Album Review: The 1975, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

Music

Calling the 1975 a boy band is accurate but a bit insulting. They meet the criteria, for sure: a charismatic frontman, a self-imposed bad boy image and a cult following out of Tumblr-obsessed teenage girls. But when the Manchester foursome released their self-titled debut album in 2014, we didn’t get a string of formulaic love songs like One Direction’s corny “What Makes You Beautiful” or 5 Seconds of Summer’s god-awful “She Looks So Perfect.” Instead, we got a bizarre yet intoxicating concoction of pop rock, funk, R&B and melodic synths topped with animated ramblings about drugs, ragers and sex.

The 1975 are an alternative rock band that revels in debauchery. And at its center is Matthew Healy, the hypersexual, metrosexual lead singer and lyricist with chopstick legs and thick black curls.

A pair of catchy dance tracks, “Chocolate” and “Sex,” transported the band from grimy London bars into the O2 Academy, Terminal 5 and, in a few months, the Barclays Center. Witty, up-tempo songs may have made the 1975 alt rock’s hottest commodity, but the album’s standout tracks are the stoner jams that carry a dreamy, cinematic quality. “You’re a liar, at least all your friends are,” Healy sings on “You.” “So am I, just typically drowned in your car.” Blending affecting verses into a sea of ambient electronics, those ballads exhibit an artistry rarely seen in today’s pop music.

The 1975 get good when they get real. Which is why it’s a surprise that their dreamy, cinematic new record feels so underwhelming.

After a two-year hiatus, the leather-clad glam rockers rang in 2016 with an emotionally- charged, ridiculously-titled sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Ten days after its release, it knocked off Adele at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. If they were on the cusp of superstardom, they’ve surely
crossed it now.

The 17-track compilation is equal parts flamboyance and feel, marrying house 80s dance pop with atmospheric house. But while the band’s debut album extracts influences from other artists (from Michael Jackson to M83) to build a distinct sound, I Like it When You Sleep feels derivative and lazy as a body of work. Marked by heavy, head-bobbing synths, the chillwave production of “UGH!” could have been plucked straight from a Neon Indian record; “Lostmyhead” sounds like a disposed Brian Eno mix; and one of the best tracks, “The Sound,” feels like a sequel to the underrated “M.O.N.E.Y” from The 1975–an improved sequel, yes, but still a sequel.

That said, the album’s highs are dizzying, glorious highs. The infectious lead single, “Love Me,” puts a funky spin on a throwback disco jam, meshing groovy guitar riffs with frenzied pop-rock vocals. “She’s American” weaves synthpop hooks with witty wordplay to poke fun at the cultural difference between the U.K and the U.S. “The Sound” contains some of the band’s most creative and beautiful lyrics to date. “Somebody Else” and “A Change of Heart,” two atmospheric ballads, dive into the desolation and anguish that The 1975 only hints at, showing Healy at his most vulnerable: “I can’t give you my soul,” he laments, “cause we’re never alone.”

The record is most compelling when Matt Healy takes the reins and lets his vocals fluctuate violently in both pitch and tone, from loving whisper to piercing falsetto, from adoration to disdain. “You’re so conceited,” he sneers in “The Sound,” voice dripping with contempt. “I said, “I love you.” What does it matter if I lie to you?” A verse later, he backtracks and rambles, “It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me: a sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe.” By the chorus, he swallows his pride and confesses, chanting like a broken record: “I know when you’re around cause I know the sound, I know the sound of your heart.”

But for the most part, Healy’s lyrical prowess and animated vocals are tragically underused. Instead of building beats around his voice, the producers bury Healy under layers upon layers of fluttering synths and dreamlike harps. Though enchanting, none of the album’s slower tracks captures the regret and yearning the way “You” does. Healy drifts absentmindedly from “Nana,” a heartfelt yet sleepy ode to his grandmother, to “Paris,” a safe and unforgettable pop ballad, to “Please Be Naked,” a wordless track with instrumentals so bland that it feels utterly pointless. As alluring and affecting as his lower register can be, Healy’s charm rests primarily in his primal howls and wild inflections, and it’s a shame that we barely get that to hear that side of his voice on this record.

