Hey folks. Time for a serious dose of SILLY! (Insofar as I am eptified for same).

I can honestly say that I haven’t got the slightest idea where this stuff comes from – but since I am lucky enough that it does come easily and often, it feels like it would be ungrateful were I not to share, especially when the whole thing comes out as OTT fun and funky as this one!

Major thanks to Graham. Inspirational credit to Little Big (Check out Skibidi – romantic version) a Russian band who make their own fabulous videos for their own crazy songs.

Now, I am a very sweet guy (as you all know already of course)
but this time I absolutely demand that you go full-screen and CRANK IT!
(glowsticks, sprung dance floors, piercings, hair-gel and smoke-machines
will all be considered optional – for the time being)

I have always found identity a particularly fascinating topic, because at no time in my life have I ever had just one. I was a dance club fanatic back in the early eighties (as a teenager) and like many of my friends wore makeup and outlandish costumes and stayed out dancing until dawn every single weekend without fail. I even had one favourite club which featured all the latest European releases (tuned on the Manchester wavelength) and another which brought fresh offerings and even live breakdancing crews from the New York scene, which made for a fun diversity (and indeed, already forty years ago, dance music was becoming so specialized that there were very few tracks and bands popular in one subculture, which crossed over to the other – weird perhaps, but great fun for connoisseurs of the obscure).

The funny thing was – at the exact same time as I was a dance club fanatic in what would now be classed “Goth” style (then, more properly New Romantic), I was also making my lifetime best attempt to learn and master the intricacies of business culture – from the traditional bottom of the pile position as the mailroom and shipping clerk for a major commercial computer software firm. (Yes, the legends are true – legions of people really were once lavishly paid to clunk around in COBOL). ;o)

Not only that, but I had just broken out of an insane cult environment which was horrible, but also a super competitive intellectual pressure-cooker. Every part of my basic acculturation was different from everyone I knew in every world I moved in (and I’ve felt like that ever since – but minded it much less over time, as the advantages of an outsider view have presented themselves). If I started talking too enthusiastically about science or philosophy to my club-kid pals, they’d either think I was trying to compete and show off, or else judge me a snob and walk away. I have never had the patience (or knowledge base) for a discussion about television (with the exception of some classic Sci Fi).

Later I learned a trick that has worked well for years. If I wanted to drop “fifty dollar words” and introduce intellectual concepts (always with enthusiasm, and to share), all I had to do was spice up my dialogue with some countervailing expletives and genuine working class street insights. Not everyone wants to learn (which I have to remind myself – because I do, always and in every case), but a far wider proportion of any group are pleased to be entertained. If you can find a working line which blends both – bingo – you get heard and get to introduce new ideas to the discussion. If you fail the entertainment test – you are asking for something from them (attention) which you aren’t earning. No matter how great your point, or how much you think it would benefit others to hear it, you’ve failed to find the shape which will carry it all the way into their hearts – so far.

I am one of those who thinks analyzing creativity too much comes close to ingratitude – and I am blessed with shit-tons of the stuff for some reason, fortune indeed – duty also. “Why” does one create is a particularly foolhardy question – especially if asked without any goal. Don’t screw with the goose!  “What for” is a lot more productive, at least in my case. All these years later, I’m still trying to wrap up a bunch of fifty dollar ideas in street wisdom and fast-dancing, because I think those ideas might do some good. It really is amazing how passionate our arguments are these days – and how very little we say, learn, discuss or explore. Challenge used to mean overcoming the limits of the self and growing, not focussing hatred proudly outward. 

My poems do the same work as my songs, stories, podcasts, books, essays and cartoons – though I have definitely found particular forms work much better for some parts of my greater argument than others. My books carry gratitude kindness and wisdom especially well – the podcasts are a whole lot more soapbox feisty!

Rediscovering spontaneous songwriting is the nicest thing that’s happened to me since Covid hit – it has been years since I’ve had this much fun with music, and while I desperately crave a courageous and emotionally intimate improvisatory expedition with my musical friends, it is still joyous to get the fingers moving and brain tune-ing in the meantime – warming up the engine again, big-time.

This particular song was last Sunday’s “You can’t do any work today” project. My initial goal was just to learn about the sequencing capabilities of the audio software I’m using, so that I can do something super groovy synthy and instrumental with a few tuneful items my friend Graham leant me (you have to love a friend who feels bad because they traded-in cool audio gear without letting you have some fun with it first – and so brings over a toybox of small analog goodies – cheers, man – superb uplift!)

