possibility of foam

If buried all but traceless in the dark in its energy sitting, drifting within your own is another body—Anne Carson, “Seated Figure With Red Angle (1988) by Betty Goodwin”

There is something about living in a city, and it has to do with the surroundings being artificial, constructed by humans. Here we sever ourselves from real nature. Here what nature there is persists under duressit may even seem to be a thriving minority, but it will always be the minority. The muted signs of seasonal change vagulate. The constant reminders of the hubris of so-called civilized people swarm in smothering tones. Callousness blankets us. The automobile serves as master and slave. I am concerned.

There is another body inside of my body.¹ And it is drifting. And it is all but traceless in the dark. Whose body is it. Is it mine. Or does it belong to someone quite different.

It is an unfortunate thing to recognize that you are not one who is meant to live in such close proximity to other humans. And yet here you are, aren’t you.

John Stabb from Government Issue sang:

In that comfortable rut again
Goals for the talking man
Outside lies a presence
But a lonely spirit’s walking rut

And he can’t get out
Man in a trap

Deeper things getting direct
Empty social life’s a wreck
Weather and insects tonight
Happiness in black and white

And he can’t get out

Sometimes we come to embody the lyrics we listen to in our youth. This is neither here nor there. It is life. I think we’re all a little bit surprised when we get there. Or here.

Let’s find more creative ways to fail. And write about those ways in more creative ways.

Anne Sexton wrote:

The silence is death.
It comes each day with its shock
to sit on my shoulder, a white bird,
and peck at the black eyes
and the vibrating red muscle
of my mouth.

Anne reminds us that silence can be as menacing and intrusive as noise. A reminder that we are all out here flailing about. And some of us don’t make it. Like Anne herself. Some of us sink beneath the surface, our lungs filled with shards of the little brittle things in life. The ones that drifted beyond our reach, slow or quick, only to be breathed back in with fatal heaving breaths.

Recently I spent a fair amount of time writing up a review of a show I went to the other night but I lost interest. It suddenly seemed unimportant. Literally as I was writing it, I felt the words spelling out into nothingness. The only point of interest remaining when I finished was a question: What do we want from our rock stars? And do we even want them to be stars? I don’t go to see live music much anymore and rock music even less so. But this question startled itself into my mind and would not leave. Music once loved can be tainted. And how a band presents itself to its audience can either win me over or leave me cold. These are the lessons I learned. Outside the womb can be harsh.

There is foam² spilling out here. As winter prepares to wrap us in its icy sharp arms, I am awash with foam. And it may never dry.


1. See also: this post

2. For more on foam, see Anne Carson’s essay “FOAM (Essay with Rhapsody): On the Sublime in Longinus and Antonioni,” originally published in Conjunctions 37 and reprinted in the book Decreation (2006).

going to shows?

I have this thing about going to shows now. I see that a band I like is coming to town and I get excited. But then the night of the show draws closer and my enthusiasm wanes. Maybe it’s that I heard their latest stuff and it lacks an edge it used to have. Maybe I try too hard to picture myself there, and fail miserably. Or maybe it’s simply that I’ve been burned too many times before and don’t want to waste my time and money again. Leatherface was playing tonight. I found my favorite album of theirs available for download today and bought it. I’ve been looking for this album for years. It’s typically only been found as an expensive import or listed on eBay for a ridiculous sum. While I waited for the songs to download I listened to snippets of songs from the brand new Leatherface album, the one they’re touring in support of now. It lacked a spark. The roughness I loved before sounded too polished. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t bowled over, either. Don’t get me wrong. I have much respect for Frankie Stubbs. He’s a punk icon who rarely got his due. He’s smart and hard-working, and DIY to the teeth. His lyrics and music consistently ring true in a genre choked with cookie-cutter copies and commodified horrors. Leatherface is still putting out good music, but maybe it’s just not for me anymore. I fully admit to being a flighty fair weather fan of many bands. Maybe that’s why I fall in love with bands that put out few albums, and play even fewer shows. I still remember a few years ago seeing Wilderness play at Floristree. That show was transcendental. It was one of those shows where you feel your soul leave your body and float around near the ceiling. I don’t often feel that way during shows anymore, nor did I even really ever feel that way. Mostly in the past it was drunken flailing around…a primal reaction. Visceral, yes, but different from that floating at the ceiling feeling. Live music is special; I won’t deny that. But these days, it often seems less important to me. I know I can get what I need just by sitting in my room with headphones. I don’t have to navigate the outside world, with its coarse unpredictability. It’s more personal listening by myself, with no distractions, and as such, takes on that much more meaning.

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