem to gain my best insights into the world in solitude, and so, even the readers I began to imagine as a handful of you began to give a shit oh so many years ago, would begin to impinge upon the reverie so necessary to bringing forth whatever it is (it's not your fault, keep reading, it's my problem!). Which is the whole point of "to suffer...". It's not like I'm the smartest motherfucker of all motherfuckers and so it's a bit silly, this portentous distancing, this, I dunno, like, Moses going to the mountain and bringing back a takeout menu for a Chinese restaurant. God hath spoken, and the General Tso's chicken shall be $8.95 at dinnertime, including white rice, whilst being only $6.75 before 4pm, including both white rice and an egg roll, in what our Lord hath decreed be known as a combination special. Delivery fee two dollars.

I don't know that I have much to say because I don't know that the world has changed sufficiently for me to add anything to what I have already said.

We need a word for this shit. Neoliberalism isn't right. We're certainly past postmodernity because postmodernity was very contingent on modernity, right? Like the sense of rupture no longer has a subversive charge when signifier and signified are detached a priori and it's annoying that I even am vaguely referencing Baudrillard, who I probably haven't read in a decade or so, as if. As IF! Now it's all normal.

It's a weird time in my life, a bleak one, but not bad. My return to New York has been a total dud. I was pretty inspired when I came back, but I feel like I've been running my head into a wall for a year now, and all the mental energy that I should be expending on caring about art or music or literature or whatever, well, I'm desperately hunting for a new apartment and a new job and a new computer monitor and staring at my bank account flush with cash, or at least, well, flush isn't the right word. I've upgraded, though. I went from being a starving artist to a lower-middle-class service worker with enough money to take a nice vacation and then spend a year replenishing. I won't be taking that vacation, though. I'm middle-aged. Time to start thinking about retirement (ten years ago). Woo.

It's just such a weird time. Once, I could romanticize my struggles.

Once nothing can happen, what does one do?

I wrote, a million years ago, seemingly, that the problem with EDM (remember that shit?) was that it justified the conservatism of the purist end of the house and techno world. Somehow, my experience with Trump is the same. Nobody really has any idea of what to do with their lives besides being middle-class, and the ones who want it the most, and who don't have it, are the "radicals". It's odd to hear people, the kids, that I work with, to diss on capitalism, to mention capitalism, as the thing to blame, but it's obvious the right books haven't been read, the point has been missed, somehow.

I miss Mark Fisher.

Because it's maybe, I dunno, the weirdest iteration of Capitalist Realism possible, now: the critique of capitalism is that it no longer provides people the means to be selfish bourgeois individualists. So it (capitalism) has to be abolished. In the name of, uhh, wait what? The extension of hyper-individualist subjectivity to more people?

It's really a common thing, though, to be invested in the solution to a personal problem as a societal prescription. I remember reading some interview with some let's say indie 1.0 hero, and he was talking about how anyone could form a band and it was inspiring but also, like, wouldn't society fall apart if everyone just played guitar in an indie rock band all the time or whatever?

Leave those dead end jobs in those dead-end cities and come innovate fast casual concepts.

College should be free but until we have some better idea of what to do with it all then, you know, career, then, uh? I work with people with Ivy League degrees. One just quit. He's taking a 50% pay cut to do something more noble. Because his parents can pay the rent.

That's a change, something new, isn't it?

(By the way, that super-educated guy was one of those classic, as opposed to classical, liberals who had all sorts of high-minded, State-Department-approved, ideas about how to disembowel random people halfway around the world for the sole purpose of feeding an abstract notion so maybe it's better if less people go to college, really.) 

I was pretty angry, years ago, when I realized that certain careers were off the table due to having to start off unpaid. But now there are jobs that actually pay and require serious degrees from serious schools, but don't even cover the cost of living. I guess, probably, it's always been this way, to a certain extent. 

I like ranting like this. 

I don't know what to do next. I might have a lead on a new job, and a new apartment to go with it. A little more space, a little more money, or rather, the same amount of money, made on less hours, more hours to tackle the books that keep piling up.

I keep thinking I'm cynical, but I'm not. I used to read, a lot, I think, because I wanted to make sure I knew what the fuck it was I was talking about when the time came, finally, for me to be someone who might affect the world around me. Not, you know, all of it, but, maybe, some. Now I know it probably won't happen. But I keep buying the damn things. 

To suffer as a genius without the genius is to hear people talking and know:
all their efforts at trying to come to terms with the world have yielded antiquated cliches that, somehow, they consider to be their own thoughts
that they lack the self awareness to know this
that their ideas have already been proven worthless
that I have read the books that prove those ideas worthless
that those books, and the ideas contained within them, are cliche as well
that my ideas are cliches, too

So there's a double loneliness, of neither being recognized for being smarter (i.e. subscribing to better cliches) nor for not being recognized as a fraud (because the better cliches are still cliches).

Most people are not smart enough to both know that they are full of shit and that I am, too. That's the suffering. You have to be THIS SMART to know I am not, and you aren't. But not you, of course.


Forget Your Self Esteem

Simon with a timely reminder to listen to Mercury Rev again.

Also want to publicly thank him for quoting the best bit of my recent drunken rant at the top of the above-linked page. 

