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It’s All Relative to the Size of Your Steeple

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I dispell the madness by forgetting all the rules
You say I follow in the footsteps of pre-existing fools
Begging vultures to bury off my head
This is the hard life of the beautifully depressed. — Down, “Beautifully Depressed”

Beautifully damaged. Those are my favorite type of people.

I like understanding people, especially people who intrigue me. Like reading the lines of an old man’s face or counting the tears old women cry – they’re interesting because they’re real, because they’re earned, because they are life’s battle scars and they scream “I’m still here!”

Interesting and intrigue is such a messed up way of saying it. It’s not like I want to “figure them out” just so I can add another notch to my belt or feel some sense of accomplishment or one-upmanship that seems to dominate our current mode of thinking.

No, more like, this whole mess is a tapestry and I want all the threads, the blacks, the whites and all the grey in between to fill out the picture. Cause I want to know. To make it make sense.

I’m desperately trying to understand it all — to make it make sense when nothing makes sense. Even the damn sun rising in the morning makes no sense anymore. The words exchanged between two people, the glances, the looks, the touches. What are you? Why are you there? You…. make … no sense to me. And it’s killing me.

Perfect people suck. Nearly perfect people are just as bad; they’re not interesting.

Damaged.

I know. I won’t say I always understand, but … I know. Your road isn’t my road but our paths are fraught with similar topography.

Barflies and nighthawks at the diner — life’s discarded and forgotten scrounging to eek out an existence. To make it — maybe with a bit of this and hopefully with some of that.

There are the slights and hurts, imagined and real. Some deep, some on the surface. Some so deep we bury them around masks and words and defense mechanisms. All while those who could be love are kept at arm’s distance.

Beautiful.

Nothing in nature makes sense. Very little is ever in perfect symmetry or accord. It’s all these dissonant chords, progressions of minors and majors and flats and things that don’t fit, that build to this glorious cacophony of sound and fury. And they signify something as long as you’re watching.

Pay attention.

It’s amazing, it really is and it’ll bring a tear to your eye for the sheer splendor and magic. Magic — unlike anything we can reasonably explain – I don’t want the world explained, but I want to understand.

A symphony.

Life is a symphony. All movements are represented with the allegros, the adagios the legatos and the andantes. But no one even wants to hear the chords that don’t fit the pattern.

Patterns — something we understand and can be easily quantified and qualified and stored away in whatever little box we’ve determined it needs to fit.

Did you know music can be boiled down to math? Or, at a minimum, music that is generally accepted to be pleasing to the ear – it’s all math, the one-three-four chord progression or the one-three-five chord shape … math.

But like those so-called pleasing to the human ear constructs, there’s a finite number of sounds that can be produced. Everything in between is dissonant.

Dissonant is where the true symphony is. Where life actually takes place and the most interesting, the most beautiful take place, the plane of interaction.

About Mr. B

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    Life is a symphony. All movements are represented with the allegros, the adagios the legatos and the andantes. But no one even wants to hear the chords that don’t fit the pattern.

    This confused writing could only come from someone unschooled in music. Allegro, adagio and andante are tempo markings, respectively meaning brisk, slowly, and at a walking pace. Legato directs that notes be played or sung smoothly and connected. Dropping legato in the midst of tempo markings suggests that you have no idea what you’re talking about. And following that gaffe comes a reference to “chords that don’t fit the pattern.” Which is a non sequitur because chords have nothing to do with either tempi or single notes played legato.

    Did you know music can be boiled down to math? Or, at a minimum, music that is generally accepted to be pleasing to the ear–it’s all math, the one-three-four chord progression or the one-three-five chord shape … math.

    That’s not math, dude. It’s gibberish. The one-three-four chord progression isn’t “generally accepted to be pleasing.” It’s generally accepted to be unharmonic, and is therefore seldom used. In the ’60s, The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” and The Yardbirds’ “For Your Love” toyed with that progression, but it was effective only because it was unusual. It’s certainly not mathematically established as generally pleasing.

