the abyss you love


So he looked up with a pained expression on his face and said something like, “I can’t believe I’m seeing someone who hates Elliott Smith.  How can anyone hate Elliott Smith?”

Really?  Is that a deal breaker? There seem to be two kinds of people in the world, those that hate him, and those that think he was like a God or something.  I only had one friend who loved Elliott Smith.  It was painful going to visit her, because her playlist was just one long continuous loop of Elliott albums.  It made me want to impale my temples with long needles to put an end to it.

To be fair, I just gave Elliott a listen again and I came up with the same reaction.

So here’s how someone can hate Elliott Smith:  It’s just so gorgeous it makes me nauseous – harmony, in my opinion, is only good in contrast to the solo voice and to have nothing but tracks of the same thin voice laid multiple times over the same thin voice is monotonous.   There’s just never a break from its relentless tyranny.   Not to mention that much of the attraction of listening to singer/songwriters is the privilege of hearing their raw unadorned voices, and overdubbing just destroys the authenticity of the intimacy for me.  And in general, the studio manipulation is just too perfect and self-aware.  There is a limited range of the musical scale in which his music resides, both vocal and instrumental, and (I don’t have the academic musical background to describe this, but) his refrains always end on a lower, depressing note.  Lyrically, he’s good at isolating the ironies of life but so many times what could be really poetic is distorted to fit the song form he so slavishly adheres to.   And when surveying a large sample of his work, its pessimism combined with the gorgeous harmonies and those aurally depressing end notes just make me feel like an anvil is sitting on my chest. It’s not just a cerebral thing – for me it’s physically depressing.

How can anyone hate Elliott Smith?  Well, I ask how can anyone want to live with an anvil on their chest?  And hit repeat?

Now, this is not to say I can’t appreciate the relief of knowing some artist can express feelings you have felt but can’t verbalize.  Or, that nothing can relieve the blues more than knowing others you have an affinity with also share the same feeling:  it can lift you up and out of dark times.  But to my ear, Elliott Smith keeps you in those dark places by all those devices he used but offers you no way out.  The blues, for example, wails and sometimes screams and offers release by loving itself enough to assert that the spirit of people should not be dominated.  Morrisey’s angst is like that – he may express wanting to kill himself, but instead he takes on his oppressors.  Piazzolla, for example, is the king of melancholy yet there is a tension of hope and love for self and love for life that underscores all his work.  Elliott Smith just doesn’t offer that kind of rich experience to me.  Introspection can be over-done, and without taking personal responsibility, it can be a negative force in our lives.  His music is just a huge downer and stays there, offering nothing but solidarity in pessimism.

Because Elliott Smith is emblematic of some major philosophical position, maybe he is a deal breaker.  Negative-sounding as I am, I am still hopeful and optimistic and seek the same.

*********

An African American Huffington Post author and adoptee speculated about suspicious minds when it comes to white adoptee fathers and their exotic transracial children.  To which I linked to my Screening for Woody Allen post from my adoptionsurvivor.wordpress blog.   I don’t usually do that kind of thing, but felt like it was necessary to let the world know that adoption incest is not just a myth and that exotification of transracial adoptees is actually more rampant than anyone cares to admit.

But, the funny thing is that this topic no longer bothers me personally.  It struck me, reading my own writing of four years ago that it’s all just history now.  Memories of those times have faded.  The feelings of stress around anything associated with it are gone.  It’s almost as though it never happened. Three decades of distress have been wiped out by three years of writing.  There IS a way out of the abyss.  It’s good to get out.

*********

School is back in session and thank God for small favors.  I don’t do well at home by myself for extended periods of time.  The mundane distractions of work provide a rhythm to life.

*********

Maestro, the cat I was babysitting, went back to his owner yesterday.  Yet another person who did not enjoy visiting China – she had such an awful time she even cut her trip short!  The only problem that occurred cat sitting was because I stupidly shut the door to the veranda where the cat box was when I was leaving in haste, so I lost the tatami mats.  I’m trying to decide if I buy another yoh for the floor for the remaining six months, or if I just sleep on the love-seat.  I washed the blanket, tried to figure out how to dispose of so much bedding, sprayed the entire contents of a $12 bottle of Nature’s Miracle on everything in the vicinity, and braced myself for the return of hell cat/vampire kitty.

As soon as Maestro was gone, Momo attached herself to my earlobes at every opportunity for the entire night, and I got very little sleep.  And, without Maestro to harass, she’s back to nipping my hands and forearms for attention.  But it has reduced considerably, and she’s also playing by herself more.  I watch her little tiny baby face and she’s so much like a little child, uninitiated and with a whole huge world to experience.  And then she looks up at me with need and adoration and I know I can’t give up on her.

One more set of vaccinations next week and then she’ll get an appointment to be spayed.  Meanwhile, I had my daughter get me some GNC product called, “relax” which is supposed to calm cats down.  It’s active ingredient is tryptophane, so pretty soon it will be Turkey day every day for Momo!

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