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Is life a video game?

Get rid of the enemies, jump the obstacles, collect the prizes, and..if you do really well, you might even get a new life. If you mess up, then well..game over for you.

Analogies between personal histories and game walkthroughs are never-ending, but one is the most striking. It usually takes someone else to hold the controller for a game to be played. The ensuing conclusion is simple. The more someone’s life reflects the logic of a video game, the more likely someone or something else is pushing the buttons.

The song ‘Walkthrough’ follows the way adventure game solutions are usually written. For each scene there is an instruction on how perform it, and production companies are inclined to invent and trademark few special objects which provide some superpower. So, the stupid sword suddenly becomes The Mighty Sword of Xenogan™. To be original means to employ a good copywriter, because there are just too many swords, bazookas, orcs, evil queens, and gigantic crystal spiders that shoot lasers around to be able to discern them anymore.

It makes me think of  famous brands slapping their logo on a mass produced shirt just to provide the magic which is completely lost in the way things are produced in a mass culture. Not surprisingly, in a world of hand-crafted unique production brands were unnecessary and redundant. The object was radiating its identity by itself. Anyway,  I’m drifting away here…

It’s the idea of success and achievement that has an absolute sway on the way that we perceive others and ourselves. Collecting the points, building up the credit, which you can then spend to gain something, to trade, or save it to enhance further chances. And just as it perfectly doesn’t matter how you reached, say, level 6 in a video game once you’re there, success is its own justification in 3D just as much. Once you make it, it effectively shuts everybody else’s memories and mouths. The score redefines all that preceded it.

As for me, I can only sadly admit I jumped too low, aimed too imprecisely, drove too clumsily and generally killed monsters too lazily. Whoever pushed my buttons must be quite frustrated by now. Being a mere stupid character I still dare to pass a suggestion to the hand. Isn’t it time to smash the damn controller?

Lyrics:

Walkthrough

Concentrate and push start
Watch your head, they’re falling down
Splits of Broken Hearts™
Hide behind the wall
Wait till you get missed by shot
Of the Dart of Love™

Go to super-store
Buy the Hands of Justice™
Touch and crack the Saving Straw™
To see the open door
Leading to the Leash of Power™
To the upper floor

Bend behind, move it quick and stretch to side
Duck and jump and spread apart
Lift it up and make it hard
Work it out till you see stars

Now don’t you try to slow down
Watch your step you could stumble on
Stones of Wisdom Gone™
Unzip your water gun
Sprinkle dried out Tree of Knowing™
Chop it, burn and run

Bend behind, move it quick and stretch to side
Duck and jump and spread apart
Lift it up and make it hard
Work it out till you see stars

Suck the Thumb of God™
Play the ball off the Wall of Lies™
And get a brand new life
Ride a Wheel of Luck™
Pray to centrifugal force
You make it the top five.

Bend behind, move it quick and stretch to side
Duck and jump and spread apart
Lift it up and make it hard
Then repeat all from the start
Relax and calm your heart
Face the floor and spread apart
Lift it up and make it hard
Work it out, you’re a born star

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I could’ve sworn

I could have sworn I saw it once. The holy of holies. As its shadow slipped across my mouth somewhere in Europe. After almost two thousand years and just before the arabian dawn.

As I could have sworn I heard a tiny footsteps. Yes. That autumn day. They were dancing right next to the fireplace in my Paris room. Right where she invited me inside. Where she told me to come. She knew to whom they belonged. She knew their name. She didn’t say.

I could have sworn once I found a way to the most beautiful void. Where gods were dying without a trace, irrelevant. Where all there is fits in a row of teeth. A fingernail. A spine.

I could’ve sworn I licked my dreams off her skin. As I could buy 18 euro ticket and ride away straight to the heart of the universe. One hour. And there I would be. In the misty red core of eta carinae.

I could’ve sworn it was as real as the silence, as the absence, as the chair and the cup of coffee. As before and after. As the ring that makes black circle in the empty air and cries for home.

Are you uncool enough?

I never learned to be cool. Or at least cool enough. There were just too many biological obstacles. It probably started with the fact I was still sucking my thumb when I was 8. Then I bit my nails. Then I realized I was too tall. At around 11-12 I was still shitting my pants. It didn’t stop there. I used to steal at the local shop, got caught several times. It severely bruised my coolness potential. Not to mention smashing my front teeth and wearing braces for years. Going from bad to worse, I then entered puberty too late. On a school trip I realized most of my friends had pubic hair while I was still as smooth as baby’s ass between my legs. Final blow probably came in a high school, where people couldn’t discern if I was male or female which resulted in several disastrously uncool situations with my then girlfriend. From curious questions in a school corridor where random people would approach me and sincerely asked about my sex to words like ‘Is that all girls?’ – the reply of a shopkeeper once me and my girlfriend were buying a chocolate.