As with its predecessor, I Like The Way You Sleep is plagued by oversaturation and overproduction. From the neon-lit album art to glossy music videos and an Instagram account full of black and white portraits, the 1975 try way too hard to market themselves as the artsy trendsetters in fashion and music. And a 17-track record is a behemoth by today’s standards, especially if half of its content can be discarded. The album has a handful of excellent songs that would have made for an excellent compilation, but now they’re outliers that make a below average record above average.

Thematically and sonically, I Like the Way You Sleep is more cohesive than The 1975, but the band’s appeal revolves around its messiness, frankness and willingness to flicker from one sound to another. The combination of rawness and bravado is what sets the 1975 apart from both mainstream boy bands like One Direction and indie rock royalty like the Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend. And that’s what they should continue doing: bask in decadence, experiment with unusual sounds, and drop the sleepy ballads.

Advertisements

Dazed and Confused: 20 Years On

Movies and Books

It’s a definitive moment of 90s cinema, the era of Gen X slacker flicks: Six high schoolers sprawled on the 50 yard line of their empty football field, gazing at the ink-blue canvas of a pre-dawn sky and trading hard-hitting stoner thoughts on the meaning of life.

“If I start referring to these as the best years of my life,” says Pink, the star quarterback and alpha dog of the school, “remind me to kill myself.”

“You just gotta keep on livin’, man,” comes the now iconic response from Wooderson, the twentysomething womanizer with greasy hair and a faint mustache. “L-I-V-I-N.”

Such existential ramblings, at once satirical and deeply profound, transformed Richard Linklater’s 1993 low-budget comedy, Dazed and Confused, into a coming-of-age cult classic.

It follows a group of students on the last day of school in 1976. What happens? Not much, other than what usually happens–underage drinking, unsupervised parties, first kisses, pseudo-hazing rituals, and a whole lot of soul searching. By the time dawn breaks, Linklater has given us a hearty throwback to the 70s, a soundtrack full of classic rock anthems, and a pair of future superstars: Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck.

But Dazed and Confused is more than just an authentic portrayal of the rebellious and indulgent 70s youth culture. It is an impressionist painting of the adolescent mind, expressing the timeless struggle to escape mediocrity and find purpose, to discard the future and embrace the now. Its characters are as familiar to us millenials as they were to Gen Xers upon its initial release 22 years ago. They are reckless yet empathetic, lazy yet passionate. They are, for the lack of a more apt phrase, dazed and confused–as we are now.

“I’d like to quit thinking of the present as some minor, insignificant preamble to something else,” says Cynthia the redhead scene-stealer, in what could be a mantra for the youth movement.

With seamless transitions from one vignette to the next, Linklater’s understated direction captures the immaturities of youth with an observant, compassionate eye. The weakness of the script, marked by one-dimensional characters and incoherent plotlines, actually adds to the haziness of adolescence and the realism of the filmmaking. The absence of plot twists keeps viewers fixated on the characters’ hilarious and deceptively deep dialogue, giving us an unfiltered look into the teenage soul at a moment in time.

Unlike two other seminal high school movies, Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High and John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, Dazed and Confused skirts pivotal occasions like pregnancy and graduation, focusing instead on the mundane events and conversations we’re most likely to forget. Like those of Heckerling and Hughes, Linklater’s high schoolers are flawed and privileged, irresponsible and irreverent. But rather than showing how they are capable of change, he brings forth their redeeming qualities: self-awareness and loyalty. They’re slackers and thinkers who could not care less about societal progress but would do anything for their friends.

To Linklater, adolescence is the accumulation of fleeting moments that we take for granted–silent drives around town, trivial gossip and aimless musings about life. Over the years, those moments dissolve into the abyss, leaving behind just a shadow of the frustration and optimism we felt in those painfully beautiful years.

The combination of quotable one-liners, quirky characters and nostalgia for the 70s gave Dazed and Confused its lasting legacy and ageless appeal. We remember Wooderson’s pick up line (“Alright, alright, alright.”), Slater’s Martha Washington monologue (“She a hip, hip, hip lady, man!”), and Mitch’s freshman initiation beating. We remember the bell-bottoms and denim overalls, the Aerosmith opener and the Foghat closer.

But more sharply, we remember the sense of familiarity that envelops us when as we consume each scene, mentally flicking through instances in which we’ve said a similar thing or felt a similar way.