The song is actually all manually played (even the drumtracks) with some looping – because I still stumble into catchy ideas too fast to sit down and screw around with a grid! Just as well – I will trade wonky imprecision for increased swing any day. My feckless bass becomes ultra juicy thanks to Graham’s fat analog phaser, and my tiny mooglet cuts right through the wall of soft-synths. Still, even as a technician and an ‘old school analog’ guy in every way I have to tell you – soft-synths have come a long way – pretty freakin’ great now – and so many that you can add new voices free or very cheap, any time you get an urge. (The main synth sequence is a $25 Juno simulator!)

The lyrics? Well – you know how it is – there are two components in every human individual. There are the basic things which we share with many others in the animal kingdom – primates especially – and then there is the special thing of advanced culture and post-animal humanity – a still highly fragmented and incomplete project. One reason I keep arguing that there is always more than one viewpoint is simply to defend the right to seek enlightenment of this sort – not for ego, but in order to escape from it.

The other reason is even simpler – it is our animal side which can be tamed and leashed – and for many, especially the cleverest folks, we are so far into denial that we even have an essential and always active animal side that all we feel is the invisible irresistible tug – and all we know is that somehow we always wind up at the master’s feet.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

3 Comments

  1. Love the new tunes! The last couple in particular have been extraordinary.

    I’m always a bit skeptical of the “animal / human” distinction. But I recognize that essentialism about these categories and their members is also problematic. We can and do anthropomorphize bigly, and it is almost always unconscious. Part of this is as much a result of a denial of our humanity – of fundamental aspects of our animal existence. Looking closer than my received categories allow, I see no reason to assume that the difference between humans and say, crows is necessarily greater than that between crows and frogs. I know exactly why many find this unreasonable, but I’m not sure I wish to follow that particular frog into the weeds.

    I can’t help thinking that more of our troubles are a result of a denial of our animal nature – a nature that we are more detached from, than attached to, by prevailing power structures. And much of that is not “structural” per se, but more mysterious – cultural. (If your definition of “structural” is equivalent to that, then “structural” works.)

    I’m still a big fan of permissiveness in upbringing, and in society as a whole – even considering the occasional pitfalls / weaknesses thereof, and advantages of less permissive approaches. (Here’s where the Jordan Peterson types get it wrong, and need to maintain a slippery-slope paranoid fantasy for legitimization of good social norms. I guess they’re finding common ground with leftists after all!) Reason being, the traits I consider most essentially human are also our best, and are ones we share with (non-human) animal life. We all have keen animal intuitions, and that is where our true dignity lies. Not in any form of authority, no matter how “enlightened”.

    But like any green anarchist, I want to have my cake and eat it too – to celebrate reason, to hang on to institutions, but only when their legitimacy is based on voluntary use and association – by enlightened people, no less. Information and truth – knowledge production – isn’t going anywhere for a species with our level of forebrain development; I just remember that there are a million lived counterpoints to even the best models. (Call this relational sentience. The corrective to model prejudice.)

    What are the implications of that for our biosphere? The case has been made that there are just too many sociopaths for our species to live in real “harmony” with nature. (My estimate is somewhere between 3 and 30 percent of humans.) For the historical-intellectual genesis of this, a good place to start is Nietzsche. His work is great, but a thousand times more destructive than Ayn Rand for its misinterpretation. We should especially take note that he wasn’t writing in a time when extinction, whether by nuclear war, bioterrorism or climate change, was a serious and credible threat.

    One thing I’ve gleaned from reading Wittgenstein lately is an appreciation of two apparently contradictory things. The first is that our beliefs – our thinking, which embodies assumptions, inferences, propositions, and identifications (categories / labels) – are highly linguistically contingent. (I don’t want to say “determined”, because that’s a common misconception.) The other is that, as practically useful and tempting as it can be at an intellectual level to conduct an analysis of propositions and, so to speak, “dissolve” them (sometimes called philosophical quietism), doing so may blind us to the intuitions that may have led to the utterance (statement, belief or argument) in the first place.

    This obviously doesn’t disregard the value of any such analysis. But like any science, such analysis doesn’t deliver us to the final answer. Things might get quieter for a while, but the jungle is often a noisy place!