I only discovered Yerself Is Steam a few years ago, but it made quite an impression. I think I had written off that whole psych side of early 90s US indie inadvertently. I was never really a huge Flaming Lips fan, and the ubiquity of "that sound" at "that time" nudged me almost towards active revulsion, so hearing Rev was, erm, revelatory as that album, and Boces, seemed to really somehow address my unexamined prejudice, a prejudice I still can't really define. 

Maybe it's just the touch of chaos, the feeling that the psych was actually that, not just a reference, but a state of mind and possibility. The guitars sounded sometimes as if they were not being made to scream by human intervention, but, were, in actual fact, screaming themselves.

The best kinds of people are the ones who just say yes. A few years ago, an October night, I was thrashing about my old apartment in Providence, listening to Steam, and I texted someone, kindly requesting that we set an appointment for the following spring. I had a plan, a plan that, on the first warm day, the one that reinvests the world with possibility, that we drive to some small and beautiful town in Massachusetts and take mushrooms and not leave until we had made friends with all the squirrels. Of course it never happened, wasn't even a good idea, but somehow, that yes would have made all the difference, and, in some ways, I'm glad I never got it.


Another Short One

Probably most books worth reading should just be titled It's Even Worse Than You Thought, except for history books; It's Even Worse Than You Thought And It's Been Going On Forever.

That's why I need to buy more music books again, slightly better: It Was Good And You Missed It.


I Dreamt Of Climate Change And ALL I Got...

... was this useless bit of alliteration... I'm headed to the Second Story Store for stilts.

Most of the dream involved permanent snowfall and the anxiety of what to do about cats that I don't even have.

Tell me what it all means.


Yeah, That's Them

I don't know if I have written about this before. It's kind of silly. Let's just say. My parents were in college between 1965 and 1969 and if there is a group of four years during which it is better to be in college in the 20th century, let me know. I mean, there are probably more profound years sure. World War One and Two happened between 1900 and 2000 I know you know but.

So what's crazy about me is that even though I moved far beyond my parents' aesthetic preferences years ago, um. 

That's just another way of me saying that, contrary to my father's love of The Beatles and my Mother's love of the Stones, well, at the risk of coming across as if I am just a rebellious child and not a principled adult, I have to re-iterate my love of the Who.


I dunno. 

The reasons change annually. 

What don't change: The Stones had the best attitude and the Beatles had the best songs.

This year...

The Stones are Trump. Fuck society, do what thou willssst and all that. 

The Beatles are the Liberals, renovators. Songcraft has legs in our hands.

The Who don't belong, still.

As they shouldn't. 

Quadrophenia could only be made by believers, not leaders. They are the sound of the recipient, not the giver, the penitent, not the priest. There is no equivalent. This casts aspersions on the characters of many. Pur. Pos. Full. Ly.

Not only believers, though. Dis-enchanted ones.

The Stones and the Beatles get all the credit which is why they suck. The Stones and The Beatles are an argument amongst those who have money and who get laid and who are able to combine sperm and ovaries into progeny that reify the narcissism of the biodonors.

Quadrophenia may be the only eloquent statement of the loss of those who actually needed this shit, only to find it wasn't. Orphan music, divine music, Jesus of the Virgin. The people reading about Carnaby or Bowery or wherever sitting on a toilet dealing with distressed bowel movements and caught in wife or husband or family or preternaturally decaying wall finishes or whatever. The Who don't get the privilege of choosing the direction of humanity, they only get the sadness of choosing a direction given to them by some abstract other who doesn't, ultimately, care about what is chosen so much as the pride of being one of those who choose the choices.

The Who is the sound of regular-ass people really thinking that rock could change the world because they fucking needed the world to fucking change, and the sound of the band telling them, no, it won't, but you aren't foolish for believing so, and, actually, we love you because you do believe, like us. It may be foolish to be foolish, but, somehow, even more so, to not be.

And you want to talk about what now?

I hate that there are better arguments to be had about 1969 than 2019. Or I hate that I am so abstracted from that which is now that I think so. Note the time this is posted. Rock and roll.


I sound like a kid but two wrongs

I've recently reached a point where all the shitty things people do because they aren't Donald Trump are now pissing me off more than the shitty things Donald Trump does. At least Donald Trump doesn't serve his shit with a side of moral superiority. Even he's not dumb enough to think he's a good person, but his detractors are dumb enough to think this of themselves.





It's amazing how hard a time I am having writing not-even-that-many-words and not feeling somehow fake about it. Jaded, I.

Suffice it to say, today I clicked on Blissblog like I always do, and today I found out from Simon's site that Pitchfork has published lists of best movie scores and soundtracks that Simon has contributed to and, overall, the list doesn't seem that bad. Most Pitchfork lists piss me off. Glad that Blade Runner "won" and that some hazy-headed intern didn't write about it.

That being said, I was shocked, SHOCKED, shocked, to see, unless I read this thing too dam quickly, uh, and maybe I did, um, no Tangerine Dream?

This is why I don't write about pop culture anymore, though.

There's something very odd about the persistence of the idea of canonization without any sort of system of values that is meant to be defined by said canon.

So I'm just some dude vaguely aggravated by the fact that the score of a 30-something-year-old movie isn't being recognized by a website I don't care about because what?

This almost feels like sports right now. Who is the greatest second baseman of all time? What should I feel if my favorite one is omitted from that list?

I didn't mean to go this route.

I just wanted to post a video of some music that I like. I do want you to like it too, if you don't already.

Here it is.


The Problem With Suicide

The problem with suicide is that the only person who could possibly benefit ends up dead.