display | more...

The inadequacy of words

I learned to draw to overcome the inadequacy of words. There are other reasons I had at different times. Standing outside at night, staring into the infinite sky, watching the patterns of shadow cast by the swaying trees... I wanted to capture that too, preserve it, make others see it the way I see it. At other times I wanted to infect others with my own perceived neuroses, warp their minds the way I'm warped, start a loyal army of fucked-up minions. At some point, the youngest of the three, I just wanted to draw my own porn. I did not know at that naive age the way art screws with your libido.

I think of all this now, because I am faced with the inadequacy of words. I come here and read day after day. It seems like an endless cycle. See, there are these inexpressible feelings. Sometimes I hear a word, a phrase, and it triggers this mixed bag. Say, "For Super Players." I know the origin of that, and it seems relatively mundane. But it reminds me just a little of my childhood. There's nostalgia, solidarity, joy, lament. On top of that, there was an article in one of the New Games Journalism Magazines, The Gamer's Quarter, I think. Somebody probably related similar emotions, tied to this phrase for me to last the rest of my life. Somewhere out there, in this giant world, someone thought the same way I do, felt the way I did, and just happened to write it down. This is just an example, of course; a lot of times I have a feeling when I'm just sitting still, not a thought in my head. There are less stupid things that flip the switch in my head. I just happened to be thinking of that one, and why I don't know. It's another mystery. But what originally drew me here, to E2, was this same thing. There were these ideas, feelings, wishes, conclusions all aired out that I didn't have to feel alone in having. It had a huge impact on me at first. I read some of the greatest things, but they were too short for a magazine article.

I came here because I smelled kindred blood and the same kind of writing I knew from reading Large Prime Numbers, which had largely the same influence on me at a younger age. Tim Rogers' style - weaving some conclusion stated at the beginning with random recent events, childhood memories, video games, local culture, and punk rock, all in a long-winded self-indulgent ramble - embedded itself so far in my consciousness that I don't know who I'd be if I never read it.

The problem that has arisen lately, is that I cease to have that same feeling of satisfaction. It isn't a change in the content necessarily, though what I read now tends to be new, and before I didn't care about chronology. But no, the difference is a kind of information overload. I'm burnt out. I look for something, anything, and I do find it here and there, but then I move on, I keep looking. I have to try to establish a noise floor, I thought, try to just check on the really important things. But that wasn't the problem. I think I've changed. I should have. I read personal philosophies on here what seems like every day, and I always have something to disagree with. Good! That's the way philosophy is meant to work. But it comes at a price. Having a contention with practically every goddamn thing makes you alone again. No one thinks all the same as you. And I have to wonder more and more if I'm wrong. Time will slip on, and one day I'll look back at now and think I was a dipshit. But the problem isn't just me. It is partly, but not wholly. I've changed, but the hive, the cloud, the idea-soaked ether hasn't. The same assertions, grasping for the same straws, the same dead-ends. People trying to solve politics, religion, the meaning of life, the role of feminism in society and reality, blah blah blah. Some of it is up for debate, and some of the ideas are just stupid. At least it feels that way to me, maybe just because I'm too tired. It feels like everything written here, or even on the Internet at all, or even by over 99% of the human population is all one kaleidoscopic mega-being frozen in time, just staring tragically into space while it stands stiff as a board. It's like an old race that we study through their own dead language, but can only half understand since deciphering their culture is half conjecture. The end of a write-up seems to have an upward inflection; it's not an answer, or a statement, but just a question. No matter what's said, no matter how it's written, it's incomplete. All of this, as a massive whole, as that mega-being, is incomplete. If everything that we've written was sentient, it wouldn't have chosen a major yet. At best, it'd be a recent grad trying to pick a career path and suffering existential angst. I don't know how to solve this. Are there writings this isn't true of? Yes. But maybe I just believe that because I read them in the Before Time, before I realized this, before my buzz wore off. Right now I'm thinking all I can do is try to be different, try to stand out, but I know it isn't enough.

A good story gives me the feeling like when you wake up from a dream because you hear your alarm clock and one reality dissolves into the other slowly, the life of your dream becoming only a vivid memory. That life has stopped, but not ended. Except I can go back and relive it whenever I want, with less deja vu. There is still some, because reading the same thing isn't the same twice. The first time, it is fresh. I arrive with my preconceptions of what it will be, my desire of mostly killing time, and whatever background thoughts are noising up my head. The next time I carry the memory of the last time, and I expect to be affected in the same way. But the stream did not cease flowing. I can not step in the same water. Words are inadequate. They think they're these atomic statements, set in stone, that can be objectively evaluated. Words still believe that science can discover everything in the Universe, help us know everything, and that it won't be replaced by something even less comprehensible. Words' confidence in themselves is really sad, like the naivete of the rose, thinking her thorns were enough to fend off goats.

