November 15, 2011

Heidegger on Creative Action, Art and Melancholy

The quotes are from separate bodies of text (read: they do not follow one after the other), but they create an interesting context when placed side by side. Hopefully one not too manufactured. What to conclude from Heidegger's supposed necessary melancholy mood for creative action, and the nature of art - the common byproduct of said creative action?

In particular, how he believed art to ground history by allowing "truth to spring forth", so humanity can connect implicitly with what is and what matters. 

“Freedom is only to be found where there is burden to be shouldered. In creative achievements this burden always represents an imperative and a need that weighs heavily upon man’s mood, so that he comes to be in a mood of melancholy. All creative action resides in a mood of melancholy, whether we are clearly aware of the fact or not, whether we speak at length about it or not. All creative action resides in a mood of melancholy, but this is not to say that everyone in a melancholy mood is creative.”

“In the work of art the truth of an entity has set itself to work. ‘To set’ means here: to bring to a stand. Some particular entity, a pair of peasant shoes, comes in the work to stand in the light of its being. The being of the being comes into the steadiness of its shining. The nature of art would then be this: the truth of being setting itself to work.”

Martin Heidegger

September 13, 2011

Pearl Jam Live 2011 Toronto - Why They're Still Great

It's a funny thing about those bands who've been around for twenty years. They tend to get a lot better - especially those who take what they do seriously. Pearl Jam is no exception. Their discography - which spans two decades - exhibits, if anything, a clear progression in both musicianship and creative process. 

Their music is thoughtful, diverse, and genuine. It translates from the studio to live settings the way all good music should: with a bombastic ease that hides all their hard work. Such was the case this past weekend in Toronto, when they took the stage at the Air Canada Centre

August 7, 2011

Eulogy for Robert Bates

(L-R) Auntie Honey, Myself, Uncle Bob - July 15th, 2011 Grand Forks, B.C. 
An expected, but unwanted late-night phone call and the distance I feel from my home town is only traversed by certain memories:

Five years old and I'm standing in front of the doorway to Uncle Bob's wood shop. The combination lock hangs on its latch, and the door is open about three inches. Inside, I can hear the whir of the lathe. I knock and wait. In a moment he's there, clad in blue-gray overalls, a dust-mask over his mouth and nose. He greets me and allows me inside, providing I don't touch anything. I enter and sit on a small chair and watch him work. The room smells of cedar dust and Verethane. I tromp patterns in the sawdust on the floor with my feet.

July 22, 2011

House of the Rising Sun - Which Version is Best?

I suppose there are a few songs in existence that cannot be overplayed, or worn out over time. One of them, by a country mile for me, is Bob Dylan's version of House of the Rising Sun - recorded on his eponymous debut album .

Part of it is the story the song tells, the bitter sadness of it, the weariness of hard-lived and expired lives. To hear Dylan's young voice nearly swallow the last line is to hear the entire summation of the song's context.

March 6, 2011

"Post-Metal" for the Thinking Man?

Often (unfairly) labeled stoner/doom/grind/sludge metal, Post-Metal is an atmospheric departure from more familiar associations of "heavy metal".

Characterized (though not always) by drop-d tuning, 5/4 time, and a notable absence or minimalist approach to vocals, Post-Metal focuses on riffing and build-up to that sonic darkness that hearkens back to old Black Sabbath or Judas Priest. It's generally considered the "thinking man's" metal.

It avoids emphasizing the typical metal aesthetic: the dark, somber grimaces, the emphasis on guttural vocals that often overpower other instruments. Not to say that these ascriptions don't exist in post-metal, they're just more a byproduct than a manufactured assertion.

Post Metal seems to be about building momentum with music, getting to the immense wall of sound that eventually grinds your ass to powder. But not before some serious seduction first.

February 24, 2011

Sustainable Eating Plans for 2011

A LARGE MOTIVATION for our moving to a town with affordable housing was the opportunity to implement sustainable eating habits within our own back yard and community.

Our objectives: to live in a scenario where our food choices (as often as possible) are either home-grown, or derived locally, preferably pesticide and antibiotic free and organic.

February 8, 2011

Writers' Trust Online Auction -- Score!

Last week, the Writers' Trust of Canada held a fund-raising auction of literary collectibles. Art pieces, postcards, various items signed by authors. In a way it was a bit of knick-knackery that was more for fans than writers -- which is all fine and good. 

However, one of the items up for auction -- an item no one else bid on save for myself -- was of particular note, and probably of the highest value. In fact, for any up and coming writer, it was a bit of a gold mine. 

January 27, 2011

Are Music Videos Homogenizing Music?

Type the name of your favorite music artist into any social media search box and you'll come across a video at some point. Not necessarily a video by the artist either. You'll find 8-bit digital renditions, the clumsy fumblings of wannabe guitarists, high-school bands warbling a tune.

In fact, one could even argue that a lot of new music today is designed more for video than anything else.

It's not that any of these are wrong per se. I found a video of some guy playing death metal on a ukulele once. Rather funny. But it does raise the question of what video does to the original piece. Or better yet, what does it do to how one perceives a musical piece?