Dronegaze

God’s Teeth on repeat,
like Lover’s Kiss for Nietzsche’s kids
a shuffleboard of blending slurs and words
you hear but do not understand,
so awfully difficult, this life, all hip-cocked standing
rolling eyes and statements thumbed into your phone,
announcing we are not alone
into a cold uncaring server tower.
Who knows, it might not have effect but Holy Other’s curing this
overdramatic pride-malaise and jarr-

We pause. Stand. Take a breather. Move on to something cheerier.
It might cut through and not slide off like smiles did off of Quirrel’s core.
The Battle Magic nevermore.
A book you never helped to write,
and failed the final test.
Click next.
Settle down into your chair, allow it just to pour and take that slivered moment in.

And now we’re
thanking Lorde for synths and
Ribs and little hiding places
in the body you inhabit
when you cannot stand alone
again. So taking hours for time and
then we turn to Ornaments and
send a thought to all the happy
kin we haven’t spied and rarely
lend our days, or ears leaning to
bend and offer our condolenc
es for graven sermons losing
them until in black suits standing
penned we raise a half-filled glass in
memory, awash with marshy
glen and salt and our hallucino
gens, this is our life and they are gone

and we have wasting flesh to keep,
along with dust filled mattresses and Ivor Gurney losing Sleep.

What else is hung upon the head?
Your meat still breathes, we are not ____

Chameleon

Continuing this blog’s journey into self-referential recursive wankery, I thought I’d think about how I tend to make things (when I do).

Whether it’s a real thing, or a thing I have entirely self-constructed, or a halfway house between the two, the fact remains that almost anything I do manage to do, or half-do, or think about doing but not really-do, is usually a direct result of something I have just consumed. I don’t mean something that has boiled away in my head and been spun out in new ways (although that is technically true as well), I mean I experience something and immediately begin to conceive of my-version-of-that-thing. Often while that thing is still occurring. Hear rap music, immediately start writing raps. Read a sci-fi, immediately start visualizing a (different) sci-fi world.

Something that is interesting for me on a non-self note is that I have no idea how normal this is. Which is to say, what do other people do. I honestly don’t know. My empathy-circuits are imperfect, because they are not you, but simply my system running my imaginary version of you. It is twice imperfect. And even on the rough chance that I arrive at a situation where I can have this conversation externally, the same problem exists – imperfect communication, mirrored into imperfect receivers. You can try to communicate your version of perception to me, but the only way I can attempt to understand that, is by running it through my filters.

All of which wanders fairly far from my original point: I am a creative chameleon. At least in the short term. As an example, two days ago I listened to Frightened Rabbit’s new album Painting Of A Panic Attack. While I was listening – as I was hearing new music – I could feel my own brain spinning up lyrics. In an effort to not let such an event slip through my mental fingers (again), I started typing them into my phone.

Here’s the interesting point for me though. Those lyrics? They are, obviously, mine. But they unfixed melody they would go to? It’s Frightened-Rabbit-style. The mood evocated by those lyrics? Frightened-Rabbit-style. As long as that (brand new) song was playing, I could create something of my own. But as soon as the song finished, and the next track began, my thoughts fell to pieces. Stopping the track didn’t help. It was gone. So I settled back into this new album. Less than two minutes later, my phone was out again, new snippets of different songs appearing in my head.

And then there’s the rub. I know, I know that when I review these lyrics (if I manage to resist the impulse to immediately delete them in disgust, natch), I won’t remember how they go. That possible-melody? Gone. The mood? Gone. If I continue to review or work on them, it will be from scratch, sewing those lyrics into an entirely different song-canvas. I won’t remember anything about that thread of song, except the circumstances of it’s recording: it was made on a train, while listening to Frightened Rabbit.

A chameleon is one thing, and while it’s something that irritates me (often because I don’t know how irritated I should be about it), it is a thing I can accept as potentially useful. A chameleon with a lobotomy is quite another.

