Crystal Turntable – Journal 7/15/22

—–THIS SECTION WAS WRITTEN STARTING 2/12/22—–

Art. Y’know? What’s the point of making art? What is the whole point?

Don’t let an appeal to authority from me sway you, but I happen to think that humans are inherently expressive things. I was taught to believe that there is art in everything, and that everyone is capable of expressing themselves in a sophisticated manner.

So art must be as natural as anything else is. As natural as the red rocks in Utah and Mt. Rainier. Inevitable, even, that everyone will eventually do something artful. I tend to try to make something of everything, because I know someone out there might not be taking the time. I empower you to read into everything you possibly can.

We live in an age of ephemeral media, driven by the march of technology and changing mediums. No matter what happens, I still find myself scribbling a poem and taking my pictures. I don’t have to say it out loud, but it’s been a weird few years, hasn’t it? It’s been almost 2 years now since lockdown started here, and the world still finds more horrors to throw upon the world.

And with those horrors come NFT bros, crypto enthusiasts, demonetizations on YouTube, the disappearing of smaller creators on increasingly corpo platforms, and all kinds of fun stuff.

I’ve rejoined instagram today with the mind to not pay mind to the algorithm too much, but to give Zuckerberg’s CPU something to chew on. I’m going to actively put myself out there. I’ve acquired so many more odd skills than I know what to do with during lockdown and the last week or so has put them all into a sort of alignment. Pyramid of needs time stuff.

—–THIS SECTION WAS WRITTEN STARTING 7/5/22—–

There’s always a fun bloodchilling moment when you realize that you’ve changed your mind on something, or discovered something that exists all around you. Either an option, a manner of communication, something to pay attention to, or even attaining some of that material wealth that’s so wonderful.

This space here has become a very interesting spot for me to wax, yes, about all the things I’m up to and all the things that have been bothering me. I do try my best to stay on topic and talk about my art and others’ art but *gestures wildly* there are many parts of the world begging for our mind’s eyes all the time to the point it becomes difficult for me to focus.

I’m certainly someone that needs to become bored to do much I feel worthwhile. I’m either burned at both ends or looking forward to the next break, most of the time (or have been) up until quite recently. And then when I am productive I come here and talk about how Xilent’s music has had an impact on me (for like the fifteenth time).

You ever have a really stubborn lawn-mower in your hands? One that you know is gassed up, has oil, and is perfectly functional, aside from the rip-cord that refuses to do its duty and start the damn thing? You work in cycles to figure it out, start at step one, check everything again, and then pull the cord.

Personally, I eventually will reach a certain level of frustration I only otherwise reserve for printers, where as best as I can describe I’m trying to make the mower feel pain. I rip the cord so fast and so hard it feels like a violence. Like I’m doing something wrong. Of course, I know I am (because if it were the right thing to do the mower would have responded way before it got to this point), but it feels really good to exact some kind of vengeance on the stubborn lawn mower. Like, in the moment, I understand I’m exercising a really vivid form of catharsis, by unleashing some kind of short fuse I must have on a thing that I’ve deemed deserving.

So too do I creatively run in a cycle where I probe myself for the things I’ve done before again and again in a weird frustrating loop; where I try to build up the magic from ages long past. I found out about Xilent a decade ago, or extremely close to a decade ago. But yet I keep going back every year or so to those first albums I found to rekindle a magic I feel I had at the time.

It’s taken a long time for me to realize that what magic I’m describing is as simple as innocence. I had very little idea what taxes were back then, and was fantastically ignorant of the state of the world, closed off in a little box forgotten about in my own mind and happy to be there. The nostalgia for that time is so powerful that I want to keep ripping the cord to get that magic going again.

But I know now that the lawn’s already mowed. I did it two hours ago. I’m in the middle of a small patch of grass that shouldn’t even be a ‘lawn’ and I keep annihilating it so it looks nice to the neighbors and keeps my property value up.

I want to plant some clover, dammit! I want to feed the bees with flowers and discover the mosses that grow in shade.

I’ve kept returning to this place in my head over and over again and it looks different every time. But I’ve tried to photograph, write, and video my way to an idealized version of that place that doesn’t reflect my creative landscape as well as it should. I’ve let nostalgia inform my art for too long.

