Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Next Things

You may have noticed fewer but longer posts. This is not a cosmic accident. I'm writing the first volume of the The Project's book, which is dragging me through deeper waters, though not as deep as I would like (pull me down). Naturally, this affects bloggy time, but what are blogs anymore? They seem old fashioned at this point. Jim Wolcott and I discussed this over lunch recently and agreed that blogs have had their day. Mere echoes of the Bush/Cheney years.

I'd like to believe that the printed page is the new avant garde, which it was with the oral tradition's collapse, but it seems unlikely. At least in my lifetime. Technology has shattered attention spans, leaving young minds in pieces, which is evident in their emerging language. Books? Narratives? Page upon page of black specs on white backgrounds? If it can't be YouTubed, it's not worth the effort.

Oh, what a reactionary I've become. I confess it. But how could I not? I better understand earlier generations of elders bemoaning the end of creativity and intelligence, for in a sense they were right. Each new technological advance further sapped creative initiative, distracting minds from self to machine. Probably inevitable. And now distraction is everywhere, leaving us exposed and powerless. Or at least giving us that impression. Anything can happen, but for that to occur, something has to happen.

I'm not crazy enough to claim that The Project is any answer. I'm still trying to figure it out for myself. Yet something tells me that old forms like books and live performance are a way out, if not a way back. Fading clouds in an aging mind? Could be. But what the fuck do we have to lose?

There's video making the rounds featuring a young man apparently having a bad acid trip at LA's Egyptian Theatre while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. The main video, which shows the whole thing, has been made for private use. The few others are either too dark to see or begin well into the episode. In short, the kid met some hostile resistance, including getting sucker punched by some asshole while being restrained.

Tripping at Kubrick's 2001. Very retro. I never saw this on hallucinogens; smoked a lot of reefer before going in, though. So did pretty much everyone else. No fear of reeking. We all stank. And we all watched Kubrick's film without freaking or causing commotion -- those of us who remained awake, that is.

But that was back in a more open time, when people took a different attitude toward public drug consumption. If someone freaked, he or she wasn't punched, tackled or pushed around. It was commonly understood and usually dealt with in a peaceful manner, but not always (the late-70s took an anti-hippie turn). Clearly, the guy in the video needed help, and if he was tripping, hostility and physical violence were detrimental tactics. It only increased his paranoia.

Personally, I don't know why anyone would drop acid in public. Alienation, anger, hatred, and fear are everywhere. American culture is having an extended nervous breakdown, which is somewhat reflected in pop culture (though the dominant narrative remains big happy smiles, everything's great, keep consuming you lucky Americans you), but is much darker than our better artists have yet to fully translate.

Trip in this environment? Your call, but as Bill Hicks said about psilocybin, go back to nature and let your mind roam openly-hidden reality. Booze, not hallucinogens, is better for the slaughterhouse.

Weed may work, but as Louis C.K. demonstrates on his very funny FX show, the new shit can be problematic for us old timers. Never hit a young person's bong unless you're ready to travel.