Dazed and Confused isn’t inventive or inspiring. It’s not supposed to be. It’s a fond reflection on the American youth culture and how little it has changed in four decades. It reminds us that even as the world becomes unrecognizable, we can still find parts of ourselves in relics from the past. 

Uninspired, but at peace

My Awesome Life, Uncategorized, Writing

I’m on the cusp of a profound transition, arguably the most significant one in modern life: crossing the threshold from 20 to 21.

My grand initiation into the 21 Club is scheduled on Pi Day, which may be more than 50 days away, but I thought I might as well reflect on and immortalize in writing the bizarre and uninspiring person I’ve grown into over the last two decades.

The first 20 years of my life have been a collage of confused decisions, abandoned resolutions, disillusioned attempts down various career paths, and random epiphanies about both myself and the world around me.

My teenage years revolved around an emotional pendulum rooted at equilibrium, refusing to even flirt with either extreme. I’ve been frustrated and lost, hovering in a purgatory of mediocrity and indifference for the better part of the last four years. I’ve been sad but never heartbroken, I’ve been happy but never ecstatic, and I’ve dated but never in love. At times I feel like I’m incapable of feeling anything to the fullest extent, like anything I experience will only be a dimmer version of what others have already felt. I love writing–always will–but I’ve never felt that scorching thirst to sew my dreams into narratives, never been inspired enough to write for hours on end until the sun bled into the horizon and hours bled into days. Can I ever feel as passionate about anything as professional athletes do about winning a damn trophy, or as actors do about, well, acting? Can I ever commit to anything?

My state of mind is the Jamie xx album, “In Color”—not any particular track but snippets of the entire album. In electronic music, we anticipate drops. We dig bangers that take us on pulsating mind trips and emotional roller coaster rides. The spectacular is what expect from life, too, and if we don’t get it, we lash out: “I didn’t deserve this. I just thought there’d be more.” When the going gets tough, we tell ourselves to hang in there, push through the pain and wait for eminent arrival of better days. I think that’s been my attitude for the majority of my adolescent years: You haven’t seen shit. Just wait for the bass to drop.

The bass never drops in “In Color.” It’s just an impressionistic painting of intelligent beat-making and ethereal atmospherics, delicate but brimming with wonder. Some tracks (“Far Nearer,” “Loud Places”) bottle a fountain of youthful emotions–optimism, desire, dread, yearning–into a quiet and exquisite world of gentle, fluttering synth sequences and stirring vocals. “Gosh” builds up to a two-minute climax of lush keyboard soundscapes that douse you with euphoria and hope. On the other side of the spectrum, “Stranger In a Room” envelops you in spellbinding warmth using minimal percussion beats against deep baselines, hinting that life can be okay without staggering achievements or life-changing revelations.

Electronic music is an enormous and expanding world of countless sub-genres that defy categorization. Bangers comprise a recognizable but very small part of that world; extraordinary milestones comprise but a small part of ours. I’ve been so lost and frustrated that my youth–the most exciting years of my life–has so far been defined by a maddening indifference, and that I couldn’t find the motivation to reach my full potential to make my parents proud.

But maybe I’ve been asking too much. The way we package our emotions determines the way we experience them. I’ve never been euphoric about anything, but I’ve been happy about plenty: getting into college, road-tripping with mom, feeding my dog, hanging out with friends. I just need to believe that happiness can give me the same satisfaction as euphoria. I’ve never been obsessed with writing, but I want to write and I’ll continue doing so, inspired or not. What if you don’t need to live life to the fullest to be at peace with it? I’m not in love with life, but I feel lucky to be alive and to live this life.

I doubt much will change about my appearance or attitude 12 months from now. Maybe I’ll be single and jobless at 25; maybe I’ll be profiling Leonardo DiCaprio for Vanity Fair. I can’t see either happening, but I have always been dreadful at predicting the trajectory of my life. And I’m still young. I want to believe that one day I will fall in love with life.

 

My 2 Cents On Pronouns

Musings/Rants

 


I generally don’t use YouTube as a focal point of think pieces, but the video I just watched is so eye-opening that I had to jot down my thoughts.

It’s a three minute Youtube video posted by Cut Vid, a channel reminiscent of an indie Buzzfeed – less revered, more refined. In the video, a group of transgender people talk about what pronouns mean to them. They start with one word–“identity,””choice,” “liberty,” then elaborate with some pretty amazing analyses. The group is as diverse as it gets, with Caucasians, AAs, Latinos, and Asians of all ages. The answers drown in a storm of emotions, some in pain and disillusionment, others defiance and pride.