Which is why I think I never developed a voice to express that anger I have for the world, the flaws in my own character, the deficiencies I see. Not to say those are inherently good things to make art about, they are great things to be able to recognize as a human being. There are languages of my own art I never felt able to express because I had never tried. I never tried because that wasn’t going to be true to my idealized self, my innocent self. But that’s not been who I am in a very long time.

Today I woke up exceptionally late for my job, got there with no time to spare, did my job reasonably well, and then went home after learning quite a bit about two people in my workspace. I had something from a vending machine to eat, and brought leftovers from home. I listened to a great deal of The Claypool Lennon Delirium all day. I played a bit of Destiny 2 when I got home after mowing the weeds, and have devoured what’s left of a bag of white cheese popcorn. I finally moved my progress pride flag to my window like I’ve been meaning to. Yesterday with some renewed energy I cleaned up my whole office and rearranged things so it made more sense.

I really want to 3d print something but can’t make up my mind on what, because the thing I want to print needs to be printed in ABS. I want to get into a raiding group in Destiny but I have some people coming over to drop off a bus in a few minutes before dinner so I don’t really want to make a commitment yet. I have 2 poem ideas but haven’t drafted them yet. I have the Hope EP collection but haven’t figured out what to do with it. And I’m staring at a crystal formation growing from atop a rock that my wife got me some time ago, spinning on a turntable I use to cure resin prints.

I finished reading Jenny Odell’s How to do Nothing. No spoil

—–THIS SECTION WRITTEN STARTING 7/15/22—–

No spoilers, but it was really good and you should read it. It broadly covers a phenomenon that Radio Reality City is concerned about, called the attention economy. Consume reality, right? You should know those three words by heart by now.

I admit, in the manner I imagine a chaise lounge bound patient at a psychologist, that I have had a problem. An addiction, let’s say, to distractions. Even now I find myself fractured into multiple patiences, plenty of gas in the tank, but no one place my brain can put attention to. I end up overloading myself into a frenzy or shut down and doomscroll on reddit for hours on end. It’s hard to not be wrapped up, isn’t it?

Well that’s the foundation that Radio Reality City was founded upon. As I try to recapture old magic and rehash the story of my discovery of Xilent for the fifth time, I realize that there are more magics out there. Bo Burnham might desrcibe this as a myopic worldview. Where’s my magic at?

It’s in my fingers and toes, and in my ears listening to the sounds of what’s around me, in my eyes drinking in the details like an alcoholic with no last call. But do you see how bored I got with the previous section of writing? Just gave up! Right in the middle of a word.

You see me here as a strange bundle of emotions and more focused thoughts. My heart is so unfocused now but my interests are so honed, it feels a little suffocating.

So I went slightly further back. Further than We Are Virtual. If you know me, if you know the Jake here typing this, you might have a weird inkling on where this is going. Perspective warps things like a redshifted galaxy in the JWST.

When I was pretty much a child (see: teen-age-r) I got into a relationship I thought was stellar and beautiful and new and fantastic and all that shit. First relationships have some kind of weird power in them, don’t they? I’m sure I’ve publicly waxed about that here before. I’m not a Swiftie, if you’re more interested in that kind of expression (the break up songs, the weird sappy art that’s made by someone well-intentioned) go find a Taylor Swift album or something I don’t know. Not linking those poems here, lol.

In a way I have harnessed before, but in a wholly different way, I wrote about that relationship. Usually a poem of a snapshot of a moment to cap an evening or image in my head. But this one was different, like a say, and in a strange bout of hysteria and some kind of intoxication I committed a 26-page short story about my perceptions of that relationship. Like, then and there, nearly immediately following the termination of that relationship.

There were details embellished, details removed and changed, and a spin on the perspective that should be clued in by its working title: “Fear and Loathing in Olympia”. What a pretentious little thing, huh? Christ, just looking at the manuscript made my skin crawl for a very long time. It almost feels like bad juju just bringing it up again, but it’s way easier to bring up than all the awful fanfictions that came out of me when I was an actual elementary and middle schooler. It was a golden age on the Maximum Ride fan site in 2010, letmetellya.

So why talk about this again, why hash this bullshit that’s been in the dirt for nearly a decade?

