Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In Absentium

I'm currently trying to write an essay for Express Media's Voiceworks.  I've got like two and half weeks to get it down and it's still utterly shit.

It's kinda vaguely dealing with post-irony and what I see as a crucial need, on behalf of a lot of young people, whether intellectually or not, to engage more deeply into what I want to call sentimentalism.  Or, to put it another way, to have the balls to admit that some things in life matter.  To accept that there are certain things we can say we love, that we care about, that we ultimately fucking need, without ironist sentiment causing us to look down at our shoes, embarassed, that we were stupid enough to let people in.  Basically, we should be brave enough to say or feel certain things, without being scared of the jeers, of the scoffs, of the general opinion that we are so lame.

I don't know.  Maybe I'm a recovering ironist.  Irony has always been the tool with which I felt most comfortable, wether it be in a social or academic setting.  Here again you can read the influence David Foster Wallace has had on me.  Those who point to his 'look at me, look how smart I am' schtick have entirely missed the point.  For Wallace, fiction was about "what it was to be a fucking human being" to quote him directly.  As someone who has been raised on the ironist tools of the post-modernisits, Wallace suddenly saw the potential damage a culture based purely on irony could inflict.  Rather than highlighting the limitations of literature, art, music, general day to day life through irony (the beginning of which was, admittedly, constructive insofar as it highlighted shortcomings of these things) perhaps we would be better of creating the new worlds by which to live.

I guess I just have this overwhelming sense that almost my entire day is caught up in this disgusting loop of online in jokes, failed face to face run ins, and a lot of time spent by myself thinking about this loop, the entire engine of this life being irony, sarcasm and, in some case, brutal rudeness.  It's all fun and games of course but one finds that, after a while, yeh you have shared some laughs, but you haven't really achieved anything with your day/week/month/god damn year.  All you have done is, quite effectively, deconstructed certain aspects of your life through various mediums.  This makes you very aware of the limitations of your existence, but fails utterly at helping you construct new meaning through which to make something that truly resonates as crystal clear true. 

This is kind of like the point at which a lot of people say well yeh james that is obviously true, just get off the internet, or start writing, or read more.  Take control for fucks sake.

This is all well and good until your realise to what extent irony has entered the very crux of your life, the abandonment of which would probably result in you losing a good deal of friends and activities, such is the nature in which you would have to end this particular behaviour.  There's this sense of entrapment wherein you realise irony has shaped and in some sense hollowed out your life.  To admit that certain things matter more to you in life than irony allows is to admit that there is much, much faller to fall should everything, for want of a better term, not end up ok.

The other day I was trying to explain this to Charlie and she replied with the true but terrifying prospect: 'you'll sort it out James...or, um...maybe you wont....I'm not sure.'

Pretty sure this blog is done.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Phone Is Ringing.

I called my Grandma, from hereon in referred to as Nan, for her birthday last night.
"Don't worry" Nan said, as I listed off the number of vague but unsettling existential concerns I have been grappling with these past few months, "you'll find you're feet."

There it was.  That unspecific, but terribly comforting insistence, that old people spout having, you know, quote- un-quote, seen it all before.  Pragmatic wisdom with enough depth of age to at least lend some kind of credible tinge to it's insistence that, in fact, Everything Is Going To Be Ok.

As uncomfortable as I am with this blog having slowly become a sort of wretched note pad for everything which kind of like concerns me, the likes of which, prior to the internet, would most certainly have been of the bound and locked in bottom draw variety, I can't seem to stop myself from occasionally writing something here that, on subsequent re-reading, makes me literally want to bang my head against a wall, such is the frustration and utter futility of my realisation that I can't take back the limp, angsty, nauseatingly self-aware prose.  I could delete it, sure, but that would be even more unthinkable.

I visited Sydney last week.  Weak and kind of dizzy from three day of food poisoning, I arrived on Wednesday morning, to find a hot sunny day was waiting for me.  I kind of pottered around the botanical gardens, visited the Francis Bacon exhibit (spending my last money on entry) and ate a wrap that I realised half way through had cheese in it.  It kind of didn't bother me.  In the arvo I met up with Tom and Simon, my classmates from my honours year in Melbourne who have both moved up to Sydney Uni to pursue a Masters in Philosophy.  What can I say other than it was an inspiring time?  The Sydney Uni grounds are beautiful, and the philosophy department seems full of interesting and smart people.  Every little part of me wanted to stay, to talk to these people, to not go back to Melbourne, where the kind of proverbial and literal Winter that had just passed, still seemed to overshadow my day to day actions and thoughts.