That Most Mystical Process

I have often wondered about my own ability to create. I don’t mean that in a starry-eyed ‘whooah’ kind of way, I mean in terms of pragmatism. The question, such as it is wordlessly framed, is usually along the lines of “how do I make myself create?” There may well be layers and flavours of subtext wrapped up in this question, which will change based on the mental equivalent of inflection. How do I make myself create [2000 words]. How do I make myself create [for fucks sakes]. And so on. But the overriding tone is usually one that likes to think of practicality.

I am, for example, deeply skeptical – often to the extent of derision – about self-help books. Not because I don’t believe there aren’t any such books worth your time/money, but because I believe that the overwhelming majority aren’t. If everything you eat tastes like shit, then how long before you expect the next one to taste like that too? I know full well that informed-common-wisdom preaches that we shouldn’t make assumptions. And there is value in that. But of course we always will, and those assumptions do actually serve a purpose: they’re usually right. Most books that identify as ‘self-help’ are no such thing. They are shit.

The relevance here is that, unless I actively combat it, I tend to discard the ephemeral in favour of absolute criteria. Those criteria will change from day to day/moment to moment, but they will be – while they exist – concrete. If such and such is x, I will achieve y, where y is creation. The thing is, I know this is lunacy, at least as a definite. You cannot set condition x and know that y will emerge. I’m playing a game of odds with myself right from the off. But it would be equally absurd to say that certain circumstances don’t have effects on output. And so the game continues. If I can do x, y will come. The cargo cult of creation.

The only reason these words exist is that, in a fit of terminal boredom and idle vanity, I checked this site. Only to find a post I wasn’t expecting – Drunk. I was surprised, expecting empty space, and finding a new object. After a milisecond of thought, of course I remembered the post. Not the details of it. Not even the content or general drift. But the fact that it exists, and I had written it. It would be most accurate to say I remembered writing it, but did not remember remembering to remember having written it. There were no conscious ‘I did this’ markers, only the experiential detritus that are left by…well, doing something. And as noted on previous occasions, this is something I am bad at recalling. Even now, I remember that this is true only because I remember deliberately trying to remember that this is a thing that is true. And I wonder why my thoughts seem self-looping sometimes.

And so the problem remains; how do I make myself create? Thus far, the most successful things I’ve found is alcohol (apparently), which seems like a reasonably poor crutch.

All of this, of course, works under the sprawling umbrella of my own absent-mindedness. This chronic forgetting-of-event/emotion/drive is now emerging as ‘a thing’ so often that I’m beginning to wonder if it’s more severe/affecting than anyone has noticed. Of course, the only reason I remember this is through repetition; I have consciously questioned it often enough, that I am beginning to remember that I have done so before. Wait, didn’t I just do this?

Drunk

Why is it easier to create when drunk?

It’s a genuine question, although possibly not one I’m expecting anyone to answer. I was originally going to write “easier to write”, but ‘create’ is more accurate. A more wanky version would ‘easier to be free’ or some such shit, but if I wrote something like that without some self-examination and censor, even while drunk, I’d probably punch myself for being a twat. Whether it’s actually twatty is a whole nother matter, but I perceive it as such.

Decoding this is probably a fairly serious task. But since I have little inclination to be serious or fair right now, I’ll make do.

