Saturday, November 22, 2008

The reunification of the persistence of memory

Have you ever had a memory that hits you out of nowhere? Just comes at you, and you have no idea what sparked it, but there it is, and sometimes, it's not even distinct enough to count as a memory?

Earlier this week, while driving late at night, I think*, I suddenly remembered this other time when I was driving, probably also late at night, and this one song came on the radio. I remembered the vocal hook of the chorus, and the soft sadness of the music, and the beautiful sound of the female singer's voice, and the DJ saying something over the intro about how the song was the closest aural equivalent to sex, or something like that. I had no idea when I had heard it, either back in McHenry, or down at U of I, or driving between the two, but it had been years ago. I had no idea who the artist was, either; I didn't know if if had been said on the radio or not. I couldn't even remember any of the lyrics. All I remembered was the feel of the song, and thinking, at the time, that it was fucking awesome, though not the aural equivalent to sex or anything like that. It really seemed more sad and wistful.

The point being, I had absolutely no clue to who did this song, absolutely no information to go on to find it. And that hook was just stuck in my head. I needed to know, and had no idea how to find out. I knew, I was fucked. It's not like I could go up to anyone and say "hey, you know that song that goes...." I didn't know how the song even really went! What if I was misremembering the bar?

So, over several days, I hummed that bar to myself, in my head, trying to think of any lyrics that could go to it that felt right. It would go away, and then come back again. Eventually the one word I kept coming back on was "strange." So I tried searching Wikipedia, YouTube, and Google with some combination of the words strange, lyrics, female, singer, sexy, 90's, alternative (I thought I might have heard it on Q101, based on the DJ's voice and comment). I got nothing. I watched the video to that Sneaker Pimps song. Kind of the same era, thought definitely not the song. I kicked around Q101's website, to see if there was some database of songs there I could search. I gave up. The hook stayed hooked in my head. It stayed there all week, popping up and taunting me. I didn't know what it was, and there was no way to find out.

Anyways, earlier today, I tried searching for it again, trying to set words to the music. I tried concentrating on the fact that the song was supposed to be sexy, so I tried thinking of phrase implying longing or lust or something like that. Two bodies connecting. I thought up the phrase "drift into you." I searched for it. I got a song that definitely wasn't it. I tried just searching with "drift" plus combinations of all the other words. I got a fucking Uncle Cracker song. Q101 again. Nothing.

Reformatting, I focused the phrase "into you." I think I decided to do this because the phrase sounded familiar, like it related to the concept of the song better than the word "drift". I might have had the first word wrong. Also, I seemed like the phrase into you had been on the tip of my tongue, or at least my mind, the first time I was searching, but since the phrase "strange into you" makes no sense, I dismissed it and forgot about it.

I typed "into you" (no quotation marks) into Youtube, and fourth down was "Mazzy Star - 'Fade Into You'". Mazzy Star? It didn't sound familiar, but somehow it felt right. I could definitely see how "fade" could work for "drift," in fact work better. I clicked on it:

I knew within seconds that this was what I was looking for. I laughed in a mixture of relief, and disbelief. Isn't the Internet amazing?

...Also, as it was playing I looked up the lyrics on some lyric site. The lyrics to the chorus go
Fade into you
Strange that you never knew
I actually had it right, both ways! Somehow, the memory remained, it was there, buried deep in my brain, and I just had to unearth it. It took a week, but somehow it came up, and I could put it back together. It's all in there, somehow. Strange.

*It might have actually been while reading this.


You know, I can't really tell if my productivity is psychological or environmental. It will be four posts a day for three days in a row, and then nothing for three weeks. It will be three pages in a day, then not a word typed in three days.

I think I have been in a funk for the last few weeks. I know I have been in a funk since the election. You spend eight years on fucking eggshells, and then the thing you have been hoping for for the last four years comes true and, well, the relief! But also listlessness, and that does me no good for writing, or thinking. I feel like I haven't been able to marshal my thoughts lately, and if I can't get it together, I can't write effectively, or get up the urge to write at all.