The two responses that carved the deepest impressions on my mind are from two middle-aged, white transgender women. In a coarse, masculine voice, the first said she see pronouns as a vocal validation of her identity and, more importantly, a symbol of sovereignty.

“If anything I’d be more hung-up on the need some people feel to attach ‘preferred,'” she says. “My pronouns are not preferred. They just are. My gender is not a desire that I have or a wish or something. It’s who I am. It’s just part of me.”

That response raises an issue, a question, we unconsciously dismiss: why are pronouns, a part of speech exclusively associated with sexuality and identity, regarded as a preference rather than a force of nature when we talk to or about transgender people? Why is it that, as a society that has grown so much scientifically, politically, and socially, we still see transsexuality as the revolting exchange of sex organs rather than a displaced soul’s yearning for a body, a home, it can never have? Preference implies choice. And with regard to sexuality, either assigned by birth or brain, there isn’t one.

Another response that grabbed me was the closing one. “You better get them right,” is how she sees pronouns. Yet the importance of pronouns rests not in sight but in respect.

“What’s more important: how you see me, or respecting how I see me?”

To the cis population, pronouns only take an offensive turn when someone identifies us in a different way from the way society does. That’s confusing, isn’t it? Think of it this way: you look, talk, act like a dude, you’ve been referred to as a “he” and a “him” your whole life, then this asshole comes along and calls you a “stupid bitch” because, I don’t know, you refused to spilt coffee on his shirt or something. That’s offensive to you because, what the fuck, you look nothing like a “female dog,” right? Maybe that’s a bad example, but my point is that cis people like me never had to deal with two perceptions of one identity. Society and I use the same lens when when looking at me. You’d never ask a cis person, “Do you prefer to be a ‘she’ or a ‘he’ today?” Because you know there can only be one answer, right? But what happens when the body you’re born into and the body you want to be born into fight for dominance in the mapping of your identity? What if both voices are legitimate in the eyes of society? You need pronouns to settle that conflict.

The disparity in the significance of pronouns between the cis and trans communities underscores the, perhaps unconscious, linguistic privilege we have developed as the prevalent gender identity. We don’t realize, having been fortunate enough to be born in a body we belong to, just how liberating and validating a simple part of speech can be.

Pronouns radiate a sense of selfhood and certainty for a group of people that knows none. When identity and appearance clash and struggle, pronouns are the torch that melts them from antonyms into synonyms, reins into wings.

A Torrential Downpour of Bullshit

Musings/Rants

I haven’t written in a long time and I’m very rusty. The heat here in New York is killing my brain cells. Then this morning Zeus got horny as shit and decided to give the clouds a good, hard pounding and like the obedient little maiden she is, the clouds parted her slender, fluffy legs and with several loud ecstatic moans, let out an explosion of angry fluids that has lasted for four hours now.

I am currently drenched in that fluid. I’m a slimy, sticky, sweaty slug. My shirt is clinging to my bra and my hair smells like pissed-on seaweed in the bottom of a highly polluted portion of the South China Sea. It’s appalling, but I couldn’t care less. I love rain in all its charming and unappealing moods. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. My soul needed cleansing. I’ve realized that I’m a horrible person who does questionable things and has the audacity to feel guilty about it but not the will to change anything. Walking through rain does not by any means remake my character or alleviate my rarely-existent guilt. It simply warms me up to it.

The one quality a writer needs to have is empathy. Every good writer has it. Every person has it to a certain degree. You can be a hypocrite, like myself, but you have to be able to react emotionally to people’s actions. Maybe you’re an alcoholic who abhors other alcoholics. Maybe you’re a slut who slut-shames. Maybe you hate cliches but has the full collection of Nick Sparks novels stacked like porno under your bed. You don’t have to be morally upright as long as you can sympathize with people’s motives and ultimately understand with their deeds.

But is it wrong to sympathize with some tragedies more than others? Is it possible to react insensitively to happenings that sadden you? Almost a year ago, I bawled my eyes out upon hearing about the Charlie Hebdo shooting. I sobbed as hard at the end of Brokeback Mountain as I did while I was reading Jennifer Gonnerman’s New Yorker piece on Kalief Browder. I even shed a few tears after Djokovic lost his 3rd French Open Final. I didn’t shed a single tear about the Charleston massacre, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, or the now countless ISIS orchestrated casualties.