Where words fail, or at least fail as prose, pictures succeed because they capitalize on this uncertain state. (Yes, I know poetry does that, too.) It seems like every painting or drawing ever made knew that its physical self was only the tip of the iceberg. They are made to stimulate all these connections between ideas in our brains, all of the background noise that shapes our perception every waking moment. The inner mythos, the endless story, our imagination. With words we do have to picture things, but there's an unspoken wish that what I picture is what you pictured in writing it, and then we meet and fail to understand each other and something has died in each of us. With a drawing, I do not get to change the appearance, but I fabricate the entire back story. When someone draws, the story is in their mind, consciously or not, and the single image is being forged and imbued with the strength of all the connotations that swim in the artist's head, all the background noise. Drawing is a silent activity of wordless reflection, no words from the mouth or in the mind. Or rather, the words in the mind have no meaning, no relevance. If I write, I have to feign coherence. To draw, the contrary is true: coherence is probably a hindrance.

I read all of this just now, reread it to double-check and consider clarifying things. I can't. It isn't where I want it, it isn't clear enough, but that seems impossible. It's not complete, and words are inadequate. There's a story I remember I liked. The lovesong of distant satellites. It was told in real time, and as I was beginning to recognize the themes of its author, the recurring elements of style, it still had a meaning beyond that, and a very important one. Alone on a distant planet, sleeping for years, wasting away, you finally receive a transmission. The very sound of a human voice is more contact than you've had for years, and you long for its owner. You imagine her, based just on these few words you've heard, the songs she's sung. The thought of her arrival keeps you alive. But in the end, there was no woman. Just songs on a radio. Here is where you separate from the character: he is blind and gets to live with blissful ignorance. You know that girl was only a false hope. As far as I know, everyone cried when that story ended. It is an archetype for so much: hope and love, or loneliness and futility. When I used to read everyone's little secrets, I imagined the people on the other end hopefully. Now, maybe they seem like ghosts on the radio.

Less important things

I felt kind of blocked lately. I need to write a script, but I can do everything but. I wish I knew more songs. I need to gauge my skill on the guitar, but I can't seem to do it. If I knew 1000 songs, my scale would be very fine. But I never learned to play one complete song, because I just decided I knew it in theory if I could play any individual part. It's not the same. I can't sit down and play a song beginning to end, for two minutes or five minutes or thirty minutes, however long it takes, without stopping. To fix that, I tried learning to sing and play at the same time. I can sing, and I can play, but doing it together is cruelly impossible.

Music is important to me. Singing, for example, does something so deep and remarkable, like it's healing my soul or something like that. For a little while when no one's home, I get to see how loud my voice is, how my sustain is, what my range is. My vibrato has changed. I've become more conscious of it lately, and I think it might have sped up. Whatever the case may be, I seem to have greater sustain, and I was able to hit A5 today, which is a full tone better than I used to be with regular practice. I thought I was back down to E5. I think I'm able to jump around my range a lot better, too, and strain myself less even when I'm drunk on insomnia. It's kind of frustrating, though, that I can sing all these songs well enough, but when I go to write my own, I can't sing for shit. Not that I really choke up or anything, but just that it's hard to select from the infinity of style available and use something that's cool and fits the mood and fits the timing and helps you be an insufferable show-off. The reason why, I realized, is because songwriting has only a passing resemblance to writing. Half the time the words don't really matter. Some of my favorite musicians said lyrics are an afterthought for them, and they just try to serve the music. Kurt Cobain was one that said that. I got to thinking, and that can't be true of everyone. Les Claypool? Morrissey? Voltaire? But, well, okay. Let's start with Les. Look at how he sings. He doesn't so much sing most of the time as make a funny voice like he's taking the piss of himself, which he kind of is. Now look at say, Bruce Dickinson. The most epic parts of Maiden songs barely involved words, if at all. "Heeeeeeey, yeah-eh yeah! Hallowed be thy name!" or even just "Ahhhhhh ahhhhh ahhhhh ahhhhh yeahhhhh yeahhhh yeahhhh (shriek)!" Those are basically solos. They only use words because that's how people make sounds with their mouths. If Bruce were born a little later and was a giant rap fan instead, he'd probably just be the world's most famous human beat box.

Anyway, as I was saying, music is important to me, vitally, and a huge part of my life. But I've gotten a little sick of hearing it lately. At least, I thought I had. I've enjoyed silence more of late, but the other night I listened to an entire album to review it in depth, and took breaks to listen to completely unrelated bands just because I got distracted. Meh. I don't know what to say. I think I'm tired of music, but I'm still addicted. I think that the entire world-wide body of writing is incomplete and futile, but I read it everyday. I think I'm tired, but I'm up until I see the Sun.

I want to say I had some other insight on my mind, but I forgot it. Oh well.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.