Dry November: Day 8

November 08, 2018

I awoke today with a song from a decade-old album stuck in my head. A noteworthy album, for me at least, by Of Montreal, and memorably titled: Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? It’s the first song on the album. “We just want to emote ‘til we’re dead,” it opens. “I know we suffer for fashion or whatever.”

It was an album I first encountered at the end of uni, as I planned to move from the US to the UK. Once here, doing my masters, I spent most of my time alone, and this meant that I was able to listen to a lot of music. Podcasting was not yet really a thing, so I made it a point to always have a queue of excellent albums, on whatever strange mp3 player I happened to have at the time. I listened to many, many albums.

In my teenage years, in the first wave of Napster, I’d tired of listening to individual low-quality mp3s—though of course this first exploratory phase was indispensable to whatever paltry musical development was to come later. By the time I arrived in England, I was reading eighteenth and nineteenth century novels, and I suppose I regarded singles as being like reading a serialised snippet from some loose, baggy masterpiece, rather than the book itself. I was listening to sixties, seventies, and eighties music, lots of Dylan, Neil Young, Springsteen, Bowie, some punk, and a lot of new wave. Of Montreal was unusually current.

I was also 22 at the time, which may also be the last time we really soak up new music. That’s mostly been true for me. Even my mention of podcasts is a sign that some part of me believes that, were I to commit myself to new music, I would fall in love to the same depth that I had in my youth. Another part of me fears that it’s too late for that. Though on balance, and based on anecdotal evidence, I believe that it can, with more effort, be done.

We don’t want these days to ever end.

We just want to emasculate them forever.

The song also concisely, in just two short verses, manages to capture how intimately alcohol is related to longing. One longs for a drink, then one longs for another, then for different company, more company, a different bar, or food, and after a while one simply longs. For attention, for instance:

Vicissitudes are boxing our heads.

Please call to say you miss me, feel me or whatever.

If we’ve got to burn it out, let’s do it together.

Let’s all melt down together…

My sister has mentioned that these sound like rough days, though honestly they have not been. I’ve felt productive and mostly happy. Tomorrow I’ll write about why the writing may come off a bit sad.

Bryan Kam

I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter or see more here.