Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Twain shall meet...

I think Mark Twain had an innate sense of just how unfunny America once was. All those sepia tones and bed bugs and moonshine hangovers bred a stern national flatness easily spotted in photographs and letters of the day.

Twain could crack himself up because clearly he was from the future. In his adopted era he set out to brainwash citizens into giving themselves permission to laugh. And because one laugh wanted another, he had to teach all the awful joke tellers what they were doing wrong in his essay, "How to Tell a Story."

"There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind -- the humorous," he writes. "The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it."

For you toe-tappers who can't abide Twain's meandering, porchy musings you might cut to the chase with: "How to tell a joke like Mark Twain in 4 steps." Honestly, I'm not sure all these rules still stand in 2012 though. The world seems way less chalky and attendant.

But you've got to hand it to a guy who said this a hundred years ago: "To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is the basis of the American [humorous] art."

 This assessment rings as true today Between Two Ferns as it did once in Extracts from Adam's Diary.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Execute execution...

The chasm between creative ideas and whatever you end up with in this thin skin of reality goes back as far as recorded history. Shepherding good ideas into existence comes down to an ability to summon inspired, well-choreographed execution. A quick survey in any direction confirms there's no glut of this in society today. Our muses are not amused. 

One giant leap we might consider is doing away with realization altogether. I mean I know we have the big brain and the opposable thumb, and yes, these ever-present existential voids are motivating, but... these poorly realized ideas that we end up having to champion in order to justify spending and stave off embarrassment are seriously piling up. Frankly, it's beginning to look a lot like Fresh Kills around here.

 There must be a way to honor and enlist ideas without execution. Since the world is clearly moving away from analog living, maybe all this digitalism is just a willful transition into the era of pure ideas? 

What if instead of appropriating or awkwardly channeling our muses' callings into putrified artifacts, we simply accept the invitation, and head over to their place?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

White Rolls...

Felt was an egomaniac from Long Beach who drove an expensive British motorcar and made a point of attending Disney Hall symphonic recordings so he could cough during pauses in the music. "That's me," he would say, playing back a cough to dull-eyed dates while driving up the PCH. He really felt good about his secret discovery. A far more benign way to make a mark and garner recognition than...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

After bargaining, before resolution...

"I try to live each day as if it were my third-to-last." - Will Eno

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A bad Vulcan under an electric puce sky...

There's probably some kind of large intellectual magnet out there in the galaxy that collectively pulls human minds in certain logical directions as they learn and come to define realities within the confines of those learnings. I've always been equally as interested in things the mind rejects. Things the magnet can't pull. The concepts and consciousnesses that are to be avoided because they are not serious or threatening to the mind and its concomitant civilization. I find that I'm just naturally much more attuned to the flash associative logic of music and madness and animals.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rebellion is not Independence...

There will most certainly be a chapter in my autobiography called "Pathmark Sneakers." It will be followed by a chapter called "Pathmark Potato Chips."

The agony and the ecstasy. At any given moment you ride the wave between one and the other.

 ("Barbara Wandering Off (I think she was sick of us)" by Dave)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Dot of dust...

"The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot... Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us."

("Pale Blue Dot" photo: Voyager 1, comment: Carl Sagan)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Munch & Monk...

I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city. My friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

At this time the fashion is to bring something to jazz that I reject. They speak of freedom. But one has no right, under pretext of freeing yourself, to be incoherent. There’s a new idea that consists in destroying everything and find what’s shocking and unexpected; whereas I know we must first of all tell a story that anyone can understand.