Life is an Opera

“I will participate in the game. It is a wonderful, wonderful opera — except that it hurts.” – Joseph Campbell

Life is an opera.  This is post number 1,000 since I began this blog in August of 2013.  Whether performing music or writing here, I am constantly aware of the absurdity in doing.  When I get on a stage, whether it is real or in the mind through writing, I am constantly aware of the ridiculousness of the situation.  Although I can’t say that it is a constant feeling, there is always a moment when things become surreal.  Why is it that people like to drink and stare at other people bopping around making strange noises on instruments?  Why does anyone want to hear some thought that I have at 1am on a Tuesday when there are so many other people out there with thoughts, many who are way smarter than I?

It is so easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of doubt.  If you look at most situations, there is some absurd element in them.  I think it is good to always keep those thoughts in one’s mind.  If you don’t you run the risk of getting untethered from reality with an ever expanding ego.

But again, life is an opera.  One can either choose to be a part of the game of life or to retreat from it.  Both options have an element of the comic in them.  There are an infinite number of ways one can participate in life.  Whether you are teaching college students or cleaning streets you are doing something of value to other people.  And if you do participate there is only one real reason to do so:  “To help each other get through this thing, whatever it is”, as Kurt Vonnegut said.

For myself, music and writing have brought me great sanity and comfort.  They are my passions, so I hope they bring something to someone somewhere down the line.  I have spent an incredible amount of time with books and records.  I hope to share a little bit of the things that have kept me going so that maybe others too might find some value in them and keep going as well.  I have no idea if it is any more of an important thing to do than someone who keeps the streets clean, someone whose work is measurable in real quantitative means, but it is what I’m into.  I’m just wired this way, an accident of birth and circumstance.

It is only through others that we have any idea of value.  I know that other’s words and songs have kept me alive, those souls I will forever be indebted to.  Those of you that keep coming back here, or show up at the shows I play, are the reason I keep doing this, that make me think that maybe all is not for naught.  The great comedy of life keeps spinning.  I’m forever grateful for getting to share little bits of it with you, for awhile anyway…

- Jeff

Rules For Blogging

There are no rules for blogging.  However, it helped me to establish rules to write by, so that I could be productive.  I have read that the single most important thing to establishing an audience was creating a lot of content.  I have produced almost a thousand blogs in just a little over a year.  Establish your own rules, but these are the ones I set up for myself so that I could pump out a lot of content:

1.  Post almost as soon as I am done writing:  This means that I allow some grammatical errors to slip through the gates, but it also allows me to escape the jaws of self-doubt, which can crush so many ideas.  I try to clean up my writing a little as I go along.  It is so easy to feel passionate about something, write it, and then later on feel like what the hell was I thinking?  Self-analysis is always important, but usually most of the self-doubt that comes into play is what are people going to think about my writing.  What are my friends back home going to think?  What is my family going to think?  These are the kinds of things that can paralyze you, this fear of being accepted.  If you just write and post, and clean it up afterwards, it is out there.

2.  Do not delete things that are posted:  I have broken this rule once or twice, but largely I stick to it.  I allow myself to change my mind and write something that contradicts what I wrote at an earlier date, but by and large never allow myself to delete something I have written.  This again allows you to not let the self-doubt of what will others think enter the picture.  If you are going to be true to yourself and your ideas, you will occasionally put your foot in your own mouth, but that is OK.  Making mistakes and being wrong is part of being human.  If you realize you were wrong, admit it in another post or make an addition to a post, but then move on.

3.  Try as much as possible to be intellectually and emotionally honest:  Again this will occasionally lead to getting something wrong, but this will also again alleviate the the pressure of outside forces which will only water down your writing.  Anytime you write something you are going to be judged.  That is the nature of the beast.  Either you will be judged for your ideas or your style.  Anytime someone reads something you wrote it will be judged in one way or another.  Any fear of this judgment can crush good writing as most writing that is worth anything goes out on a limb either intellectually or emotionally.  If you are saying something that everybody knows already, that just conveys middle of the road vanilla emotions, there is no point in writing it.  This is not the same as trying to communicate universal truths.  Often universal truths can be hidden in plain site.  I’m also not talking about being shocking for shocking’s sake.  If you write something shocking that has no basis in reality, it is a purposeful distortion of the truth and that is no value to anyone. Everyone only has a partial knowledge of the truth.  We again all make mistakes and get things wrong.  I try to get the facts right as much as possible and I try to be as honest as I can about how I feel, given the limitations of language.  If I’m wrong I will simply write another post explaining how I was wrong and why.

