Hey guys! I'm playing with my new band: The Vone! All my latest blog posts have been about the band and can be found here: https://medium.com/@marcelocervone
Hey guys! I'm playing with my new band: The Vone! All my latest blog posts have been about the band and can be found here: https://medium.com/@marcelocervone
Song suggestion: Swimming Home by Evanescence.
The tiny career I have built thus far is made possible by fringe theatre. Summer 2014, I went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the first time and needless to say, it was the best month of my life. No consecutive 30 days in a row have ever been so nurturing, fun, intense and hard working in my life. Not my first international tour, not even drama school, certainly not university!
In my life, I have much to be greatful for, and one of those many things I'm grateful for is fringe theatre. That same summer, I met some amazing people and made new friends. I also intentionally networked the shit out of the Ed Fringe... 8 months later I received an offer to be in my first professional show of the back of that, before I'd even graduated from drama school. That same professional show then went on to have a third life (its first incarnation was at The Fringe - and I watched it 7 times) in the West End. That's how I performed my West End debut on the 17th of January 2016, in Action To The Word's legendary, steam punk, rock opera, Dracula - which was a huge success, with an immediate full-house standing ovation as we took our bows by the way 😎.
In my opinion, fringe theatre is a great thing and it is at the heart of what makes the UK such a great place for theatre today.
However, recently I've encountered a counter argument worth discussing: fringe theatre is the cause of underpaid acting and the exploitation of actors in the UK. I completely agree with this notion as well, though my first instinct is: "fuck it! That's normal, everyone has to start somewhere!"
The problem is, not everyone is as fortune as I am, and I have been extremely fortunate in the past year: from drama school to 5 professional productions in a row, including one West End credit and 2 international tours, in just under 8 months.
Some say it's hard work, craft and dedication, but I don't entirely agree. I have friends who are also extremely hard working, who simply haven't been at the right place at the right time - yet.
I think the truth is the argument for improper underpaid acting is the grim opposite side of the fringe theatre coin. Fringe theatre is notoriously underpaid and most commonly not paid at all! While I was working for one of my favorite theatre companies, in my first professional production, I wasn't being paid - and we actors also need to put food on the table! This also lead to other discussions with other people about what defines a 'professional production', though I'd rather not get into that at this time...
It is because we keep accepting unpaid and underpaid jobs that there are unpaid jobs for actors in the first place! So an argument could be made that we should hold tight, and only accept work that pays something worthy. I disagree, but it is a valid point. I do think everyone has to start somewhere. What would happen to the amount of shows being performed around the UK, if you had to find a professional budget for every single one? There wouldn't be as many shows, and it is the sheer amount of shows available for an amateur actor to audition for that allows him to find success somewhere.
I auditioned for an average of 10 shows per week during my time studying in Cambridge. My ratio then was 10 to 1. 10 auditions for every offer or recall I received. Cambridge was an excellent training ground: I learnt the meaning and value of rejection and how to take it on the chin.
Then the argument takes an interesting spin: fringe theatre for all "amateur" actors and paid theatre for all "professional" actors - anyone who's successfully graduated from drama school should only work for money (note that having a paper saying someone's taught you how to "act" is not everything and does not necessarily mean you are a professional).
How would it work then? I believe, if every actor decided to take some "pride" in his work (although money isn't everything), fight for their "rights" (although money isn't everything - and it certainly isn't a human right to be paid for your art), stand up and refuse to accept anything that is unpaid or underpaid (although money isn't everything - and we should do this because we love it), then we would face the ironic and terrible reality that there would be more working "amateurs" than working "professionals"!
I do think we should do this because we love it. I do think there is far more to life than money. However, I also know that my definition of success is making a living, or in other words, being paid from doing something I love.
Therefore, I present two solutions: number one is place your eggs in more than one basket. I don't just rely on my craft and skills as an actor, I'm an actor-musician who also sings and dances, I play six instruments and I am currently learning my seventh, and I am by all definitions what you would call a jack of all trades. This is the only way forward in the world we live today - and this is independent of whether we're talking about the entertainment industry or something entirely different, like advertisement!
My cousin is an advertiser and he told me that in the "old days" they worked in pairs: the art director and the copywriter. Now a days, it is more frequent (at least in London - and it is cutting edge in Brazilian advertisement for example), to have two art directors, still working as a duo, but both trained in the visual-creative arts and the art of using influential vernacular to sell your product.
Therefore: 1) Place your eggs in many baskets - best advice I've ever received in my life.
The second solution is balance. Everyone does have to start somewhere and the world would not be the same without fringe theatre - it is utterly fantastic and lovely. The world of theatre and entertainment would certainly not be the same without the fringe, in fact I think every industry has its 'fringe' and that's always a good starting point for a young professional. Therefore, a balance between paid jobs and non-paid jobs will provide you with the money and the exposure you are looking for. Sometimes, this means working at Starbucks, which as you can imagine, sucks donkey dick. But, if like me, you've put your eggs in many baskets, you can go busking and earn 3 times as much you would at Starbucks in 1/10th of the time.
Therefore: 2) Balance is the key to a happy life - as cheesy as that sounds.
This is what I think about underpaid, unpaid, fringe jobs, versus never "exploiting" an actor. I do think it is a subject that is not to be taken lightly and I do think we actors need to always be careful with what jobs we say yes to because there a lot of arseholes out there...
I hope my suggestions and proposed solutions help anyone who was in need of reading this at this moment in time. Meanwhile, let us not forget that the most important things are hard work (no one gets anywhere by sitting around on the couch waiting for their phone to ring), and enjoying that hard work! There's no point doing all of this and going through the insanity of being in the arts and entertainment industry, unless you enjoy it!
I suggest, learn to love the audition process, because you'll be doing more of that than anything else!
Peace, I'm out!
Song suggestions: 'Time' by Hans Zimmer (If you feel like something beautiful and majestic, but which is an imitation of his previous work) or 'Walk' by the Foo Fighters (If you feel like something raw and loud, but which displays the Foo's recording in their garage, using analog equipment and old school tape, to try something new (again), going against everything modern music makers around them thought would sound good).
"Art, is not painting, or sculpture, or... writing a play. Some of those might be art, but lots of times, merely paint by number. On the other hand, the triage nurse at the Greensborough Hospital, who looks you in the eye and does a better job of getting you the right care you need, that's art, cause its not in a manual, and it can't be done the same way every time, and it's human, and it might not work, and it involves a connection. So my definition of art is yes, Andy Warhol did somethings that were art, and other things he was merely copying himself, the ones that he did (that) were art were moments where he was initiating, and inventing, and creating, and yes, touching other people. So if the painter keeps all her paintings in the attic until after she's dead, she's not an artist, she's a painter. It's not art until there's a collision with the world. Now, part of what makes it art, is it being done for the first time. This conversation you and I are having, you put a lot of effort into thinking about how to guide it and doing the research, and you're saying things which might not resonate with me, we didn't practice, so in this moment, there's some art going on, and if it becomes really remarkable people here will remember it for weeks or years to come."
- Seth Godin and Nido Qubein, interview at High Point University.
"The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition... always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning."
- Roland Gérard Barthes
According to Seth Godin, art is the act of doing something you are not sure will succeed. Some things Andy Warhol created were art, others were not, they were simply imitations of themselves.
I agree with him. But, I think it is only 1/3 of the full picture. The second third, is something I mentioned in Artistic Value (Part I). To me, art is something that expresses meanings, feelings and ideas. I think it is also defined as something that stirs emotions in the viewer, or doesn't, perhaps it challenges his or her perceptions of the world around them, of art itself, or perhaps just provokes thoughts in them.
And then, the third part of my definition is how I would say nothing in life is black and white. Everything has different shades, levels, perspectives to it. I've been quite black and white with the way I've seen situations in my life in the past. Recently, I've come to deslike people who can't see things from more than one perspective. Art is not black and white. It is the opposite of that.
In order to define something as art, one can compare it to other art that's out there and put it on a spectrum. Therefore, part 3: the definition of art is a spectrum.
On one side of the spectrum I'd place the banalities of life, the mundane, everyday actions we go through in contemporary life. Ground zero is washing your dishes. The triage nurse from Greensborough hospital would be somewhere on this end of the spectrum.
On the opposite side of that spectrum you have a brand new creation, which the world has never seen before.
Taking music as an art form that I understand profoundly from a practical and an emotional perspective: with every new musical period that came to be in the history of western art music-Renaissance - Baroque - Classical - Romantic - Impressionism - Expressionism and so on - every time there has been a revolution in the musical world, art was being made.
The Avant Garde period in France was a period in the early 20th century of great artistic value to the performing arts from this perspective. Now a days, some forms of performance art, body art, extremism and expressionism are considered the cutting edge ideas of the art world... The world has certainly become stranger...
But, from the perspective of the Seth Godin part of that definition, the first iPhone was also a work of art... And so was the first phone with a camera on it, and so was the first phone with a GPRS signal, and so on... Technology, or perhaps new ways of communicating with ever wider and ever greater audiences - a new technique in marketing for instance, a brand new brilliant advertisement - all of these, would also be considered art by this part of the definition...
When I was younger I would never consider this art, but why shouldn't it be? Aren't these types of creations the kind that change the world, change people's lives, influence them, make them feel and allow them to further connect with each other? In addition, aren't these the kinds of inventions that could've flopped, and in certain cases did flop? To top that, taking the iPhone as an example, isn't it a piece of technology that allows us to create a sense of identity from it? I'm not just talking about using Shitstagram - the Samsung S7 has that plague of an app too - I'm talking about why we choose to buy an iPhone over a Samsung!
Samsungs are clearly much better, far more advanced Korean technologies that trump the iPhone on many levels, but they do not trump the American design. And that is key! In the past month I've had conversations with two of my friends who agree that Samsungs are better, but that they wouldn't change - "we're iPhone users, iPhones are cool!"
A part of my identity - a very minute part mind you - but certainly a part of it is definied by the "breakthrough" technology I use: in this case, the iPhone. Art helps us redefine our identities all the time and we, in turn, redefine art.
However, the iPhone is no longer a breakthrough and that's why I placed it in inverted commas above. But, it still helps me define my identity. It still says: "I'm a bohemian hipster in search of things that make me seem more powerful, richer, more current than I actually am", hahah, just kidding, I am rich... In love, health and friendship.
The iPhone is therefore no longer cutting edge, yet it still holds characteristics that I would define as art.
So what about Andy Warhols' imitations of himself? What about 'Star Wars: Episode VII'? The latter is a perfect example of this. Take John Williams' fantastic Oscar nominated score for it: it is nothing new, it may be seen as an imitation of his previous work on the Star Wars franchise, though it still brings tears to my eyes nonetheless - made me cry like a little boy just now on this flight to Doha, right before I started writing this entry, on my iPhone... (It was my fifth viewing since it came out by the way 😎).
In other words, art is many things: combat, war - you certainly do not know if those things will be a success either, and there is certainly an element of performativity to fighting. It is closely related to our egos and how we see ourselves.
Speaking of performativity, that's where I would categories part 4 of my view on art: an element of performativity (Pardon me for not mentioning this in my introduction even after editing this; I want whoever's reading this to know that I was thinking about all of this as I was writing and that I wrote it all in one sitting; this is an attempt at preserving my train of thought in its purest form). And this is where it gets really interesting, because if there is an element of performativity, all art becomes more intriguing - no one cares for a musician that sings his music without heart! (Note that Seth Godin could've made a similar argument for the musician that plays his music in his room, to himself, until the day he dies - I would also agree with him there, though I like taking this route into the conversation, by closely connecting performativity to passion.)
But, from that perspective, we're back to square one, and if you wash your dishes with this element of performativity, you've created a work of art. I wasn't the first to think of this, so that's why you have Performance Art. And trust me, everything you can think of has been done already: there was even this fantastic piece where an audience gathered round to see someone get shot in a non-lethal spot - there were many ways in which that could've gone wrong...
So there we are, I conclude life that is far from black & white and that art is even farther - so far, it creates new colors - and I can define art by categorising it into 4 key elements:
1) Art is something that expresses meanings, feelings or ideas; alternatively, it invokes these in the viewer, or provokes change, reaction or thought.
