Friday, June 20, 2008


Upside down, seventy feet off the ground, I am thinking that it is more unpleasant than frightening.

Theme park rides are not my cup of tea. They exploit the conflict between your head, which thinks you are safe, and your body, which thinks you are going to be hurt or die. And I am thinking, most of life is the other way round. My body thinks I will never be hurt or die, but my head knows I am not safe.

As someone who is more head than body (I don't mean that literally, just in case you had a vision of a weird mutant with a six-foot wide head on a baby's body), I find life more frightening than the Claw.

It's to be expected though. I am not afraid of dying; I am afraid of being dead. I am not splitting a semantic hair. When I smoked, I was not afraid of lung cancer or emphysema. I didn't care that I might contract either. Obviously, I did not want either, but it didn't enter my risk calculus. There isn't much in this life that I avoid through fear of harm.

But being dead is different. I feel lively, vital, real. It seems a tragedy, objectively, that a thing such as me must have an end. (I feel the same about you, of course, but you'll forgive me for considering it a lesser tragedy.)

Next to me, Zenella is laughing. She has a peculiar laugh, not like any you've heard. If I was writing it, I would describe it as a chortle, and it's the only laugh I know of that I would describe that way. The more scary the ride gets, the more she laughs.

When we dismount, she says, That's brilliant.

My children are happy. Their lives are smooth and even. Some things about them seem like they would make them unhappy, but they are unaffected. They are not everyday. Each in their own way is an individual, and won't fit in with the herd. I know that you might think I would be proud of that, but I am pretty much unmoved by it. I like that Zenella is funny, that Naughtyman is sensitive and that Zenita is self-reliant, but I do not think as highly of being an "individual" as I used to. In many ways, it's better to be part of things than to stand outside them.


I am listening to the new Coldplay album. It is so bad that I can barely stop myself from turning it off. Do not listen to the people who say it is their best yet, an improvement on X&Y, which you might recall I did not like much either. Hiring Brian Eno has not revolutionised them. I do love Eno, but let's face it, you don't seek his music out, and his collaborations have not set the world on fire since Bush of ghosts, and that was only so-so.

Earlier on, I was listening to some Prefuse 73, which is quite nice. It's underground hiphop, but you could just as easily describe it as turntablism or even IDM. It's sometimes jazzy, usually soft, and compositionally excellent, but not always engaging.

Also, I indulged in Vex'd's Degenerate, which is archetypal dubstep. It's a little more uptempo than I expected, but excellent all the same. Dubstep aims for brooding, and Vex'd broods up a storm. You could, I suppose, complain that it's a bit one tone, because there's no sunlight in it, but it's put together really well, and Vex'd knows how to throw down a phaaaat bassline. (See, I'm not old. I can correctly use youthful argot, whatever the naysayers naysay.)

Jeezus man, the gypsy violin is not doing it for me. I do like some of Coldplay's stuff. They're generally good in parts, and none of their albums has really done it for me throughout, but I'm yet to hear a good part of this, and I'm halfway through.

I've also been listening to Shpongle, which I think must be the best-produced stuff I've heard in an age, if not ever. It's inventive and fun too. I don't know how you'd categorise it: there are elements of trance, IDM and techno in there. And flute. Probably a bit more flute than most can handle, but it's not horribly obtrusive. There's also some mysticism bubbling through, but not in a way that makes you want to chunder.

I have also been indulging in some Shearwater. A lot of American indie at the moment has a decided folk bent, which is on the whole a good thing, because Americans do roots a great deal better than they do experimental (and that's true in nearly all forms of art, curiously). Rook has a lot of goodness in it: particularly where you can feel the wide-open spaces. I'll say this: I like Americana when you can feel the road, but when it turns in on itself, to become cluttered and overworked (we are talking about Animal Collective and bands akin here).

Talk about overworked, this Coldplay album is just terrible. The songs aren't very strong, but they would have been better served by a sparser production. If you mix too many colours, you can end up with grey sludge.


At 7:12 am, Blogger Arleen said...

See, I'm not old.

'swhat I been sayin'. Glad to see ya listenin' for a change.

At 12:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not afraid of dying; I am afraid of being dead.

You obviously have not been close to death or watched a person die. Being dead is easy. Dying is not and is usually painful and often protracted.

At 9:10 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

You are wrong. I have of course been close to death. But sadly your ability to comprehend what you are reading has let you down. Dying is too remote to be scared of in that way, and, it should be obvious, it has an end.

At 9:27 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nah if i missed something its your shit writing! i mean read this.

"They exploit the conflict between your head, which thinks you are safe, and your body, which thinks you are going to be hurt or die."

Your body thinks? Er no your body dose nt think. What kind of drug are you taking these days?

At 9:36 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

The whole world of figurative language is wasted on Gunt.


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