I'm listening to Nirvana's Something in the Way on loop. I like to think I'm a considerate neighbor; I keep the volume down. But I can hear my downstairs neighbor talking, so I reckon he can hear my annoying digital jukebox behavior. (I'm glad I can hear my neighbor. Early in the pandemic I listened to him gaming throughout the day, and it was reassuring, not annoying. He went silent for a while, and I wondered if he'd moved. So many others in the building are or have moved. So many people in the neighborhood have moved. Some smart UW sociology student is going to write a dissertation on the pandemic migrations. I want to read it.)
Underneath the bridge
The tarp has sprung a leak
And the animals I've trapped
Have all become my pets
And I'm living off of grass
And the drippings from the ceiling
But it's okay to eat fish
'Cause they don't have any feelings
I'm listening to it on loop because I've been watching the trailers for the The Batman and the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League on loop. The Zack Snyder cut uses Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.
I'm not a fanboy of comics, and I've grown weary of superhero movies and Hallelujah. Overplayed, overdone. And still I can't stop watching the trailers or listening to the music. (I talk big. Kate Mckinnon's Hallelujah was poignant. I listened to the McKinnon version and couldn't stop thinking that things were about to get bad. And I'm not a fan of HC [wish she'd won] or the Russia stuff. Check the wink at about 1:08.)
I'm also not an essayist. That might not be a real word. I wish I could write a good essay, that's an art. I keep hitting play in Spotify on Something in the Way. I'd rather be moving a needle on vinyl, in a cabin on the Olympic Peninsula, maybe close to Aberdeen.
There is powerful, tangible pain, art, and talent in that song, in all their songs. After ten listens I had to go for a walk. The pain, the disappointment, the disillusionment, the distance. On my walk I made some lofty assertions about the intersection of pain and art. I flirted with the idea that if you hadn't lived that pain, you couldn't make art like that. The listener, the reader, they know, they can feel it. But I wasn't right, not entirely. Regardless of one's circumstances, it's possible to see the world for what it is, what it should be, and to have difficulty navigating its labyrinth. But there's a difference between a well-off Parisian kid and Jean Valjean worrying about the price of bread. The Parisian kid's trajectory is more likely a stable job (a fine choice) than it is The Beastie Boys. And as talented as The Beastie Boys were, they were never going to be Public Enemy. (I think one of the reasons people loved the Beastie Boys is because they knew that.)
Back to the superhero trailers. Even if you're not a fan, you might consider watching the trailers. Mini-movies beautifully shot. Gods among us. I imagined the Iliad and the Odyssey as early superhero tales. I hadn't really thought of it that way before. I know it's not a relevation, more a brilliant glimpse of the obvious. Our ancestors established their superheros for things difficult to explain. So have we.