Saturday, 10 November 2018

Piledriver Waltz

I recently re-listened to Alex Turner's heartwrencher of a soundtrack to the 2010 Welsh film Submarine. This song takes me back to a special time in my life, when I was still learning about the world, and feeling like in a sort of cocoon. Few memories and songs bring me back, and it's hard to wrestle off the feeling of the years gone by, the lost friendships and broken loves, as well as the realisation of how different we were back then. 

Alex Turner's Piledriver Waltz tells the story of the two-sidedness of love, on one hand a beautiful waltz, on the other, a screeching pile driver of a wreck. I feel this song encapsulates our generational yearnings, modern and yet fragile:

I etched the face of a stopwatch / On the back of a raindrop / And did a swap for the sand in an hourglass

I heard an unhappy ending / It sort of sounds like you leaving /  I heard the piledriver waltz / It woke me up this morning

You look like you've been for breakfast at the Heartbreak Hotel / And sat in the back booth by the pamphlets and the literature on how to lose / Your waitress was miserable and so was your food / If you're gonna try and walk on water make sure you wear your comfortable shoes

Mysteries flashing amber go green / When you answer but the red on the rest / Of the questionnaire never changes

I heard the news that you're planning / To shoot me out of a cannon / I heard the piledriver waltz/ It woke me up this morning

When the hours become days, and the days become years, it's easy to forget the goals we had back then, the ideals we held, and the dreams we worked towards. It's also easy to forget the nature of growing up, the leap into the unknown. 

Growing up alone in England (10 years), the Welsh movie Submarine left me impressed with its morose by realistic depiction of life in the Welsh coast, the fresh sea breeze, the rocky shores, the working class environs, and the teenage dreams of escaping. Years later (2015) I had the privilege of visiting the Welsh shore myself, and was stunned by the crisp landscapes and dreamy illusions of the sea. I remember the emotional wreck I was back in 2008/9, struggling with university, poverty and loneliness. I also will forever be grateful for the friends I made in England, who stood by me in a rather emotional time. The time before smartphones, where one could only communicate with loved ones by phone, separated by gulfs of water, and with little knowledge of what one was to do upon leaving university. In the words of Charles Dickens:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only"

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Keeping things in perspective

On certain beautiful summer days, I'm reminded of the importance of keeping a realistic perspective on our life experiences. 

The Swedish artist dedicated an entire album to demystifying what love is, and what is not, with the appropriately titled album "I Know What Love Isn't". 

I picture Jens strolling down memory lane, picturing every past girlfriend or heartache that is forgiven but not forgotten, with the eery intro track Every Little Hair Knows Your Name

In his opening track Erica America he explores the contradiction of love-hate, "I wish I'd never met you/ Like I wish I'd never tasted wine, or tasted it from lips that weren't mine". This reminds me of Catullus 85, Odi et Amo: "I hate and I love. Why I do this, perhaps you ask? I do not know, but I feel it happening and I am tortured."

Jens undergoes an impressive  redemptive exploration of the duality of love and regret, covered in the tracks She Just Don't Want To Be With You Anymore, and Become Someone Else's. 

Jens attains a more mature view on love, concluding beautifully with the notion that a heartache is not the end of the world: The End of the World Is Bigger than Love

"I need to be explained to
Over and over 
How a broken heart is not the end of the world 
Because the end of the world is bigger than love

And it's bigger than an iceberg 
Than the plume of a geyser 
And it's bigger than the spider 
Floating in your cider 
And it's bigger than the stock market 
Than the loose change in your pocket 
And the Flatbush Avenue Target 
And their pharmacy department 
And it's bigger than our problems 
And I our inability to solve them 
From Coney Island to Harlem 
To the end of the world and back again "


Sunday, 12 June 2016

On the weight of memories -- the burden of memory

On Sunday's, it happens perchance that memories overcome me. This happened today, while walking along a rainy bankside London backstreet. Through associations and memory triggers, I experience them so vividly I can almost reach out and jump through a looking glass to relive each moment once again. While the sound of it is delicious, it's a slight torment to live with ghosts and among ghosts.

I remember how drawn out some days were, especially hazy spring days of youth, the summery anxiety of lots to come, and the undecidedness of the whole affair. Certain people spring up in those memories a lot, people I truly loved once, and who moved away never to be heard from again. I remember collections of people, laughters, smiles, conversations that we once had. Memories so visceral that you wonder how an eternity has passed, how we still are alive when somedays we fight to even feel at all.

Oh memory, how I've missed you.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

I have been reading Franz Kafka's Blue Octavo Notebooks. 

This little book is packed with densely written, short aphorisms, observations and
mundane scribbles, as Kafka ceased to write diary entries between 1917-19, and 
instead wrote in smaller, octavo-sized notebooks. Reading the Blue Notebooks is
quite hard, as he draws from his vast soundscape of worldly ideas, especially displaying
a keen interest in the Old Testament, with some rather comical aphorisms on Adam and
the snake. 

I have taken a very long break from blogging since I felt the entries were becoming too
forced, which is sadly a by-product of how my life increasingly has become a sausage-factory
of half-baked ideas, with the fitting London byline of philistines who profess the accumulation of wealth, 
egotism and complete disdain for anyone else. 

The Blue Notebooks are extremely refreshing in the sense that they belong to an old 
world order in which writing was done carefully and things were thought out. 
I especially like his observations on resilience:
“The main thing, when a sword cuts into one’s soul, 
is to keep a calm gaze, lose no blood, accept the 
coldness of the sword with the coldness of a stone. 
By means of the stab, after the stab, become invulnerable.”

I suppose more culture, more poems, more self love might help me one day forget what 
now lies in the past. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Trees

The Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz' work The Separate Notebooks, begun in the winter of 1955 and completed in the spring of 1956, constitutes a meditative treatise on poetry, which can be said to be fully expressive of the powers of post-war era poetry.

In the occult poem The Wormwood Star the narrator discovers that the house of his birth has been destroyed by war:

When Thomas brought news that the
       house I was born in no longer exists,
Neither the lane nor the park sloping to
       the river, nothing,                   
I had a dream of return. Multicolored.
       Joyous. I was able to fly.
And the trees were even higher than in
       childhood, because they had been
        growing during all the years since they had been cut down. 
(Milosz  373)

In The Trees, Max Richter's elegy to Milosz, Kafka and other Eastern-European masters, a reading of The Wormwood Star is undertaken by Tilda Swinton.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

-Raymond Carver (A New Path to the Waterfall)