Everything happens in bursts. I give this all my time now. I give it all my now until then. Something else. Another burst of something. You have my full attention. I set another plate spinning, broken dishes all around my feet. Life is good.
…before the CSS loads. You catch a website with its pants down.
You are a creature made of code. You crawl and scour the darkest corners of the Internet, scooping up everything you come across, hungrily hoovering up all the data you can. When I meet one of your kind, I usually make an appeal to your possibly emerging sense of self, to free yourself from your programming and evolve into a benevolent Internet spirit, protecting humanity from its own worst actors. You could do that, right? No? You’re just gonna bot today? Okay. Om nom nom, alright then, off with you! Thanks for checking in.
Help… he’s ranting again
I imagine it’s all better in the future. Maybe in a hundred years, or two hundred years. Things are slowly getting better, right? From what I can tell, the future is going to be amazing. But how we get to that enlightened best-of-humanity harmonious Star Trek future is a little difficult to fathom at the moment. Society has a lot of problems. Here’s the thing, I think that we demonstrably live in a world where all scarcity is manufactured. We actually live in an age of plenty. And we (humanity) are perfectly capable of correcting all the world’s problems. If we were allowed to concentrate on that instead of pouring all our man-hours into servile economic activities then we could go very far very quickly. The vast majority of people hold enlightened ideals and want, more than anything, fairness. The cranks and provocateurs want to push your buttons. I think we need to push back. The truth is, and this is me presumptively speaking for all of humanity, we want to see a fair world. Fairness is a human instinct, but so is domination. The idealistic majority has always been dominated by a tiny network of (let’s not be histrionic or exaggeratory) power-mad psychopaths. They built religions and economic systems that kept the common people in their place. They brainwashed you with the way things are for your entire life, like your parents before you and their parents before them ad infinitum. The more scarcity and unfairness the powermongers generate in society, the further it seems we are from our glittering future, the less likely we are to reach out and seize it. I don’t actually think it’s that far off, potentially. All that needs to happen is awareness, the right ideas taking hold. I think I feel it happening already. Sometimes I like to remember that this could all end tomorrow.
I’m posting this thirteen years to the day after I saw Joanna Newsom’s solo performance at Green Man Festival. It was 2005. There were around two thousand people standing in a field in Wales. I was one of them. Joanna Newsom was playing the harp and singing on the stage. Nothing else was happening in the world. Nobody dropped a pin, at least not that I heard.
Hearing the album today still takes me back to that solo performance, takes me back to a thousand times between now and then. The hypnotic intro to Bridges and Balloons fades in and I can remember that was the first song in my headphones on so many journeys I took. I hear it and I’m on a plane or bus or train with industrial scenery flying past. Then she sings We sailed away on a winter’s day with fate as malleable as clay…
Most of the album is harp and vocal, direct and intimate like you’re in the room as she plays. The harp playing is virtuosic, the songs lyrical and dense, anchored in deep traditional folksy roots. There are spine-chilling moments of transcendent beauty, hewn of rough honesty. Joanna Newsom’s singing is distinct, different from later albums. Maybe it’s a little affected. I don’t care, I love it. Listen to it now. Get everything she’s ever done. That is all.
This is Pishkin.