The most American thing since that painting of The Apotheosis of George Washington

Two trucks having sex
Two trucks having sex
My muscles, my muscles
Involuntarily flex

Two trucks having sex
Two trucks having sex
My muscles, my muscles
Involuntarily flex

TWO PICKUP TRUCKS
MAKING LOVE
AMERICAN MADE
BUILT FORD TOUGH
TWO BEAUTIFUL MURDER MACHINES
AMERICAN ANGELS IN THE SKY
GROWN MEN CRY

Two trucks having sex (oh yes)
Two trucks having sex (oh yes)
My muscles (UH) My muscles (UH)
Involuntarily flex

Two trucks, having sex (oh yes)
Two trucks, having sex (oh yes)
my muscles (UH) my muscles (UH)
Involuntarily flex

RIGHT BY MY SIDE
THERE’S ZZ TOP
AND ROBERT Z’DAR
FROM MANIAC COP 1, 2 and 3
THIS BARBECUE COULD BRING YOU TO YOUR KNEES
AND SO COULD THESE TWO TRUCKS

Two trucks holding hands
Two trucks holding hands
The passion, the passion
Is more than I can withstand

Two trucks holding hands
Two trucks holding hands
The passion, the passion
My big fat heart expands

TWO PICKUP TRUCKS
ONE CYLINDER BLOCK
CRUSH MY BODY LIKE A ROCK
SO BEAUTIFUL
NO STARS TONIGHT
JUST FIREWORKS AND EAGLES IN THE SKY
THE FOUNDING FATHERS CRY

Two trucks having sex (oh yes)
Two trucks having sex (oh yes)
my muscles (UH) my muscles (UH)
Involuntarily flex

Two trucks, having sex (oh yes)
Two trucks, having sex (oh yes)
my muscles (UH) my muscles (UH)
Involuntarily flex

Two trucks having sex
Two trucks having sex
My muscles, my muscles
Involuntarily flex

Two trucks having sex
Two trucks having sex
My muscles, my muscles
Involuntarily flex

Two trucks (having sex)
Two trucks (having sex)
Two trucks (having sex, having sex, having sex)
Two trucks (having sex)
Two trucks (having sex)
Two trucks (having sex, having sex, having sex)
credits
from Nature Tapes EP, track released May 3, 2013

 

 

Smooth Motions: Giving and Community

We need people. Even the most introverted personality types still, at least on occasion, want the companionship of others (if not, you’re not exactly an introvert, you’re a misanthrope, but that’s another story for another time). There are loads of psychological explanations for how a sense of community benefits and shapes us, and how lacking it also shapes us but in a manner harmful to our psyches.

The modern Pagan community (note “large P”) has been shaped, in no small part, by science fiction fandom via Tim “Oberon” and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart. Of course, clearly preferring R.A. Heinlein over Gene Roddenberry, this created a massive sense that “individualism” and the pursuit of doing for oneself before all else that has lousied up Paganism every moment since.

Hedonism is often misunderstood as inherently selfish, and some ancient characterisations certainly don’t help much on the matter, but Hedonism is about creating pleasure over pain: smooth motions over rough. In a certain light, this *is* argueably self-centred, because Aristippus argued that the self and specifically the individual’s experiences are the only reference points one has for relating to the world and making decisions.

That said, Aristippus was also known for binging on money-raising efforts to throw lavish parties. When his critics accused him of being in a love-affair with money, he pointed out, factually, that the money was now gone, and he’d be begging or teaching tomorrow, because the experience of the party meant more than having the money, and his guests certainly seemed to be in agreement. When you have experiences of pleasure, which Aristippus compared to a “smooth motion” on a water’s surface, all the money in the world cannot replace that; it is also worth noting that Aristippus’ experience of that party depended upon, at least the appearances of, pleasure in others (after all, he was on no place to judge what they were truly feeling, and admitted that).

Hedonism thus offers a philosophy that shows the Individual and the Community as symbiotes: When we create pleasurable experiences for others, we can create pleasurable experiences for ourselves, and we cannot create experiences for ourselves without affecting those around us, so it is to our benefit to maximise the potential for smooth motions. Pain is characterised as “rough motion” on the water; sometimes it’s necessary, but when at all possible, we need to be mindful to minimise this –in ourselves, first and foremost (as we’re our own most-reliable reference points), but secondarily in others.

The recent “debate” over whether or not it is wise to give to people’s crowd-funding efforts for things —whether it be a trip to Newgrange or a ding-danged funeral (and ask Aine Llewellyn, who watches me on FB, I don’t pull out the double-d-word over just anything)— is ultimately a rough motion, and ultimately frivolous nonsense: Not only are these people creating, for themselves, unnecessary discomfort by being offended at crowd-sourcing funds, a rough motion, but that careless thrashing in the pool ripples back against everyone else. What strikes me the most about this backlash is that it’s wholly unnecessary.

