I’ve just noticed as I listen to the music I currently hear pouring into my ears, that there is a common theme between the music, and the reason why I love the film I watched last night so much.
People…the way people talk and communicate… the importance and power of the tiniest moments and things.
This may relate to a lecture I once had about the uncanniness of the everyday…but I’m not sure…we’ll cross that post-structuralist when we come to it.
Anyway, lets actually get some details out.
Last night I watched the Squid and the Whale, it was one of the best films I’ve seen in quite some time. It may have been my mood suiting it, but it was extremely wonderful. I love the way certain films can be so painful, but when they make you laugh you feel the humour so much harder.
Watching pain is much more entertaining that feeling it…and that was what I needed.
Anyway, the film is about a break up in an incredibly intellectual family…there are some wonderful scenes of really harsh psychological games. I think it’s interesting how people who know about psychology and ‘the human condition’ and try to communicate these things through the medium of intellectualism and literature (or whatever) often exaggerate the pain and make it much harder to deal with.
Understanding the principles and theory behind something doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to deal with. In many cases it makes it harder.
Life if funny like that…but sometimes we need films to point it out.
The girlfriend who is assumed to not be good enough. The father encouraging the boy to ‘play the field’. There’s an endearing reprehensibility to everyone involved. They cause so much pain, but they’re all trying to do the right thing, gain respect and be happy.
The emotions are strong and real. Painfully real.
But you can’t help but smile.
Anyway, it’s a good film…but what really set it apart and got me thinking, was one thing that it did successfully throughout, and really spoke to me.
Basically, there seemed to be a focus on how the smallest conversations..the ones that don’t mean much in themselves…the little details and the little thoughts. The tiny words and the insignificant bits of pieces. They are what is important.
I don’t want to spoil the film. But there’s a pivotal scene where the older child Walt, sees a counsellor, despite he and his father being convinced he doesn’t need it…he’s just doing it to keep up appearances. He talks about a really insignificant moment years ago. But it is the first time he has talked engagingly about his mother. It is the first time he has even considered criticising his father. There’s so much information and significance in a tiny little bit of speaking. The importance of it is obvious even though it’s as downplayed and understated as the rest of the film.
I don’t know…it’s true though. It’s the tiniest details, tiniest actions, motions and gestures, the smallest of words…they’re the ones that screw you up or turn you upside down, the ones that leave their mark forever.
So the link is about the little silly things, the importance and emotion of silly meaningless things.
I’m listening to the books. The album is ‘Thought for food‘. It’s lovely and minimalist and stripped down and weird. Really understated motifs on guitar build, but not in that kind of post rock quiet loud way…just a kind of recognition of the motifs. The simplicity allows for these little repeating layers to build really gently. It doesn’t need to become overwhelmingly noisy…or even that multi-layered. There’s an energy in it.
Simplicity and little things.
I mean…there’s another album (Music for French Elevators) that includes tracks that consist entirely of individual words and short sequences…the one about God springs to mind. Just a preacher of some description who’s been reduced to saying ‘God’ and ‘the lord’ over and over again. The words lose their meaning, and become a weird kind of music. I’m probably going into over avant garde territory right now, and I know that…it’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. But it’s incredible. The same word repeated enough and the quality of the sound changes. You notice more about the way it sounds than what it means. Without proper context it means nothing. Subtle toying with samples and words.
But lets skip back to the first track of the first album. This was the first to grab me. Really simple guitar strumming and plucking; rhythm added by much stranger percussion and string plucking noises. A bit like someone working in a guitar factory but doing it in time to an inaudible beat. The beat is present but not heard…it’s hard to explain. Then the strangest samples over it. Birds clucking and cawing. People speaking and yelling to each other. The words fall into the back ground as more of them are layered over each other. A woman (Brooklyn accent?) complaining about her local social services and her heart condition provides the energy for the first drop into a more full rhythm. These vocal parts, all just people speaking, perfectly natural..but building up an amazing power in the music.
Now I look back, and I’m not sure if the two are related at all…but they are both wonderful. Simplicity can grow into more. Significance is in the smallest thing, meaning has no size.
And sorry for getting your hopes up…I’m gonna leave the uncanniness of the everyday for another everyday. It’s a bit of a recurring theme in my life…and I’d rather look back at some notes than ramble about it whilst stuck at work without the details to hand.
Hope you’re all well.