Wednesday, September 09, 2009

In case of downtime, boredom, delays, or any situation in which I’m forced to wait, I’ve learned to pack two things that never fail in their capacity to transport my mind to a more interesting place: my phone and a book (haha, no, not a phonebook). No matter where I am or what situation I’m in, with the turn of a page or the tap of a finger, I can be somewhere else, chewing on ideas as if they were sticks of everlasting gum.

I loathe ravings of the latest and greatest gadget (even though I’m influenced by them every time I shop on Amazon), so I’ll spare you a lengthy review by just saying that yes, the iPhone is one of these toys, and if you’re at all like me--at all into efficiency that is--you already have one. Kyna was right in wondering why Apple confused everyone by calling it a phone; it’s better defined in terms of the computer. Anyways, I’m at the point where all of my free time is wrapped up in this device, making me imperturbable, serene in the face of boredom--or so I like to think.

Currently, I’m back in my parents’ house, leeching and lounging until I find a job that finds me as desirable in person as I appear on paper (my interviewing skills seem to be lacking) and my Mom is using me likewise, asking for favors, sending me on errands--Joannes, The Sewing Company--you name it I’ve been there. Tonight, she wanted me to pick her up at the “Four Corners” at 6:30 in the evening and I agreed, leaving for the Silver Saver parking lot with my phone and a book conscientiously tucked beside me, as unworried and unconcerned about the time as I was about dodging the potholes on Badger; it was a bumpy ride.

Positioning the bug in a noticeable spot in front of The Silver Saver, I read, played chess on my phone, and facebooked, sinking into these distractions like a diver disappearing into the murk. When my Mom finally called, an hour and a half had passed; an hour and a half that had barely registered in my mind.

My mom couldn't have been be aware of my relationship with these devices because after telling her I’d been waiting since 6:30, she was a bit too sorry, her apologies—though prefaced by “but I thought you knew!”—uncomfortably sincere. Driving home, I faked frustration and glared out the window, withholding forgiveness like a forgotten child. The cool desert air blasted my face and the ragged roar of the engine was a beehive in my ears, but I was somewhere else entirely, regretting imbalances, selfishness, and miscommunication. That’s all. She thought I knew to come later; I thought she knew to come sooner. Either way, I bore the results and accepted the apologies. I lived in two worlds and I stole the best of both.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

From a stream of regular form,
like a solar flare leaping into pure space,
a pattern surges up, sees itself, and is distinguished.
Examining its arc, it admires the contrast.
It peaks.
The world shimmers with horrific meaning;
causes frightened by inexorable effects.
The sad dance slows.
Oblivion looms.
Dissipating, it wonders at the odds
of ever having the chance.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I guess you could say I'm learning what to do with myself, step by step, ounce by ounce, afternoon by afternoon; I'm getting myself globally positioned. These days, my attention span doesn't allow me any sort of immersion, so I wander around a lot. Into the kitchen I go, opening cupboards and shuffling slippered feet like a patient old man hot on the daily routine. I end up against the bathroom sink, face to face with myself in the mirror. Boy oh boy have you changed DC. Off I go though, into the room and down on the bed--sinking!--my legs hang like wilted antennae. I'm reminded of the day before--yesterday?--when I flopped the same; when I walked from the bathroom and fell into my very own groove, my theme song on repeat. I wonder about my life for a few seconds and then the thought burns too close and I shake it out.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I learned about bat chirp sonar when I was a kid, but I guess I never really thought about what the bat was thinking in its head as it bobbed through the pitch of night squawking at bugs and bridges and all that stuff getting in the ways of dinner. Bats just had that technology like subs and planes from the war and that was that for all I cared. That's what I learned and so that's what I stuck with--up until Lisa brought that book home from school.

It's funny. You learn something and you think you know it through and through so as nothing about it seems strange or mysterious anymore; it gets to be you're so familiar with the idea of something that the reality of the thing fades away so you know it less somehow. Take the town where I went to school, Fernley, out there in Nevada where I was born. An out-of-towner comes along and looks at the name on the map and thinks Fernley's known for its ferns or some other rubbish that's actually got a lot of sense nestled in it (if you take a second to stop and think about it from his point of view that is), but nope, we treat him like a city-slicker with nothing but a map and pair of fancy sunglasses.

