Saturday, September 05, 2009

Militantly Reasonable

This Watchmen Bearbrick is 109 dollars and I can find no redeeming features in it. Is this the ultimate opposite of substance and meaning? Are fanboys the most materialistic people in the world? Because watches, cars, shoes, sofas and clothes have a reasonable function even if they are overly expensive. During the burning of around 800 comics/magazines/graphic novels,, I was pondering the redeeming features of all of them. A lot of them actually weren’t that bad,, the burning of them was mostly down to the principles of how and why they were created and what need there is for them when there are even better collected versions of the work. When you isolate those DC and Marvel events like Infinite Crisis and Secret Invasion,, they aren’t as bad as I usually make them out to be. There are even a few nice little moments scattered in them,, but the greater context is why I dislike them so much.
I think all of that stuff I burned must have cost me atleast £3000. I thrown in lots of those expensive Masterworks and DC Archives books because they are very badly conceived, executed and the “re-drawn masterworks” mini-scandal gave me extra justification. The remaining unwanted 400 or so comics I didn’t burn cost me atleast £1500,, including a lot of very well executed Kirby reprints, Warren and Charlton comics. My friend Paul is going to get a small chunk of these.
I’m trying to find virtues and value in things I’m normally opposed to. To be militantly fair and reasonable. Militant usually doesn’t sound good, but who ever says “I hate that guy, he’s just far too reasonable”? So I’m rethinking a lot of things,, especially cosmetic surgery,, which I’ve always had a strong dislike for,, but I’m finding little difficult spots to attend to, mostly in the more understandable transgender situations.
I don’t understand how a lot of people are perfectly comfortable knowing they are a hypocrite,, surely everyone has to sort everything out till it all makes the best sense they can make of everything.
One area I’m always thinking of is genre and style prejudices,, which is not nearly as serious as racism or anything like that,, but I think it probably contributes a lot more than usually thought. A tolerance for someone else’s tastes surely has something to do with tolerance of other cultures in general? I’m sure intolerance of genres and styles all builds up into something nasty. I’d like to disconnect myself completely from the negative and cynical attitude that surrounds me but seems to be inescapable. I’d like to lose my ability to say “he’s an asshole” or “that is shit”,, and lose my ability to recognise dirty innuendos or to judge harshly or to grumble.

One thing that constantly comes up is people who build up this frustration and hatred for other peoples music,, but they could easily slip into enjoying it if they let themselves. The argument I dislike the most is when people say “the singer has an annoying voice”,,, but I don’t think you can be reasonable and use that argument. It’s always just an easy ticket to be dismissive so you don’t have to open your mind and challenge yourself. I have used that argument several times and of course I have to take it all back now. I used to dismiss Sham 69 because the singer sounded exactly like a comedy sketch character of an angry teenager I used to watch,, but you really cant blame the singer for that.
I think about 70% of the most beautiful creations in the world are things I used to find annoying, repulsive or some other discomfort. I have found a goldmine of amazing vocalists that used to make me annoyed or uncomfortable. You have to get past that discomfort to really judge these things properly. Heaven knows I’d be an extremely poorer man if I didn’t get past the “annoyed” stage. I think a lot of people are afraid they will like these bands but wont be able to justify it to their sneering friends.
I remember times when people would do a mocking impression of a singer to “prove” they were a bad singer,, but you could do that easily enough with Dylan, Springsteen and The Beatles, but it would be childish and unconvincing. Today I have less problems with voices and the discomfort period is usually extremely short,, actually disappointingly short for me,, so I actively seek bands with “annoying” voices because the reward is always sweeter for the longer friction between annoyance and pleasure. IQ were great for an extended period of friction where I felt “I don’t know if I like this” and I wish I could experience that friction and discovery all over again.

Here is where the topic of annoying voices leads to... Mr Doctor’s DEVIL DOLL!!!

Mr Doctor is clearly the best looking man in music((Stephen Malkmus coming second)),, and his voice is where most people cant appreciate Devil Doll, their albums are like movies with a story acted out with classical, prog, metal, Slovenian folk and the many voices of Mr Doctor. His voice moves, changes shape and strains like the way a German Expressionist actor might use his body. The only similar vocalist I can think of is David Tibet of Current 93. I’ve read a great deal of people saying “I cant take this seriously, it’s way too silly” and others complain that the music is not scary,,,, they are mistaken in believing this horror themed music is supposed to scare.
It might sound like I’m complaining that everyone should like the things I like,, it’s more that I sense they are making sure there is no possibility they will enjoy this,,, with their defences and tribal prejudices guarding their ears.
I bought Sacrilegium a month ago and last week I bought the rest of their albums in one go,, one of those bands that makes you eat up their work as quickly as possible just in case the world explodes in a month or two. Ebay is the only place you will find them at reasonable prices and I think Mr Doctor might be against having their music on places like iTunes and I doubt they are on Spottify. Youtube has most of their albums, but since their songs tend to be single very long pieces in a movie-like structure, they will suffer from being cut up into small youtube videos. But here is a piece from Sacrilegium I selected because of the beautiful part towards the end of this clip...

Devil Doll is very much against reason dominating an artist, but my pusuit of militant reason does not bleed into my art. Mr Doctor sounded very reasonable himself in interviews, but I assume his stance is that too much logic and too much control can ruin art. He has written books about music and I’d be very happy if he released a book he planned about 1000 pieces of music pieces capable of inspiring fear in the listener.