Then I decided to study theology, another super uncool subject. While the rest of my people were dressing up, doing wild haircuts, buying Martens shoes and generally looked to conform to some rebel fashion image, ranging from punk to dark, I wore my father’s shirts, drove old lady’s bicycle and sat around on benches and fields discussing the matters of god, philosophy and music immersed in a world which was wholly out of horizon of almost anyone that surrounded me.

I was uncool on stage with a band, pretentious, heavy, always apocalyptically serious. It still comes off as an inability to really tell a joke if it’s longer than one sentence. I was uncool in my early writings, as I’m uncool right now.

Let’s stop here. Otherwise I risk deliberately projecting a certain image, which is exactly the main ingredient of any type of coolness. Uncoolness should be ultimately unaware of itself to be genuine. Which means I’m disqualified from both terms – the worst possible outcome 🙂

Anyway, what’s really stirring my thoughts about the matter is how impossible and tabooish has become the idea of directness. If there is a faux pas in any type of relationship these days, be it business, friendship, love, it’s probably being too open and naively straightforward. Asking questions as if seven year old would ask them, right into the face, totally unaware of the parameters of situation, the unspoken codes of behavior, all the rights and wrongs that hang densely in the air whatever the social context as if the whole world is one huge soirée where everybody is peeking at what the next guy is doing so as not to appear too crude and not knowing the rules of the proper conduct.

Terry Eagleton spoke about it so insightfully when he noted how the word ‘like’ permeated language nowadays. It works as a constant preemptive protection from expressing, describing or judging something exactly as it is, for the fear of being rejected or ending up stupid, wrong, unfit. Uncool. To be cool is to base your identity in the consciousness of how others might perceive you. Since no one can certainly predict if his or her view will fit the scheme of what’s accepted and applauded in a given context, the safest bet is to say something but not really saying it, to think something but not really thinking it. To be fluid enough at any given moment just to be able to change shape if necessary without paying the price of being wrong and thus losing the chunk of a perceived aura. How cool is that?

Mum.

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I’m just thinking about this – have I ever written a song that would work on Tahrir square? Something a 10000 people would be able sing and dance around with joined hands.

I guess not.

I mean, if you name a song ‘Agoraphobia’, the only place where it’s gonna be appreciated at the moment is Mubarak’s living room.

I shouldn’t be saying this, but I really don’t believe in democracy in the long run. Although it is absolutely necessary to realize how pathetic and weak is the notion of political freedom. There is no other way to burst the bubble.

My reproach to democracy as such is the proliferation of opinions. It ends up in the inertia and paralysis of the public space and every idea of change has to follow some rule of law and how it’s supposed to be done. You can’t challenge the whole structure, because it’s labeled democratic, meaning pleasing majority and thus can’t be wrong. Majority, which is vastly non-political.

In other words, you file for revolution. You fill the form for change.And then it’s decided should you be allowed to voice what you stand for, is it a legitimate dissent. Resistance is perfectly integrated.

In a certain way, democracy reflects on an ideological level what capitalism is on economical. The crisis is what nourishes it and propels it even further. It doesn’t produce a change, it just serves to justify how perfect system is, because it’s able to hear, respect and deal with every professed public request keeping the power intact.

Freedom is no longer dangerous because it’s relegated to the plane of freedom of expression, right to vote and all such mental candies that people suck without any real consequence. That’s why today there’s no real difference between political programs, the ways of running the state. Once you cordon all the ways human being can publicly think or act, only one thing is left to be done – guarding it from bursting out of that freedom bubble. And, of course, do the economy. Money is the single ideological currency of mature democracies. The only area where agreement or disagreement bears any weight.

‘Agoraphobia’ is a hymn of post-politics. When public square becomes your kitchen, bedroom, sofa. Where you and your muse make revolutions, diversions, change of histories, fates, where gods are taken down and brought back to life. Outside, there is just fiction. The news.

It’s a collective defeat, agreed. And when I watch these people in Cairo, I imagine they never go away from the Tahrir square. I see their tents, chants and banners forever stuck in the eye of the revolution. Truth is not a realization or the right connection of thoughts and objects. It’s a shock, an event, as Alain Badiou would say. But no one ever learned how to preserve its beating heart.

Really, the truth should be lethal. Dying is the only just and proper reaction to it.