Cycling and racing (and here I can't believe I even attribute this much emotional weight to this dumb past time, but there you go) was the furthest thing from my mind.  Having recognised cycling (slowly, over time, nutting things out alone), or more specifically my cycling 'renaissance' of training and racing, as a direct response to my Dad's death - a kind of obsessive compulsive behaviour that allows me to fill my life with bullshit structure, emotion addling fatigue, and local, club level narrative - I find myself both despising and loving this pursuit more than ever.  I can't envisage a world where I can do both: namely, commit to cycling, and commit to being a hardcore, full time, student of philosophy.

There's this kind of stricken fear to my outlook.  Part of me wants to never race again, so I can just go sit in the library quietly and do the things that have been bubbling away in my mind for years now; but I also just want to ride my bike.  I want to do both, but experience teaches me that I can't.  Not to the extent that I want.

This isn't some kind of issue where I am thinking about literally hanging up the bike.  I guess I'll always ride.  It's more about the kind of person I want to be.  Do I want to accept a kind of middle of the road job, commit to hardcore amateur cycling and be done? Or do I want to give this intellectual life one last gasping chance?  One more crack at maybe convincing others, but more importantly myself, that I can do this.

The Tour of Bright is next week.  What can I say?  I haven't ridden for a week.  I probably won't do very well and, for the first time, I don't care.  I can't decide if this is liberating or a major concession of defeat.

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced it's not really about cycling at all.  It's a great thing, and makes me genuinely, un-complicatedly happy.  It's more that it's representative of, to put it blandly, another path, another way to live.  A more modest, perhaps more genuine life.  Do I accept a normal life and race bikes on the weekends with my friends?  Or do I throw caution to the proverbial and try and be a philosopher?  The risk being that if I fail, I will be in the same situation as I am know, but I will be 4-5 years older and probably even more existentially, howdaysay?, ropeable...

Tied in with all this is the undeniable influence the gargantuan Infinite Jest has had on me this year.  Its staggeringly long and emotionally ambiguous shadow has played a role in my outlook this year, to be sure.  A book that deals with depression as much as it does, succeeds more than it perhaps should, at making me feel hope.  I'm now convinced this is a work of genius, like most people who like it say.  I don't really know what it means for something to be a work of genius, but I suspect I probably know it when I see it.  Infinite Jest, just like all the blurbs say it will, makes me really think, I mean think, about what it is to be a human being.  David Eggers in the introduction claims that, on finishing it, you are a better person.  I completely agree.  For if I've ever needed a book that deals with the various ways we, as humans, grapple with the at times bottomless abyss of living in this world, it has been this year.  The book is deeply moral, insofar as it shows how we live rather than how to live.  It's incredibly comforting to know that, the things that make me worry, probably made Wallace, and countless other too, worry as well.  This isn't necessarily a problem we have.  It's just, you know, being.

You'll find your feet, nan said.  It's beautifully comforting while being nauseatingly limp and meaningless.  But it seems appropriate in summing up what has been a year of violent emotional changes, marked by real playing catch-up grief, anxiety, boredom, ecstasy, with a serious commitment to physical exercise as addiction, and brief literary episodes as moral/existential compass.

There's this bird that's made a nest in the air vent of my dad's study.  You can tell because there's all sorts of sticks sticking out of the shitty Victorian plasterwork, but also because you can hear the bird itself hopping about and doing pragmatic bird stuff.  I'm undecided if this is something deeply poignant or entirely meaningless, an attempt on my behalf to link human constructed emotional confusion to naturalistic and ho-hum every day events, the presumed hope being that, it's ok james, you're just part of the bigger picture, etc, etc. and similar such bullshits.  

The dog is yawning.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Summoning Lupine.

Here I lie
Under a black, starless sky.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mi Ritrovai In Una Selva Oscura

Hell, if Dante and Slayer are to be believed, is a fairly shit place.  At least that's the vibe I get.