Anyway, those are rules I set for myself to allow myself freedom of thought and a high production rate.  If that helps you great, if not, make up your own rules that allow you to do the same.

More than anything I wanted to convey to some of you that have just started coming here how and why I write the way I do.  I view my blog, and a lot of the blogs I like, as outward looking journals.  It is capturing emotions and thoughts about the world in real time.  

Blog as Collage

I view blogging as an art form.  I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but I’m sure to some it will come across that way.  Let me explain:

If you are doing something other than niche blogging, where you focus on one topic, you are kind of creating a collage of ideas.  You can’t quite categorize blogging as a writing endeavor, because often you are adding pictures, video clips, and other people’s ideas.  So you add all of these different mediums together, both things that you and others have created, and you end up with something unique to each person.

If you don’t like collage think of it as curating.  I’m not trying to make someone wanking off on their computer at home sound more important than it is.  What I am trying to do is make people that are interested in these sorts of things see it in  different light.  You are wanking off on your computer at home, but you might just do something individualistic and interesting while doing so.

A Little Bit of Magic

I have just put up over 900 posts since I started this blog in August of last year.  Slowly, but surely, the amount of people coming here has grown.  I can’t thank all of you enough for spending time here.

The first thought I have when I write something is, “Why would anyone care?”  I can only hope that there is enough people out there that have somewhat similar interests to me.  I’m throwing baseballs blindly over a wall and hoping that there are people on the other side to catch them.  I have only kept writing in public because of those of you that keep coming back.

Last night I played music in front of what looked like a couple thousand people at a festival in Conroe, Texas.  However, I have played plenty of nights where there were maybe five or ten people in the audience.  No matter what I try to always play my best.  When we read we read alone.  How many times have you gone to a movie and been one of the only people in the theater?  There is still that chance that that book or movie or album or live performance might connect with someone.  I can think of all the times that something connected with me in an important way when there was no one else to experience it.  Everyone matters.  If you do something and it even reaches even one person it has value.  That person’s life has as much value as your own or anyone else’s.  A connection with even one other soul has a little bit of magic in it.  As long as someone keeps coming back I will keep writing.

Thanks again to all of you that keep coming here.  If you would be kind enough to tell other’s of my writing I would be eternally grateful.

In the future when all’s well…

Jeff

The Difference Between Writing and Speaking

I enjoy Peter Travers movie reviews in Rolling Stone Magazine.  However, whenever I see him in person I find him highly annoying.  I think Andrew Sullivan is one of the best bloggers there is, that his writing is really thoughtful most of the time, but again in person he can sometimes be grating.  There are times when I write some high minded posts, but I’m sure if you hung out with me there are times you would think to yourself that I was one ignorant motherfucker.  (And that’s not saying that I don’t occasionally write something that will make you think that as well!)

One of the things that I like about writing is that it slows down the thought process.  I think most people are generally more thoughtful in the written word.  It is a form of expression that allows at times for the best of ourselves to come out.  Often when you are responding to things in the moment there are all kinds of different things at play:  There is your body chemistry, which is always a challenge.  There is the mind racing about how you are being perceived by the people around you.  There is the natural flow of a conversation that often doesn’t allow for deep reflection.  Those are just a few of the challenges we face in person to person communication.

Writing, especially longer forms of writing, allow one to slow down and go deep.  Someone that may be a neurotic bastard in real life, might be truly thoughtful in writing.  They are two different forms of expression and they access different parts of our being.  Humans are complicated.  The thing that is great about writing or any form of artistic expression is this:  Once the neurotic bastard is dead, once the short turbulent complicated lifespan of a human being is over, a good piece of work may live on for a long time, inspiring and doing good, eclipsing all those moments when one wasn’t at their best.  That’s not to say that people shouldn’t try to be their best, only that time has a funny way of erasing, or at least sanding down, those human characteristics that we call faults.

