First design the cover, then write the book? Why not?
First off, sorry about my silence; it's been a busy few days. But one of the fruits of that busyness, as presented here on the right, is the cover art for a book coming in the somewhat-distant future, Absolute Elsewhere. (Image elements courtesy the always-wonderful Unsplash.)
I'm behind schedule on Behind The Scenes and the remastering job, but I haven't forgotten about them.
Constant readers might have noticed I'm a little behind on a couple of regularly scheduled things here. One is my monthly Rogress Preports [sic]; I'm cheating and assuming that just getting it up any time at all during the month will suffice. Not a good habit, though. #2 is the Behind The Scenes rundown for the rest of Flight Of The Vajra, pending me excavating my notes. Turns out some of them got slightly trashed at some point -- horrific for someone like me, who typically preserves everything from the making of a book in meticulous fashion -- so I'm forced to reconstruct my recollections entirely from memory. Third is the remastering of the last (actually, first) three books in my catalog -- Summerworld, Tokyo Inferno, and The Four-Day Weekend.
For both myself and others.
Yesterday afternoon I received the first of two doses of The Vaccine, all handled with great efficiency at a location less than a mile from my house. Right now I'm typing this with only a mildly sore forearm, although Mein Frau seems to have gone down for the count with a case of the one-day post-jab bug (body aches, chiefly). Better that than a full-blown case of the COVID Crud. We've even been pre-registered for the next dose in May.
A look back at the most deliberately frustrating album ever made for popular consumption.
The key to The Downward Spiral came to me by way of something Roger Ebert once said about a much-maligned but still-valuable Martin Scorsese film, The King Of Comedy. "This is a movie that seems ready to explode -- but somehow it never does. ... [T]here is neither comic nor tragic release -- just the postponement of pain. ... Scorsese doesn't direct a single scene for a payoff. The whole movie is an exercise in cinema interruptus; even a big scene in a bar ... is deliberately edited to leave out the payoff shots .... Scorsese doesn't want laughs in this movie, and he also doesn't want release."
Emphasis mine, because I think that is exactly what Trent Reznor was also trying to do with The Downward Spiral. What makes this such a tough album to swallow isn't just that it's so noisy or herky-jerky or confrontational, but that it is constructed, track after track and across its whole length, to deny us any real payoff, any real feeling of transcendence or liberation. When we do get it, it's too transitory, too fragmentary, too broken-off to deliver.
All of that is the point. This record isn't about a journey to an insight, but the experience of being trapped in a psychic holding pattern. Consider it the antithesis to Pink Floyd's The Wall: that album tunneled through pain and broke through to self-revelation and catharsis. The Downward Spiral just tunnels back into itself, like the curled worm on the cover of one of the singles released for the disc, and while it doesn't literally end on the exact same note it started on (as The Wall did), it does something more effective: it makes us realize we could have started anywhere and ended anywhere with the record, and it would have made no difference.
This page contains an archive of posts for the month of April 2021.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind