so what did happen? just the usual - ? well, yes and no... it is true that after my (all too brief) burst of energy back in june, i totally lost the momentum, in a manner which is by now entirely (tediously) predictable; but even i never dreamed it would take this long for me to get back to the blog - and in this first instance, just to explain why i haven't been active here. i first started this particular post back in july, and quickly abandoned it... other posts, with actual content in them, are as inchoate as they are numerous.
yes, and no... late last year, i had given up smoking ganja - and bemoaned the complete lack of mental and spiritual direction which bedevilled me as a result. and then, of course, i fell off the wagon rather spectacularly, fell back in love with everything, and started posting again. what's happened this summer has been similar, yet compeltely different. last year i gave up not because i really wanted to, but because i had been convinced that it was necessary; it left me feeling terrible, and although i stuck to my resolution for some time, underneath it all i had changed my mind: i still wanted to smoke, to be high. i detested being constantly "straight" and feared that it would see my life become purely dull and grey, with no interest in anything. for a while, that's exactly what it felt like.
this year, having got myself diagnosed with asperger's syndrome (for work-related reasons; let's face it, at my age i didn't really need a diagnosis), i allowed myself to get talked into taking SSRIs as well, in a minimal does prescribed not to counter depression, but as an anxiolytic, and to take the edge of my notorious mood swings. i had no intention of stopping smoking at this point, and didn't try to do so. but... over (not much) time, it just happened: by the end of june, i found i no longer had any desire to smoke, and was coping just fine without it. an unusually hot july came, and my birthday with it; old habit saw me scoring ganja for the occasion - though it turned out to be far from straightforward, and took several days of uncertainty, as if the very universe were trying to keep me from recidivism - and i spent an entire week in a pleasant green haze, not having to work, not really bothering about very much...
... but what i thought would happen, simply didn't. you see, as i've complained (or confessed) before, my journey of discovery with avant-garde music, and with anthony braxton in particular, has been very much tied up with my use of psychoactive drugs, and without them, i seem to have no ready access to the realms opened up by, within, the music. those few weeks before my birthday, i was feeling perfectly level and content, and i was listening to plenty of music; but i hadn't listened to any jazz-based or (semi-)improvised music at all, and (so i told myself) by indulging my old habits and altering my mental state, i would give myself the chance to get posting again, reclaim the momentum which had suddenly faltered.
- didn't happen, this time. i carried on listening to the music i had been exploring for the previous few weeks (lots of hardcore punk and grindcore, some experimental rock), thinking initially that this would merely confirm what was lacking in such musics, and send me in search of deeper and richer materials; but that just didn't quite take place. in fact - and this scared me a little - when i pushed myself to listen to july's tcf download, it passed in an hour-long blur and left no impressions behind at all. straight, stoned, whatever, i seemed to have lost the thread completely now.
- and i am yet to pick it back up. hence the total lack of engagement with this project; hence my continued silence. for weeks now i have been intending to write at least this post, and tell such occasional readers as may be left that i will be back at some point, i just don't know when; and for weeks i have been prevaricating. finally i am forcing myself to do it, ever so belatedly, and at the time (and here's where the sunshine peeps through again) when i am close to re-engaging with the music.
there are doubtless a few other reasons which underpin all this lack of braxton in my recent life, in no special order:
1. that last post posited a preponderance of duets-with-bass which i ahd just presumed was there, without really bothering to check beforehand. when i actually went through the discography to list them, i was surprised to discover a lot fewer than i thought there were, and this left me feeling a bit silly. (i still think there is something especially personal and apposite about the maestro's meetings with the contrabass - but there's no denying that they don't stand out in the discography nearly as much as i thought.) so, i will get back to that thread and finish it off at some point - even if various other posts never get completed now, having passed the stage where they can be picked up again - but it doesn't surprise me that i felt a bit sheepish about doing so, for a while back there...
2. as most if not all of you will know, tcf have discontinued the monthly membership scheme. they have replaced it with an annual subscription, which i can't curently afford (having found myself with rather less disposable income than i thought i had, at the beginning of the year); hence, for the time being at least, i am back to feeling cut off from that organisation and all it entails...
3. i have long since identified in myself a strong tendency to recoil from deep and lasting commitment. ok, so i have been married more than seventeen years and a father since 2008, and i have not turned my back on my family; but in most other aspects of my life, i still seem to be terrified of committing to anything in particular. hence, i created this monster in part to distract myself from my studies in oriental medicine, at a time when i was "supposed" to be getting myself fully qualified as a shiatsu practitioner, then branching out in my own therapeutic direction (never happened, despite my completing the actual course); and a year or two on from then, i allowed myself to be distracted away from even this blog by a renewed interest in tai chi chuan (and comics) which took up most of my attention for a good long while. the last two years have seen a complete change in my professional life, and that itself has entailed a veritable rollercoaster of excitable, hopeful highs and gloomy, miserable lows; at a time when all the forward-moving parts of me are trying to cut ties to the entrenched and anchored parts, it's (again) no surprise that i have been led away from the one thing in which i was trying to do my best.
- and, you know, let's be clear about this: i've built the braxtothon up into something i can't quite seem to live up to, because time goes by and i never seem to get back there. will i ever actually continue it, now? i still intend to; but what are my intentions worth?
still... lest this all sound terminally pessimistic... i am basically not doing too badly, and here's the major difference from this time last year: i still don't have any urge to get high. i am doing just fine without it, and as enjoyable as that week in july was, it really didn't do for me many of the things for which i had come to rely on it: in particular, i found no increase in insight or mental clarity, never mind resolve and inspiration. if it can't do that for me, what use is it? better that i try and achieve what others have had to do: build it up natually, over time, without taking shortcuts to it. and as for the music, i know that that will come, as day follows night: psychedelic it may have been, but there was never anything illusory about what i found in those realms. and, you know, my ears have always needed change from time to time and i can't keep sandpapering them with hardcore punk forever (as much as that does satsify them, to an eyebrow-raising extent). where this post, so long deferred, would previously have ended with a big ??? - in terms of when the return was likely to come - i now feel that it's probably just around the corner.
keep checking back... and you will find out if i am right :)