  1. Part of it is the simple-not-simple element of how people self-censor. I say ‘people’, I really mean ‘me’, but it does apply on a wider scale. It will not be news to you that people filter their actions dependent on who will observe those actions. You will, in all probability, act differently when you are at a family dinner than when you are at home with your beau. Less swearing. Less genital-scratching. And so on. You monitor yourself. This was bought into focus for me recently when I came across Foucault and his Panopticon theory (and lest you think I’m a studious academic or somesuch, I came across it on a great sex toy review site called ohjoysextoy.com (which reviews sex toys, but frequently goes off to explain/explore a lot of sex-related things in very understandable ways. It’s pretty rad.)) Essentially, way back in the 50’s or so, this dude had a theory which was eerily prescient. Everyone, ever, who has has access to the internet on a regular basis (e.g. social media, motherfuckers) will monitor themselves based on who they believe will see them. But in our case, it’s not only who will see you, but who will see what you do. But not just what you do, but also what you’ve done. Your entire social-media history is there. Every new contact you meet can, potentially, see not only who you are now, but who you were a week ago, a month ago, five years ago. Your history is made solid, for all to see. Over time, this could well become ingrained, automatic. From conscious monitoring, to unconscious monitoring, to unconscious alteration. How long before you’re not just unconsciously monitoring yourself, but unconsciously changing yourself. Blocking or diverting certain parts of yourself, before they even have a chance to be a thing-you-can-not-announce. From building a dam, to blocking the source. It’s the difference between a reservoir of potential whatever that you are choosing to not let loose, to having no reservoir at all.
  2. Part of it is concentration. Seriously. I can’t concentrate for shit. Thing no 1 has a serious part here. The idea of concentration, without immediately second guessing/pre-emptively stopping whatever you’re doing, is a reasonably foreign one to me. It happens, but usually only if I’m being told to do it. Either by a job, or an authority or some kind, or whatever. Left to my own devices, my own pre-emptive protections will usually step in long before anything can actually happen. Alcohol is apparently a good way around this, to an extent. Even now I can feel myself self-awarely (awarly?) critiquing this, editing this, changing this. But the influence is muted, easier to manage. And while I’m internally distracted, I can (apparently), externally write (e.g. do something in the real world, as opposed to just sitting still, looking into middle-distance).
  3. Part of it is effort. Yeah, this is the weak-sauce of the bunch. Like, of course effort takes effort, it’s effort. If it was effortless, it’d be pretty badly named. But somehow, effort seems less effort when drunk. At least where writing/externally creating seems to be. Right now, as I type, I can feel the last 3-4 shots of gin hitting my system. As I started writing this, I was drunk (but not too drunk), in the time between then and now (which is probably between 5-10 mins) the next pint of gin and lemonade (classy I know) is starting to hit my system. I can tell because my vision just got a whole lot driftier, and it started to take a much greater effort to actually pay attention to what I’m writing. I feel like I was  in the sweet spot for alcohol-induced-writing, and now I’m shimmying past it. Although frankly, I just said ‘shimmying past it’ as a phrase, which feels pretty fucking good, so who knows, maybe this is the next plateau of writing goodness. We’ll find out in about 6-8 hours when I’m sober, I guess.

Oh shit. Yeah I think I’ve surfed passed the hotspot. As I write, I have one eye closed so I can see what I’m writing. I will revisit this, and edit it (so you never notice this, the joy of the internet). But in the meantime: fuck you alcohol, and your apparent ability to allow me to write. There’s a fun letter I could write: Letters To My Drunk Self. (Written While Most Likely Drunk).

Peace out.

[Hmm. This one is a touch different. The others I have tried to pull out because they have some kind of progressive value inside. This one is a touch different. For a start, it’s miserable as fuck. But I think it’s worth posting here for one main reason: in the hope that I actually remember it. A consistent, repeated peculiarity (or thing-I-imagine-is-a-peculiarity) is that I don’t remember emotive states other than the one I am in. Or I do, but only to a very limited extent. This is a fairly influential thing on my day-to-day being, but one that you (and I) wouldn’t even notice, unless we are having a specific kind of conversation – and that kind of conversation does not happen all that often. So it floats by as something that is rarely drawn attention to. Which, obviously, is part of the issue. Not only do I forget that I don’t remember past emotional states/events/anything at all, but I also forget that I forget. It’s pretty much half the shit that Orwell writes about in 1984.  One thing that has proved (more) effective is, essentially, having an external memory bank to draw on. In my case it’s a person, who I frequently use as a touchstone. If I’m unsure how reasonable I’m being, or if I suspect I might have forgotten an emotive event, I will check in to ask. In a similar manner, writing forms a part of that too. If I can read something I wrote at a certain time, I can get an element of my state at that time. It’s not very reliable, at all. But it feels like something that should be reinforced.

This entry then, is from 01/03/2016. Relevantly, that’s less than a month after I started my new job (which is now my previous) job. This becomes very important, because while I technically know that the last year has been fairly shit on a job level, I have very little insight as to why, without really really really thinking about it. Because I have forgotten. In fact, the main reason I know this year has been horrendously sucky (on a personal level) is that I have memories of getting annoyed that I was spending a lot of time being frustrated, in conversation with my touchstone. Let that sink in for a second. I have less of a memory for the bad-time itself, that I do for the fact that I have been annoyed by me spending/wasting a lot of someone’s time about that bad-time.