While I still disagree with her decision, for her (in)famous Kickstarter tour with a different local band in every city, to only compensate the particpating musicians with “beer and conversation” as something that sets a potentially dangerous precedent in a world where musicians are too-often talked into playing “for experience and beer” when they’re trying to make the rent, or at least afford toast to go with their rice and beans, I also can’t argue with Amanda Palmer’s claims that, to those who participated in that tour with her, that the exchange was fair (see “The Art of Asking”); who am I to judge the pleasureable exchange, and thus perception of fairness, that another feels in an act, when I myself would find the same circumstances unfair? As my only reference point is my own experiences and sense of smooth versus rough motions, I simply cannot make that judgement for another. What’s fair to me might seem excessive or even unconscionable to another —I’ve certainly found myself in rough positions in a conversation while trying to raise money for The Tomb when people cannot see how my refusal to budge on either venue to how much to pay the band and DJs isn’t at all unreasonable.

While I can understand the Pagan community ideal that “life shouldn’t be about money”, at the same time, there are points where the need for money are going to rear their ugly heads, and there are points where, yes, money may be a rough necessity for an ultimately smooth motion, like Aristipppus’ parties, or a pilgramage to Newgrange, or a loved one’s funeral expenses. Only a handful of us, relatively speaking, are in a position where either we ourselves can, or we have families where “everyone” can afford to pitch in to pay for a thing that will bring smooth motion to ourselves and our communities. The rest of us have to turn to the community.

Turning to the community for everything from a religious pilgrimage, to funeral expenses, to basic daily needs like food and shelter, has a long history, especially in religious communities, and it’s a traditon that *so* far pre-dates Christianity that it pre-dates the implementation of the money system. Those who have less have turned to those who have, and who have more –they have turned to the community– to get. This has often (until very recently in human history) created or at least fostered a sense of duty in those who have less to foster community and give back in ways that we can. For millennea, we, the have-lesses and have-nots have been the artists, musicians, performers, and holy persons of communities –the notion that the Arts and spiritual pursuits are merely a hobby for trust-fund brats has only really existed since 20th Century America reared its ugly head, and even then, it’s only ever been true for a rather tiny percentage of those of us in the arts and pursuing spiritual endeavours; for every Mozart who enjoyed a period of wealthy patronage (regardless of how deeply impoverished and indebted he died), there have been hundreds of folk musicians playing in public houses while their assistant, friend, or lover passes the hat, and there have been thousands of buskers on the corners of every street, relying on the assessment of the passers-by that their music is worth a few small coins. Not only is playing music and other arts hard, physical work, it’s also thankless and traditionally amongst the lowest-paid, especially relative to the pleasure it gives back.

This is not necessarily a defense of crowd-funding efforts, after all, it’s the same basic principle that buskers and street artists have employed for centuries, just optimised for the Internet and thus potentially reaching a wider audience. No-one needs to defend it any more than they need to defend buskers and independent artists who, traditionally, for millennea, have relied on gift-money given freely by members of the community who not only see the value in the art, but who can and want to support those who make it.

I do, though, feel that those who put down the practise in their words are incredibly short-sighted and, at least temporarily, unwilling to see the bigger picture: The experiences we enjoy and, too-often, take for granted in this world, experiences of music, reading the freely-distributed writings of bloggers, and so on…, these are thankless jobs taken on by people who not only can, but want to, and do it well-enough that others enjoy. And clearly those who do it well-enough have a higher potential to become well-enough connected to hold successful crowdfunding for things they need or want to do, things that will make their continued services to their art(s) all the more pleasurable to the community, and all the more easier for the artists, writers, and musicians to accomplish.

This isn’t even considering the fact that there are dozens of charities (at the very least) built around funding religious pilgrimages for young Jews and Muslims, and hundreds of charities designed around funding young artists –and where most people bringing those up fail is to mention that a lot of hose charities and scholarships ultimately have to turn a lot of people, many of them worthy, due to being unable to fund everyone, and most of those scholarships only partially cover costs, so money for these things still has to come from somewhere. This is where crowdfunding, especially for the arts and relatively tiny religious communities, and especially for people over the age of 25-30 (which, last I checked, was still well over half the population in the developed world), is actually ideal; it’s unfortunate that, to make crowdfunding work, at all, one has to be well-known or at least well-connected, but truth be told, “success” has always been about who one knows more than how skilled one is –and that’s not just what I tell myself to explain why people still read Star Foster’s blog, it’s the truth (though, unfortunately, I can’t find the Cracked artile about this).