Only an Expert Can Deal With the Problem

I should note that the above video is different from the original recording.  It is shorter and features different lyrics.  If you would like to see the lyrics in the full recorded version go to this post:  

http://windupwire.com/2014/08/27/only-an-expert-lyrics/

I’m finally back from tour.  I haven’t had internet for the last few days so posting was not an option, other than sending a few brief thoughts out from my phone.  One of the things that I love about blogging is how you can use it to create different idea colleges from different sources.  Above I posted the video for Laurie Anderson’s Only an Expert.  The song is pretty self explanatory.  We often hold people in high regards due to either wealth or fame without asking too many tough questions.  I’ve been reading Hampton Sides’s In the Kingdom of Ice while on the road.  In it there are several high ranking cultural figures that are completely batshit insane behind the scenes.  Here is a brief look into the life of James Gordon Bennett, the owner of the New York Herald during the late 19th century:

He was “Bennett the Terrible, the mad Commodore, the autocrat of the transatlantic cables,” one biographer wrote; he saw himself as “one of the lords of creation.”  A longtime Herald editor later remarked of his boss that he “was a ruler over a domain of romance; he himself at times a romantic ruler.  If impulse called he obeyed, and no rule existed but to be broken.  

Bennett had a habit of strolling into one of the finest establishments in Paris or New York and snatching the table linens as he proceeded down the aisle, smashing plates and glassware on the floor, to the horror of the dining patrons, until he reached his reserved table in the back.  (He never failed to write a check for the damages.)  Once after a musical show in Amsterdam, he invited the beautiful lead actress and the entire cast to tour his yacht.  Then he quietly slipped out to sea and for several days cruised the Atlantic, essentially holding the cast hostage and demanding repeat performances – all the while attempting to seduce the young starlet.  Upon returning to shore, Bennett gladly paid an enormous sum to the Amsterdam theater to cover its losses.  

It was difficult to keep track of all of Bennett’s fiercely held likes and dislikes.  For breakfast, he insisted on plover’s eggs.  He would not allow facial hair to be worn by any man serving on his yachts.  He owned hundreds of thermometers and barometers and was fascinated by the slightest change in the weather.  He and a doting love for Pomeranians – he kept dozens of them and served them only Vichy spring water to drink.  Bennett believed his happy little pooches were such astute judges of character that he would sometimes hire editors, or choose not to, purely on the basis of his dogs’ reactions when the prospective employee walked into the room.  (Some job candidates, having learned of Bennett’s odd deference to his dogs, would arrive at interviews with their coat pockets stuffed with morsels of raw meat.)  Bennett also had a fetish for owls – he kept them everywhere: living owls, pictures of owls, busts of owls, owls on cuff links, owls on stationery.  They decorated his brownstone, his yachts, his country houses.  Something about their winking, swivel-headed, nocturnal ways struck his deepest fancy.  

This was one of the masters of the universe of that time.  What are the masters of our universe up to in their spare time?  

What Would You Like to See More Of

wind-up-bird_design

A few days ago this blog hit its one year anniversary.  I stated in that post that most blogs take two years to become successful and that most people give up after nine months.  The reason that I have spent so much time writing is that so many of you have been supportive and have kept coming back.  

One of the reasons I started this blog, aside from encouragement from friends and family, and the simple fact that I love to write, was to develop some kind of alternative revenue stream.  As a musician, one of the smartest things you can do is to try to get some other kind of cash flow going, because even in a touring band there are occasionally lean months.  My goal finically in starting this was as simple as a car payment.  If the blog is more successful than that great, but if I can get a car payment out of writing, then I’m a happy guy!  It’s one less thing I have to worry about and it allows me more freedom as a musician.  

Because I have kept writing due to the support of those of you that read this, I would like to ask you what topics would you like to see more of?  Would you like to see more politics, literature, music, poetry, etc…

I have to approve any comments that get added to this site.  Comments on most sites just turn into a shitstorm of stupidity if left unattended.  I trust that all of you that come here are intelligent, but it only takes one idiot to ruin the fun.  So, if you message me or comment privately with any thoughts or ideas, I will keep them to myself and will try to include a little more of whatever topic wins out.  

Again, I can’t thank all of you enough.  It’s always encouraging that there are some other at least partially likeminded individuals out in this insane world!  

In the future when all’s well…

Jeff