A Journal Of The Dark Arts
So you might be asking yrself; ‘what’s this? a philosophy lecture? doesn’t he normally talk about weird records and such?’
Forestpunk is a vast and rambling edifice, with many arms and offshoots, and i am perpetually expanding and clarifying the mission of this here deadspace.
We are living in a time, a unique time in History, where we have access to nearly every drop of Human creativity, immediately, every second of the day. All that glorious Art, all those obscure books you hungered for as a teenager, all lying beneath yr pillow.
So, the question then, ‘what, then, to do with all of it?’
The answer begins with knowing yrself, and knowing where yr going.
If you have a clear envisioning of what you are trying to do, you can succeed without fail.
And what, then, does this have to do with reviewing records?
I’ve been a musical obsessive for my entire adult life, with nearly every second swallowed and swarmed with obscure ephemera, weird oddball eccentric transmissions from every corner. I’ve always had a curious mind, and a collector’s vigor. I applied all that vim and vitriol to obscure psych bands, rare laboratory electronics records, garage rock from the Pacific Northwest. It didn’t matter. I have to hear it all.
I have also been a writer my entire life, always taken easily to pen and tablet and keypad. When i was in my early 20s, i read a lot of music magazines, illicitly acquired, i would read and dream of unknown sounds and bands that i would be too poor to afford to hear, but wonder and entice over what they sounded like.
I began to scheme and daydream for ways to get free music, and the attempts at album reviewing began. I had skads and skads of obscure noise albums and post-rock to write about, and i sat in empty apartments and wrote about stacks of CDs.
But just because you listen to music, and just because you write, doesn’t mean you have the foggiest notion of how to write about music.
It’s its own form, its own beast, with its own laws of physics. You are describing somebody’s else’s creativity; in a sense you are describing that person themselves. It is a deep and intimate experience to listen to someone’s music, to let it overtake you, to let it envelop yr time.
So it raises the question, before we get into this lecture, what is music? and what is the experience of music?
Like Prof. Fry is going to say in this lecture, its a tough thing to describe. Music, at this point, can be damn near anything you want it to be, can mean exactly what you want it to mean, but again, you have to know yrself, and what you are trying to do with yr life?
Since i was 18 years old, i’ve wanted to be a musician. I went to sound-engineering school for 2 years, took a bunch of music theory courses. I can adequately, and even somewhat proficiently, play guitar, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards and electronics.
After having my mind blown with a few religious musical experiences, i became hardwired. I HAD TO KNOW HOW TO DO THAT. I was, and am, a man possessed.
But, like listening to and writing about music, wanting to write and play music and doing it are two different universes.
What was i trying to say? And how was i going to say it?
I’ve always suffered from anxiety of the blank page, of the empty space. There are, quite simply, too many possibilities. You’ve got to narrow it down, you’ve got to focus.
So, the simple question: what role do you want music to play in yr life?
Is it Pop? Vacuuming soundtrack? Mental exercise? Pot-smoking soundtrack?
The question of what you use music for, is inherent in any attempt at criticism, or evaluation.
It just goes to show one of a billion ways you can turn a piece of music, any piece of Art at all, really – Paul Fry uses the word ‘post-colonial’ in this lecture. He also talks about Freud and Lacan and Nietzsche and Hegel and Lacan.
So again, the question begs, what does this have to do with reviewing records?
As i was coming up, there was a popular trend among music critics to be very theoretical and philosophical in their interpretation of media. They were talking about Derrida and Marx, a record company was naming itself after Gilles Deleuze (Mille Plateuax); it was, and remains, a rather heavy time to dub one’s self a self-made journalist.
To talk about any work of the latter half of the 20th century, and up into the present, was a very loaded and convoluted path to tread.
But writing about music gave me an excuse, or rather a way, to LISTEN to music. To pay attention. To let it light up my mind’s eye, my creativity. A way and a reason, to pay attention.
So my particular Hermeneutic Circle, or my version of it (we’ll talk about that in a second) goes making music > listening to music > write about what i hear. Add a factor into that in that my art is somewhat sample-based, and that opens up every other media ever.
It is essential to know yrself, and what you are trying to do.
By listening to the records i was into, reading up on the artists, i found myself baptized in a fount of Walter Benjamin and Obscure Horror Films; Adorno and cheap porno. Art became a writhing, breathing beast.
So i found myself in the position of trying to write about and explain albums. I came face to face with the specter of writing album reviews, over and over. For years. Of finding something meaningful to say, over and over.
So, you’d think that, after having done something thousands of times, that this would be an easy and an almost automatic task?