Why? Because I’m a typically insensitive, pop-culture obsessed, spoilt, heinous member of the Millenials. Because I obviously don’t give a shit about political crises and communal tragedies and flawed cultural attitudes and racial binaries that threaten to destroy the world as we know it for good. My ignorance is going to send this planet straight into Satan’s gaping, salivating jaws and aren’t I just ecstatic about it. Jimmy Kimmel was criticized for tearing up about the murder of Cecil the Lion but not about any of the things I didn’t lose a tear on. I can carry on sniffing about unimportant shit without being shat on because no one knows or gives a shit about me. Too bad that’s not the case for Jimmy.

I don’t send my mom an “I love you” text everyday even though she’s one of the two people I love most in the world. I don’t cry about every single thing that makes me incredibly, incredibly sad otherwise it’ll be niagara falls every time I think about my future or my face. I don’t decide what or who I’m attracted to. So what if sports happen to move me more than global news does? It doesn’t mean I’m not appalled by what I read, and it doesn’t mean I don’t care about it, otherwise I wouldn’t fucking read it, would I?

Thing is, and we often forget it, just because other people have it worse does not mean we don’t have it bad. Pain is relative, to that of others as well as our own. Empathy is a beautiful thing. No one should feel guilty for understanding one kind of pain but not another. You’re not slighting anybody else when you devote all your energy to one point of interest.

At least you care about another human being, and that’s not a truth that everyone has a claim on.

Why I Adore Boyhood and Indie Movies in General

Movies and Books

I’ve been wanting to write about both Boyhood and indie flicks for a long time. Since I started blogging, to be quite honest. I kept putting it off because I’m scared of writing reviews on things I love and I’m petrified of failing to meet my own expectations. If I’m excited to blog about something, I expect it to be spectacular (to me, at least). And way too frequently, it’s just not. Anyhow, I’ve decided to just fuck it tonight because it’s so late and I so can’t sleep. I need NyQuil.

So many people hated Boyhood because “nothing happens” and the acting is poor. The first part is technically false but visually true; the second part is 96.9% false. You see, if you’re watching a completed three-hour film obviously something must have happened. A cat farting is something happening. Two people talking about the color of fart is something happening. A boy growing older is something happening. So people claiming “nothing happened” should really just look up the definitions of “things” and “happen” before they open their stupid mouths. Okay, that’s not really fair because the first time I watched it, I too thought, “Why am I so attached to a movie about a some boy going through puberty?” Visially, nothing much really happens at all. There’s no climax (lol), no plot twists, no drama. So yes, Boyhood isn’t your typical Hollywood blockbuster.

But drama does not consist exclusively of action and suspense and noise. It contains tension, emotion, and unexpected changes, none of which have to be coupled with violence or scandal. I think Hollywood blockbusters have trained us into believing that drama and subtlety are mutually exclusive. If your nails don’t dig into the seat rests and your jaws don’t land on the ground at least once, then that movie sucked because “nothing happened.” If you’re neither shocked nor confused nor euphoric nor devastated, then you’ve wasted 1/12 of a day of your life.

The magic of Boyhood is in its realism – its unfiltered, unflinching portrayal of a physical and emotional movement through time. Yes, “nothing happens,” but isn’t that the whole point? Nothing happens when we’re growing up. We just grow up. Literally. Our adolescent years aren’t defined by our first kiss, or the one time we got caught smoking weed, or even graduation. Those are the light posts that illuminate a plain, dark road. That road is our journey, and it’s defined by the mundane moments that we’ve taken granted – awkward silences during family meals, endless arguments about grades, PMSing, getting dressed for school, writing essays deep into the night, talking till dawn with your best friends. And all the laughter and all the tears – you can’t even remember what inspired them but you know they were everywhere during those unforgettable years.

Maybe you’re whipping your head left and right as you’re reading this. Maybe you’re thinking that the definition only covers the highlights, otherwise we’ll never be able to sum up anything succinctly. That’s probably true.

But listen to this: my adolescence is my first kiss, my first drink, my first run in with the cops, and my graduation.

