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[18 May 2004|09:47pm]
Sadly, I was unable to team up with David Bowie again on my newest single, so I had to go with the next most brilliant person in the music industry... Madonna!

Drawing upon the collective genius of some of the greatest musicians ever I've come up with an unprecedented work of musical iconoclasm!!

Nine Inch Nails : You Are The Greatest Song in the World (2004)
Thanks to drok_vox, abject_endism and david_lynch for assistance with vocal duties... You guys are the best!

(Oh man, Dave deleted his journal!! I bet his wife is getting to him again...)
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[10 May 2004|08:20pm]
Okay, I admit it finally. The Downward Spiral was, in fact, my retelling of The Wall. I think it worked out pretty well, but I suppose it's really uncool to admit that.

Ah, who am I kidding, that album was BRILLIANT. I have no idea how I'm going to top it. *sigh*
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[09 May 2004|09:32pm]
[ mood | touched ]

Happy Mother's Day to mzmel's Mom!!!

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[09 May 2004|03:04am]
[ mood | cynical ]

I'm William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, the Fifth Duke of Portland!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Sometime Marquis of Tichfield, Earl of Portland, Viscount Woodstock, Baron of Cirencester, co-heir to the Barony of Ogle and renowned as the finest judge of horseflesh in England, you took the tradition of aristocratic eccentricity to unprecedented heights. Having inherited the stately home of Welbeck Abbey, you proceeded to construct miles of underground tunnels and a ballroom, in pink, beneath it. The ballroom was complete except for one small detail. It had no floor. Despite this vast home, you lived exclusively in a suite of five rooms, each one also pink.

Having been turned down by your opera singer objet d'amour, Adelaide Kemble, in your youth, you suffered a broken heart and never married. This did not stop you from caring deeply about the wellbeing of your servants. Occasionally you would even help them muck out the stables. However, you did not neglect discipline, forcing disobedient underlings to skate themselves to exhaustion on your subterranean skating rink. Servants were given strict instructions regarding conduct: if they met you in a corridor, they were to ignore your existence while you froze to the spot until they were out of sight; and a chicken was to be kept roasting at all times in case you felt like sneaking into the kitchen for a snack.

You became ever more eccentric with age. You built another tunnel, this time to the railway station, through which you would ride your carriage. When you reached the station your carriage, with you inside, would be hoisted up onto the train in its entirety.

Upon your death, your multitude of titles passed to your cousin, who was obliged to delve into your curious domain to find your body once the servants had reported your absence. Entering your private rooms, he found that, aside from a commode in the centre of your bedroom, the only objects in the whole suite were hundreds of hatboxes, each containing a single brown wig.

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[05 May 2004|05:50pm]
[ mood | blah ]

At this point I perceive, therefore, that hope cannot be eluded forever and that it can beset even those who wanted to be free of it. This is the interest I find in the works discussed up to this point. I could, at least in the realm of creation, list some truly absurd works. (Melville's Moby Dick, for instance). But everything must have a beginning. The object of this quest is a certain fidelity. The Church has been so harsh with heretics only because she deemed that there is no worse enemy than a child who has gone astray. But the record of the Gnostic effronteries and the persistence of Manichean currents have contributed more to the construction of orthodox dogma than all the prayers. With due allowance, the same is true of the absurd. One recognizes one's course by discovering the paths that stray from it. At the very conclusion of the absurd reasoning, in one of the attitudes dictated by its logic, it is not a matter of indifference to find hope coming back in under one of the most touching guises. That shows the difficulty of the absurd ascetics. Above all, it shows the necessity of unfailing alertness and thus confirms the general plan of this essay.
But if it is still too early to list absurd works, at least a conclusion can be reached as to the creative attitude, one of those which can complete absurd existence. Art can never be so well served as by a negative thought. Its dark and humiliated precedings are as necessary to the understanding of a great work as black is to white. To work and create "for nothing," to sculpture in clay, to know one's creation has no future, to see one's work destroyed in a day while being aware that fundamentally this has no more importance than building for centuries---this is the difficult wisdom that absurd thought sanctions. Performing these two tasks simultaneously, negating on the one hand and magnifying on the other, it the way open to the absurd creator. He must give the void its colors.