2) Art is something new and its creator does not know whether it will succeed, but he's going to try it anyway.
3) Art is not black and white, or rather, art is not black or white, meaning it can't ever only be one thing, it is always multi-layered and it means different things to different people.
4) Art always has an element of performativity. This one is debatable, but then again, so is everything - I'd say even an art gallery and its artist has an element of performativity, the gallery, the artist, the audience, all coming together to create this fabric of performativity, as a whole and as individual entities - hell, I'd say most things in life are performed, even our genders! (Oooooh awesome conversation to be had right there.) This goes right back to Seth Godin's point about colliding with the world. I think the collision comes from creating a connection to the world and the audience. I even think the level of collision itself may be put on a spectrum. I also think performativity may be put on a spectrum, like art itself, and the level of performativity of the art under consideration is connected to the kind of collision the artist is having with the world. In Andy Warhol's case, his collision and his performativity was defined by the way his art was presented to the world. Anything in an art gallery or in the realm of the visual arts, may or may not have a smaller level of performativity to it, when compared to something in the realm of the performing arts; nevertheless, everything has an element of performance to it at its foundation. However, this does not mean I think everything is art to a certain extent, nor do I think everything has art at its foundation.
There is something I said in part 3) that I hadn't mentioned before in this entry: art always means different things to different people. This is the most important thing I've written down. This is what makes art beautiful, along with our abilities to judge, analyse and decide what we consider art. If we're talking about 'The Death of the Author' (check out Roland Barthes), or creation versus imitation, here's additional beauty for you: even this subject is subjective; even part 2) of my definition is a spectrum in itself. Do you define art as new art because it is new within its already existing category or genre, or because it has created a new category in itself?
Even something as magnificent, tried, tested and blockbustered as 'Star Wars: Episode VII' had its chances of being a gigantic flop - we can't ever know what our audience is going to think, and we cannot make people like us or our work. So in other words, art is far broader than even Seth Godin made it out to be, and it should be a genuine pleasure to decide for ourselves what we consider art and what we don't, what we consider good art and what we don't, and what we consider great!
Good song to accompany your reading: Transatlanticism, Death Cab for Cutie
I think, if you try to have too much control over your life, you lose control over your thoughts.
Mind pollution, that's what I call it. That's what I want to talk about.
Do you ever feel like you're over flowed with thoughts, concerns, fears, dreams, emotions? What about fearing death? Fearing the unknown? Perhaps it all stems from there, fearing death and the unknown, and perhaps, this little bit of insight will help you.
You fear death, therefore you try to live your life to the fullest, therefore you try to control how everything happens in your life.
But, just taking me as an example, the more I try to control my everyday, the less I succeed and the more polluted my thoughts become. Instead of living in the moment, I live in the past and in the future. In the past, trying to understand or come to terms with what has happened. Perhaps, trying to erase it, trying to deny it, trying to re-create the order of events in my head and re-invent my image of myself - but, if we want to re-invent ourselves, we need only to do so, no need for denial... And, living in the future, trying to plan ahead, making sure I do everything I should do before the day I die.
Maybe that's where jealousy comes from too? Maybe it's an attempt at controlling those around you? Or having them all to yourself? Even at a subconscious level - jealousy when you're not even aware that you're jealous... Perhaps, this is the most dangerous form of it, because it requires more awareness of ourselves, more vigilance. This is what I was talking about in my previous post. Not being aware of yourself, not questioning your impulses and becoming comfortable, comfortable in a shell that you've created for yourself, and also, comfortable with mediocrity, with mediocre actions. When someone isn't aware that they're jealous of someone else, they are ripe for taking actions that may hurt the person they are jealous of. Even if they are 'friends'. Jealousy is a bitch, and lack of self-awareness and ignorance are even worse, because they allow people to act on their jealousy.
Lack of self-awareness and ignorance may even be the cause of jealousy. Someone may have a 'jealousy' originally stemmed from insecurities, and such insecurities may originally stem from a lack of awareness of said person's true strengths and weaknesses, and a lack of self-confidence.
I believe self-awareness leads to confidence because you discover what you have, who you are, what you don't have, and how you can achieve what you want. And trust me, acting on your jealousy is not a good way to achieve what you want.
So jealousy can be a form of control. It can stem from insecurities and from not knowing yourself, which means you also don't know what you need to have control over and what you don't...
Something's are not meant to be controlled.
I believe trying to control our lives, control ourselves, control each other - all of that, comes from our internal disputes of power and our pursuits of identity and purpose, and somehow, death is an over-arching factor that affects how we deal with these three things: power (control) identity (self-awareness) and purpose (unknown). It therefore must all stem from death. Or rather our human relationship with life and death. But, the question still remains, why do we fear death?
Because we believe we only live once? How is that possible? How could all this exist for each and every one of us to only experience once? There is a fact in the realm of physics, which to me, proves that some form of 'after life' is the only possible explanation: all energy is only ever transformed, never destroyed.
Well, we are energy, we are made of the same fundamental chemical composition of the stars, and every time a star dies, it paves a path for thousands of other stars to be born.
Perhaps your 'energy' is just food for maggots... Who knows! Believe what you want to believe! Even for me - someone who believes in re-incarnation and life after death, it is hard to live in the moment. I fear the end of things, therefore I try to control them, I try to hold on to them, and that removes me from the moment. That's why for me, nostalgia is one of the deepest forms of sadness I can experience, missing the past, reminiscing... But never longing for it, I don't want to turn back time.
The solution I believe, begins with knowing myself. That's the eternal quest. The more I discover about myself, the more I know what I want, the less I care about the unknown; I feel less jealous because I feel less need to control those around me; the more I discover myself, the more I discover that those around me have more similarities to me than differences, we all share the same intuition, the same voice inside our hearts, and somehow our souls are all unified; the more I discover myself, the more joy I can find in my own personal pursuit of happiness, enjoying the journey, the journey, which should always be the destination. If the universe is infinite, then perhaps life is also infinite, which makes the journey, the only possible destination.