Lyrics:
Agoraphobia

Right before my doors
You say there’s a life to have
Right before my doors
That pretty faces smile & laugh
That race began it’s unconcealed
On softback chairs with plastic wheels
That good folks are just coming round
With plates of snacks and foreign wines

Right before my doors
That stars are ten times multiplied
Right before my doors
That nights got shorter, days more bright
That there is new tongue spread about
And all the words are clear from start
And all the books are sorted right
All the copies verified

Right before my doors
That flows of cash are carving land
Right before my doors
If you got stamped then you are friend
That swarms of songs are filling air
Songs of love, change, fun, despair
Just pick & choose just plug & play
Drink water, everything’s ok

Open me
Tear it up
From this womb you pull me out
Take it all
Rewind to start
Forget the change
Insert your heart

And right behind my doors
Gods are still drunk and slow
Right behind my doors
Angels are still flying low
I’d let them out
I’d set them free
But where when everything’s a dream?
A nightmare of a perfumed thoughts
Pollution of an endless nods

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Precedent books are better than subsequent movies. But what’s the score between precedent movies and subsequent music? ‘Before the Rain’ was written one spring evening long time ago. I was sitting next to my room’s window, fiddling the strings of my old classical guitar and thought I found a cute little tune. I was wrong. It was a great big tune.

I wish I could shoot orders from here, you know, rule the globe, take Mubarak from power, give everyone a lollipop. Being an interstellar dictator wielding absolute power over every single heart, mind and taste bud I would make you watch the movie named ‘Before the Rain’ by one of my galactic decrees. At the end of projection viewers would get a broken umbrella, bloodstained t-shirt, empty pop corn box and a copy of my song ‘Before the Rain’.

Weak love comes in triangles. Powerful love comes in circles. It brings you to beginnings as you run forward. Not in a karmic or repetitive way, not as a try and fail routine. But as an awareness the source is the only place where you want to be. At every stage of progression. You run ahead, but looking back, you’re constantly drawing circles.

The movie I mention was made in 1995. by Macedonian director Milche Manchevski. You will find it on YouTube split into ten or so parts.

As I said, some songs start as dubious crumbs of music. You’re not exactly sure if you like them or not, whether it’s any good. You don’t recognize the face of your new born child. Then they grow and you suddenly realize they turned into a beauty far beyond your creative imagination. Beyond your sperm potential. When I brought this piece of music to my band at the time, I didn’t hold much hopes the song would survive. It took half an hour of a rehearsal and a full-blown sound of drums, bass and guitars that it’s majesty struck me.

The smell of coming rain is one of the few that instantly brings me a fragile, slightly displaced sensation. Although my list of traumatic scents is topped by another – the smell of freshly cut grass. It followed me in my first days of kindergarten, the place which I absolutely hated and never got used to. Today, if I come across it in the air, there is just immediate hit of deep uneasiness, as if I’m swallowed by a monstrous green whale and taken to the Mariana Trench.

Anyway, I hate umbrellas. The only time you can see me having one is when I perform a carrying service for the female kind – mothers, girlfriends, friends. Women prefer rain in songs. It keeps the hair intact.

Lyrics:

Some voice has told me
«you will walk on but never come
Dream on there’s still a way»

I sing drowned in its echo
Tryin to remember what’s my song
And my tune just went wrong

Oh left alone while time is moving on
I don’t know that way
I’m here and scent of rain is coming down
And my shirt I gave away

May love become our fate
Melting the ice of hate
Drowning all cities and lands

And though all’s not the same
Life is the single cutting pain
When they begin to blend

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Thinking again about this song.

It was 2008. I officially put on my sneakers and started running in other peoples’ ears. But, I cheated. What I was actually doing was swimming.

Now, there are no horizon lines and sunsets in the swimming pool, which makes it pretty poor thing for metaphorical exploitation.

Nevertheless, maybe I should’ve changed the 1st verse to something like:

“I’m swimming, swimming

while guy next to me moves his legs

like giraffe on eggs”

Anyway, I have a tiny request. Some of you are probably jogging from time to time, and I’d die to know how this song fits your exercise, your passing scenery, your heartbeat. Does it make you want to stop, run faster, skip to the next track?

As for me, I lost 20 kilos since I recorded this one. Some music makes you fat, some makes you thin, I wonder in which class my work falls into. They sometimes say it’s too heavy – not a good sign. I don’t want anyone to gain a few extra tons just by putting headphones on.

I’m Running has several other moments as well. There is a mention of torture techniques like shoo-fly and iron maiden. The first one is commonly known as waterboarding and it got worldwide press coverage with Guantanamo bay detention camp. Bush administration didn’t believe it was a form of torture and they made it legal.

