Monday, December 01, 2008

Youthful exuberance, and the Sisters of Mercy- an exploration of the gradual breakdown of standards and expectations in regard to contemporary living.

I am the worst writer ever, because I am horrifically narcissistic, and say things like "If you don't know who The Sisters of Mercy are, then that's your problem".

I have been fired by many of your favourite magazines for this reason, although I'm still on the Xmas card list of most of the editors, and even am occasionally invited to dinner...

...on account of my genius, and supermodel girlfriend(s).

But all that really has nothing to do with this, "this", being either another revisionist history lesson/uninformed rant, or blessing from someone who has been everywhere and done everything, depending on how much you like me, and feel connected to concepts like 'the truth', 'facts', and 'objective reality'.

And so, to begin.

We all know we're dying. At least, we hide that thought away as far in the back cupboard of our mind, in the ventral pallidum- the 'reptilian brain', as it is known to people who spend too much time writing theses, and not enough time talking to sick people or buying things like apple tea.

To people like us, we call it the subconscious, and sometimes, the inner child. The thrust of this is, even though we know without a doubt, we are slowly breaking down, we deny that information to our conscious thoughts, otherwise we'd all be spending less on Blu-Ray players, and substantially more on private health cover and superannuation.

We concentrate on the here and now, which always presents itself as wildly more exciting than some dusty old future...besides, the (perhaps hypothetical instance of) you now is way more important than the
(perhaps hypothetical instance of) you of tomorrow. I'm hungry right now. That's pretty urgent.

So we think about what we're going to do today, and write songs about how we want this moment to last forever, or how in sad songs we want yesterday back so we can do it better this time. I have never heard a song that says "I want a time machine so I can zam myself into the future, to 3 seconds before my death". Not unless we're talking suicide songs, and that, as they say, is a whole other thing.

And music is a great way to get across what I want to say to you.

If you have listened to the Sisters of Mercy (if you haven't, go do it now, and don't come back 'til you do), it's exceedingly obvious that those songs weren't written by sixteen year olds. Typically, sixteen year olds write songs about youth, and fighting things (the system, your rules, each other), and lust (they call it love, but we know better), the things that excite them (cars, sex, sex, and sex), and the things that depress them (not having a car, not having sex). All valid themes, and proven to be bankable also. The point though, is that there is much enthusiasm and energy inherent in these songs. Thoughts of eventual death are generally avoided in favour of passionate exhortations of life right now, or failing that, confronted head on, on the songwriters own terms, because that's the power of youth, and you're never gonna take it from (us) them.

The Sisters of Mercy, by way of comparison, sound like a band that know they're dying. Nine Inch Nails do too, but Trent Reznor clearly isn't taking it lying down. The voice of a life lived (lived with mental illness and a bad habit of not paying your band members), but life nonetheless.

I used to enjoy a lot of depressive music in my teenage years (Einsturzende Neubauten, Bauhaus, *Duran Duran), but now I find more that I identify with it (apart from Duran Duran, whos lyrics are completely unintelligible).

We all think our teenage years will last forever (and if you had a childhood like mine, you pray that they won't!), but 20's give way to 30's, and suddenly you wake up one day and realise that not only has everything changed, but that it wasn't even sudden, only your cognisance of it is. That lizard brain again, holding on to information your eyes really could have used before now, only your subconscious autopilot decided it was on a "need to know" basis.

And I don't just mean slowing metabolism/spreading waistlines, I mean actual attitudes and accepted modes of thought.

We change completely.

To bring this into a personal perspective, since moving across the country, and leaving behind so much of what had thus far made me me, I could no longer rely on established social networks for jobs, housing, etc. Starting again meant I could no longer jump on a tour and work for whichever band was doing a run at that time, I had to actually go and physically look for jobs. And by jobs, I mean, working at a fashion label, or customising mining vehicles, or front desk at a modelling agency. Real jobs, not rock and roll jobs. Start at 9 and finish at 5 jobs. Or 6 and 4. Jobs where the fact you have worked for Metallica doesn't really impress anyone, where they're more concerned if you had worked for Hamilton and Murray, or Country Road.

I haven't.

And I have found myself so preoccupied with just doing these jobs (with the incredible demands they place on your RAM, and even your personal time), that I have sacrificed the very desires and passions that directed me to move here and start again in the first place.

I have become 'This Corrosion' (Sisters of Mercy), when I used to be 'Wild Nights, Hot'n'Crazy Days' (Judas Priest). I sit in dumbfounded silence contemplating how I ever managed to start a band, or write a song, or even stay awake after 11pm. And I mourn the freedom I used to have, to do these things and to feel like I was actually living, as opposed to just getting by. I identify with Bruce Springsteen, which when I was a kid would have made me feel dirty.

Living like this has dropped my expectations of life, but in a surprise move by my awareness, I realise it has dropped them normal levels! A place I realise they have never been before.

When I was in my 20's, I was perfectly happy sleeping in a room with 20 friends every night, paying $20 a week rent, and anything left over on drugs. Girlfriends would feed me, you could shower at the city library, life was pretty awesome, because it was so simple.

I couldn't live like that again.

I need more now. Things like security, and money, and a house with all the regular house things like showers and locking doors. That means a serious job, which eats serious time and energy. It means paying off debts I've had since the dawn of time, it means not acting impulsively and walking out of a job because you have decided you just don't like it any more, even though to be honest, that's what I'm used to.

And why have I decided I need all of this now?

Because I can see what old age will be like if I don't, and I'm considering that future me a lot more than the present me, if that makes sense. I'm not invincible any more, I know "this summer (won't) last forever".

I've turned establishment.

Yeah sure, I have more tattoos than Chopper Read, and all that goes with it, but turned I have. Otherwise I would turn into the real Chopper Read, and one of him is more than enough, believe me.

And with all that need, comes more pressure. And with all that pressure comes more worry, and with more worry comes more depression, and slowing down, and getting old, and dying early, and that's life. But it's life where you get to do it in a house, rather than out on the street or an emergency room floor. And the establishment likes it, because they're selling you stuff, and the economy likes it, for the same reason, and the old money likes it because it keeps you poor and out of their country clubs, and the new money likes it because it makes them feel special, and the kids like it because they have something to rebel against, and everybody likes it apart from those of us who are doing it.

No wonder we stash that truth as far back as we's enough to make you read Nietsche!

That pressure loaded fear, makes me finally realise why people I have known ate so much shit from abusive bosses, or worked with people no one could like, or travelled so far every day to average jobs they hated...because they were terrified if they didn't, they would lose everything. God-awful credit ratings like neon signs over their heads, fragile and constantly in danger from thrown staplers and supervisors employer protected temper tantrums. Even if they're wrong, you're the one who has to empty out your desk and walk out.

Guys or girls with a responsibility to their partner, who can't just say "Fuck it", or they face being single as well as unemployed. People with mortgages, car repayments, course fees.

I realise now how golden I had it in the past, because I didn't have to worry about any of that. And sure, I was hungry a lot, and slept in some very dodgy places on a regular basis, but at least when you're on the bottom, you can't fall further.

You can't fall further.

I'll be marinating on this...

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

*This is an example of exceptionally dry humour. No offence intended to actual Duran Duran fans.


Anonymous said...

Your best ever. This put words to my knawing unaticulated fear. I miss my ignorance.

Mineymo said...

Welcome back Knifester :)

kitten said...

hello old friend....