Kendrick Lamar – DAMN

I am not a music critic and don’t have the best language for this, but I am going to attempt to tell you why the new #KendrickLamar album is so remarkable. Imagine when you are 16 years old you try something. You are a natural and over 10 years you become the best in the world at it. At some point in the future you are 29 and you learn all the success in your life is based on one choice made 25 years ago. This choice had nothing to do with you. It was arbitrary. You realize there were different possible versions of you based on this choice. Permutations that existed, but didn’t come to be. You decide to undertake an exercise of extreme empathy and make a record based on a version of you who had to deal with the opposite of the choice that was made. The record you make #DAMN represents how narrow the window of possibilities is that we slip through is and how many other possible versions of us exist. For some they are better for some they are worse, but they always exist. In my own life I sometimes feel the echoes and reverberations other versions of me would have dealt with, but I never did. Those tales become coiled in my head despite their non-existence. It is powerful to hear one such tale recorded over 80 minutes.

– Gene Mclaughlin May 2017

Resurrection Esoterica

What happens when the mysteries dry up?

The questions you had

When it began

Today

Solemnly

Watching the cars go by

Metal birds without song

What do they sound like

To the robin soaring above?

To him

Below are quarries and mines

Hot pavement

Metals stones glass and heat

Specks of seed, trees and meat

Loss dots this world

Like flowers in a field

Constant in its attempts

To crack through

To claim

To conquer

To forget

Everything is reborn

That the robin can see

The nature of everything

Twists deforms destroys dies and denies

That its time is over

Or at least the question it posed

Is answered

To some

Resurrection is the birth

Of questions without answers

The placement of layers

Around the core

Waiting

For when the blank slate of inquiry

Begins it again

Gene G. McLaughlin 2017

A Poem That Makes Me Think of the 20th Century

 

Sirens and Bird Calls

The sirens and bird calls

Merge in the distance

Becoming one to my ears

Both are alerts of an oncoming storm

I can see the shadow of what approaches

It’s outline partitioned by the bright sun

No storm ever comes as one

It comes in parts

What you choose to brace for

Wind

or

Water

or

Lightning

or

Mud

Depends on where you’re standing

Gene G. McLaughlin 2017

Stories All the Way Down

There is an idea called binary opposition that comes out of structuralism.  I don’t know that anybody studies structuralism anymore, but in 2016 after 10 years of social media it seems relevant.  Social media is narrative building on a global scale that has never been seen before.  Humans build narratives constantly and on Facebook or Twitter we can build them together 24×7.  Binary Opposition says that two theoretical opposites are strictly defined and set off against one another.  It is what we see on social media every day in the arguments that go on and on and on.  Every post and argument extends the narrative which sadly is extremely boring and disheartening to most of us.  If one side doesn’t have enough people to tell their side of the narrative it can be easily accounted for and efforts can be ramped up by bots.  An equal measured binary response.  In the digital age there are no lulls in the narrative or no intermissions. At this point I don’t think we are defining what each side of the narrative stands for.  The structure of the narrative is more important than the content.  The structure defines the elements of the narrative itself based on the corridors of human cognition that we can’t even see.  We can’t seem to stop the narrative. The momentum is too great. Maybe someone can tell me how this ends or gets reset?  I am not sure we know.  This is new territory.  Maybe I’m telling myself a narrative and none of this true at all? Maybe, but I don’t think so.  I don’t think it’s turtles all the way down, for humans I think it’s stories all the way down.  Personally I am going to do what I always do when I am clueless about the world or depressed.  Pull out some old world narratives and read them for a few years.  Books.  At least most of those narratives have beginnings middles and ends.