Description of the process (quote from 19th century): “There was the ‘shoo-fly,’ an instrument so arranged that the victim could be placed with his feet in the stocks, his arms pinioned and his head fastened so that he could not move it. Then some one would take the hose and turn the water full upon the prisoner’s face. This was kept up until the victim was partly strangled to death. Imagine a man receiving a stream of water from an inch nozzle full in the face without the power of changing his position; then think of that stream being ice-cold water, and you can form an idea.”

Wikipedia on Iron Maiden: “An iron maiden (German: Eiserne Jungfrau) is a torture device, consisting of an iron cabinet, with a hinged front, sufficiently tall to enclose a human being. It usually has a small closable opening so that the torturer can interrogate the victim and torture or kill a person by piercing the body with sharp objects (such as knives, spikes or nails), while he or she is forced to remain standing.”

There is a serious advantage of swimming over running. You can’t miss a turn. I should’ve known before.

Lyrics:

I’m Running

I’m running, running
While sun on horizon sends its rays onto my way

I’m breathing, breathing
But life escapes me like the air I exhale

I’m watching you, watching you
Though my view tells me it fails to describe your face

Yearning while burning while coming apart
While looking for what I cannot really find
I run, I run, but I’m still behind
Someone whose footprints fit mine

I’m talking, talking
But rivers of words will never wet the soil they’re rising at

Never stopping, never stopping
While sun on horizon beams its rays onto my way

And all that tools of torture coming by, iron maiden, shoo-fly
Will make it great a play

Yearning while burning while coming apart
While looking for what I cannot really find
I run, I run, but I’m still behind
Someone whose footprints fit mine

Run, run, run to me
And all your dreams will be

See, see, see the sky
Fall down from on high

May all the turns I’ve missed
All goals I’ve never seized
Dissolve in your arms.

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Song That Escaped

 

Is art actually the power of weakness? Having its strength and radiance emanating out of the gap between the form of inspiration and the form of an outcome. That could account for the reason why affirmative art never worked. Things like social realism, ‘church art’, or a Hollywood dream machine which serve as a perfect material for the analysis of ideology. Meaning – they contain their creative source outlaid in their appearance, without a residue.

Maybe what’s striking us in any art form is the fringe unconscious sensation that it points to its superior version. You are thrown into a tension, because the reality that opens up when confronted with a masterpiece is the reality that supersedes all that’s actually done in the work itself. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that all great art is unfinished.

‘Song That Escaped’ moves along these lines. Along the childish desire to directly touch, grab, embody the source of creation itself. The pulse, the vision that forces the very first move of its doomed embodiment. In a way, I would never care about making music if I wasn’t writing the song that escapes in every single case. It’s a terribly hard thing to do. To be able to miss with a precision, to fail in a creative way, to be powerfully weak.

The ability to see important, fruitful limits is confused and shadowed by the series of limitations which are shoved in our face just by the state of the matters in the outer or inner world. There are so many plaster walls we have to crush just to be able to reach the concrete ones. Until it happens we are already so used to fighting, overcoming, explaining, ‘dealing with’ routines, that we will readily apply them to the uncrossable, to the borders that constitute us instead of block us. The borders whose only purpose is to point beyond them.

Lyrics:

Song That Escaped

Left unborn
In room where songs become
And voices crack and moan

Losing grip
Beneath your fingertips
That turn me off and on

But where’s the voice
Yeah where’s that distant song
That whispers through the air
When your’re all alone

Only sound
That stays after I’m done
Echo of the loss

Powerless
Dressed up in words and rhymes
Make-up of truthful lies

Music floods
All of our space and time
And draws without a prize

But where’s the voice
Yeah where’s that fading song
That whispers through the air
When you’re on your own
And where’re those lines
That dodged the greatest minds
And drove them mad and blind
Spinning around their shine

Sink through sand
By every letter penned
Can’t give what can’t have

Again today
I ll drink from empty cup
And serve you food of clay

Devil’s clown
I ll turn this martyred blood
Into the wine of sound

But where’s the voice
Yeah where’s that distant song
That whispers through the air
When you’re on your own
And where’re those lines
That dodged the greatest minds
And turned them mad and blind
Spinning around their shine

Where’s the voice
Yeah where’s that fadin song
That whispers through the air
And screams out of your bones
And where’re those lines
That tricked the greatest minds
And drove them mad and blind
Mocking all their sighs

Where’s the voice
Yeah where’s that ancient song
That’ll whisper through the air
When we’re long gone
Where’re those lines
That bleed through ears and eyes
And laugh at all the tries
Of both shammers and the wise.

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