Friday Nov 18 (Day 1,445)
There will be more words, from me and others, about the state of the world and what we should and shouldn’t be doing. This is not that. This is a small thing I need for myself. It’s not the only thing I’m doing, it’s not the most important thing, but it’s a thing and I want to share it, because that’s the only thing I can figure out to do right now.
Over the last 10 days or so I’ve been having and (mostly listening to) many variations of the following conversation among my artist friends: what is art for, and should I even be doing that right now? This is not a new conversation and, for those of you who are not practicing artists I feel I should clarify slightly: this is not a conversation about what art is good for - it’s not a discussion of how much a midcentury painting is worth as an alternate currency for billionares and drug dealers, it’s not a practical question of how to translate work into market terms, and it’s decidedly not some sophomoric philosophy 101 conversation about the cultural impact of art on the human condition. This is a whole lot more personal.
This conversation goes something like: I get up, in the morning (or afternoon, or evening, or middle of the night). I am alive, but I am hurting, I am sick, I am hungover, anxious, under threat, distracted. I worry about the people I love, I worry about myself. I need to eat and pay the rent and I have only a certain number of hours in which I can do a thing. Is this the thing I do?
It seems in retrospect that all of the artists I admire the most, personally and from a distance, have an intimate relationship with failure, death and the ending of things. As upbeat as the work may be on the surface, it is a kind of spell crafted from stolen time. So this art thing that can pause the dread, this activity that can exempt you from the freight train of history for a day or an evening or a year. This seems insanely selfish right now. Selfish to curl inward and nurture and reflect on personal metaphors with your back warm from the fire that is the world burning.
I don’t know what art is for, and I certainly don’t know if you should be doing that right now. I can say it’s probably not the only thing you should be doing. I hope right now you’re battening down the hatches, building up some defenses and stockpiling some supplies for yourself and those you love. You’re going to need this. I hope you’re making calls But are you exhausted? I’m already exhausted.
This week I discovered the Longplayer, a thousand-year music composition which exists in a building outside London that you can go and visit and which will, ideally, continue to exist for the next 980 something years.
“From its initial conception, a central part of the Longplayer project has been about considering strategies for the future. How does one keep a piece of music playing across generations? How does one prepare for its technological adaptability, knowing how few technologies have remained viable over the last millenium? How does one legislate for its upkeep? And how can one communicate that responsibility to those who might be looking after it some 950 years after its original custodians have perished?”
Daring to believe that there will be a future in which your tiny irrelevant machinations matter - this is an act of resistance. Staying alive, and engaged - this is an act of resistance. Witnessing - this is an act of resistance. And as difficult as this is to do when times are good, it means even more when times are bad.
As of this writing there are 1,445 days until the next scheduled US presidential election. 1,445 days is a long time. We truly need to make long term plans - much longer than that and simultaneously much more local and much broader and more robust than the scope of one country’s federal government, but 1,445 days is also not an impossible task.
I will select 1,445 tracks to listen to as a small act of daily resistance.
I’ve lived many more than 1,445 days and I’ve gotten through most of them listening to music. A small ritual: I will select 1,445 tracks to listen to as a small act of daily resistance. I will post the names of the tracks to Twitter and Facebook. One per day for the next 1,445 days.
If I can select 1,445 tracks, and if I can listen to them all and post links to them for you to hear, than I am still alive, and you are still alive, and music still exists and the internet still exists and, maybe there is still a world in which there is a country called the United States that is capable of holding an election, where there will be more than one candidate worth voting for, with a populous invested enough to make an attempt at actual governance.
As of this writing, none of that is obvious to me in the slightest.
It’s a small, stupid artwork, but it’s part of my plan for the immediate future, 24 hours at a time. This is my soundtrack for my resistance. I am sad, and I’m alive, and I am angry, and I do not think this is ok, and I am here and I am planning for the future, and I want you to be there with me. These are some of the sounds that help me feel less alone. I hope they help you too.
Track suggestion? Send me a link.
Want to resist in a more substantial way? Start here (not mine, just sharing).
