The transition from summer heat to autumn cool. The light shifts and slants and when Scorpio approaches, regardless the hemisphere you reside in — well, the soul goes orange and crimson — a rich Tibetan red.
Critters rustle around slowly now. There’s lots of deer about, walking right in the middle of the road and then, once spotted, jumping to disappear into thick blackberry vines (I don’t know how the vicious thorns don’t tear their hides).
Oh, and spiders are everywhere on the island now. Their geometric webs drooping with dew in the morning and looking like outer space sigils throughout the sunny days.
This is one of my longer mixes because what I’ve been listening to lately isn’t easy to compress into one category-mood and so the train has gone and on and on — an omnibus of contrasting colors. But the general tenor is melancholic percolation with periodic bursts of rhythm that require body movement — walking, shuffling, meandering and occasionally dancing.
The title of this mix is taken from Vanessa Daou‘s homage to poet/novelist Erica Jong, the song of which is included here. Daou actually transformed Jong’s poem into a dance track. The words tell you about how solitude marks time’s passage: Living in a house/near the Black Forest/without any clocks/she’s begun/to listen to the walls.
Some of these songs are blatantly out of place within the heavy load of electronic, glitch and hip hop. But then that’s the fun of doing mixes like this: How to cram disparate sonics together so you experience it as music, free from your bias and preference for genre (gag.)
So there’s Bette Midler‘s Drinking Again because I can’t get enough of the line: “Having a few.” Because you know the narrator isn’t.
And also Van Morrison‘s Fair Play from his finest excursion into stream of consciousness love poetry and immersion into Scotland and Oscar Wilde and Thoreau from his undervalued Veedon Fleece.
And I’ve been listening to a lot of the fuzzy, echoey Jesus and Mary Chain-infused shoegazy stuff from Sweden’s Radio Dept. I wish they would release something new soon. The description shoegazing must remain invigorated!
Anyway, enjoy all of this. Expose yourself for fuck’s sake. Get out of a rut. If moved you must share. Music is the one tonic that’s applicable to all and holds many secrets, that’s why very few of these songs are heard on the radio or Pandora or anywhere else where music is treated like a commodity and not as an un-categorizable art.
And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:
All life is being lived.
Who is living it then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?
Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?
Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances
or streets, as they wind through time?
–Rainer Maria Rilke
“Real seriousness in regard to writing is one of two absolute necessities.
The other, unfortunately, is talent.” –Ernest Hemingway
The internet has fostered the madcap idea that — given the collapse of print publishing and the world of editors and agents — everyone should be writing. Something.
Or recording music.
Or painting. Drawing. Doodling.
But — uh oh — so many can’t.
Years ago the author Toni Morrison exclaimed to whomever (whoever?) was listening that everyone in the world had a book inside of him (or her) that was just waiting to be written. Uhm, checkmate! Another author, the gadfly Fran Liebowitz, interrupted Ms. Morrison and said: “This may be true, but please don’t write it.”
I agree. There is nothing more heartbreaking than when an amateur following what she thinks is her muse discovers that it’s simply the ominous groan of a foghorn declaring: “Danger! Treacherous rocks ahead. Think of your mortgage.”
One of the most egregious areas of online self-publishing are astrology blogs and YouTube videos. Holy Shit! Here we discover why the masses consider astrology disposable and relegated to the back pages of Cosmopolitan magazine.
I’m amazed when I consider my career and what was required to first learn astrology and then become a good astrologer. Where did my stamina to attempt writing come from? It was a surprise. The one skill doesn’t necessarily confirm the other. One might read a chart but can’t write about it worth a damn.
So, over time I discovered that I had a knack for writing about astrology too. The keyword is knack — and, well, unfortunately knack-ness is not something that can be taught. Grammar and speling (forget about it) and The Elements of Style can be mastered, but not the inherent nature of a knack. Slippery as a glowing fish.
Mega-million bestseller Stephen King puts it like this — which includes the “good news” and the “bad news”:
“…while it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.”
The catch with the above statement is that the self-broadcasting ease of the internet has all but destroyed the necessities of hard work, dedication, and timely help. In fact the internet fosters the very conditions that hatch bad writers. Roger H. Garrison, author of How a Writer Works, describes those wayward wannabes as folks who fall victim to the “tides of phony, posturing, pretentious, tired, imprecise slovenly language, which both suffocate and corrupt the mind.”
Coupled with what I call knack (and others might call inherent talent) — and this is crucial — one must have the interest of the reader uppermost. To care about the reader and the investment of her time, this is golden. When I care about my reader I’m forced to be a better writer.
So the knack, and this sort of ‘reader empathy’ can not be taught. I’m sorry. As my mom would often say, just before pissing off my father: “There, I said it.”
If you fancy yourself an astrologer and a writer please learn how to write economically and always consider what you are conjuring in the reader’s mind that deflates or inspires his interest in astrology. Think how quickly, easily your writer’s thread can unravel into the warning signs of pre-dementia due to the nature of your subject — an occupational hazard for sure.
What’s greater, Pebble or Pond?
What can be known? The Unknown.
My true self runs toward a Hill
More! O More! visible.
Now I adore my life
With the Bird, the abiding Leaf,
With the Fish, the questing Snail,
And the Eye altering All;
And I dance with William Blake
For love, for Love’s sake;
And everything comes to One,
As we dance on, dance on, dance on.
— Theodore Roethke
It’s been the most perfect season on the island. Very Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Just the right temperature, light and mood. But my mind’s dissolving trying to wrap around the concept that summer is winding to a close.
But no prob. Music is timeless, so I’ll play this latest mix whenever I wanna feel like it’s that perfect zone right around mid-August — with the Sun hovering over my ascendant.
Like all of my cloudcasts they’re compiled to accompany creative work. Be that in the studio, the office, the garage or down in your mom’s basement if that’s where you’re living right now.