And when it comes to fearing the end, or dwelling too much on the past or on the future, I think the solution is to focus on what's around me. Focus on the now in the same way some forms of meditation ask us to focus on breath to bring us to the moment. I will encourage myself and anyone who reads this to focus on what's around us. The little details, the little things in life, that's what will allow us to inhabit the present, that's also what will make the difference between something good and something great, and that's what will make life worth living.
Song suggestion: Hide and Seek, Imogen Heap
I've stopped to think about the impulses behind some of my actions. I then thought about the impulses behind other people's actions.
I know this may be over-analytical, but let's say I wanted to change a part of me that is constantly upsetting people around me and causing re-occurring discussions. I've noticed that I am capable of avoiding big discussions, or avoiding hurting people, if I always challenge my impulses. Even in relation to the smallest of things - I believe the impulse behind a look, a small movement with your body language, a joke, or anything that may upset someone, is the same impulse that makes you take an action with the actual intention of hurting them. The only difference, is that we don't realise these impulses are there all the time. These little ones I am talking about are at a sub-conscious level. It takes a lot of effort to be vigilante in this way, but I have found that it is worth it. If I really want to make a difference to those around me, I think it will be by paying attention to the small things that I will succeed.
I think that if I want to make a difference, that difference is going to have to come from within. I will have to first enact the change within me. And, the ability to change from within will come from observation: understanding who I am, what I do, and most importantly, why I do it.
Now, let's say I wanted to make a difference by influencing others to be better. At what point do I cross the line and realise I am simply imposing my views and beliefs upon them?
Do you know when a play, a film, or an album, presents a really good critique or satire of the world we live in? What does this kind of art make me feel? Primarily, I think I feel excited. Excited, that someone is speaking their mind. It's coming from a place of truth, and I think it usually comes from a place of goodness. But, does this kind of art always come from a place of 'wanting to make a difference'?
I don't think art has to necessarily mean something specific, it can mean anything. I think that fundamentally it should express... But, if the point of said art is to satirise, parody, criticise, doesn't that automatically imply that the hand behind the creation was trying to achieve something beyond expression? If we assume that that the creator wanted to achieve something more, what would that 'something' be? Change?
Are some of us out there to inspire change? If so, what change? For the better? How do we define 'for the better'? What is best for me, may not be the best for you, right?
But, let's say an artist does want to change something in the world, or bring light to an issue through his art... I think that art, as a medium, does make a difference. I have found myself re-thinking my actions because of films I've seen, songs I've heard, art I've admired and performances I've been inspired by. I think that it is hard to argue that art is not a strong medium for influence, revelation, change and revolution.
Great, so that thought seems to have reached a conclusion. But, something still bothers me about the idea of wanting to make a difference, or inspire change.
I have tried to inspire change in my life, through art and through dialogue, but I haven't succeeded in changing much, and this remains a frustrating part of my quotidian life.
I think there may be many reasons behind my frustration and my lack of success in that area of my life. At a first glance, I realise some of the people I am trying to inspire don't actually want to change. This makes me sad, because I spend the majority of my waking life trying to improve who I am; seeing people satisfied with mediocrity challenges my faith in the world and in human nature.
But then, I give it further thought and I realise, sometimes there are things that shouldn't be changed. Or, that there are things that don't change by having someone pointing them out as a flaw, but rather from inside, when the change is ready to be received. This makes me disappointed with myself, because I should know better than to impose thoughts and beliefs on anyone.
However, some people, some forms of communication, some mediums, some trends, have a massive effect on people and change their lives from one second to another. So, perhaps it's a question of how much power and influence I have on others as a person? In this case, there isn't much I can do. It is frustrating, and sometimes I wish that the messenger didn't have that much of an influence on the message. The truth is, we don't have time to think very deeply about things, and if we do, that usually means we're unemployed.
The really frustrating thing though, is that in relation to that last scenario, sometimes these 'things' that have massive influences on people are irresponsible and cause what I would judge as a bad influence.
I like to categorise things and I like to find patterns in them, that way I can generalise about them. This helps me to understand the world around me. Naturally, I then started to look for traits that unify, under one umbrella, all these particular things I have observed to have a massive influence on people.
I learnt that there isn't necessarily any unifying trait behind all the different mediums of influence, other than the fact that they are massively exposed to everyone - I guess, I am now talking about all forms of widely advertised media. These have the power of allowing us to connect to the rest of the world, exposing us to more information than we are capable of retaining and, I believe, have the power of dumbing us down. It is becoming easier and easier to be brainless and not think for ourselves. I wish I could change that...
So that got me thinking, yes, I don't have the power alone to influence people in any significant way, and that will be the bane of my life, as long as I remain in the same position within the society I live in. But, if I do care about something and if I do want to make a difference about it - using something I am good at as my medium, then that is what I am going to do. That is all I can do. And it is good enough for me, no matter how frustrating it may be.
I will however, try to hone in my abilities to do this over the years, and part of that will involve opening my eyes, understanding and categorising, which types of 'change' I consider good and which types I consider bad.
In relation to art specifically (as opposed to a personal influence I might try to have on people), how do I draw the line, in my mind, between the art that is truly out there to inspire change and the art that is being influenced to be an influence? How do I differ between honesty and a fad? That's what really matters right? Is it just a fad? Dishonest charity is not something I enjoy being a part of, so I will stay vigilant, so that I always create from within and think twice, every time I am creating with the intention of inspiring change.
Right now, I would like to inspire people to be different. Be different. Just be different. Be yourselves. Don't follow the crowd. Just be who you want to be, be the person you think is the best version of you. Don't go with the fads and the trends. Create your own trends, or don't at all - not everything has to be a trend. And, not everything has to be original! That's what will most likely make it original, ironically...
I would also like to inspire people, in the spirit of being the best version of themselves, to challenge their impulses. Don't let anything pass you by, as exhausting as it may be. It is worth it! You don't need to travel far, nor meditate for hours, nor find a mentor to discover the truth, the truth about yourself and the truth about the world. All you need to do is question yourself and the world around you. Be inquisitive. Question. Let's be better. Nature evolves, so let's get with that trend and do our part for the improvement of mankind. Change comes from within.