I spend a lot of time thinking about metal in it's socio-historical context.  Why it emerged when it did, how it did, and what it all kinda means.  I've always followed the fairly traditional method of acknowledging metal as having emerged when Black Sabbath awoke the youth of working class Birmingham in the late sixties.  I'll nod my head toward theories that point to the band Blue Cheer as having developed the proto-metal sound, and maybe even give the time of day to people who want to claim Helter Skelter by the Beatles was the first song to showcase that indescribable 'feel'.

But maybe we should be looking further back.  The notion of something being 'metal' is bandied around a fair bit, without any real thought as to what the fuck it means.  Does it just mean all grim and shit?  Is it all just throaty vocals and inverted crucifixes?  Is it all pomp and posture?  Or is it maybe just the modern manifestation of something we as, you know, 'people', have always been obsessed with?  Namely, that of that darkened world.  The word where hope and Goodness is extinguished.  Is it, in other words, a fairly traditional exploration of Good v. Evil?

It's here where we look at Dante.  As form of kind-of-half-hearted-backstory, Dante is essentially Italy's Shakespeare.  He lived in fourteenth century Florence, was a poet/writer/mad dog, got caught up in some serious political shit storms, (which Florence was fairly famous for at around that time)/was exiled, then died.  During his life he managed to bang out a book called La Divina Comedia, or The Divine Comedy.  It follows Dante, and his mate Virgil (he took some liberties with time....Virgil was a famous Ancient Roman poet) as they go through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.  It's pretty epic.

As a small backstory, when I lived in Italy, I had to memorise the first four verses of the Divine Comedy and recite it in front of the class.  I had only been at school for about two months, couldn't speak the language, and was so shit scared that I can, to this day, still reel off those verses without a hitch.  

The first verse of the first book, Hell, goes thus:

Nell' mezzo del camin di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai in una selva oscura
Che la diritta via era smarrita.

Which roughly translates as:

In the middle of our walk through life
I found myself in a dark forest
Where the right path had disappeared.

Basically Dante has a bit of a mid life crisis, goes for a wander, ends up in all three other worlds, and comes back a better man.  But the first book, where he goes through the nine circles of hell, is fucking grim.  It's a classic Christian depiction of Hell, where all the sinners, depending on the severity of the sin, spend the rest of eternity undergoing constant torture in one of the rings.  Lucifer himself is to be found in the bottom ring, with all the most evil/hated men and women.  Sure, it's kind of odious, given we have to account for all the people ever who came before Christianity find themselves in Limbo, the first ring, just purely out of bad timing, not to mention those who committed suicide, who find themselves in the seventh circle along with the sodomites, etc, etc.

But the point is is that it is a fucking terrifying depiction.  I remember going through a huge illustrated copy of of my Mum's when I was a kid (full disclosure: I scribbled all over it, it was worth like 400 dollars) and being utterly transfixed by the images of, well, Hell.  It was, I now realise with the benefit of hindsight, having the same effect on me Slayer had ten years later.  It was a depiction of the Dark, of the Dying, and of the Lost.  It was despair without hope.  It was terror with no chance for redemption.  These images tapped into the darkest recesses of my mind.

Keep in mind I didn't believe any of these places existed, I was just utterly consumed by their depiction of dark eternity.  And, you know, you look at these images, these depictions of tales of epic journeys through fantastical realms, masking what in reality are meant to be real human existential concerns and horrors, and you are face to face with what metal does today.  Death metal's obsession with ancient Sumerian gods, twisted worlds, murder, torture are merely artistic representations, and subsequent (admittedly often ham fisted) explorations of what are really pragmatic, every-day concerns: why are we alive, why are we scared of dying, and why do people do horrible things to each other all the time?  Black metal's obsession with pagan worlds, Nature and misanthropy achieves a similar thing, asking kind of vague questions about the nature of the World, our place in it, and the sadness that seems to pervade many of our lives on this world.

All of which brings us back to Dante being pretty fucking metal.  And we can dismiss the idea of Dante being metal as absurd.  Firstly because Dante didn't live in a time where 'being metal' was possible, making after-the-fact socio/pop-cultural remarks about him kind of absurd.  Secondly, we still haven't defined what 'being metal' entails, other than pointing to some vague ideas about good and evil, and other such bullshit.  But if we treat metal as but a sub-set of one of many artistic urges to try and describe/explore/make sense of the world and us and everything else, then we don't really need a proper definition, in the same way that romantic literature doesn't, or post-war post-modern lit doesn't either.  If we can accept, even tentatively, that metal is part of a great obsession with the Dark, in a kind of deeper, existential sense, then we can begin to see why Dante and Burzum had a lot more in common than first appears.

