Monday, April 26, 2010

The absence of art is the death of the soul

I have just gone through one of my longest fallow periods, both in terms of writing and in terms of this blog, and I have to say that I think not writing is legitimately dangerous for me.  Forget art, forget prestige, or notoriety, forget trying to ever make this my profession.  Going without writing actually makes me feel physically ill.  I think the accumulated anxiety that comes from feeling either that I am not moving forward with my life, or that I am not simply creating something is causing actual physiological harm.  So I need to get back in the swing of things, working on things, not because of some larger life-goal purpose, not because it will get me where I want to go, (such a destination has been seeming more and more distant lately, but that might in large part be the anxiety talking) but because I need to be doing it just to feel good about myself right now.  Otherwise, I start feeling bad, and then I don't want to write, and then I don't write, and then I feel worse, and then I go a month without posting or completing a story and I just feel awful, awful, awful, all the time.  And that needs to stop.

So, what have I done in the meantime? 

Well, I have been cleaning my apartment.  Deep cleaning.  Like, selecting a four foot square section or and just getting all the dust and junk out of there and organizing everything and putting things away.  I have done most of the apartment now, like that, basically everything except the bathroom (which is thus now a real mess) but of course there has been some decay in earlier parts that needs to be addressed, and I still have tons of papers and mail and manuscript pages just shoved in boxes and shoved up against my bed (which I didn't clean under, at least not all the way).  But in all the apartment it much cleaner and friendlier and spacious to reside in, and I am starting to learn some good habits in terms of picking up after myself.  It has been much more pleasant to live around here after starting that project (which I have been tending to on days when I can blast my music and leave my door open and let the spring air in). 

Also, I have made a resolution to start eating less meat.  Not for any political reasons, just health.  I always feel out of sorts in my own skin, and my youthful metabolism is bound to slow down.  Plus I have just been feeling sort of undone, in some way.  So, I have been eating more grains, more salads.  Hopefully, eventually, I can cut out other unhealthy types of food, but I am taking this in a gradual manner.  My weakness is strong.  (So much of my time out here in Iowa has felt like this very gradual, three steps forwards, two steps back kind of building myself back together into some kind of complete person that I have never been before but might have been in some better version of the world.  Moving more and more towards the vegetarian side of omnivorism seems like a part of that.  I have always, in my heart of hearts, admired vegetarianism, while disdaining it, since it has seemed like something that existed outside of the bound of my own willpower.  But it would be nice to move towards it, even if I am only able to decrease the distance by half each time.)  I have also been trying to eat more fish instead of mammal, but fish is expensive and so that hasn't been going so well. 

In terms of music listening, one neat thing is that I bought a new speaker system.  With a subwoofer.  My first subwoofer!  It's great.  I love bass.  That's what I was referring to when I was talking about blasting my music: just turning on my new stereo system after hooking it up to my computer, finding a comfortable volume and just luxuriating in the crystal clarity of the sound while doing something else.  Black Sabbath never sounded better. 

In terms of new stuff, I have been listening to a lot of Amanda Palmer, both solo and past and present projects.  The Dresden Dolls.  Evelyn Evelyn.  I have both the DD albums (still need to get the EP) and the EE disc, but Who Killed Amanda Palmer? is still (I hope) in the mail.  Often I just find a playlist on Youtube and put that on, since almost all her solo stuff has a video made for it, and a lot of her live performances have their own unique charm.  I am sad that she has replaced the Pogues as my music act of the moment, and I don't feel like I was quite done with them, but that's life.  I like her voice.  I like her piano playing.  In fact, I think she had become my personal favorite piano player.  She is not as esoteric as Tori Amos.  There is more of an interests in "riffs" or what the piano equivalent would be, but there is still a lot of improvisation.  She plays piano a lot like Hendrix plays guitar (although I wouldn't go so far as to say she is the greatest ever, like I insist Hendrix is, but their approach has certain similarities.  The products of committed lovers of their instrument who just love doing whatever they can with it.  It's not dissimilar from how I like to play drums).  Also, she's engaged to Neil Gaiman, who I have always felt an odd connection to, ever since he turned my name into my favorite Sandman character, so there's that.  There is a theatricality to her approach to things, and she certainly has a love of the dramatic, but, like the Decemberists, its the kind of theatricality that is adopted so as to seek a deeper emotional level.  Through the veil of drama, something more powerful than the immediate and raw can be viewed.  Though it is veiled, it is still present, and the exactitude of the dimmed meaning is often stronger than the truths that others try to arrive at through authenticity.  Whatever that is.