An eclectic stew for you today, the reader.
Last night’s show at Mitzi’s Sister (see previous entry) went very well. The band was tight, though I found myself slightly disappointed overall in the experience. Part of it has to do with the fact that, when you step onto a stage to perform (whether it be reading, acting, or drumming), particularly when you don’t have the opportunity to very often, time passes like a buttered bullet. You find yourself walking off the stage, seemingly five minutes after you got up there when in fact it’s been more like forty. As the glare of the stage lights leave your eyes and you join the ranks of the audience, ending your turn as it were, you feel as if you could’ve done more – either in your performance or in your enjoyment of the experience.
The last time we played (same place, nearly the same date), the situation was reversed. I had a blast and thought we did a great job (also the crowd was bigger and they defied the typical “Toronto audience” behaviour, with one or two actually dancing), but when I talked to the band they were less than thrilled.
Methinks this disconnectedness is a drummer-thing. Or a writer-posing-as-drummer-thing. Someday I’ll know what I want to do when I grow up.
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Yesterday there was school shooting in Illinois at a university. Five dead and fifteen wounded. While this left me numbed – what really can I or anyone else do about it after the fact? – what I found staggering was that this was the fourth shooting at a U.S. school in the last week.
In the (normally poisonous) comment section on the Globe & Mail, someone noted how this phenomena (of which we are certainly not immune in Canada) seems to be applicable only to wealthier Western societies. In other words, for no apparent logical reason, given the superficial socio-economic circumstances of the communities in which these acts occur.
Earlier this week, my wife and I finally got around to watching Gus Van Sant’s Elephant. I’d avoided seeing it because, although I was sure it was going to be well done, I didn’t want to see something that articulated such a heavy-hitting subject – the Columbine massacre of April 1999. The film surprised me, in that rather than meditating on the after-effects (ie. 2 video-hours of grief), it dealt with the event as it happened, mostly in real-time, from the perspective of several characters who are students in the high school, including the two killers. Neither glorifying the horror nor practising intellectual avoidance, I thought the film was very strong, though ironically I thought it could’ve been more meditative in the end – perhaps a more hands-on narrative was necessary. This is not to say that it was Peckinpah via Linklater.
Aside from the coincidental nature of seeing Elephant amidst a surge of related killings across the U.S., I cannot help but wonder what lies at the heart of this. I can tell you what doesn’t, as far as I’m concerned: guns, videogames, and violent films. Each, in their own way, are massively influential on youths, but I refuse to believe that they are in any way a cause.
It’s as if, more and more, there is a proportion of our society that acts as if it’s had a frontal lobotomy, thus removing a moral imperative that, for most, would stop us from taking enjoyment from the random killing of others around us. I find myself looking for answers: is this a bio-medical condition (say, exposure to heavy metals), a psychological illness, or strictly speaking is this something that can be explained sociologically? All of the above?
But another part of me often wonders: when we removed Christianity from public spaces like schools (and I don’t argue with the need to do so), did we replace it with anything substantial? I sometimes wonder if, in the removal of a code of behaviour (as corrupted, hypocritical, or out-of-touch as it may have been) are we thoughtful of what should be put in its place – something substantial and not generic, p0litically-correct lip service which ends up inspiring no one? Or, am I kidding myself, in that we are all really indiscriminate savages on the inside, holding on desperately to illusions of civilization?
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I remember, as a kid and avid comic-reader at the time, reading a story called The Realists. A handsome high school hunk-type is lured by the “new girl”, a beauty, back to her house after school one day. She tempts him with a special drink. When he drinks it, it’s like he’s under the influence of a drug – everyone around him is ugly and fat, food is rotten, he stares at his reflection in the mirror and sees that he’s hideous. She tells him that what he drank is real water, and that what he and the rest of society consumes is laced with a drug which provides the illusion of a beautiful “normalcy”. He runs out of her house, screaming, and as the “drug” wears off, he decides to treat the experience like a bad dream and forget the fact that what he thinks is reality is actually an engineered apparition.
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These are fleeting thoughts, sufficiently scattered. Enjoy your weekend.