Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cities Fall In Ruin.

Jorge Lius Borges is a pretty famous author. He wrote mainly short stories, some of which i read the other month. The collection was called 'Labyrinths'. It comes highly recommended.

Anyway, i read something about Borges, where he writes that all writers create their precursors. That is to say, that all authors create the thematic and creative expanse of those who came before them because it is they themselves who came out of that expanse.

Sounds kinda theoretical and a little lame right? I kinda thought so too, until when i remembered the time i read Kafka's 'The Trial' and Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment". At the time I had read that Kafka had just read "Crime and Punishment" when he wrote "The Trial", and that the two should be read together.

Rather that do the more logical think of reading "Crime and Punishment" first, i read it after Kafka. The result was that i read it through a distinct Kafka-esque window. The Kafka themes like confusion, alienation, bureaucratic shitstorms were the things that jumped out at me when reading Dostoevsky, rather than, for example, poverty or the rising urban classes.

Without realising, i had just allowed Kafka to create, for me, the very author he had been inspired by. Dostoevsky had become, bizarrely, Kafka-esque.

I guess the musical equivalent of this is listening to the Beatles before Elvis, then thinking Elvis sounds a bit Beatlesy.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Burn Those Bridges.

I live in an area where the traditional beer and bbq celebration of Australia Day is scorned. Instead, anywhere you turn, you are confronted by ironic exclaims of "Straya" and "Fuckin, bewdy". It's all very funny, as we laugh at the bigoted nationalists.

But we still party.

We still go out, to bbqs, to parks. We celebrate the good weather. But we do it with an aura of smug superiority, because we're aware of the so called 'dark side' to the australian psyche. We know that Australia day is a commemoration of an invasion - but we don't do anything much more than point it out to people who already agree with us, while we laugh at the flag cape wearers.

I dunno. I think there's definitely something wrong with that too. But i don't know how to change it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tyrants.

I've often quite admired black metal bands that refuse to play live. Although this is often due to logistical reasons (they are often one man bands) they often cite more ideological ones.

Black metal, for many, is an intensely personal music, that would fail to thrive in the public sphere. I can certainly relate to that, given that i almost always listen to black metal with headphones, usually just before i go to sleep. Some might argue this explains my disturbed sleep, and oddly violent and visceral dreams, but i think that's just looking for excuses.

Anyway, i do think that black metal is a deeply private affair, containing meaning only you can probably explain. There is nothing inherently interesting, on face value, about a bunch of dudes in kiss paint, writing structureless songs. But its depth and subtlety as a genre, result in it being much more than the sum of its parts.

Black metal creates worlds in a way no other music does. Hardcore tends to create scenes, where people congregate to share ideas and values. Thrash does a similar thing. Black metal, on the other hand, projects an image of both the natural world, and the the world of humans. I think this, now that i think about it, is what i find so appealing about it. Only the listener can respond to that world, and how it appears to oneself, hence the private nature of the music.

When i listen to Burzum, or Wolves in the Throne Room, the experience created isn't one to be shared, because it delves into a part of my mind where sentiment, rather than language is in control. I can't express, really, how this music makes me feel, other than to to point to that particular emotion and state that it makes me feel thus and thus.

I suppose it's a little like the fantasy worlds that are conjured by certain childhood books. Kids read them obsessively, cover to cover, so entranced are they by the worlds they are projecting themselves into. And, when the book finally ends, there is a distinct sense of melancholy that they have to re-join the normal world.

In the same way does black metal create worlds, for me at least, and it is with the same sadness that i rejoin the real world at the end of an album. Varg from Burzum has often said that black metal is supposed to create a trance like state for the lsitener, a sentiment which is echoed by many other musicians, notably Aaron Weaver from Wolves in the Throne Room, who states that the only real logical response to the music is to fall to one's knees and weep.

The world you are transported to through black metal is a lonely and cold one, where Nature might have prevailed over the Enlightenment values of rationality and science of the past four hundred years. The sadness you feel, when listening, then, is a sense of deepest nostalgia for a time that has long passed - one that we will never be part of.

That's probably a good thing though. The middle ages were pretty fucking unpleasant from what i hear.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Don't Drive There.

One of the search phrases that brought someone to this blog this week was "Sebastian Bach straightening his hair".

I'm counting that as a victory.

This one is for you Dave:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Under a Funeral Moon

Every time i start a blog post it is with the intention of writing about black metal, and how important i think it is as an artistic movement, as well as how that movement relates to the recent commotions in the US scene.

But i don't really know how to write it yet. So ideas continue to bubble away. Stay tuned and watch this space.

This post, rather, is about Brendan Bailey who, by the way, just celebrated his 500th post of his own blog. As those of you who know me and Brendan will already know, while my blog started of as Bike Snob/Cycling Inquisition knock off, it has slowly spiralled into a knock off of Brendan's blog, except the prose aren't as lively. That's ok, blogs change direction (as Brendan himself points out in regards to his own blog that started out looking at the Melbourne punk scene, and slowly shifted to his own personal experiences with competitive cycling.)

And it's Brendan's cycling i would like to briefly mention. Those who follow his blog know he has had, from a cycling perspective, what is commonly referred to as a 'dog of a year' or, to put it another way, 'a shit time'. A mystery ailment has meant supreme fatigue, a lack of high end results because of his inability to train as hard as is necessary to compete at the top level, and a general sense of frustration. Dozens of specialists and tests later, Brendan is none the wiser, and the fatigue keeps coming back...and no one really knows why.