That post on Mitch Mitchell crippled me, or at least let me know I had been crippled. Mitchell was someone who I cared deeply about, who meant an immense amount to me, and I couldn't think of anything to say with any depth, nothing past a generic "Oh, man, bummer" type of sentiment. That caused a real crisis of of confidence, and it's been hard since then for me to devote the necessary time to an particular writing endeavor. I have thought of tons of things to write, tons of things I would like to comment on, organize my thoughts about, but they all seem to stay unwritten, kicking about my head and fighting for airtime.

Then I printed out the story I am working on, printing two pages per sheet, to condense it, and get a better, more objective sense of what I was working on. And it read wrong. The words were all the same notes that I knew would be there, but it was like listening to a recording of your own voice*. There's just this revulsion. "Oh God! Do I really sound like that?" It's why I hate editing, which is a hatred which does not help a writer, either. I have been getting over it, and have been doing a fair amount of editing, but I have edited this one so much, and it still sounds like a recording, instead of live speaking.

I have been trying to read some fiction lately, but it hasn't worked. I tried reading Moby Dick, and I was liking it, but I didn't get much farther than I did last time. The narrative drive went away, and I set it aside, meaning to pick it up soon, and then it was overdue. I checked out Quicksilver, by Neal Stephenson, the first book in the Baroque Cycle, and read the first 40 pages or so really really fast, but nothing really happened, and I just haven't had the drive to pick it up in a while. I have been reading The Solitudes by John Crowley, originally titled Ægypt, Book I of the Ægypt Cycle (what's with all the Cycles?). I've probably been reading it for longer than I attempted either of the other books, just off and on, and while I am not entirely engaged in it, the prose is inventive in that peculiar literary fiction way, (I think it's called "lyrical realism," at least that's what Zadie Smith calls it) as you would expect from a Yale professor. The plot hasn't really caught me yet—after the really interesting prologue, which has yet to have something to do with the rest of the story—so I am just costing along on the shiny pretty words.

But really, I think I just can't stand fiction these days. All their voices are measured against the voice I hear in my head, and found inferior, and all the plots are less interesting than the one I want to write. I want to read that story, but it's not written, and that makes writing it very frustrating.

This frustration is carrying over into my social life, or what counts for a social life out here, anyways. When at work I am always angry, always on edge, and that has been noticed now, and I have been gently admonished to chill out. I just find myself hating it there, hating every second, and every day. I just want to explode in shrapnel shards of expletives at everyone, at the smallest bit of grief that they give me, the littlest twitch of emphasis in their tongues, and when they are angry, all can't respond, all I can do is quiver, try to keep from going off. I fantasize about quitting all time—wouldn't it show them? if I did right before Thanksgiving?—but that's just an outlet, an outlet to a little space for the dreams to explode in. Maybe it's because I am drinking too much caffeine. Maybe it's because I'm not drinking any beer**.

Whatever it is, the psychological has gone psychosomatic. I've had an outbreak of exema which, if there is any pattern I'm able to detect, it's not due to some physical irritant***; it seems to come after I have been on edge mentally for a couple days. It's almost a relief, though irritating as all hell. Like a little kick telling me "Ok Matt, chill the fuck out, You are off the reservation right now." I am probably going to call in tomarrow.

Good. I need this moment to take stock of it all, though it's kind of sad how often I seem to need to take stock of it all. My apartment is a mess. The floor is littered in unwashed clothes, washed unfolded clothes, hampers of unfolded washed clothes, open books, closed books, notebooks, plastic bags of pop cans, empty boxes from pop cans, pillows, papers, plastic bags, drumsticks and dust. The sink is full of dishes. Every other surface is covered in wrappers, cracker boxes, emptys pasta packets, glasses, beer bottles, pop cans, cartons, more papers, cd cases, tupperware, tissues, monitor wipes, cards, and dental floss. I need to clean this place up. Clean up, get centered, and get back to getting out. That means thinking more, writing more, organizing my thoughts more, engaging more, and projecting more positive vibes.

And my fridge is empty. I need to go shopping. Nothing gives you a worry like an unstocked larder.

*I think the entirety specturm of an artist's craftsman's creative difficulties can be summed up by this analogy.

**Hey, a man needs to depress now and then, and cast aside his inhibitions for an hour or three.

***Well, the caffeine probably doesn't help.