Isn’t that ridiculous? Adolescence (I don’t know exactly when it starts or ends) covers a good decade of our lives. 1/8 of our entire lifespan if we’re lucky enough to die of old age. It should be a struggle to define such a significant period of our existence. Adolescence is a blurry mess of challenges, changes, resentment for parental control, anticipation for college and freedom, and longing for childhood innocence. It’s a plethora of paradoxes. And the only way you define a plethora of paradoxes is by making a three-hour epic over 12 short years. Good luck.

In the end, what I love most about Boyhood…and indie films in general, is that it makes you think twice about the mundane. Boring is a funny word because I don’t think it applies to anything. Calling something boring only confirms our own laziness. If something is complex, call it weird; if something is ordinary, call it dull. It’s so easy to do, and it masks our ignorance. This may be a horrible comparison, but I feel like indie films are the introverts of the film industry. Quirky, quiet, and overshadowed by its louder, more charismatic counterparts. We need indie films as well as introverts, because along with thinkers we need things to make us think.

Why I Don’t Consider Myself a Feminist

Musings/Rants

Because I want to be abused, manipulated, and humiliated by men. I am happy and proud to know that having boobs and a vagina makes me unqualified to receive as fat a paycheck as my vagina-less co-workers even though we do the same shit day in day out. I’d love to give up my career as a janitor or a freelance journalist or a screenwriter and spend the rest of my life changing diapers and doing laundry and mopping the marble floors of the $10 million mansion that I would obviously not be residing in had I not married a man. I want to breathe and live and sleep in the fucking kitchen because that’s my natural habitat and all animals are attracted to their natural fucking habitats.

No screw that, I’m too self-absorbed to not believe in feminist ideals. I think the world is one shit eating twat for under-appreciating and constantly humiliating the very species responsible for its existence. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. If every woman decides to get her vagina stitched up right now, we can end the human race and every little fucker who dared say “go back to the kitchen” within the next century. That’s how much power we have and you better believe it.

But still, does agreeing with some parts of a movement make you a believer? I’m an atheist but I wholeheartedly support the very Christian values of love and family…even though I think the keystone (that big fat book) of that religion is total bullshit. Perhaps I’m just too pessimistic to believe that feminism is going to inspire significant change in this era (by significant change, I don’t mean Charlize Theron negotiating a $10 million raise to match Chris Hemsworth’s meager earnings), but for me to really feel passionate about a cause I have to feel some kind of urgency. What would happen if we don’t ever close the wage equality gap? Are feminists going to hanging themselves in protest? To me, gender inequality, at least in first world countries, feels more like an inconvenience rather than a toxic social virus that needs to be immediately terminated. We’ll get mad, we’ll riot, but in the end we’ll still turn up at work every morning and accept 20% less money than the assholes who put in 20% the effort that we do. Ultimately, we still do get paid and we’ll live just fine.

It’s unfair as hell, and wage inequality is just the tip of a very, very large iceberg. But what can we really do about a problem that has its roots in biology? Women and men just aren’t programmed the same way, and to have the same laws or the same social attitudes governing two very different species is not feasible. Be honest, do you really go to dinner and not expect your date to pay for you? Do you really look around your 9th grade classroom and expect 90% of the guy to be porn virgins? Do you really go on Omegle and not expect the first guy who hits on you to be some hairy balding pedophilic 30-year-old rapist? Are you really not shocked when you find out that the person who kidnapped and murdered two children is actually a woman? We think of the worst in each in other, and that won’t change unless we evolve into hermaphrodites. But as much as we complain we still can’t fucking live without each other, can we?

P.S: My featured image is a seahorse because sometimes I wish we can all metamorphorsize into seahorses so we won’t ever have to waste time on this gender inequality bullshit and oh we’ll be so much prettier too

Profound Bitchings…Part 69.1

Musings/Rants

Someone in my Philosophy lecture just asked, “What is I?” That’s when I decided it’s time to check out. Oh Descartes, what are you doing to us? To be honest, philosophy is pretty interesting when you discard reality. Like, oooh the soul is the undivided machine that animates the body. The intellect is the only thing we have control over, so if we can keep external factors in check, there’s nothing we can’t conquer!! My professor just said, “the truth lives within us.” Did you know that??