So it came as a genuine surprise to me to find this bit of writing. Because I have no recollection of writing it. And had I not come across it, I would have no personal recollection that this happened, and felt that bad. On reading it, I unarguably did.

It gives me some important context, because I know (in main thanks to the other people I have told, who have repeatedly reminded me) that I have felt in a similar state with regard my work for…almost 8 months? And self-pity aside, that feels important.]

Beat up beat down. It’s stunningly, overwhelmingly easy to lose your adventure, to lose your excitement. Fuck knows what it’s like if you have dependants. I mean, sleep, work, rest. I technically have about 5-6 hours of a day ‘free’. Which is quite a lot. Except shopping. Except chasing housing repairs. Except laundry. Except I need to rest, to just stop, because I am not nearly as solid as people who don’t know me think I am. This last step is also where I go wrong, because lethargy is addictive. Laying about for an hour will always mean you want to do it for another hour. And that’s bullshit.

On the switch, maybe I need to get over the idea of having ‘me time’, or alternatively, I need to change what ‘me time’ means. Currently, ‘me time’ means, basically, doing not a lot. Watching tv, or playing a game, or surfing the net. Maybe that needs to change to ‘me time’ still being something I do alone, but something productive. Like, for instance, writing.

Or quite possibly, I need to drastically loosen my grip on quantifying things. I honestly don’t know. But I do know I haven’t done much/any ‘real’ writing or singing or scripting or…anything, in the last month, since moving here. I have legitimate reasons for much of that (Caro being here for almost 3 weeks, no space, no quiet, things going wrong, no internet) but still.

Hmm. Something I do need to do is capitalise on my weekends a lot more. Last weekend was, pretty much in it’s entirety, a veg-out. I need to use that time better.

Sketchpad ideas:

  • set in sci-fi future (maybe 100 years in future) from the viewpoint of a writer, trying to write a book of alternate history set in the now (e.g. 2015). Full of small mistakes (as would be expected when a foreigner tries to inhabit another culture).

*

It’s hard to describe emotional tiredness, let alone emotional exhaustion. It’s closely tied to mental exhaustion as a whole, and in all probability to physical exhaustion to a reasonable extent. It’s possible that, really, I am just saying the same thing three times. But how do you describe [edit: clearly I meant to come back to something there here, but a new point grabbed my attention. This happens a lot.]

How do I? I am not, I don’t think, clinically depressed any more. It took around four years to get here, from admission (and subsequent diagnosis) to ‘cure’. But I still don’t feel…that different? This is unhelpful, because right now I’m feeling exhausted and a bit aimless and a bit lost, and quite trapped. In the last month I’ve gotten a lot better with mentally coping with the noise around here. For a week it drove me to serious anxiety. In the last two weeks it’s been frequently kind of annoying, but not really a problem. But, as has been well observed by Caroline, how much certain noises upset me is very closely linked to my mental state. A sound might go unnoticed on a good day, but if I am already feeling anxious and vulnerable, that same sound might drive me to crying and panic-behaviours.

So yes. It’s hard to describe feeling emotionally drained, without just listing exactly what is happening and what triggered it – which is a very different thing. Telling you that a sound is upsetting me doesn’t tell you how it makes me feel. And of course, if I’m anxious, I’m probably not totally exhausted.

I still have vague, piecemeal memories of the week I had about three years ago, where through (we think) a combination of illness (like a bug), longstanding suicidal depression/anxiety, and the fact that I’d desperately been trying to work in a job that pushed pretty much every stressor-button I have, there was a week that still makes me tremble when I think about it. There was a week (or at least several days, again I don’t remember very well) when I was so ill that I couldn’t speak. I literally couldn’t make sentences. I had the physical ability to do so – the parts were all still working, but by my brain was so, so exhausted that I quite truly didn’t have the resources to figure out how to translate base-trigger desires into words, translate those words into a sentence that would makes sense to someone else, and then operate all the machinery that would make that mental shape into a physically articulated sentence. I have a lot of fears. I have some that still make me recoil, or shake, or feel like I have to run. I don’t know if I have many fears that are greater than “be like that again”.