I am a self-taught man, since the money ran out when i was 23. I have lived out of backpacks and in the backseats of cars. My life gained some stability, over the years, and i was able to get a modicum of gear beneath my belt. I got my own MacBook. Everything is possible now.
So i’ve got a bunch of instruments, some recording equipment better than my salacious, salivating dreams of my early 20s. I’ve got hard-drives full of 2000 years of music. Should be ready to rock, no?
Again, we run into the specter of the album review, as well as that of songwriting.
Because writing a song is not the same thing as listening to a song, which is not the same thing as writing about a song.
They are all their own separate traditions, with their own laws of the jungle, their own sphere of physics.
And the beauty of it is, is when you fix those traditions in yr dead-eyed gaze, you can absolutely master them.
It all comes down to precision of thinking. Of knowing yr intentions. Of a steady and continual application of the will.
We are living in a time, more than ever, where we have every drop of information ever, at our cuticles. What would you like to do with it? What role does Art play in yr life?
The thing that i doubt many would argue is that Art is important, it seems to be, we’ve always done it. From scratching on rocks, to pounding on stones, we’ve always made painting and poetry and sang songs.
The thing, which Paul Fry touches upon in this lecture, the thing itself is an elusive and ineffable thing. Every mystical songwriter or sci-fi novelist will tell you they don’t know where they get their ideas from. All over the place, really, is probably the answer. Art activates the imagination, the intangible aspects of the Human, the non-rational, the non-linear.
So, if i were to describe Forestpunk in one sentence it would: using the mind to clearly describe the ineffable.
Because the thing is, is you CAN describe states. Not all thinking/communication is in vain.
In this first video of the Open Yale Course Introduction To Literary Theory, Paul Fry will speak about definition: an attempt to define Literature. This could just as easily be swapped out for “harsh noise music” or “British horror movies” or whatever it is you are trying to define and analyze. Much as everybody hates it, genres DO exist, and they all have their own standards.
So the truth of the matter is that i just like what i like. I know it when i find it. I spend most of my time looking for it (i have an acquisitive mind, remember), and in the casting about, i have bushwhacked 1000 imaginary continents, and these pages will continue to be my travel journal and field guide.
So, the point, the single point of this message is, you can accomplish absolutely anything you seek to master, if you know exactly what you are trying to do.
This comes down to using the mind as it should be used. At certain things, it is a fine, fine instrument, can be whittled to diamond-fine precision, but at other things it is woefully inept, like how to deal with sensitive roommates, or the guilt at not calling yr mother.
You can describe Art, and you CAN attempt to define literature. It all starts with defining what it means, TO YOU.
So, that’s part of the confusing, circuitous nature of these journals, is that it is one part criticism, and one part archive. This is a journey that i am taking, and i’m sharing my notes.
Because, like i said, i’ve been entirely self-taught, and i’ve had to wade through this spider-web of Academia and Philosophy for over a decade, and i have found a lot of useful things along the way.
I have also found a lot of amazing art.
More than anything, why i am doing this is so that music, movies, books and TV remain important in my world; that i use them constructively. I truly love them, with the depths of my soul, but i do not just want to be a consumer zombie. I do not want to consume them as sugar pellets. Besides, knowing anything doesn’t make you cool anymore, its just a matter of if yr into it, or not.
But, like i said, i have an inquisitive mind.
I also have hopes of being a great artist. Of doing something meaningful. Of leaving something behind. Is reading Shakespeare and H. P. Lovecraft going to make me a better artist, or make more art? Well, that’s always kind of been the question, hasn’t it? and that’s part of what we’re going to find out.
So check out the Invisible College tag on the sidebar sometime, to find a series of informative and useful resources of a variety of traditions, that will be continually expanding. We’re at a point where just about anybody could make the most staggering creations, if they have a mind to do so.
Part of why i’m doing it is for whoever is reading this. I am attempting to hone and refine myself, my thoughts, my perceptions, that i may experince clearly, and report back what i find.
Because i know there’s a lot of stuff out there, and i spend a lot of time connecting dots, pointing things out, turning people on to unknown stuff, and being turned on. Its sincerely fun, and i appreciate the people i have met through publishing this journal, the likeminded lampholders, from transmitting these broadcasts.
I dedicate myself to finding the best, of describing imaginary countries and intangible thoughts; to talk about weird horror movies and philosophers and composers no one cares about. To find poetry in soundcloud rips and small-batch noise tapes. To be able to write eloquently about any topic under the sun.
You can be anyone you like, this time around. What kind of you would you like to be?