    An unintended consequence of essentialist reasoning about our creatureliness is that we inevitably end up thinking not in terms of the firmest categorical distinctions, but instead in terms of a spectrum of comparison: this person is regal and blessed with goodness / good breeding / high class, that other is depraved or sick. Normative distinctions are what we’re good at, at least compared to other animals. But there’s still much debate about whether this faculty gets us any closer to reality. We know how prone thinking is to confirmation bias. But even so, it could always be that our intuitions are grasping something that our definitions can’t.

    This would be the beginning of my answer to Ekhardt Tolle’s The Power of Now. I might call it the problem of joy. I’ve long thought that happiness is the primary subject-matter of philosophy. But such theorizing is often overlooked or derided as either sentimental, subjective, or otherwise incoherent. It seldom crosses people’s minds that they might be engaged in a massive project of misery-production.

    A primary principle of the pursuit of happiness is that the truth should be spoken. Yet we may not – and need not – be absolutely sure of the truth before speaking it. Speaking our minds opens them to correction. Or, more precisely, it signals that our minds are open to correction about something.

    It’s not a matter of establishing a new authority, no matter how wise, glorious, strong or inevitable it seems. Not a matter of securing our freedom once and for all, and protecting it from its many “enemies”. It’s a matter of enjoying our freedom while we have it. Does this seem a reckless and selfish hedonism? Does it clash with our notions of ourselves as altruists? We are often worried that we would cause pain and disruption if we were to be ourselves. So we fear ourselves, and indulge the illusion that we know what is best – a form of authority worship. Does that sound like animals to you?

    • Hi Ian – oh, man – this is supreme encouragement indeed – thank you!
      Few humans alive have heard more of my work in more decades than you, so it is lovely to hear that you think I’m tapping a rich vein (especially ’cause it feels that way to me, but I am ever suspicious about self-delusion on such matters).

      WRT use of animals in thought and debate – so many ideas present – apologies in advance for the ones I skip over. Without question animals have rich and complex profoundly rooted soulful and emotional qualities – the ideal of being as loyal and loving as a good dog goes back a long way in human history, though in more recent times, we’ve become much more alienated from the parts of ourselves that we share with all our animal friends (just as we and our livestock now outweigh all other mammals on earth – by a truly disgusting ratio).

      What I was going after in this particular song is a question somewhere on the line between philosophy and psychology. Why can we give decades of hard and constant work to an employer for a paycheque, and yet so few of us can find that same switch and activate our full efforts for our own projects? I’m not saying everyone is or should be creative or entrepreneurial in some way, only that vast numbers who have this sort of desire and ambition are self-frustrating for a lack of means which is in no way physical.

      Anyhow – calling attention to the switch itself, and also observing the way things go predictably haywire when it is widely abused by sustained poor labour conditions at large, is a many-decade theme and exploration for me. Probably why the lyrics so effortlessly assembled themselves in between editing the bass parts, and adding the final six tracks of synth! Truly, I don’t know where this stuff comes from – but I do prepare the field as best I can. ;o)

      Cheers man – and thank you very very much for this big spirit boost. More music coming soon (probably after the next podcast, which still needs to be toned-down by several more dispassionate passes, before I record it).

      PS – hope you dig today’s Tucker post – goes to both of your latest comments – with style and verve!
      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. I recently heard someone pointing out an important distinction, between work to fulfill goals and demands set by others, and self-directed activity based on goals one has set for themselves. Strange to think that, for many of us, a greater share of their truly free self-directed activity takes place in early life, when they are deemed “rebellious” and incur discipline of peers and the system, and then spend the rest of their lives trying to negotiate a reasonable “balance” or something like that.

    And to put food on your table. I was musing recently on an FB thread about the two senses of the word “exploitation” – one negative and the other value-neutral. It has been said that our willingness to exploit nature – to view it as a set of resources, or means to ends, rather than a sacred end-in-itself – is a major factor in the exploitation and mistreatment of our fellow-humans. I think that’s born out by the particularly stark examples like slavery, colonialism, and women’s subjugation, historical and contemporary. But also, much else besides.

    Of course, the story of the last century or so has been one of the death of religion – occasionally well-deserved, but not always. I would like to think (can’t properly put into words why) real spirituality is liberating, and materialism ultimately misleading and unfulfilling. In a sense, materialism has prevented spirituality from evolving, keeping people locked into the same binaries, one of which is man-nature. …Or will putting our destiny in the hands of market forces save us? Not if it normalizes exploitation of our fellow-humans. Slippery slope from there to apocalyptic despair.

    BTW, happy spring! Hope you and the missus are getting out for some nice walks now that the weather’s more hospitable.

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