"Most of my parents' friends and most of my parents' friends' children, also have degrees. This doesn't mean that they've managed to find the kind of work they wanted. Not at all; they went to university because someone, at a time when universities seemed important, said that, in order to rise in the world, you had to have a degree. And thus the world was deprived of some excellent gardeners, bakers, antique dealers, sculptors and writers."
- Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
I always feel inspired when I travel. It's as if, as soon as I see the boarding gate approaching I feel a song coming on! Haha!
Sitting here at gate C15 at Dubai International airport, I feel an impending need to be in touch with the whole world at once. It's like this 'inspiration' is actually powered by nostalgia, or the need to share how I feel with everyone I know.
I want to tell everyone where I am, share my experience, let them know how happy I am, how privileged I am to be going to visit my family in Qatar, a half hour flight away, on one of my days off from an international tour, which I am also privileged to be a part of.
I can't just sit here and enjoy my music though, I feel the nostalgia building up inside of me, so I feel like talking to someone I know... but, it's more than that... I'm sure the nostalgia is something particular to me, I wear my heart on my sleeve, like so many other sensitive, intuitive, emotional people, but, I am sure that part of what I am feeling right now is something shared by the majority of people living in this modern society today, not just people who are nostalgic.
It is this need to know what everyone else is up to, this need to let everyone know what I'm up to, ''Oh look, a song that reminds me of my friend just came on, let me Snapchat him'', ''Oh look, an airport terminal, time to go on Instagram and show everyone how perfect my life is #nofilter'', ''Mmmm, I just bought a #tasty donut from #KrispyKreme, #LivingTheDream #OMG #ImSoFat #FatArseComingThrough #Barf''.
However, whenever I use my phone too much, I feel like I'm asleep. I look back at the past few minutes of my life and I can't remember anything concretely. It's all a blur. So, I've decided, instead of texting everyone as soon as I'm alone, to start writing, at least that's useful to me in many ways.
Because let's be honest, there isn't much use in letting everyone know what you're listening to, what you're eating, what you're feeling, thinking, what you're doing every waking moment of your life. There isn't, because it's all artificial. Everything you could possibly receive from speaking to someone face to face cannot be achieved by using a phone. Therefore, all you get is a temporary relief, a temporary feel-good-feeling of ''they know what I'm up to''. You slowly lose the pleasure of being face to face, you slowly become desensitized to people's feelings, you end up spending time on your phone even when you are in the presence of other human beings, you start feeling greater pleasure from letting someone who's 5,000 miles away know what you're up to, than speaking to the person right in front of you. Not only does this make me feel like emotionally, this must be limiting and debilitating, but I'm sure there is also an enhancement of our disconnection to the rest of the world occurring. And I mean the 'real' world. The world that's always around you, just waiting to be admired, not the world that's only around you when you have battery on your phone.
I seem to have a vague recollection, pieced together naturally - without any effort from me - from diverse conversations I've had throughout my life, that if everyone decided to follow their dreams the world wouldn't work...? Is that actually a general consensus? I'm not sure, but something tells me that more than one person has given me this sceptic view on living life. What would happen, if everyone actually decided to follow their dreams? Perhaps, we would just have a happy world. Who knows? It's not like everyone has exactly the same dream, I mean, what would be of the colour blue, if everyone liked yellow? I know people who are just as passionate about business as I am about music, but that's not something that was taught to them. They always had it in them. That's definitely not something they learnt at university, or a passion that they acquired by having their parents tell them, 'you need to get a job that can pay the bills, you need to get some security - go and study business, because that's what everyone does when they don't know what they want to do.' No, trust me, there are plenty of dreams to go around, so I think everyone should follow their dreams. The world would definitely be a happier place if everyone did exactly that.
What does that have to do with the rest of the post? Absolutely nothing. But, if I follow the train of thought through, how does the world we live in today affect people's ability to follow their dreams? More specifically, how does our use of technology and dependency on our phones, affect our ability to follow our dreams? My mind tells me that, in part, we are numb. Certainly less in tune with our hearts. And something else tells me that this is mostly caused by a staggering decrease in our attention span, and a momentous increase in the attention given to the ephemeral, the futile and the petty.
It really frustrates me when I'm talking to someone and they diverge their attention to check a Snapchat. I ask myself, 'is this person really that interested in what that other person is doing half a world away?' Every time I sit at a family dinner I notice a greater interest, from those around me, in checking up on what a friend is doing over 8,000 miles away, rather than paying attention to what's directly in front of them.
I feel the need to urge everyone, anyone, my friends, my family to stop using their phones so much. Just stop. Someone calculated how much time we spend per year on Facebook... I can't even remember what the average a day was, but it was a small one, less than most people spend on it, that's for sure... And it amounted to something like 2 or 3 weeks in a year of Facebook usage - and that's just Facebook! I could record an entire professional album in that time. I have rehearsed an entire musical in that time. I could probably learn the foundations of a new language in that time. Actually no, I'm trilingual, I could definitely learn the foundations of a new language in that time. Have I made my point yet? Does this matter to anyone? I feel like a picky, annoying, radical, arrogant, dick head for even writing this post. But, I shouldn't. And, I won't. I think I have a point. Ironically though, if it weren't for all of yous who spend hours on your Facebook feed checking what everyone else is up to, these posts would never get any traction!
Something in my heart tells me that if we were more in tune with our hearts, we'd all know exactly what we should be doing. And something else tells me that being on our phones all the time is not helping us get in touch with ourselves. In fact, it is an escape, there is no doubt about that. It is a way of doing precisely the opposite, to be outside of ourselves, to be interested in what someone else is doing, rather than spending time talking to ourselves and getting to know who we truly are.
I can think of a lot of people I know, friends and family, who would argue with me and say 'I know who I truly am.' But even then, they haven't taken the time to ask themselves, 'Am I who I truly am? Or am I what society has made me out to be?' Of course, we are a product of our environment and naturally, we all take influence from the world around us, those who teach us, our friends, family and our parents. But, why can't my environment be a product of me? Why can't I be so in tune with myself, so independent, so strong minded, so myself, that the environment I'm in changes, for the better, because of the way I am?
Just ask yourself, 'what can I personally do to change the world around me?' And there you'll find your own personal way of making the world a better place, and you will also find your own personal way of relating to the world, your own personal way of seeing the world, your own personal way of being you. Not the way of being you that is influenced purely by who you're with and what you see and what you hear... The way of being you that is the most genuine, the purest version of you, the version of you that you are when you're standing in front of a mirror by yourself.