This leads to a special conception of the work of art. Too often the work of a creator is looked upon as a series of isolated testimonies. Thus, artist and man of letters are confused. A profound thought is in a constant state of becoming; it adopts the experience of a life and assumes its shape. Likewise, a man's sole creation is strengthened in its successive and multiple aspects: his works. One after another they complement one another, correct or overtake one another, contradict one another, too. If something brings creation to an end, it is not the victorious and illusory cry of the blinded artist: "I have said everything," but the death of the creator which closes his experiences and the book of his genius.

That effort, that superhuman consciousness are not necessarily apparent to the reader. There is no mystery in human creation. Will performs this miracle. But at least there is no true creation without a secret. To be true, a succession of works can be but a series of approximations of the same thought. But it is possible to conceive of another type of creator proceeding by juxtaposition. Their words may seem to be devoid of inter-relations, to a certain degree, they are contradictory. But viewed all together, they resume their natural groupings. From death, for instance, they derive their definitive significance. They receive their most obvious light from the very life of their author. At the moment of death, the succession is but a collection of failures. But if those failures all have the same resonance, the creator has managed to repeat the image of his own condition, to make the air echo with the sterile secret he possesses.

The effort to dominate is considerable here. But human intelligence is up to much more. It will merely indicate clearly the voluntary aspect of creation. Elsewhere I have brought out the fact that human had no other purpose than to maintain awareness. But that could not do without discipline. Of all the schools of patience and lucidity, creation is the most effective. It is also the staggering evidence of man's sole dignity: the dogged revolt against his condition, perseverance in an effort considered sterile. It calls for a daily effort, self-mastery, a precise estimate of the limits of truth, measure, and strength. It constitutes an ascesis. All that "for nothing," in order to repeat and mark time. But perhaps the great work of art has less importance in itself than in the ordeal it demands of a man and the opportunity it provides him of overcoming his phantoms and approaching a little closer to his naked reality.

Let there be no mistake about aesthetics. It is not patient inquiry, the unceasing, sterile illustration of a thesis that I am calling for here. Quite the contrary, if I have made myself clearly understood. The thesis-novel, the work that proves, the most hateful of all, is the one that most often is inspired by a smug thought. You demonstrate the truth you feel sure of possessing. But those are ideas one launches, and ideas are the contrary of thought. Those creators are philosophers, ashamed of themselves. Those I am speaking of or whom I imagine are, on the contrary, lucid thinkers. At a certain point where thought turns back on itself, they raise up the images of their works like the obvious symbols of a limited, mortal, and rebellious thought.

They perhaps prove something. But those proofs are the ones that the novelists provide for themselves rather than for the world in general. The essential is that the novelists should triumph in the concrete and that this constitute their nobility. This wholly carnal triumph has been prepared for them by a thought in which abstract powers have been humiliated. When they are completely so, at the same time the flesh makes the creation shine forth in all its absurd luster. After all, ironic philosophies produce passionate works.

Any thought that abandons unity glorifies diversity! And diversity is the home of art. The only thought to liberate the mind is that which leaves it alone, certain of its limits and of its impending end. No doctrine tempts it. It awaits the ripening of the work and of life. Detached from it, the work will once more give a barely muffled voice to a soul forever freed from hope. Or it will give voice to nothing if the creator, tired of his activity, intends to turn away. That is equivalent.

Thus, I ask of absurd creation what I required from thought---revolt, freedom, and diversity. Later on it will manifest its utter futility. In that daily effort in which intelligence mingle and delight each other, the absurd man discovers a discipline that will make up the greatest of his strengths. The required diligence and doggedness and lucidity thus resemble the conqueror's attitude. To create is likewise to give a shape to one's fate. For all these characters, their work defines them at least as much as it is defined by them. The actor taught us this: There is no frontier between being and appearing.