In the middle ages, the inverted fifth, the musical root note that all metal is based around, was banned.  It was believed to 'bring out the devil' in people.  It was said to cause a shiver down the spine.  That was supposed to be Lucifer entering your body.  Ideas around Lucifer, the Devil and the blackness beyond the gate were obviously prevalent in the Middle Ages and Renaissance period.  The Divine Comedy is a perfect snap shot and example of how scared we were, and still are, of that tingle down the spine.  The one you get where it occurs to you that, perhaps, all is not as it seems.

It may be that metal did in fact emerge out of Birmingham in the latter half of the twentieth century, and that anything that came beforehand that seems artistically similar, is unrelated.  It seems to me, however, that metal deals with something we have always, and I suspect always will, deal with.  Metal is really anger and grief.  Power and despair.  Bleakness and misanthropy.

I can't see much difference between when Dante stepped down into the ninth circle of hell, to face Lucifer himself, and when Morbid Angel wrote Fall from Grace.

From the first circle I descended thus
Down to the second, which, a lesser space
Embracing, so much more of grief contains,
Provoking bitter moans. There Minos stands,
Grinning with ghastly feature: he, of all
Who enter, strict examining the crimes,
Gives sentence, and dismisses them beneath,
According as he foldeth him around:
For when before him comes the ill - fated soul,
It all confesses; and that judge severe
Of sins, considering what place in Hell
Suits the transgression, with his tail so oft
Himself encircles, as degrees beneath
He dooms it to descend. Before him stand
Always a numerous throng; and in his turn
Each one to judgment passing, speaks, and hears
His fate, thence downward to his dwelling hurl'd

Hot wind burns me
Burning as I fall
Cast away
Speechless in the holy way
I survive
The scourge and banishing
To scorching land
I am lord, I take command

(Fall from grace)

Forgive me not
This knowledge makes me strong
To resurrect
The cities of the damned
All the treasure of sodom
Now belong to me - celebrate
Fallen angels take my hand

(Fall from grace)

Whores long for my flesh
And my desire
Lust annointing me now
Consume my soul

(I ride the flesh and the sinners of hell)
(I am belial)
(I bend knee not before my selfish desire

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Faultless,Battled He.

When I was a kid, maybe around three to four, I spent a lot of time hanging around my parent's bookshelves.  I guess this is kind of par for the course for young kids growing up with academics for parents.  None of the books were in any way accessible (I was pretty late to reading anyway) to a young boy, being mostly a collection, at least in the case of the bookshelves outside my parents respective studies, of classic fiction, autobiography and letters/diaries.  I remember running my finger along the spine of my mum's battered copy of Lord Of The Rings (a book she claims she never liked), attracted to the picture of what I now realise must have been Gollum.  I would take this book out of the shelf, leaf through the pages, examine closely the nine figures walking toward a mountain in the distance.  None of it made any sense to me of course at the time.  But I was already turning into a bit of a fan of the magical and fantastical, and I was pretty sure I wanted in on the book.  This led me to dragging the volume out from those it sat next to, quite regularly I seem to remember, and demanding to know from my Mum, when exactly I would be able to read this damn novel.  I can't remember what she said, but I am fairly certain the answer was not exactly pacifying to a small boy who can barely imagine the next week, let alone himself in, say, eight years time.

In light of the need to finish this sub-story, I did indeed read LOTR when I was eleven, and loved it so much, that I read it once a year, every year, for four years straight.  It was a good time.

I spent some time at mum's today, some of it helping her re-arrange some of dad's stuff.  Mum needed some correspondence of dad's, for some other academic person somewhere in the world, a general task she understandably finds depressing and boring, an unfortunate combination.  Here we were, sorting through these boxes and boxes of things, that used to be dad's.  Years of correspondence, all pre-dating email of course, often written under Monash, or Harvard, or Oxford letterhead.  All written to people I'd sometimes met, others I might have heard of, others I never knew existed.  It was strange, seeing my dad's scrawled notes to friends, and formal letters to colleagues, often written ten or more years before I was born.  There's this kind of universal style to academic's personal notes, often warm and inviting, yet stuffily choreographed, betraying the obvious popularity of writers like George Orwell (his letters, not just his novels) to the left wing scholars of the latter part of the twentieth century in the English speaking world.