    As for the “one-three-five chord shape,” are you talking about guitar voicings/fingerings? Can you cite an example of a guitar piece that uses this “shape” in that precise sequence? Not a practice exercise, mind you, but an actual piece intended for public performance. And name one mathematician who has pronounced that “shape” generally pleasing.

    Aside from your inept musical metaphor to contrast “perfect people” with the “beautifully damaged,” your whole premise is obnoxious. You cast yourself as an observer of humanity, not as a participant. Nearly 600 words, and we are left with no idea of where you fit in. Do you even know? It seems clear, however, that you’re not one of the beautifully damaged, at whom you gaze objectively as you “desperately try to understand it all.”

    “Your road isn’t my road,” you write, “but our paths are fraught with similar topography.” This I very much doubt. Those lines on an old man’s face or tears old women cry are part of your experience only because “they’re interesting,” not because you give a shit about a wrinkled old man or weeping old women. It’s all about you. Making your own existence INTERESTING.

    “Barflies and nighthawks at the diner–life’s discarded and forgotten scrounging to eek [sic] out an existence.” How colorful! How convenient! They’re all there for Benjamin’s amusement!

    “Dissonant is where the true symphony is.” Wrong. Life is not a symphony and there is no true symphony beyond music. You need to come up with a better metaphor. Preferably one about which you know something.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Good work, Benjamin. Life truly is a symphony and, as you can clearly tell, all manner of voices help create its flavour.

    You cast yourself as an observer of humanity, not as a participant.

    We’re observers AND participants, Alan. And perhaps “we” have no idea where the author “fits in” because “we” don’t know where “we” fit in ourselves. Or perhaps it’s because the author doesn’t know where he fits in.

    And in what respect do the life experiences of an old man or old woman NOT prove interesting on an existential level, Alan? Are you suggesting that the only purpose of aging is to provide an arena for pity and sorrow? Or could it be that the spectrum of humanity indeed proves interesting in that we all cull our own forms and content from the sea of people we surround ourselves with?

    I think only the loneliest of minds would discard the music of life, Alan, and only the most callous would continue to degrade posts that are clearly about spirituality and seeking into something demanding cold answers. You are looking for convenient amusement, sir, because the instruments stopped playing for you long ago. And now each person you “meet” has to pay for it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    It’s telling that the music reviewer among us (#2) avoids responding to my charge that since the author is musically unschooled, his overriding metaphor here is inept. Instead, #2 resorts as usual to an ad hominem attack. Such an unenlightening and predictable chap.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I’m sorry you’re suffering, Alan. Truly.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Beautiful poetic writing, Benjamin

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • Jordan Richardson

    Lest you be kept waiting, Alan, I have no interest in responding to any of your “musicological criticisms.” Not now, not ever.

    Further more, I truly do feel sorry for you. That’s not an attack, either. Whenever I come across someone so inflamed with hatred and anger, I can’t help but feel a profound sense of pity. Sadness, even. It really is a shame that this is what you’ve chosen to do with your gifts.

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    Hmm, could it be that our esteemed music reviewer knows even less about his subject than does Mr. Cossel? It’s beginning to look that way.

  • benjamin

    Hi Alan,

    I don’t know that just making a mistake qualifies me as incompetent. In the actual movement sections I still hold I wrote what I ment but for bad punctuation. I get what you’re saying and the methaphor could have been better constructed, I will keep that in mind for future writings.

  • Jordan Richardson

    could it be that our esteemed music reviewer knows even less about his subject than does Mr. Cossel?

    Absolutely!

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    And are you the only Blogcritics music reviewer who admits to being musically illiterate? Or is it in fact one of the prerequisites for writing in that Section?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Alan, I don’t pretend to be an expert on any topic that I write about – especially music. There are countless other writers out there who know much more about “my topic” than I do. Honestly, I know much more about film than music but have sort of evolved accidentally towards writing about music here. I’ve enjoyed the journey so far.

    I have played the piano for most of my life and have been repeatedly told that I have a ear for music, but whether that translates into “knowledge” as you’d have it is something I can’t answer to. And frankly, I don’t care.

    I think the main point here is that knowledge isn’t everything. Imagination, creativity and passion will trump an encylopedia’s worth of musical trivia any day of the week. You know a lot more than most people about many genres of music, Alan. Great.