Let me repeat. None of all this has any real meaning. On the way to that liberty, there is still a progress to be made. The final effort for these related minds, creator or conqueror, is to manage to free themselves also from their undertakings: succeed the granting that the very work, whether it be conquest, love, or creation, may well not be; consummate thus the utter futility of any individual life. Indeed, that gives them more freedom in the realization of their work, just as becoming aware of the absurdity of life authorized them to plunge into it with every excess.

All that remains is a fate whose outcome alone is fatal. Outside of that single fatality of death, everything, joy or happiness, is liberty. A world remains of which man is the sole master. What bound him was the illusion of another world. The outcome of his thought, ceasing to be renunciatory, flowers in images. It frolics---in myths, to be sure, but myths with no other depth than that of human suffering and, like it, inexhaustible. Not the divine fable that amuses and blinds, but the terrestrial face, gesture, and drama in which are summed up a difficult wisdom and an ephemeral passion.

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[09 Apr 2004|05:47pm]
[ mood | hopeful ]

Now the ashes in the grate are beginning to choke the fire. And still the same sigh from the earth. The perfect song of a derbouka is heard in the air, a woman's laughter above it. In the bay, the lights come closer--fishing vessels no doubt, returning to harbour. The triangle of sky I see from where I am sitting is stripped of its daylight clouds. Choked with stars, it quivers on a pure breeze and the padded wings of night beat slowly around me. How far will it go, this night in which I cease to belong to myself? There is a dangerous virtue in the word simplicity. And tonight I can understand a man wanting to die because nothing matters anymore when one sees through life completely. A man suffers and endures misfortune after misfortune. He bears them, settles into his destiny. People think well of him. And then, one evening, he meets a friend he has been very fond of, who speaks to him absent-mindedly. Returning home, the man kills himself. Afterwards, there is talk of private sorrows and secret dramas. No, if a reason really must be found, he killed himself because a friend spoke to him carelessly. In the same way, every time it seems to be that I've grasped the deep meaning of the world, it is its simplicity that always overwhelms me. My mother, that evening, and its strange indifference. On another occasion, I was living in a villa in the suburbs, alone with a dog, a couple of cats, and their kittens, all black. The mother cat could not feed them. One by one, all the kittens died. They filled the room with their filth. Every evening, when I arrived home, I would find one lying stiff, its gums laid bare. One evening, I found the last one, half eaten by the mother. It stank already. The stench of death mingled with the stench of urine. Then, with my hands in the filth and the stench of rotting flesh reeking in my nostrils, I sat down in the midst of all this misery and gazed for hour after hour at the demented glow in the cat's green eyes as it crouched motionless in the corner. Yes. And it is just like that this evening. When we are stripped down to a certain point, nothing leads anywhere anymore, hope and despair are equally groundless, and the whole of life can be summed up in an image. But why stop there? Simple, everything is simple, the lights alternating in the lighthouse, one green, one red, one white; the cool of the night; and the smell of the town and the poverty that reach me from below. If, this evening, the image of a certain childhood comes back to me, how can I keep from welcoming the lesson of love and poverty it offers? Since this hour is like a pause between yes and no, I leave hope or disgust with life for another time. Yes, only to capture the transparency and simplicity of paradises lost--in an image. And so it was not long ago, in a house in an old part of town, when a son went to see his mother. They sat down facing each other, in silence. But their eyes met:

"Well, mother."

"Well, here we are."

"Are you bored? I don't talk much."

"Oh, you've never talked much."

And though her lips do not move, her face lights up in a beautiful smile. It's true, he never talked much to her. But did he ever need to? When one keeps quiet, the situation becomes clear. He is her son, she is his mother. She can say to him: "You know."

...She has risen to turn on the light. "It gets dark early these days."

It was true. Summer was over and autumn had not yet begun. Swifts were still calling in the gentle sky. "Will you come back soon?"

"But I haven't left yet. Why do you mention that?"

"Oh, it was just to say something." A trolley goes by. A car.

"Is it true I look like my father?"

"The spitting image. Of course, you didn't know him. You were six months old when he died. But if you had a little moustache!"