Actually, let me amend that question: ask yourself, 'what can I personally do to affect the world around me, in a positive way, with as much power as the world around me affects me?' The word change is a difficult one because change isn't always a good thing, and it isn't always necessary, therefore, ironically, I changed the word to 'affect'.
We should strive to affect the world around us in a positive way. But, we shouldn't aim for an acceptable, mediocre effect... The world around us affects us in very powerful ways, not always positively either, quite often the world presents us with obstacles rather than advantages, so that's the equivalent amount of power with which we should strive to affect the world around us. Don't let anything stand in your way, conquer your obstacles, fuck shit right! But, first you need to be aware of yourself, then, and only then, can you choose what to affect and how to affect it. You need to be awake before you can get out of bed... Well, that's not exactly true, I sleep walk... But you get my point?
''Pity those who seek for shepherds, instead of longing for freedom! An encounter with the superior energy is open to anyone, but remains far from those who shift responsibility onto others.''
- Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
I have to admit, I may have been a little on the aggressive side with my last post. To those who read this blog religiously, since I started it so long ago, please forgive me if you're a smoker and I've offended you. I never meant to offend anyone.
However, if you don't like what you're reading, my advice is, don't come back for more, it's likely not to change, because this is my honest opinion. For that, I will never apologize. I think it's important to have the courage to speak your mind.
Nevertheless, I think that the way a message is conveyed, is just as important as the message itself, just like the message itself is usually at the mercy of the messenger. So, I thought it would be a good idea to dedicate a post to the language I use on this medium and the way I think.
A lot of the offence taken from my previous post seemed to have its origins in misunderstandings more than anything else. So, readers were offended because they thought I was comparing smokers to really awful things, like murderers, and wishing negative things towards them... However, I deliberately placed those strong terms at the start to shock people, I wanted your attention and I wanted you to know how urgent it is that we take action. I wanted you to know how fucking pissed off I was - and still am! But, if you read on, you'll see I never actually compare anyone to the worst kinds of people we have in our society. By putting a smoker next in line from a murderer, when listing people who are ''clearly bad'', I am illustrating the discrepancy between the good people I know you truly are (or are capable of being) and the contradicting actions you are taking on a daily basis, which do not represent who you are (or should be) as human beings at all!
Some poor soul posted the following comment on the blog post:
''What a vile thing to say. You should be absloutly disgusted with yourself that you would wish death upon anyone, no matter what your opinion is. Absloutly revolting that you think it's exceptable to post a comment like that. Keep your sick twisted hate thoughts to yourself in future.''
I feel sorry for whoever posted this, because not only do they need to work on their spelling, but they also need to learn how to read. And I mean, really read, because at no point in my previous post did I EVER wish death upon anyone.
Also, hell is a consequence. So, wishing that someone were to go to hell, when they do eventually die (most likely by their own hand, if they continue smoking), is like wishing someone went to jail for committing a crime, and it is a crime to damage your body. You see, I believe we do not own our bodies. We borrow them. They are lent to us by the universe in order for us to live our lives here on Earth. We are charged with taking care of them, and one day, we will have to return them, and we always do. They go back to the ground, with skin and bones, or in ashes, and they replenish the Earth, giving back to a being, a system that is constantly giving to us. I will surely pay, for all the times I drank too much, ate too much (especially all that processed shit), not taken care of myself, you name it... What goes around comes around. It is not revenge, it is not hatred, it is not even justice... It is simply consequence. An action and a reaction, cause and consequence, Karma.
When I read a comment like that, I feel a mixture of feelings... I feel excited that I have stirred enough emotions in someone to bring them to write a comment in the first place, and I feel happy that they are engaging with it. I think that anything that makes us move away from the 'share button', and into the world of processing information, is a good thing! I also feel sad, that the point of my message was completely missed and deformed by the language I used, and that this person only took offence from it, rather than food for thought. To be quite honest, I also feel scared that one day I'll wake up with a gun pointed to my head because someone took something I said profoundly to heart and decided it was best I was silenced for good...
*Silence in the auditorium... We hear the sound of crickets in the evening air.*
So, I understand that it may have been hard to overlook the fact that I used those words in the first place, and thus, the rest of the post was shadowed and distorted by the vocabulary I used. Therefore, not only am I being more careful from now on, but I will also try to use this current post to explain how I think, in order to help with the clarity of future posts.
And by the way, I'm not doing this to avoid offending people in the future. To be honest, I quite enjoy offending people, if what they're doing is really bad, if they are being unfair and if they have too much unfounded ignorance in their minds, due to negligence rather than actual ignorance, in order to make a change. Nevertheless, I intend to achieve a clarity of speech, because having my message successfully delivered is more important to me than using the words that will cathartically remove any frustration from my heart.
Anyway, the first thing you need to know is that I swear a lot...
Right, now that that's out of the way, you should probably also know that I think in tangents.
It takes me ages to edit these into a readable format! If you think they're unclear now - phew - imagine if you read it when it was fresh out of the oven - a mess!
Many people I've met over the years have attributed my tangential thinking to my creativity, a notion I have never contested seeing as it adds much needed fuel to my ever insatiable ego! Hah! Also, I genuinely do perceive my spider web of thoughts when I'm in the process of creating something!
So yeah, I think that the way I think in tangents helps me create things. I draw from various sources in my mind, sometimes from memories recently stored; other times from long term memories I didn't even know I still had! So, when reading something I write, you might notice I go around a long circle, before going back to the point I was making. I only do that, because I believe that all the detours I am taking will help me put my point across more powerfully.
Let's see, what else...
Oh yes, I am not a writer and I have absolutely no idea about what I'm doing. So, please bear with me on that one too, and remember, I most certainly have not picked a style for this blog! You may notice I jump from a friendly tone, using casual language on one paragraph, to a formal style on the next, and then quite suddenly, I might decide to offend everyone and tell them to fuck off!