    But from my experience (and from reading your past work), you don’t feel it in your bones. It doesn’t bring a smile to your face. It doesn’t make you hungry. It probably barely makes you tap your finger on the desk. Try as I might, I can’t come up with a visual image of you jamming out with the volume turned way up. Maybe I’m wrong, though. I hope I am. I hope you do feel it or, hell, I hope you do feel something besides your own need to be better than somebody else on the internet.

    Music to me is, to paraphrase Trane, all about communication with natural laws. When you tap into that something in a piece of music, whether you’re playing it or listening to it, anything can happen. I don’t write because I can explain that power. I write because I can’t explain it.

    Besides, I’ve only been doing this for a few years. With a stack of music on my desk and a pile of MP3s on my computer from new friends, I can’t help but love the journey – warts and all.

    Now you can throw all the jabs you want, pal, and I’ll still keep on feeling sorry for you because of what I see in you. The bitterness, the anger, the disappointment, the loneliness…it’s all there in every snarky word you write. Too bad.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Better still: “Perfect people suck. Nearly perfect people are just as bad; they’re not interesting.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    Thanks for your refreshing candor. I doubt there are many other BC writers who would confess to such technical illiteracy about their subject matter.

    One of the BC writers I do admire is John Lake. He frequently contributes to Politics, and occasionally to Video, Culture and even Sports. But his Sci/Tech articles are best of all. He’s neither a scientist nor technologist by trade, but he’s taken the time and effort to educate himself so that he can write authoritatively. I trust John to give me not just feeling but knowledge-based discernment. Passionate, uninformed writing, especially about music, saturates the Internet. But intuition tempered by learning is a rare commodity.

  • benjamin

    Jordan,
    Well said. I would never profess to be an expert on anything either. I do get what you’re saying about feeling the passion and wanting to write about it. I think that’s where I’m coming from trying to express something I feel deep down but don’t have the knowledge or experience jsut yet to nail it.

    Alan,
    Your comments to are takrn in a constructive manner. I will endevour to learn more such that the words better fit what I’m trying to say.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Benjamin, I would much rather read the mistakes and ramblings of a passionate, creative mind than I would bland regurgitation of facts that I could have otherwise found in a newspaper.

    All good writers put their struggles, mistakes, misunderstandings, problems, etc. on the page. And if it’s no longer a struggle, it’s no longer worth it. I’m a firm believer in fighting to get one’s words out rather than merely quoting others and pumping out information. There’s a place for everything, sure, but nothing rivals experience and passion in terms of compelling, invigorating writing.

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    Two peas in a pod, patting one another on the back for their mistakes and ramblings. Yep, this is Blogcritics, alright.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Benjamin,

    Please don’t let this hateful little man tell you how to write, promise?

    :(

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Great comment! #16 :D

  • benjamin

    Alan,

    I’m perfectly ok with your critique and even acknowledged it, but it gets harder and harder to take if all you’re going to do is slam. Your choice though.

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    Slam? You mean two peas in a pod? My, you have thin skin. That’s hardly a slam. More like the gentle graze of a feather boa.

  • benjamin

    Again you misunderstand. I don’t give a shit if you call me two peas or even say they writing stinks whatever but how about some constructive in there as well. As I said you got some good points. Thinn skinned you have no idea, know nothing about me, where I’ve been thin skinned? That my friend is laughable.

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    Curious, isn’t it? We both seem to be writing in American English, yet we’re not communicating. I think it’s, as you said in comment #15, about “feeling the passion … trying to express something I feel deep down but don’t have the knowledge or experience just yet to nail it.” All I get from you is passion; no rationality. All you and the other guy get from me, apparently, is rationality; no passion. Having reached such an impasse, we ought to terminate this exchange. Sometimes when you have a bad connection, it’s best to simply hang up.

  • Arch ConscienceStain

    Yes, it is best to hang up. Especially when the attention whoring has risen to the proper level.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Seems to me, Alan, that you have a bad connection with 95% of the people you call. Maybe shouting as soon as the other person picks up the phone isn’t the best way to start a conversation?