Reminds me of a time out hunting with my Pa when I was just a kid. I remember him saying this as we lay there for what seems like hours in the frigid cold, burrowed under a pile of rotting leaves, frustrated to all hell: "Like glasses sitting on the end of your nose," he says, "some things are in your sights but out of your mind and you just can't do a thing about it."

To tell the truth, until ten minutes ago, I never really thought about bats--let alone what the hell it'd be like to
be one--so when Lisa brought in that book that says bats' perception is only set at ten times per second it didn't mean much to me. It wasn't until it then compared it to a stroboscope--like the ones they use in discos--that I got a real sense of what it might be like to "see" like one. The problem then has to do with getting anything done if you can only see ten pictures a second--I can imagine a good amount of tripping in the night trying to get to the bathroom with a stroboscope only giving me what bats are getting--so the next part in the book, the one where it remarked upon the increase in bat chirps of up to 200 per second when it's near a bug in the dark, clarified things up a bit.

It's this next part here though that really got me going and set me on to writing about it: "They live in a world of echoes and probably their brains can use echoes to do something akin to 'seeing' images, although it is next to impossible for us to 'visualize' what those images might be like."

These little flying furballs got a perception so subtle and good that it's like vision but not and it just boggles my mind to imagine these little guys experiencing night like it's day through their ears. I'm just stuck wondering on the queerness of it that's all. Yeah...that's all I suppose.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

You seem to be getting along
as fine as anyone I've ever seen.
In that way you're common--
you're like that lady over there.
It's what you can't change,
what doesn't really matter
that works.

In one sense,
your cheekbones and eyes and nose
have trapped between them
something that's hard to ignore--
like a campfire.
You're numb to the heat of it,
You're numb to the burn of it,
but the range,
that, you feel.

Standing in line at Trader Joe's,
the proof is unpleasant.
What are there--
the ratios--
have my heart going seven beats per minute quicker.
I'm scatterbrained too,
but you can't measure that.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gainsaying the gainsayers:

By defining hipsterdom as " artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras" the writer is essentially saying that a style from the 70's--say the flannel shirt--was more genuine or authentic during its introduction because it was worn in a way that expressed creativity or youthful rebellion; ideas that hipsters now, because they have "stolen" them, somehow lack.

Instead of deriding the current state as a meaningless rehash of "true" meaning from cultures past, why not strive to understand it as the highly mutating, overtly self-conscious meta-culture it really is? It feels cheap to dismiss the hipster's dance party on the basis of its lacking a "dance style" because this view assumes that we can judge the groups that have developed what are considered compelling dances (seen in the krumping below) alongside those that (seemingly) haven't (the goofy hipsters even further below).

To be sure, I enjoy watching the guy krumping more than I enjoy watching the hipsters bounce around, but I also understand that the second video is just that--kids having fun, getting drunk, rebelling for the sake of rebelling
. The writer, in his insistence that hipsterdom is nothing more than a vacuum of originality, misses out on the interesting things they do/create:

It seems to me that more accurately, we have a culture where information--in the form of fashion, music, dancing, blogging or whatever--is in an unprecedented state of availability, making informational melting pots, where, like the writer said, "formerly dominant forms of counterculture (merge) together," the new norm. In other words, internet kids are taking canonization to the new medium. Hipsterdom is what it looks like when a group luxuriates in its significance, when a group
becomes its canon.

A cultural critique is relevant if it finds immoralities in a group's behavior, if it highlights the inhumane, but correctable. Hipsterdom is a minor mash-up of innocuous self-definition. That's it. This guy's critique is not only ugly, but unhelpful: it implies that some cultures are more creative, more original, and essentially, more
important than others (We don't want to be ethnocentric, but we're human and humans, though sometimes inhumane, are still human. The real deal lies in the limits of cooperation--can we teach lions to think like gazelles? It can't hurt to try.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I don't know much about the Jerk Dance other than that its bowlegged swagger looks fun and feasible. The rest of these dances, as you'll see, are stylized to the point of being not only impossible, but just plain weird.

