Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Exile And The Downward Kingdom

Today, you're getting Camus and Reznor circa the Downward Spiral, but hopefully not in the way you expect.

It's a sea change, I admit. Camus was a strident anti-nihilist, whereas Reznor (circa Spiral) was a drug addict who'se songs were dense, cacophonic blasts that saw nothing in the world worth anything. Hurt, now famous because of the Johnny Cash cover, was a self-pitying track, written in a rare moment of distance and clarity that was Reznor's lucid plea to himself to get away from the bad influences (read: cocaine).

Somehow, despite most of my friends listening heavily to the disc (at least two ex-girlfriends and two good friends) I never really, truly got into the record. But Monday, I remembered that March of the Pigs existed (Thank you, Pitchfork!) and then put it on and just let the record go on my iPod. The next song Closer, kicked me in the face. Suddenly, almost a decade removed from their experiences with it, I began to see what they saw in it.

And that's when I realized: I am on another continent. I am removed from them.

So I just kept listening, and then I couldn't help it: I tried to place myself in their shoes. I tried to see through their eyes and see what they saw in this record. All except one now are very straight up people that don't...advertise the influence of the record, for lack of a better phrase. By which I mean, they're no longer kids and are angry at the world in an existential way.

At the time when they listened to it, I was scared of the record. I think I saw a Nine Inch Nails video once, and it just looked so disturbed and creepy that I didn't go back. I dove into punk as fast as I could since it was safer and more easily accessible.

(Oh! Quick note: I'm linking you to the remix portion of the Nine Inch Nails website because I like the idea of the music being something that's continually grappled with and lived in, even after the band broke up and the site that hosts remixes from fans across the world does just that. Enjoy!)

But the fear is the important part. It's something like the fear of the main feature in Exile and the Kingdom that I have. I think I bought a book of Shelley's poetry just to get away from it. I bought Shelley because Thomas from Strike Anywhere stole a line in a song and everything else in the English language bookstore was craaaaaaaazy expensive, and for the Philosophy volumes, I'd have to take out a small loan to afford them. (Kids: Philosophy books are a racket. Be aware.)

I don't know how else to relate. I'm afraid of Exile in the abstract. Unlike the Guest (another story in the anthology), I didn't see a context in the introduction that made appealed to me. The Guest was Camus' statement about the Algerian French war, from a person who was both Algerian and French. The Exile sits there, in the book. This shit feels heavy, like it weighs a ton, even when I'm 4 floors below the volume.

I ought to get to it, but I don't. There's homework, or Torchlight. Or Going Out, which is something I actually should do. There are any number of reasons to run from it. Hell, part of the reason why I said Wednesdays are for media was so I would force myself to think critically about something I was consuming and sooner or later, it would have to be books. Operative phrase being sooner or later. I get the feeling Exile will be something that is ongoing, since the story can be broken up into parts.

Yeah. That's the ticket.

This video of March of the Pigs is fun. It's a little bit more punk rock than Reznor is known for, and it sees the performers actually interacting in a way that energy bounces off each other literally and figuratively.

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