It was as I thought about this that I came across the three volumes of Proust's In Search Of Lost Time.  I  have this sick obsession with long, difficult books.  Their length impresses me, intimidates me and their difficulty makes me want to conquer them.  With this in mind, I had had vague plans to tackle Proust at some unspecified time in the future, probably after War and Peace, and perhaps before Ulysses.  I picked up the battered copy, noticing the cover had come away entirely from the spine.  That distinctive name in the front, Carolyn James, written seemingly identically every time, told me they had been mum's copies.  Looking at the spine, each book with a little picture at the top, perhaps depicting a different character, I had a flash of recognition.  Just like an aroma you remember from when you were a kid, or a song you haven't heard for years, the spine's of these three volumes of Proust, had me instantly back in front of the bookshelf, lying on my belly, slightly dusty carpet tickling my nose, running my finger along the spines of these books, containing words I couldn't read, about people I didn't know existed.  I remember thinking that one average household bookshelf probably contains hundreds of different stories, the subjects of which might be so magnificently varied so as to make one really quite overwhelmed by the world.  I didn't know who Proust was then, obviously, and I don't really know who he is now.

As I sit here, looking at these three volumes though, just as clueless as to what this book is about as I was twenty years ago, I have this rush of memory and nostalgia.  I feel like, in starting to read this book, I would be continuing a story, rather than beginning one.  I spent ages wondering what all these mysterious tomes on all the bookshelves at home were about back when I was a kid.

The first book from the adult shelves I tackled was when I was ten.  It was called 'Out of the Shelter' by David Lodge.  From what I understand, David Lodge was a very popular writer in the sixties/seventies/eighties amongst left wingish leaning academic types.  He tended to write a lot about left wingish academic types so I suppose I can see the appeal.  Dad used to always explain his enjoyment of Lodge due to their same age, and his writing about places he had studied at (London, etc.).  Mum used to scoff, call Lodge a filthy sexist, and claim that all his stories were about old white academics wanting to get laid.  The point is, from a ten year olds perspective, 'Out Of the Shelter' was really fun.  It was about a young kid, growing up in post war Britain, going on holiday to West Germany.  It also had the most (for my age) vivid sex scene I could possibly imagine.  When I read it, Dad bought me 'Tomorrow When the War Began', and wrote in the front cover

"To James, for reading his first 'real' book.  Love, Bill"

I was pretty proud of myself for taking the step into 'real' literature, sure, but most of all I was excited that I had, finally, begun to unlock the secrets to the thousands of stories I had grown up with for the past ten years, surrounded by, but inaccessible.  Over the next few years I made my way through some more titles.  I read some Turgenev, some Orwell, bits and pieces of other writers. I found I had a strong attraction to the now dead genre of what I like to call 'A British man wanders through Europe'.  These books basically entail lavish descriptions of rich British gentleman walking through Italy with a cane, talking about Tuscan spring, churches and (occasionally) what a good job the fascists had done to clean up the country.  It was all pretty pleasant.

It all stalled a bit when I got into metal, and I was too busy scouring the internet for information on obscure British death metal bands, trying to understand the real tangible differences between Florida and California proto-death metal, or grappling with the world black metal was opening up to me.  So the reading didn't stop, by any means, but it definitely slowed.

Now, fired with this urgent desire to do something, I'm suddenly turning to these books again.  To the same bookshelves, some books now read and remembered, others as mysterious as ever.  I think back to that sweaty excitement I felt when I finished that David Lodge book, knowing I had entered a world that had not been made for me, but that I had stolen in anyway, taken a peek at what was inside, and snuck out just as quietly, wanting more.  Now I pick up 'In Search of Lost Time'.  That same feeling of childish eagerness to know more about the picture on the front, like that I felt when looking at Gollum, stirs in me.

Maybe, when I read Proust, I'll inscribe a little note in the front.

James, for finishing your first 'real' book.

I hope mum doesn't mind.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Could Be The Queen Bee.

There's that feeling one gets when looking at a sentence with an errant comma.  You know it belongs in the sentence, somewhere, you're just not entirely sure where.  You move it around, read the sentence out loud, playing with the words, seeing where the movement of the comma takes you in regards to what the sentence conveys.  Yet, and here's the catch, it doesn't seem to belong anywhere.  It doesn't seem quite right in any of the various positions you place it in, but to remove it would, surely, be obscene, unthinkable w/r/t the sentences core.