The Melbourne Shuffle--popularized in Australia in the early '90s with the advent of hardstlye trance--is effective in that it's deceptive; the dancers' heel-toe magic and aggressive moonwalking create an illusion:

Turfin', a style that originated in Oakland alongside Hyphy (the style of the video's song) is similar to the Shuffle in its sleight of hand--or foot?! The dancer's footwork at :37 is particularly interesting if you aren't looking at his feet. This discrepancy--peripherally viewing footwork gives the illusion of sliding, while directly viewing it doesn't-- led me to the next video, but first some Durkle Turf':

Ok, so a possible explanation has to do with the hollow face below in which a concave face appears to be convex when viewed from a certain distance. The fact that we override certain depth cues and shading patterns in the concave face in exchange for a convex illusion supports the argument that what we are seeing has more to do with knowledge--meaning our practical knowledge of faces in general--than perception. This makes sense; we're surrounded by convex faces and have evolved to track, read, and respond to them with our survival depending on our speed and efficiency in doing so. Our minds are biased to see convex faces and only if the concave cues are pronounced--by getting close to the mask or darkening the concave shading--can the perception (reality) override the bias.

So, why do many of these popular dances capitalize on the mind's tendency to construct a useful version of the world and why did they come about? To me, the most striking dance moves are those that cause a misapplication of knowledge on the part of the viewer--the moonwalk or the Brookfield do this. Watching the moonwalk can be thrilling because, if done well, an illusion is created in which the dancer appears to be walking forward, but is actually moving backward. This particular misapplication of knowledge seems to be the result of a bias associated with tracking the movements of people, specifically those walking about.

A dance emerges from the distillation of similar illusions linked in a balanced or provocative way. This guy, demonstrating a version of the Liquid Dance popular in rave culture, shows how various illusions, when concentrated and linked, create a distinct, recognizable whole:

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's been over a year since I've looked at this blog--let alone update it--so this post, being my hibernation buster, is going to be totally great. It was a surprise to find that demo from late '07, proudly quirky with its FruityLoop drums and sketchy sequencing, sitting at the top of the page. I'd forgotten how much I was into Italo disco and LCD Soundsystem at the time and now that I think of it, recording in general. Listening to the songs now, the quirks I was so proud of--the wildly oscillating synths and soaring melodies in the second and third songs--seem pretty clumsy, but also sort of cute in their boldness.

To tell the truth, I've almost given up recording for reading, working, listening, exercising, and occasionally dancing on my new Iranian rug. I'm not too regretful because creating something, no matter how bad it is, is only
sometimes better than creating nothing, the reason being that if I'm not comfortable or satisfied with what I've created, then I've wasted valuable time I could have spent elsewhere. I would say that this is the natural pattern most people live by, the exception being those who kill themselves for virtuosity or some other admirable, but ridiculously costly endeavor.

I was never one to sit around and jam things out or noodle away on the guitar or keyboard--I actually used to fall asleep playing guitar--so recording, with its easy editing and collage-like setup, was more fun. I felt like I was in control of the sound. Naturally, after spending so much time fiddling with effects and samples, compressors and EQs, my recording skills surpassed my musical abilities; I was better at recording guitar than actually playing it. After realizing this about a year ago, I lost my drive to create new music. Just thinking about correcting the balance was exhausting so I just gave up. It's been a relief.

Since quitting I've been able to listen to music less seriously, with less ego invested. I still get jealous when I hear a striking melody or mystery effect, but it's a distant ache and sort of feels good, like watching my niece and nephews open presents on Christmas. So, to finish off this lengthy ramble, I'd like to hypocritically present a song--however goofy oh well--I made over the weekend: "Spacers"

Spacers.mp3 - Dylan P Conlin