Day 1,445 - Gil Scott Heron - B Movie
Day 1,444 - Against Me! - Black Me Out
Day 1,443 - Jidenna - Chief Don’t Run
Day 1,442 - Julian Cope - Raving on the Moor
Day 1,441 - Grace Jones - Corporate Cannibal
Day 1,440 - Pussy Riot - Make America Great Again
Day 1,439 - Antony and the Johnsons - Another World
Day 1,438 - M.I.A. - Boom Skit
Day 1,437 - Pauline Oliveros - Silence
Day 1,436 - TMBG - Racist Friend
Day 1,435 - Ezra Furman - Body Was Made
Day 1,434 - The Long Winters - Make America Great Again
Day 1,433 - Rage Against the Machine - Killing In The Name Of
Day 1,432 - Laura Marling - Devil’s Spoke
Day 1,431 - War Pigs - Cake
Day 1,430 - Nine Inch Nails - The Beginning of the End
Day 1,429 - Rilo Kiley - The Execution of All Things
Day 1,428 - 12 Rounds - Somethings Burning
Day 1,427 - Portishead - Machine Gun
Day 1,426 - Burial - Come Down To Us
Day 1,425 - The Mountain Goats - This Year
Day 1,424 - Swans - Reeling the Liars In
Day 1,423 - Karen O / Trent Reznor - Immigrant Song
Day 1,422 - REM - Hope
Day 1,421 - Pussy Riot - Putin Lights Up The Fires
Day 1,420 - Lamb - Another Language
Day 1,419 - Janelle Monáe - Dance Apocalyptic
Day 1,418 - Erykah Badu - Window Seat
Day 1,417 - Matt & Kim - Lessons Learned
Day 1,416 - Gil Scott Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Day 1,415 - Country Joe and the Fish - The Fish Cheer
Day 1,414 - Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
Day 1,413 - David Bowie - Heros
Day 1,412 - Julian Cope - Reynard The Fox
Day 1,411 - Marilyn Manson - The Fight Song
Day 1,410 - Sia - The Greatest
Day 1,409 - GYBE - Storm
Day 1,408 - John & Yoko - Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Day 1,407 - P!ink - Raise Your Glass
Day 1,406 - Violent Femmes - Kiss Off
Day 1,405 - Madeleine Peyroux - Between the Bars
Day 1,404 - Johnny Cash - Man in Black
Day 1,403 - Rilo Kiley - All the Good That Won’t Come Out
Day 1,402 - Jay Z + Kanye - No Church In the Wild
Day 1,401 - Patti Smith - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Day 1,400 - The Doors - The End
Day 1,399 - SSION - Bullshit
Day 1,398 - M.I.A. - Paper Planes
Day 1,397 - Sleater-Kinney - The Fox
Day 1,396 - Bratmobile - Bitch Theme
Day 1,395 - Patti Smith - Hey Joe
Day 1,394 - Sonic Youth - Bull in the Heather
Day 1,393 - The Sugar Cubes - Traitor
Day 1,392 - I Just Started Hating Some People Today - Beck
Day 1,391 - I am Disappeared - Frank Turner
Day 1,390 - Comfort Eagle - Cake
Day 1,389 - X-Ray Spex - Oh Bondage! Up Yours!
Day 1,388 - Bauhaus - All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
Day 1,387 - The Long Winters - The Commander Thinks Aloud
Day 1,386 - REM - World Leader Pretend
Day 1,385 - Roxy Music - In Every Dream Home a Heartache
Day 1,384 - Johnny Cash - I See a Darkness
Day 1,383 - Victor Laszlo and Company - La Marseillaise
Day 1,382 - Honey Drippers (via @wayneandwax) - Impeach the President
Day 1,381 - Who’s In Control - British Sea Power
Day 1,380 - Baby I’m an Anarchist - Against Me!
Day 1,379 - American Idiot - Green Day
Day 1,378 - I’m Afraid of Americans - David Bowie
Day 1,377 - President Gas - Psychedelic Furs
Day 1,376 - Azar Swan - This is Not America
Day 1,375 - Dead Skeletons - Dead Mantra
Day 1,374 - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Red Eyes and Tears
Day 1,373 - Grinderman - Palaces of Montezuma
Day 1,372 - Stars - Barricade
Day 1,371 - The Veils - Jesus for the Jugular
Day 1,370 - Gossip - Standing In The Way of Control
Day 1,369 - Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
Day 1,368 - Transgender Dysphoria Blues - Against Me!