But then you think back to the way you spent the last week, and you realize that you don’t actually give a rat’s ass if the soul is a principle or that the world mirrors our minds or where the fuck the truth lives. We’re just going through the motions most of the time. We wake up too late, run to class, sleep through class, meet whoever we think is our friend, and, and I don’t know eat or sleep or fuck or whatever goes next. Who actually ponders the paradoxes of human nature and man’s existential dilemma anytime during the day? Maybe we should, but we just don’t have the time. I’d rather ponder the pointlessness of optimism or the myth of true love because that’s actually kind of relevant in my life. But the truth…yeah, everything in my life is a lie so I don’t need some dead Greek dude to teach me about the truth. Descartes is Greek, right?

On a more relevant note, colleges really should start serving coffee and bagel during class if they want us to stop napping. Coffee. Bagel. Coffee and bagel. Coffee Meets Bagel. My God I need a boyfriend.

Lonely and Alone

Musings/Rants

“If you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” – Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

Parts of that quote are always lingering in the back of my mind, but I never could remember the whole thing. So I cheated and searched it up on Google. As a life-long introvert, I know exactly what she’s talking about, and if I let myself I’ll always agree with her. It sounds so good. It makes me sound so good, like I’m this quirky social misfit who’s just too hipster, too smart, and too mature for the crowd she’s unfortunately stuck with. But I don’t think that’s how it works. It’s true that loners like me don’t enjoy solitude, but it’s not because the rest of the world keeps disappointing us. It’s because we’re too afraid to disappoint the rest of the world.

It’s difficult to explain this to socially adept people, but to hermits like us the world is a stage upon which we’re always terrified to fuck up, and because of this fear we always do fuck up. You see, for everyone else it’s so simple: you plan one thing, you practice, you execute. Most of the time that plan becomes reality. You think of something in your head, you decide it accomplishes what you’re trying to accomplish, and you say it out loud. The effect on your audience is instantaneous – they’ll laugh or cry or cheer or boo at your command. You’re the puppet master when you open your mouth.

It’s different for us. In our heads we can come up with the wittiest jokes and the most eloquent arguments, but in front of other people we sound like dyslexic four-year-olds reading a poem for the first time (sorry if that was an offensive analogy). I’m not even talking about expectation vs. reality in the philosophical, existential sense. I’m talking about simple mind-mouth coordination here, the ability to coherently translate into speech what we’re thinking. That’s why we live in our heads all the time. Because it’s the reality we want to be stuck with, even if it meant never being quite present in the reality we’re actually stuck with.

So we retreat into ourselves. We develop what we’re good at to avoid stepping out of our comfort zones. We find solace in the alternate universes we’ve built for paranoid minds. And we’re always in denial: “alone but not lonely,” “company is overrated,” “everyone is so fucking phony anyway,” “I’m happy this way.” Pretty much the, “people continue to disappoint them” point that Jodi Picoult was making. I’ll just speak for myself here: I’m a coward. Maybe the reason I’m an introvert and so many aren’t is that I just can’t handle humiliation. Maybe it’s that I’ve experienced that particular sensation way too many times when I was younger and couldn’t string together the simplest of sentences in the English language. Maybe I’m not happy being alone but it’s sure as hell a lot sweeter than stepping right into that feeling again.

We’re just tired of trying, even though we haven’t even tried all that hard. Hope always feels so small in comparison to failure. When you want to try just one more time, you can’t help but remember what happened the last time you tried – that frustration of failing to say what you’ve planned to say, the subsequent disappointment of knowing you’ve failed to make the most of yet another opportunity. And eventually you start wondering what the fuck is the damn point. That life of always having someone to drink with, shop with, walk with, talk to is just not meant for you. You will have people around, people you really care about, but most of the time you’ll be alone and you damn well better accept it.

That was a much longer post than what I usually put out, but this is a topic that’s very personal to me. I’m not depressed, and I am proud of the way my life has turned out. Being an introvert has many perks, like being just a bit more perceptive, introspective, and sardonic than others, but it’s really not a pop culture joke. Sometimes it’s refreshing and relieving, but it’s not fun being a social hermit. I just wanted to clear some misunderstandings about…us, I guess. If aloofness is how we project ourselves then it’s just a defense mechanism. We want to belong, trust me. It’s just that much harder when you’re trying to hide your nerves all the time.