I like to imagine that as someone grows, like rings of a tree, their art and creations will reflect the things that happened while they were growing. So reading about Rothko, Zach De La Rocha, Michelle Zauner, fucking Banksy, anything about one’s output makes me wonder how I would be reflected in my art over time.

I have abandoned the pretense of my poetry being stone machinations to stand the test of time, to remain the level that they were written when they were written. I’m actually reading poetry now, actually getting more technical, learning more form, more verse, and nothing of it yet is something I want to show off.

But back to this story, about that past relationship. It’s called “Natural” (because a song I really like about relationships is also called Natural, get it?).

I wrote so much poetry in addition to this short story that I ended up collating it all into a special edition. As special as anyone can make something I might consider to be my lowest low in terms of writing.

Not that I think much (remember, much) of it is technically bad, it just has a rotten soul. Like the spirit of the meaning is so… lost to time, so made up in a frenzy that it’s pretty much impermeable to anyone but that period of time, and that person I was in that time, alone. I shiver when I read the opening paragraphs but only because I know where it came from, where it goes, and how it ends. Not for fear, but for cringe.

The story itself is a haze, a strange non-linear sequence of simple moments that I felt were magical in some way, or exposed a part of my character in some way. Even as I type this I feel like I’m still contributing to that project by writing what is ostensibly an essay as to its inspiration.

But going back, now, to Natural, is even stranger than it was before. I wrote it in a timeless dreamland, intentioned to drive the symbols and meanings into the core of the planet, unshaken. Like a weird collection of legends, I dusted off the “Capitus Edition” pdf that’s lived on my computer for years and flipped through it. Not really with any purpose, but I’ve been trying to be more attentive to my own art and what I’m good/bad at. Yeah the “romance” that the story is built upon is one of few things that are told, but the conversations now are so distant I don’t remember what actually happened in some of these moments that are more autobiographical.

Still, you can find the r/menwritingwomen tropes in some places. Turns of phrase unwelcome. Imprecise language throughout. Sometimes executed perfectly, and mostly harmless, but sometimes very obvious and immersion-killing.

There is a disconnect of place I wove in that’s surprising to come across, though, some things done very well and with a more restrained hand. I think this is the thing I’ll be probing for when I look through and revise much of my old poetry. I have a loose grasp of place, and I think it’s a reflection of how I see the world. But it definitely hampers my ability to talk too much about concrete things, super concrete tangible things.

Real places, real characters, elude me. I would rather suspend a story within a pocket dimension or write about an archetype pulled from my life, instead of something rooted in evidence or reality. Isn’t that funny?

As I get more upset at the state of the world, I don’t feel the same comfort as I once did with writing so disconnected. There is too much too real for me to ignore.

So slipping into Natural for an evening and looking for the devices, frames, and symbolism I used is more interesting to me with the passage of time and a complete ununderstanding of the person who wrote it. I’m listening to completely different music as I type this than I would have when I typed that. It’s oddly grounding for me as an “author”.

But don’t take this as evidence that I’m producing more. I am, but not because I’m reading. I feel more of a compulsion to push myself and push my rhetoric into poems. The things I say and the things I make are more closely aligning, like much of the artists I admire.

Strategy and intention. Always. Consume Reality. Always.

Consume Natural? At your own risk, I’m not posting it here. You find it or reach out if you want it. But I’m finding the magic in the story with which only I understand.

You know that scene in Interstellar? Yeah, that one, the fifth dimension insano shit.

It feels like for the first time, the past me is reaching out to future me, and demanding I find something in the time capsule that maybe only now I’ll understand. How much is there to learn from something I have raided the tomb of over and over again?

A skeleton emerges from its cask and shambles into my office, a world apart from its resting place. It says “Look, you fuck, read your meanings”. I don’t even know what I’m trying to say, but there is nothing-something magic in that sentiment.

I pick up my journal right where I left because I think there’s a reason that I’m not equipped to understand yet, so I’d better go ahead and publish it. Right?

Consume reality!

Radio Reality City!

And don’t read Natural, or if you do pirate it! Or let me pirate it for you by circumventing the publisher (me).

Published by Jake Thomas Shaw

Concerned with memory, currency, and destiny, I strive to capture each one as they happen. Join me and consume reality! Radio Reality. City!

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