cautionary mathematics

Late-night medical documentaries + lots of Faulkner in very short periods of time + Joanna Newsom’s “Emily” on repeat for eight straight hours = really surreal and fucked up dreams

Take note! If you ever feel driven to consume a similar media cocktail, at least listen to something bouncy and straightforward to counteract mental images of Southern Gothic amputees.


~ by Not Alice on December 12, 2006.

5 Responses to “cautionary mathematics”

  1. I’m not familiar with Joanna Newsom, but “Southern Gothic amputees” sounds like a fascinating start to a short story….

  2. Some of the short stories I’ve written had their starts in dreams. I am blessed — or maybe cursed — with long, incredibly detailed and realistic, surreal narrative dreams.

    The Southern Gothic amputees are mostly the Faulkner and discovery health. I think Joanna Newsom provided the atmosphere, the colour, the nighttime setting. I think of sound in terms of colour a lot of the time, and “Emily” is a very dusky song. Twilight, muted colours, lots of greens and blues and long shadows with occasional flashes of bright sunlight. And the smell of pine and of plant growth in standing water.

    After I posted this I put on her CD Ys again and started to wonder if I should edit in a lengthy rhapsodical ode to Joanna. I have no idea how to describe her, though, and I’m not sure I can capture just why I am so entranced with her right now. I don’t think I could convey it to anyone who hasn’t heard the music. If you’re interested her songs are all over the mp3 blogs right now because she shows up on almost every “best of 2006” list — there are a bunch of links to them here . I think you can stream through that site. “Emily” is my favourite right now. There’s one part where she sings, “we thought our very hearts would up and melt away” that makes my heart melt a little. She takes a commitment to listen to, though; “Emily” is one of the shorter songs on Ys and it’s twelve minutes long. I suspect she may be one of those artists who is difficult to love.

    I ramble! I can talk about music as lengthily as I can books. I don’t usually because it’s much harder to contain within words, and much more subjective. It’s such a visceral thing, different for everyone, and almost impossible to explain. That’s one of the reasons I love Carson McCullers, by the way. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter has one of the best literary descriptions of music that I’ve ever come upon…

  3. I think Joanna Newsome alone could do it, as far as dreams go (as reverie alone will do, if bees are few). But Faulkner and medical documentaries definitely do push it in to cautionary tale territory.

    I’ve heard ‘Emily’ was written for her sister, who is an astrophysicist.

  4. Nora — Yes, Joanna Newsom is quite the reverie musician. Which is probably why I like Ys! I’m all about spending long hours lost in reverie. :D

    It makes sense that “Emily” would be about an astrophysicist sister … but I think I prefer the fictional stories that I make up whenever I listen to it.

  5. Music is intentionally aliteral, so any writing about it would have to be some kind of supplement or cue to the experience, wouldn’t it?

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