Most importantly, I use metaphors, I use hyperboles, I like allegories... Think of my blog posts as some kind of big allegory...? Individual, little allegories part of one bigger one... Perhaps. I like messages, I like hidden messages, I like being explicit with what I am saying, but I like nuances (even though they sometimes confuse me when they aren't nuances that I've created), I like shades (even though quite often I am told that I think in black & white), I like sarcasm (even though they say it's the lowest form of wit), I like saying what I mean, by using words and phrases that I don't exactly mean, which in turn serve their own purpose... I like getting your attention, I like making a point, and I love being myself and therefore causing controversy. I love that as much as I love pointing out hypocrisy and fake, purposeless, go-with-the-crow controversy.
I may be wrong. My attitude may be wrong. I may be making a mistake. But, I do think honesty has many merits. Truth and honesty should always come first.
So there you go, I am a crazy motherfucker, there is absolutely no doubt about that, and all those who know me can testify: I stage dived and crowd surfed for the first time on the first Friday of September 2015 at a rock gig - not just any rock gig either - the grimiest, dirtiest, loudest and grungiest, mosh-pitt-destroyed rock gig you will ever find in London on a Friday night! Rock on to the yupicaei motherfuckers!
Ps: I would like to tackle this little section that I wrote in the problematic previous post:
''if you want to smoke, you should have to do it in cold, solitary confinement, and you should die alone in the same way.''
I don't wish death to anyone. If you read that sentence carefully, that's not what it actually says. But, I don't actually wish them to die alone either. That is an example of the hyperboles I was talking about... I kept this sentence as part of the post in the final version, rather than cutting it, as a consequence of frustration, in the heat of the moment. I am sorry for that. My great grand mother died a very painful death because of how much she smoked. We all watched her slowly loose her motor control over her limbs, slowly loose the ability to speak (which is something that defined her personality - she was very communicative), slowly become a vegetable, unrecognisable... Did I wish that upon her? Never! Do I wish that upon anyone who smokes? No, I do not. Do I think she deserved to die the way she did? I don't know... I think the real reason she died the way she did was because of all the chemo, but that's a different story... The point is, by ''our standards'', I don't think she deserved it, because she is a great person and she is very admirable... But, I do think she reaped what she planted in her youth. Anyway, I just want to be clear that I wish the very best to everyone, and I wish that everyone gets what they deserve - I have faith everyone will, because every effort is always paid back, one way or another... I don't think anyone should die alone, and my great grand mother certainly didn't, because she had her family next to her all the way. But, let us not forget, that the only thing we are guaranteed to do in this life, is to die. And, the actual moment of death, is one that we can only live out on our own. Oh, the irony of that statement... No seriously, it is a door we cross by ourselves, and we shouldn't be scared of that, we should be proud of it.
"Smokers are the epitome of what is wrong with the modern western society."
- Me, I said that.
You may think that a drug abuser, an alcoholic, or perhaps just an asshole would be worse than a smoker.
You see, in my opinion, unless you're a rapist, pedophile, murderer or a horrible person, smoking, is the next worst thing.
Why, you may ask? I'm glad you care so much to know the answer...
I am talking about the 'good-guy'-smoker, so not the corrupt-politician-smoker, or the rapist-smoker, or the child-abuse-smoker, or the… the list goes on and on, but no matter how much worse my examples get, none of these are the epitome of what is wrong with this society. At least, not from the perspective I am coming from.
No, the 'good-guy'-smoker is a 'normal' person. By 'normal', I mean a person who appears to be good, who lives out a 'good' life, does their 'job', is 'happy', 'contributes' to society, 'cares' for the world, does their 'charity', is 'good' to their fellow human beings, and for all intents and purposes, by a western standard, lives out a stereotypically 'healthy', everyday, contemporary life.
And in being 'normal', they automatically don't fall into the horrible categories I named above. So, in the 'normal' western world, they are the epitome of what is wrong with it. Within the acceptable they are the epitome of the unacceptable.
Now, let me clarify.
A drug addict and an alcoholic, do cause pain by proxy to those around them. That's something I consider bad and wrong. However, at least they are physically and chemically only hurting themselves.
Smokers on the other hand, cause everyone to inhale their gunk, without their consent. That is the main reason why I think they are so fucking horrible. It is the unspoken truth about our society. It is the pink elephant, in the room that we all live in.
It has become acceptable to stand next to someone and slowly contribute to the degradation of their health and their premature death. How? I ask you! How has it become acceptable?
Would you stand by and watch someone get fucked in the ass without their consent? Would you stand by watching a child get beaten up? No! Then why the fuck, is it acceptable to smoke next to someone else?
I apologize for the rude and obscene language I am using, but it is simply a reflection of how enraged I am!
If I were a smoker, I would make sure not smoke within a mile of anyone and I would certainly make sure not to smoke around children! Around children! How dare they?
And to further my original statement, they are the epitome of what is wrong with this society because their vice, is a reflection of how rotten the human mind is slowly, but surely, becoming!
It is a weak mind, that depends on a vice in order to get by, it is a guilty mind that depends on denial in order to be able to sleep well at night! Denial, telling themselves that they are not horrible people, following the norm, the socially acceptable norm that it is okay to disrespect your friends and fellow inhabitants of this planet, WITHOUT ANY FUCKING CONSEQUENCES!
Oh, but there will be consequences... You just wait and see... All you fuckers will surely one day do your time in hell.
And I hope you do. That way, you will learn and never again take anything you do in your life for granted!
You may think there are worse standards and morals to live by in the world... And if you do, I hear your argument... However, I want to stress the importance of this message. This isn't just about smoking, this is about our principals in life! We consider it wrong to hurt someone else, we preach ''love thy neighbours'', we strive to be good, we look down upon mediocrity and hypocrisy (two of the worst qualities someone can have, in my opinion), and yet, we are being and doing all of the above, by not protesting this absurdity, this monstrosity, this illustration of how bad human beings can be!
If Gandhi did actually ever say, ''be the change you wish to see in the world'', then this is a good place to start! Before criticizing someone else, ask youself, what have I done today? Have I hurt anyone in anyway? Don't just assume that just because you haven't explicitly hurt anyone or done something 'society' deems wrong, you're in the clear. Just because everyone agrees with it, or accepts it, DOES NOT mean it is right. If I were to listen to what everyone thought, I would've cut my hair at the age of 10 because I looked like a girl, but that's a different story, I digress...