If any of this sounded interesting to you, I’d encourage you to read more about them, because they are a truly bizarre band,, but that comes with the frustrations a fan can have with enigmatic artists,,, there is only one copy of their first album((guess who owns it))) and Mr Doctor says he has not been interested in releasing the songs for public consumption that they have been making since 1996 when their last album came out. I hope he changes his mind eventually,, because Sacrilegium really inspired me and opened some doors for me creatively.
I’ve been meaning for months to talk about what point there is in letting other people see your art,, and it has nothing to do with vanity. I bragged last year that I might lose interest in showing people my art, although I seriously considered maybe that was a healthy option,, I was mostly full of shit when I said that. I’ll always want to show people my work forever,, because I know that it can inspire people who might eventually inspire me back and multiple other artists,, so it’s like a big orgy of lots of artists making each other feel amazing. Where the hell would I be if I had never seen and heard my favourite artists? I wouldn’t be as good as I am,, and I think that sometimes you need to see other people to find yourself. I think that when I get better,, my art could have the power to help people find themselves artistically and maybe even have a more positive and wide-eyed view of life in general.
So Mr Doctor,, if you happen to Google yourself and read this,, and if that whole book of fan letters did not work... PLEASE release more albums, you would be inspiring more people and helping create a slightly but significantly better world. One great song has the power to push thousands of people in the right direction. We need more.


Human Mollusk said...

Aww, you really should have filmed your comic-burning Robert, and perhaps made some kind of performance or clensing ritual out of it. That would have been awesome. Next time you do something like that please post a clip of it on the blog. You would make your point more effectively (and more credibly), plus we would get shitloads of hits from that.
Anyway, I don't know if I would use the word militant in connection with reason, since it suggests an aggressiveness that is actually the opposite of being reasonable. Maybe radical would be better. Dunno.

I remember I mentioned The Mars Volta once in a comment on your "Prog" post, and you replied you din't like them becaus you find the singers voice annoying. Have you given them another try?

Human Mollusk said...

So many typos! Fuck.

Human Mollusk said...

...oh yeah and that Watchmen merchandise is totally ridiculous.

Robert Adam Gilmour said...

The burning taken about 4 hours and they were still burning in the back of a field for the rest of the night. Hardcovers take hours to burn and I nearly fell into the muck and water stream. I dont have any filming equipment either.

I like the term Militantly Reasonable because it sounds funny, my aforementioned buddy Paul laughed when I first used it.

I was actually going to mention that Mars Volta thing but I wondered if you would have brought this up,, funny thing is that I already loved their song Roulette Dares, I suppose I was really just going along with the opinion of some people I knew at the time,, which totally went against the point I was making in that post,, silly me! I'd be interested to find out how I felt about the vocals after lisetning to them properly,, but there is always the chance that once you get past the "annoyed stage" you may find the vocals boring and uneffective,, I think Muse are an okay band,, but Bellamy is often called annoying and I think that once you get used to his over the top vocals of certain songs, they can be more boring than thrilling. But I find that eccentric voices are usually very rewarding.

I'll probably get that first Mars Volta album at some point. I've actually got loads of really fucking great Prog music to post.

Human Mollusk said...

My facorite TMV album is "Frances the Mute", but it's probably the one that takes the longest to get into. Which kind of proves your point. The latest one's got too many easy-to-listen-to songs on it, which makes it get boring rather quickly in my opinion.

Human Mollusk said...

Man, I'm picturing you dancing around a pyre of burning Marvel comics at midnight on a fullmoon-lit scottish field dressed in bloodpattered druid robes.
Next time borrow a video camera from someone PLEASE!

Human Mollusk said...

favorite, bloodspattered

BTW, you never answered my question if you have any connection to those NEXION guys.

Robert Adam Gilmour said...

I think the real thing would have spoiled the image in your head,, although our farm is lovely. I doubt I'll ever buy many more things that deserve burning,, perhaps I can persuade other people to burn their bad comics,, but I wouldnt be surprised if there was a nasty backlash from crazed fanboys,, it could happen.

I forgotten to answer about that Nexion thing. No, I've never been in contact with those guys, I seen some in a music shop and i've never been into that style of underground comix,, they usually seem to be a community thing where people laugh about common experiences while smoking weed,, if it were more ambitious I might have been interested,, I dont want to knock them too much, there's nothing really wrong with it.
I dont actually know any artists from around the UK. Apart from some emails here and there,, there has been no contuinal contact or anything. Sometimes I wonder if there are actually any like-minded artists around me,, I'd certainly like to meet some talented people.

Aeron said...

Fucking hardcore, Robert! I'm sure you lost some money doing it but you also lost a lot of the headache and time it would take trying to sell the stuff too.

Reminds me of KLF burning amillion bucks.

Aeron said...

Also, here's a London based print maker that I think you will dig - You might get ahold of him? We've traded artwork before, his stuff is amazing, especially in hand.

Robert Adam Gilmour said...

The time and effort put into selling that stuff would not be worth it, even if I did make lots of money. But I would never burn money,, I have priniciples,, but I love money, or atleast love what it can get me.

That artist is impressively varied,, but I meant more in the way of local artists I could meet regularly with ease.

Anyone like the sound of Devil Doll?

Anonymous said...

Nice work on burning the comics, particularly if they are reprints which are gay.

I am currently taking the other route, trying to sell everything on eBay. However the money is barely worth the amount of time spent standing in Post Office, I'd love to burn it all but I'm not as hard as you. Otherwise it's charity shop.

I have this dream of selling everything, painting my house 100% white, and wearing only black clothes.


It's going to take me a bit to read all this, but in the mean time, i saw this record cover that reminded me strongly of the weird fluid parts of your drawings.
It seemed worth sharing.