[PBP2013] Lost in Translation: L’amour est bleu

L’amour est bleu
Doux, doux, l’amour est doux
Douce est ma vie, ma vie dans tes bras
Doux, doux, l’amour est doux
Douce est ma vie, ma vie près de toi

Bleu, bleu, l’amour est bleu
Berce mon cœur, mon cœur amoureux
Bleu, bleu, l’amour est bleu
Bleu comme le ciel qui joue dans tes yeux

Comme l’eau, comme l’eau qui court
Moi, mon cœur court après ton amour

Gris, gris, l’amour est gris
Pleure mon cœur lorsque tu t’en vas
Gris, gris, le ciel est gris
Tombe la pluie quand tu n’es plus là

Le vent, le vent gémit
Pleure le vent lorsque tu t’en vas
Le vent, le vent maudit
Pleure mon cœur quand tu n’es plus là

Comme l’eau, comme l’eau qui court
Moi, mon cœur court après ton amour

Bleu, bleu, l’amour est bleu
Le ciel est bleu lorsque tu reviens
Bleu, bleu, l’amour est bleu
L’amour est bleu quand tu prends ma main

Fou, fou, l’amour est fou
Fou comme toi et fou comme moi
Bleu, bleu, l’amour est bleu
L’amour est bleu quand je suis à toi

L’amour est bleu quand je suis à toi

Love is blue (translation)
Sweet, sweet, love is sweet
Sweet is my life, my life in your arms
Sweet, sweet, love is sweet
Sweet is my life, my life close to you

Blue, blue, love is blue
Cradle my heart, my loving heart
Blue, blue, love is blue
Blue like the sky which play in your eyes

Like the water, like the running water
Me, my heart runs after your love

Grey, grey, love is grey
My heart weeps since you went away
Grey, grey, the sky is grey
The rain falls when you’re not there anymore

The wind, the wind moans
The wind weeps since you went away
The wind, the cursed wind
My heart weeps when you’re not there anymore

Like the water, like the running water
Me, my heart runs after your love

Blue, blue, love is blue
The sky is blue when you return
Blue, blue, love is blue
Love is blue when you take my hand

Mad, mad, love is mad
Mad like you and mad like me
Blue, blue, love is blue
Love is blue when I am yours

Love is blue when I am yours


CONTRAST WITH

Blue, blue, my world is blue
Blue is my world since I’m without you
Gray, gray, my life is gray
Cold is my heart since you went away

Red, red, my eyes are red
Crying for you alone in my bed
Green, green, my jealous heart I
doubted you and now we’re apart

How the bright sun shone
Then love died
Now the rainbow is gone
Black, black, the nights I’ve known
Longing for you, so lost and alone
Gone, gone, the love we knew
Blue is my world since I’m without you


This is also an allegory for how the original language is necessary to a complete understanding.

Polytheism and Retrofuturism

Retrofuturism is, in essence, a philosophy that has been highly influential in late 20th and early 21st Century art, music, design, and (typically underground) fashion. I’d says its beginnings can be traced to the 1960s, when the first conscious revival of a once-popular movement —Art Deco— took place, though the movement really started to take off in the 1970s. While Isadora Duncan was certainly a prototypical and extreme retrofuturist, her influence, during her time, was limited to dance, so clearly while she can be argued to have scattered some seeds for retrofuturism, the movement did not take root with her. Streamline Moderne design, popular in the 1940s, is sometimes erroneously described as an Art Deco revival, but it is, in actuality, merely a continuation of the movement; where Art Nouveau of the 1890s and 1900s can be described as “organic”, Art Deco can be described as “mineral” in its look and feel, especially its penchant for symmetric geometry — Streamline, on the other hand, is organic lines with an Art Deco sensibility, thus it is not a true revival. But I digress.