I hate this house. My room is attached to the main hall, and next to the kitchen. The walls are thin and made of plasterboard. So is the ceiling. There are no carpets in most of the house. I hear every door opening or closing, I hear every footstep, I hear it every time the fridge opens. The fridge is in the hall. And these sounds are loud. They are not at the edge of hearing. They are not faint. They are clear and defined. The person could well be in the room, it would sound the same.

I hate this house. I just want to have somewhere quiet. There are days where I quite seriously begin to consider just running away. Take a backpack, take my passport (which expires soon, don’t forget), and leaving.

But I can’t do it. For the same reason I couldn’t kill myself, and still can’t.

I can’t hurt the people I love. I can’t do that to them. I am trapped here. Held on the end of invisible ropes that are made only by me.

I get scared when I get like this. I don’t want to be depressed again. If this doesn’t pass in about a week, I might have to talk to someone about it.

I don’t even have the energy to be angry about this house. I want to rage and swear and be entertainingly dramatic. But I don’t have it in me.

Untitled #2

[Holy shit. Here’s an example of something I had totally forgotten about. From what I can re-remember, I was toying with the whole prophecies/tales in books. Specifically fantasy books (and to a less widespread extend, scifi). These kinds of things are either worldbuilding, in that they are there to give age and culture to the world being conjured (fairy tales and the like), or they are there as an omen to us the reader. A lot of standard chosen-one fantasy does this. There is a prophecy, which the characters know. At some point (it can be before, during, or after the adventure)  the characters realize that this prophecy is referring to them. Interestingly, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a chosen-one prophecy in a book where the character (specifically the chosen-one character) never becomes aware of this. I’m sure it’s been done, I’ve just never come across it. Anyway. This was me toying with that kind of fairy-tale feel, and also mucking about with dialect. Because I live in England, which is adjacent to Ireland, Scotland and Wales – three of the coolest accents that I know of. Although I have a thing for pretty much all accents.

Thematically, from what I can remember/decode, this bit of fairy-song/country folk-song. I am entirely certain that at time of writing, I had either just finished, or was re-reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, a novel which makes excellent use of the worldbuilding I mean.

Plus, saying anything in a weird tone of voice/accent/dialect/whatever instantly makes it sound a lot cooler than it otherwise would.]

 

Comm fayre aur wyld awae wy us

ty graeclend kypt aur kype

Comm yung aur auld breng chyl wyt yeu

ty hartlend undyr hill

Comm lost aur last aur bludyd hart

bryn weu end peyn en beuryd dead

ty dance en fyne draped bravery

en dine aur dustd fayre

Dren deep aur love en wollen cayr

eat alln aur ceurful ton

Leav nau but sylen kypt aur kype

en skyp tau wae aun huem.

Mutation

[So, this kind of thing happens a lot. If I ever talk about how much of what I write is sporadic, or unfocused, or erratic, or other-word-that-means-drifty, then this bit of writing is a good example. This is from early August. It starts off, and I remember my intention on this one, as an attempt to write something about games (this has been a recurrent theme of the last 4-5 months. Ever since I got a real live article published by Ars Technica, a real live news/review site, I’ve been bludgeoning myself semi-daily to try and write something further. And I’ve come up stone cold dead and dry every single time). But the writing quickly changes it’s direction. The fundamental thought is still there “why do games bore me?” but it becomes wrapped up in something else, a possible solution, which in turn, becomes a tirade against a certain style of click-bait junkpage that I see all the goddamn time (and if you even dare to call that kind of thing ‘news’ then we will have what is politely called A Bit Of A Problem). 

I’m showing this because it’s a useful insight into my own brain. And the distance allows me to view it from a more critical angle (which is to say, at all).

