Monthly Archives: November 2008

6 years and all I’ve done is become a little more stable.

Found an old notebook of mine, and was struck dumb by a moment of clarity sketched on it. I remember writing this to a friend, 6 years ago.

I suddenly realize that I fear dying. The realization dawned on me, during an idle moment, while my mind was preoccupied with my usual psychotic obsessions. Dying — death, not necessarily of the body, but of the mind. Nothing is scarier to me than the inevitable death of my thought, my memories. Whether these things fade away, or drift into the communal ether is something that even religion can’t (or won’t) answer.

So, why the sudden fear of such a thing? Perhaps because I am starting to realize the fragility of that thing we call “mind.” Whether I can blame chemicals or something more fundamental, the result is the same. I can’t escape it — my mind is failing. I feel it failing — like a weak heart. I can feel my own sanity slipping away from me. It’s absolutely terrifying — every psychotic episode seems like it brings me closer to death.

Assuming, then, that my time as a functional human being is quickly coming to a close, my dreams and aspirations suddenly develop a new sense of urgency. The threat of becoming unable to fulfill my dreams weighs down on me like a cloud of dread. I absolutely cannot afford to stay idle.

Whether I’ve ten useful years left in me, or even five, the clock is ticking, and I must achieve. If I don’t, all of my struggles to keep a hold of my wits will be a complete waste.

I was a senior in college when I wrote this, and suffering from near-crippling bipolar disorder. It was easily one of the worst years of my life, and yet one of my most important and formative. I’m no longer anywhere near that unstable and haven’t been in quite a long time. I sought treatment by a professional, and came out okay.

And yet there are certain aspects of being in that place, that very dark place, that I miss. First and foremost is the sense of direction, the drive, the panic-induced aspiration. It’s been so long since I’ve been on the brink and worried about losing my mind. Stability has robbed me of this, and complacency has set in. Maybe “complacency” is too strong a word, but I’ve most certainly lost the fire in my gut, replaced by a vague sense of unease and discontent.

I’ll be spending the next few months trying to get that back.

Metropolis film geek heaven

I’m a big fan of the old silent film Metropolis. While it’s not the best silent film ever made, or even the most important, it holds up really well today and it’s the first silent film I ever enjoyed.

But the way I enjoyed it was a little different than other people. My experience was enhanced by 80s pop music by the likes of Adam Ant and Pat Benetar. Disco maven Giorgio Moroder produced an earlier restoration in 1984 and scored it like a (then) modern movie. It was enthralling. I couldn’t pull my eyes away. To this day, this form of the film is one of the most memorable films of my youth.

This version is, of course, hated by film purists and has been out of print for most of my lifetime. I’ve long considered hunting down a (quite rare) laserdisc copy, but in the rare event I see one for sale, it’s quickly snapped up for hundreds of dollars. It just never happened, for obvious reasons. In the years since, the copyright to the film has been recaptured by the original German producers and a film museum in Munich, who have recently produced their own far more complete restoration (with scenes discovered well after Moroder’s version was made). The Moroder version seemed to have been left for dead.

Luckily, I was not the only one who felt this way. Now, a hardcore fan of the Moroder version has reassembled the film with far higher quality footage from the new restoration, reinstated Moroder’s tint and soundtrack, and even added a few of the additional scenes with other similar sounding Moroder music. He’s just about done now and ready to make this restored version available. I’m so excited I want to explode.

Between this and the new 100% complete version that was just discovered in July (and apparently headed for Blu-Ray release next year) this has been such an amazing year for fans of Metropolis. Happy happy happy.

Lost in a brave new world

Life seemed to turn on a dime last night as the election results came in. I was at my usual haunt, a bar in Greenpoint called Black Rabbit. The night went from tense and nervous at around 7pm to nervous and cautious optimism at 9pm to awed and excited anticipation at 10pm, which exploded into utter jubilation at 11, when every news organization simultaneously called it for Obama. Surrounded by friends, the cheers of like-minded people, and a sense that we may yet crawl out of this horrible cesspool we’ve dug for ourselves, I started to overload. (As McCain gave his concession speech, a huge fire down the street further added to our jitters.)

Today, speaking to my hardcore neo-conservative father and reading the reactions of the now disenfranchised right, I found the resentment I had towards them not fade, but morph into relief that they no longer seemed to matter. I no longer need to fear their ignorance and their selfishness, for the moment at least. Nonetheless, an unholy generational gap has emerged, between those of us who have had friends in other countries before we were allowed to drive, who have grown up in a world of sushi and MySpace and AIM, and those who live in isolation and fear. That such isolation and fear and their violent, reactionary consequences have taken root in a generation that once touted themselves as one of universal love and acceptance will become the joke of history. That America has finally found its footing again is proof that we can reinvent ourselves. I’d be lying if I wasn’t worried about someday turning into something so foolish and outdated myself. But for today, I’ll let the tears flow as I hear stories of inner city, minority youth dreaming of becoming a lawyer, and never fully comprehending the extent of suffering, the small-mindedness, the racism that was overcome. To not revel in this joy today is to deny these things. To not appreciate the difference this seemingly minor change in psychology will make in the lives of people worldwide and others’ perception of us as a people is to turn one’s back on dreams of a better world.

I’m currently obsessed with a new band called Passion Pit, which I first heard on KEXP’s Song of the Day podcast. It’s really experimental electronica, with a gritted-teeth sort of intensity and the innocence of 80s pop. Visually, it’s the sort of music that conveys a sunny fall day on a pleasant street somewhere, as you watch the world go by. I haven’t been this excited about a new band since MGMT.

As I lay back listening to this warm swimming pool of comfort and contemplating a world that suddenly seems like it holds promise of decency and forward thinking, I’m overcome by an utterly alien sense of relief and joy. I don’t know what to do with it. It’s scaring me.