He mentioned his father without conviction. No memory, no emotion. Probably he was very ordinary. Besides, he had been very keen to go to war. His head was split open in the battle of the Marne. Blinded, it took him a week to die; his name is listed on the local war memorial.

"When you think about it," she says, "it was better that way. He would have come back blind or crazy. So, the poor man..."

"That's right."

What is it then that keeps him in this room, except the certainty that it's still the best thing to do, the feeling that the whole absurd simplicity of the world has sought refuge here.

"Will you be back again?" she says. "I know you have work to do. Just from time to time..."

But where am I now? And how can I separate this deserted cafe from that room in my past? I don't know any longer whether I'm living or remembering. The beams from the lighthouse are here. And the Arab stands in front of me telling me that he is going to close. I have to leave. I no longer want to make such dangerous descents. It is true, as I take a last look at the bay and its light, that what wells up in me is not the hope of better days but a serene and primitive indifference to everything and to myself. But I must break this too limp and easy curve. I need my lucidity. Yes, everything is simple. It's men who complicate things. Don't let them tell us any stories. Don't let them say about the man condemned to death: "He is going to pay his debt to society," but: "They're going to chop his head off." It may seem like nothing. But it does make a little difference. There are some people who prefer to look their destiny straight in the eye.

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[22 Mar 2004|05:44pm]
There are no more deserts. There are no more islands. Yet there is a need for them. In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion; in order to serve men better, one has to hold them at a distance for a time. But where can one find the solitude necessary to vigor, the deep breath in which the mind collects itself and courage gauges its strength? There remain big cities. Simply, certain conditions are required. The cities Europe offers us are too full of the din of the past. A practiced ear can make out the flapping of wings, a fluttering of souls. The giddy whirls of centuries, of revolutions, of fame can be felt there. There one cannot forget that the Occident was forged in a series of uproars. All that does not make for enough silence.

Paris is often a desert for the heart, but at certain moments from the heights of Pere-Lachaise there blows a revolutionary wind that suddenly fills the desert with flags and fallen glories. So it is with certain Spanish towns, with Florence or with Prague. Salzburg would be peaceful without Mozart. But from time to time there rings out over the Salzach the great proud cry of Don Juan as he plunges toward hell. Vienna seems more silent; she is a youngster among cities. Her stones are no older than three centuries and their youth is ignorant of melancholy. But Vienna stands at a cross-roads of history. Around her echoes the clash of empires. Certain evenings when the sky is suffused with blood, the stone horses on the Ring monuments seem to take wing. In that fleeting moment when everything is reminiscent of power and history, can be distinctly heard, under the charge of the Polish squadrons, the crashing fall of the Ottoman Empire. That does not make for enough silence either.

To be sure, it is just that solitude amid others that men come looking for in European cities. At least, men with a purpose in life. There they can choose their company, take it or leave it. How many minds have been tempered in the trip between their hotel room and the old stones of the Ile Saint-Louis! It is true that others have died there of isolation.

As for the first, at any rate, there they found their reasons for growing and asserting themselves. They were alone and they weren't alone. Centuries of history and beauty, the ardent testimony of a thousand lives of the past accompanied them along the Seine and spoke to them both of traditions and of conquests. But their youth urged them to invite such company. There comes a time, there comes periods, when it is unwelcome. "It's between us two!" exclaims Rastignac, facing the vast mustiness of Paris. Two, yes, but that is still too many!

The desert itself has assumed significance; it has been glutted with poetry. For all the world's sorrows it is a hallowed spot. But at certain moments the heart wants nothing so much as spots devoid of poetry. Descartes, planning to meditate, chose his desert: the most mercantile city of his era. There he found his solitude and the occasion for perhaps the greatest of our virile poems: "The first [precept] was never to accept anything as true unless I knew it to be obviously so." It is possible to have less ambition and the same nostalgia. /But during the last three centuries Amsterdam has spawned museums. In order to flee poetry and yet recapture the peace of stones, other deserts are needed, other spots without soul and without reprieve. Oran is one of these.
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