In simplest terms, Retrofuturism is taking the best of the past and the best of the present and moulding it with a progressive-mindedness that looks toward the future. Steampunk is retrofuturist. By extension, Diesel- and decopunk are retrofuturist, and Atompunk is retrofuturist. While the Mod subculture was initially a very modern-minded subculture, its deep connections to the Phil Spector/Tamla-Motown sound and a 1960s-influenced aesthetic have assured its evolution into a retrofuturist subculture, albeit not the most conscious retrofuturist subculture, when compared to most others. Roxy Music is a retrofuturist group. As is DEVO. As is Joe Jackson. Jim Henson’s life-long love of puppetry and apparent knowledge of its history, and not to mention showing off that knowledge in his abilities to create quality entertainment intended for an adult audience (yet silly enough that children didn’t need to understand The Muppet Show, for example, in order to enjoy it) is inherently retrofuturist. Guy Maddin is retrofuturist, though he prefers “ultra-conformist”, which, to be honest, is actually best at describing his techniques, which are seldom more evolved than the industry standard of 1933. The work of McDermott & McGough is absolutely retrofuturist with an emphasis on the retro. Electroswing is retrofuturist with an emphasis on the future. Neofolk is a genre that is, at its heart, retrofuturist but in practise, some bands identify more closely with certain flavours of Fascism, which is, at its heart, Traditionalist —but in all honesty (and more knowledge of music than most other people who can wear the “Goth DJ” hat), Leonard Cohen and Nico were among the first musicians to be described as “neofolk” or even “dark folk”, and Johnny Indovina of Human Drama considers much of his music to be some form of “neo-folk”, and it would be hard (at the absolute least) to consider any of those musos to be Fascists or Traditionalists.

The modern pagan and polytheist movements are, too, typically retrofuturist with a few exceptions. Chaos magic seems decidedly modernist with some hints of straight-up futurism. There is also a segment of reconstructionist polytheists that are more concerned with an anti-progressive notion of “the ancients” to the point that it’s easy to call them Traditionalist or even Anti-modernist; retrofuturists, by their nature, tend to avoid such types as we find their non-interest in a living society in favour of an arbitrary point in the ancient past (often long pre-dating even a century or two prior Christianity’s birth, much less its rise to prominence) to be rather silly.

If there’s anything that a vast majority of pagans and polytheists have in common, it’s an interest in re-shaping the present and future with knowledge about the past influencing this form. This is a variant on the two major themes of retrofuturist creativity: The first is the “retrofuture purist” form, which is celebrating the past’s idea of the future. The second is to re-imagine the past as seen with eyes of the present that are, at the very least, mindful of the future (though retrofuturist art tends to emphasise the future). The tendencies of pagans and polytheists to take what is known of the ancient past polytheistic religions and adapt them to not only modern life but a future-mindedness makes this the ultimate retrofuturist religious movement; Gnostics probably come in at a close second place.

While an degree of tradition is important in most pagan and polytheist religions, they are not typically defined by their traditions, but by the cultures they sprang from and the communities they are shared by, which essentially creates a vision of the future.

Joe Jackson – “Fit”

Don’t laugh – but there are people in this world
Born as boys – and fighting to be girls
People standing in their way
Some are straight and some are gay
Calling them the drag queens
Say you can’t be one of us
You only have yourself to blame
You don’t fit

Don’t laugh – but there are people in this town
Be polite say a whiter shade of brown
People that they gotta fight
Some are black and some are white
Calling them the half-breeds
Say you can’t be one of us
You only have yourself to blame
You don’t fit

That’s what you’re there for – square pegs in square holes
Round pegs in round
You get too big then they can’t make new holes
So they’ll cut you down
All ugly sisters must wear glass slippers
Or get out of town

But don’t cry – If the people in your street
Lead a life that’s more or less complete
Little problems every day
Little problems go away
Kid yourself you’re fighting for life
Kid yourself you fight for love
But maybe in some other lifetime
You won’t fit
And if you don’t fit
You’re fit for nothing at all

ACT – “Absolutely Immune”

Day by day the world can blow up
No yesterdays and no tomorrow

From Lucifer to Anti-Christ
There runs a flame of passion
It is the flame of life
The flame of life

I’m sick of all these anti words
That run through us is misery
Tomorrow there might no be a single soul left

Words must become flesh
Words must become flesh

Take it or leave it
Nothing touches me

Neither earthquakes or explosions
Neither riots, war or famine

No collisions or revolutions
I’m absolutely immune

Neither earthquakes or explosions
Neither riots (riots), war (war) or famine

Immune
Absolutely immune
The world explodes and I’m, absolutely immune

Absolutely

I’m apart from every sorrow
Calamity or misery

I’m gonna be your interface
Flex of ecstasy
I’m gonna be your interface
Flex of ecstasy

Immune (I’m top of the ladder)
Absolutely immune (I’m top of the ladder)
The world explodes and I’m, absolutely immune

Absolutely

Dance, dance, dance
Sensation
Dance, dance, dance
No hesitation
Dance, dance, dance
Sensation
Dance, dance, dance
A revelation

I’m top of the ladder of common sense
I’m top of the ladder of common sense

Dance, dance, dance
It’s a sensation

I’m top of the ladder of common sense

Dance, dance, dance
No hesitation
Dance, dance, dance
A revelation
Dance, dance, dance
Sensation

I’m top of the ladder of common sense