Re-reading this, I notice that I refer to myself as being 27. At the time I was, in fact, 26. But I forget my own age semi-regularly. For about 4-5 months of this year, I genuinely thought I was 27.|

Lastly, “***********” is my own shorthand for “put more content here and/or come back to this later”]

What Happened To The Joy Of Repetition (or Did I Lose The Joy Of Repetition)

In the last year or so, I’ve noticed something: a lot of games bore me. Now, I’m a fairly skeptical person to start with. I know full well that I’m hard to please. And I try to actively not be taken in by hype for a lot of things. But even then, even then, I look back at a number of games I’ve played and bought in the last few years, and I just think…why did I play this?

Top of my list lies Titanfall. Now I was skeptical as fuck about that game. A multiplayer only game being sold at the same price as a higher-end triple A game? That alone raised my Skepticism Defcon to 2. And the massive campaign of advertising for it kind of cemented that opinion. But even after all of that, it had enough that looked interesting about it to attract my wallet.

You know what? I had a lot of fun with Titanfall. I really did. The smooth parkour elements, the interplay of massive-death machine and tiny-people was a fun challenge. The rapidity of movement (and the lack of chest-high cover) meant that things like the homing-pistol weren’t broken, they were a legitimately challenging and rewarding style of gameplay.

So what let Titanfall down? If I liked its mechanics and I liked its interplay, what’s the problem? Well, for a start, it had a pitiful excuse for a campaign mode. No, it had an offensive excuse for a campaign mode. The way the campaign mode works is this: You play through each multiplayer map in the game in a specific order, in a normal multiplayer match, with lots of other players who are also playing the campaign. And while you’re equipping your weapons and loadout for the coming match, there is a voiceover. No matter the outcome, win or lose, you move onto the next match, and the next slice of voiceover.

And then, once you’ve played through all the maps, you can play one the other team (who are functionally identical). So you play through the maps again, with different slices of voiceover. That’s it. That is literally it.

In effect, the above means that your first hour of Titanfall is spent totally ignoring half of what the game is giving you, because it’s badly written and utterly ignorable.*************

Part of me has wondered, writing this, whether I’m ‘becoming old’. But even as I think it, I know it’s complete bullshit. With the rise of the Buzzfeed nation, there has come a tidal wave of this kind of self-deprecating, self-hating, self-apologising wankery. You know the type. It’s wallowy one liners about how you’re so old and past it, and no one ‘gets’ your jokes any more because they’re old. All of this draped in gifs of 90s sitcom characters, all caught in endless one second loops of cometragic wailing.

And all of those posts seem to be made be people my age. If you’ve ever made one of these: I hate you. I do. I hate you because you are directly responsible for that sneaky little thought of ‘I’m just becoming old’. And it’s shit.

First up, I’m not old. And no, I’m not just in denial fnar fnar fnar. I’m 27. Living in a 1st world country. By the self-cannibalising standards of general society, I’m barely even an adult. I mean, I don’t own a car. I don’t have a career. I don’t have a mortgage, child, or wife. As far as society is concerned I’m a teenager, ten years on.

Secondly, fuck you. We live in a world that is psychologically drowning in everyone appearing perfect. All your friends are doing better than you. They all have better jobs, look happier, have stable partners – or alternatively great party lives. Everyone is better than you. Except of course, they’re not. Chances are, most of the people you know (certainly on social media) are exactly like you. Similar age. Similar background. Similar values. Similar obstacles. And yeah, there might genuinely be that one person who is living a gold plated dream of a life. And you know what? Gazing at their Facebook posts twenty times a day isn’t going to help you is it?

Thirdly FUCK YOU. I didn’t fight for both my sanity and survival for goddamn years just so you could passively put yourself (and by virtue of sharing it, me) down.

In short then, no I’m really not ‘just becoming old’. Do I understand the fashion, music and minutiae of 15 year olds? No. Because I’m not fifteen. I don’t know any fifteen year olds. I don’t interact with any fifteen year olds. Why the fuck would I understand the intricacies of their culture?

Funnily enough, the world is not split into ‘I’m a teen’ and ‘I’m not a teen anymore, waaaah everything is over forever’. So get the everloving shit over yourself, you are dragging our whole generation down into your pit of self-pitying wank.

To get back on point then, if it’s not that I’m too old, what is it?

I think age has little to do with it, I think boredom has a lot. But I don’t think I have a concrete answer.