"There is only one important point you must keep in your mind and let it be your guide. No matter what people call you, you are just who you are. Keep to this truth. You must ask yourself how is it you want to live your life. We live and we die, this is the truth that we can only face alone. No one can help us, not even the Buddha. So consider carefully, what prevents you from living the way you want to live your life?"
The Dalai Lama
"How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but - mainly - to ourselves."
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
"Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down, by proving, however long it takes, that life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be."
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
"Actually, every word has a great burden of memories, not only just of one person but of all mankind."
Heinrich Böll, from The Art of Fiction, No. 74, The Paris Review (Spring 1983, No. 87)
"I knew it wasn’t too important, but it made me sad anyway."
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
"We work in our own darkness a great deal with little real knowledge of what we are doing."
Is anyone there
are you real
either way are you
one or several
if the latter
are you all at once
or do you
take turns not answering
is your answer
the question itself
surviving the asking
whose question is it
how does it begin
where does it come from
how did it ever
find out about you
over the sound
with nothing but its own
ignorance to go by
W.S.Merwin, To the Soul
Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
"America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters."
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
In which I conform to expectations for a person of my age and cultural inclinations
The music I listened to this year, with occasional remarks. Lack of commentary does not constitute lack of enthusiasm. Also, I’m allowing myself some music from 2012 that I didn’t get to until this year:
Phosphorescent - Muchacho
Braids - Flourish // Perish
Darkside - Psychic
Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle
Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Dawn of Midi - Dysnomia
Poliça - Shulamith
Julia Holter - Loud City Song
London Grammar - If You Wait
These New Puritans - Field of Reeds
James Blake - Overgrown
Rhye - Woman
Kurt Vile - Walkin On A Pretty Daze
Jai Paul - Jai Paul
Lambchop - Nixon (2000)
Bill Fay - Life Is People (2012)
Jessica Pratt - Jessica Pratt (2012)
Local Natives - Hummingbird
Kanye West - Yeezus
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
"I don’t want to live like this, but I don’t want to die."
When this album first came out, I was unconvinced. Repeated listenings have yielded a few discoveries. Rotsam Batmanglij writes the fuck out of songs. Ezra Koenig is a brilliant lyricist. This isn’t really news, but they drove the point home on this album. Half the time it seems a bit tongue-in-cheek, but no shit, they wrote the best breaking-up-with-God song in a long time. As for the rest of the material, the following from Camus seems to fit: “The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold.”
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
"I didn’t ask for this pain, it just came over me."
Better than Boxer, not as good as High Violet.
Songs: Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co. (10 Year Reissue)
“And everything you hated me for -
Honey, there was so much more.
I just didn’t get busted.”
Bill Callahan - Dream River
"The only words I said today were ‘beer’ and ‘thank you.’"
Lambchop + jazz flute. A completely gorgeous album.
Efterklang - Piramida (2012)
Starkly beautiful cinematic pop songs sampled from the sounds in my dreams. Seriously though, the sounds were sampled from an abandoned Russian coal mining town in the Arctic Circle.
Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Some jams here to be sure, but overall, not my favorite of theirs. Everyone else seems to love it, but I keep going back to Funeral.
The Strokes, 1998 - 2013
I sometimes wonder what would’ve been had The Strokes not started out their career with a massive contract locking them into 5 albums. Could they have avoided the cliche that riddles the last two albums? Would they have kept the bare-bones grit of Is This It? if they had been forced to keep fighting to make it? Instead, it seems they just stopped caring. This year’s Comedown Machine wasn’t awful - maybe their 3rd best album, actually - and even had a few songs that sounded like them on it. So many moments sound like a farewell, and I think I even hear some relief in their voices.