This has led Brendan to entertain the idea of giving up competitive cycling. When he mentioned this to me the other day, i couldn't help but feel a melancholy descend over me, which i couldn't quite explain. On further reflection, I realised it's partially due to a sense of direction.

The whole time I have been 'taking cycling more seriously' Brendan has always been there to give training/tactical/dietary advice (though special mention must also go to Casey), introduce me to other racers, but has also allowed me to tag along on his training rides. I was thinking about this the other day and i realised that one major thing i really enjoy about training with someone is the idea of collective experience. I like that riding with someone else frames and gives context to a part of your life that would otherwise be experienced alone.

Now i wouldn't want to wax lyrical about training too long. Most of the time when i ride with Brendan he is up front and i am behind him, small bits of spittle running down my face, as he counts down the time till sweet, sweet relief, and the end of some stupid effort. But you do get a chance to chat about stuff, and learn how the others rides, until you feel you know the other person on a certain level that doesn't really come out any other way.

If Brendan were to quit racing, I would miss those shared experiences. It's a pretty selfish sentiment, but one that won't go away. And, as Brendan told me his coach told him, I reckon he still has the ability to win some big bike races.

And if, by way of training for those big races, Brendan has to spend time on the lonely roads of outer suburban Melbourne, I would be stoked to share some of those kilometres.

So it is with a mixture of a friends concern, and selfish motives that i hope that Brendan's sickness goes away, is treated etc, so that he can get back to the life i know he loves.

All i can say at this stage, however, is: don't give up mate.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Easy Tiger.

One thing we often forget, as amateur racing cyclists, is how recently we took up the sport. I mean I have been riding bikes for eight years, only a year and a half of which (not counting my outstanding racing career with CCCC at 15) has been racing often.

We figure we've been around the block, know our way around, and feel ready to give advice to newer cyclists, based on our own experiences.

I think what we all forget, though, is that we really are students of the sport, rather than masters, and we would probably do well to remember it every now and then.

Offering advice to newbies that might only apply to myself, is something I, and others, probably need to be careful of.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

In The Midst Of Life, We Are In Death.

There is something incredibly depressing, it occurred to me on my ride home tonight, about christmas decorations left up beyond the christmas period.

To me it suggests an unwillingness to allow the moment to pass, to gracefully exit. Seeing a house still covered in fairy lights mid January, or watching a christmas tree slowly wilt in the mid summer sun, day after day, is kinda like staying until the very end of a party: you do it because you want to have more fun, but it ends up being really lame and boring.

To me it highlights the logistics of Christmas (which are so often the source of argument). You can imagine someone repeatedly asking their frazzled partner to, for gods sake, take down the fucking fairy lights, it's mid February! And the frazzled partner putting it off because it's such a fucking nightmare taking it down and, besides, the lights never go back into the box neatly anyway, so why not just put it off a few days more. And anyway, it lights up the neighbourhood.
And so it continues and Christmas just becomes a time where you DO STUFF THAT YOU DONT REALLY WANT TO DO and then it ends and you are relieved, but there are things you need to do, like throw the Christmas tree out, and take down the fairy lights. Not to mention eat ham for the next three weeks straight to get rid of the ham we have, which we didn't really want, but somehow felt compelled to buy.

Somehow, christmas things post christmas, represents decay, stagnation: evidence that there is an unwillingness to move forward, to change. Doubtless this phenomena exists at all times of the year but, with christmas decorations, it represents tangible, physical proof.

Just like a broken window that stays broken tells us something about the circumstances of the person who lives there, we can conclude various things about people who leave out Christmas lights well past Christmas.

And, rightly or wrongly, it makes me a bit sad.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Couldn't See For the Stars.

And so it is that i find myself at home alone on a Friday night. Why? Because i'm too tired to do anything else.

Instead of going out, I'm doing a lot of reading, some listening to new bands that i have been meaning to chase up, as well as a bit of writing.

Central to my inability to go out is of course the cycling i did during the week which, coupled with not enough calorie intake, has left me just a little exhausted.

I don't have a problem at this stage with cycling dictating how i live day to day (i enjoy it too much) but as i stand on the verge of a year with no plans other than 'to ride my bike a bit', i do sometimes have my doubts.

Most of my friends this year are either continuing their study, or going overseas if not indefinitely, then for a very long time. Frankly, I'm worried that, come mid winter, all i'll have to sustain me is the Northern Combine. As Brendan said, what my friends are doing is essentially accepted procrastination, whereby the pondering of what to do afterwards isn't as stark a reality, as when you are at home, with nothing in particular to distract you.

So i find myself having these minor panic attacks as i realise that i am devoting a year to something I'm not very good at anyway. I find myself wondering if i am perhaps devoting too much time to one pursuit, closing my eyes to a world that is perhaps larger than i am giving it credit for.

If this theme is sounding tired and self indulgent, that is because it is. It remains a topic of thought because i haven't really come to any solid conclusions - the hope being that by writing it down somewhere, it might lead me to come up with some ideas, or perhaps allow me to frame the dilemma in such a way, that it appears again in a new light.

Essentially, I have no money, little to no food, and while i am loving bike riding and racing more than ever before, i feel like i should probably do/achieve something else with this year.

Better start my novel then.