It's these little discomforts with language that I grapple with every day.  I'm fairly comfortable with the written word and, I suppose, you could list it under the column labelled 'Shit James is ok at' rather than the opposite.  Writing talent is, actually, a bit like cycling.  To a degree, if you work hard, you get better at it.  But, at the end of the proverbial day, there's also those who have the natural spark, the limitless potential, the seemingly effortless ability to make the thing that you wish you were better at appear easy and, heaven forbid, beautiful.  I didn't think people like Stuart O'Grady and Cormac McArthy, Sean Kelly and Kafka had much in common.  They don't really.  What they do possess is that spark.  That element that makes us the rest of us hang our heads in despair, looking up only to stare at the sky and wonder what it was that these people had/have that we don't, that allow them to, without a wish to ramble, sparkle.

But there it is.  I'm as uncomfortable as I am familiar with the written word and, frankly, I don't know how to change that.  I definitely feel as if my writing has become stagnant as far as its quality is concerned.  There's this vague desire to, I don't know, write.  But write what?  When?  In what manner?  About whom?  To whom?

Of course those who know what the deal is will of course dismiss these concerns, citing the importance of simply writing, as being of the utmost importance.  It doesn't matter what you write.  So long as you do.  Eventually, slowly, agonisingly, something will happen.  Usually when you lease expect it.  Or at least so goes the advice.

Maybe one of the real train wrecks to come out of po-mo-ish writing is that sense of self awareness that surrounds a lot of writing these days.  The topic of the writing sits alongside the the very act of writing itself, that act in itself as much a part of the art.  That's not to say this is a bad literary style, simply that it makes it harder to start writing.  Not only does one have the awareness that one is writing to grapple with, one also has the awareness that, in writing, we are also aware of our awareness of writing.

Or, alternatively, it's always been this hard and we just started getting a bit more theoretical about the shit that goes through the standard human's brain when you sit in front of a computer, or a blank piece of paper and think, 'right, this is it', only to find yourself trolling the internet (the modern day procrastination equivalent of endlessly sharpening your pencil and making cups of tea) with the overwhelming sensation of 'oh shit, what now?' enveloping your soul.

That sense of doubt, that feeling that you haven't quite got what it takes, is embodied by that feeling you get, when you look at an errant comma, and can't quite find a place for it.  It's almost as if the comma itself is fine, it's the rest of the sentence that's the problem.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Little Do They Know, That I Hear Their Choice Of Life.

Today was the first proper hot day of Spring.  It was only 27 degrees, but the sun and wind were warm.  I rode my bike for four hours, popped into the shop to say hi and drop off the guys some tofu rolls, and worked on my tan lines.

The summer heat represents a mixed bag for me at this point.  On the one hand, I'm very happy that I can turn my back on what was probably one of my unhappiest winters ever.  On the other, I'm also a bit sad that the time has gone.  While unhappy, it was certainly an interesting, frenetic, heart wrenching and ultimately vivid few months.  That shit doesn't go away.

Meanwhile my mate Shamus continues to live his dream up in the northern American forests, the photos on various facebook pages, suggesting that, like me, Shamus won't be forgetting the past few months any time soon.

Right now I'm sitting down, testing out the play list for the Sydney trip I'm going on tomorrow.  Apparently I'm racing bikes but, really, I'm just gonna hang out with chums and get blind drunk in the sun.  Know Your Enemy is playing right now.  I stayed away from the more introspective music, the key here being Party, rather than Doom.  There's a lot of thrash and death here, of the more up-beat, fast played variety.  There's also some Ladyhawke, No Doubt, Veronicas, Rihanna and even some Shakira.  When put on shuffle, this play list is going to be pretty great, but also fairly representative of my general state of mind.  My love affair with all things hard and heavy has never wavered, but my obsession with pop and top 40 is quickly gaining momentum, to the point where all semblance of irony is gone, replaced with wild eyed, tongue out of mouth, enthusiasm.

Summer and winter represent the divide in my personality.  One half wants to dance to Beyonce all night.  The other wants to sit under the leaden sky and cry.  I've never managed to reconcile the two, but I do know that, once the temperature starts to fall around mid-march, I'll put an Ash Borer record on, and everything will seem that little bit more grey.  

Now Rihanna is playing, and everything I've written seems absurd.