It is literally the perfect real life example of the saying, ''would you jump off the bridge just because 'so and so' would?'' You know, that thing you tell your children when you're trying to teach them not to be influenced by others?
Well guess what, WE FAILED! And we failed miserably at that! Everyone is influenced by their predecessors, and in this case the predecessors were the worst fucking pieces of shit this world has ever seen! FACK! It pisses me off beyond imagination.
It shocks me that if someone flirts with someone else's girlfriend, they're automatically a dick head, but if they smoke next to their best friend, that's okay. It shocks me to see someone going to church to rid themselves of their sins, and pledge not to hurt anyone, and care for their neighbours, and yet, to see them leave the ceremony and the first thing they do is smoke a cigarette, which not only hurts them, but those around them. It shocks me that there are so many things we deem unacceptable in our society, and yet, smoking isn't one of them. It shocks me that marijuana is illegal in most places and smoking isn't. It shocks me that some people still think it's 'cool' to smoke. Hello! Newsflash! You're not Don Draper, this isn't the 1940's anymore, and even then, it wasn't cool... It was ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as it is now. But, most of all, it shocks me that no one cares enough to do anything about it! It is so 'acceptable' and so ingrained into our common psyche that no one even questions it anymore. It is so widely accepted, that I'm the one who looks like an asshole for writing this blog post! Well fuck that, I will speak my mind. Smoking should be banned, and if you want to smoke, you should have to do it in cold, solitary confinement, and you should die alone in the same way.
To my friends, you know never to do it next to me. If I go to your house, that is different, I am in your space and you can do whatever the fuck you want to do. But even then, I urge you to have some fucking respect for your neighbours.
To my friends who smoke, know this, I do not hold you in the high esteem I think you potentially deserve as people so long as you still do this. I just can't. I will always favour those who do not smoke. I do not hold you in as high an esteem as I do my friends and family who do not smoke, but I assume you don't care about my consideration of you anyway, seeing as you don't give a fuck about my health and you disrespect me on a regular basis.
Please people, be stronger than that, grow a pair and move on with your lives! You don't need to hurt yourselves to be happy. You are all suicidal, and that's the worst sin there is. I feel sorry for you. I wish all of you the very best from the bottom of my heart, and I hope you will see the error of your ways.
Ps: And don't just be complacent either! If you're going to listen to me, don't just stand back and spread the smoke around by waving yours arms (like most assholes do), stand the fuck away. Be strong. Or vape... Though, vaping is even worse than smoking, because it shows you can't even be brave and bold about your vice, it's double the weakness, it's an addiction and then an apology for the addiction, you can't even kill yourself properly, you're failing even at that... That's another one of my pet hates... If you're gonna smoke, buy your own fucking cigarettes and your own fucking lighter, don't go around asking people for one, it's embarrassing, it's shameful, you make me want to belong to a different species.
If you're going to be bad, be bad, buy the best fucking cigarettes, the coolest fucking lighter and smoke only and exclusively next to children, the elderly and your best friends. Good-bye.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Now, let's stop and think for a bit... Ahhhh that feels nice... We don't do that very often do we? Do we? Do we really? I mean, I regularly get judged for over-thinking and asking too many questions, but hey, someone has to think right?! I'm just doing double the thinking to compensate for those who don't, that's all!
So, if we stop to think, we could potentially say that there is a whole other side to this artistic value conversation (that's not to say that there aren't many sides, because there are, I'm just not addressing them here - and, is this really a conversation? I feel like I'm just ranting, talking to myself, performing a monologue here... Oh wait...).
So the other side of the argument is, all the artists care, they are all really passionate and they love their jobs... And the thing that they are passionate about is... *drum roll please*
Exploiting the ignorant masses who don't actually know what they're listening too! Yes! 10 points to the pretty blonde in the front row who answered that one!
I am going to give some credit to these artists and assume that it's not their ignorance or lack of care for music (and the world), but in fact their intelligence and knowledge of how much the human race, as a whole, has devolved emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, which makes them write such crap music. I mean, there's no way anyone in their right mind would put out some of the tunes I've heard recently... Have you heard Bubble Butt?
So, I have to assume, either they are insane or they are extremely good at making money off the millions of half-eared-listeners around the world, who seem to think it's acceptable to be pissed on, while someone calls it rain!
In other words, it's not just the artist who may or may not have become ignorant, it is YOU the CONSUMER, who has grown so accustomed to the norm that you won't even stop to question if what you are listening to was made with ANY love whatsoever. That's what art should be! Made with love! We have become so ignorant, we are now comfortable with our ignorance, because there isn't any wit left to question, to inquire and to wonder... Is there more out there?
Is there a way I can actively contribute to the world by doing something I love? Is there a way I can show others I care about them by doing something I love? Isn't that the definition of making the world a better place? Is there any space left in our brains - what with Facebook and Shitstagram, short cuts here and mind numbing activities there - any space left to think? To care?
To realize, we have just become relay terminals, points, little dots in a network of more relay terminals and information - most of which is useless - completely useless to us and our development as people, as humans, as a species! I mean, do I really care about what that cat is conveying with his face on 9GAG? Do I really care about that? How many minutes in a day, how many hours in a week, how many days in a lifetime do we end up spending on the superficial? How many I ask you? Add it up - it would probably be enough years in a lifetime to learn a new language, a new skill, make a new connection in our brains, which would in turn allow us to appreciate the world through new found eyes, eyes that we sorely need.
Is there any space left in our brains to dream, to truly dream - none of this bumper sticker bullshit - to think, how am I going to achieve my dream instead of just sitting here on my arse? To think, to really think, to question, to drill, to interrogate those teaching you! That's what I do! And FUCK all of yous who laughed at me when I asked my 100th question! Fuck you! I was just trying to stop being a relay terminal, that's why this blog entry is so huge! Because I am actually processing information, I'm not just clicking the fucking share button assholes!
Is there any space left in our brains to think, to want to be the change in the world, to wonder... Is what I'm listening to just a load of shit?
"Be kind to yourself. Learn the art of disappointing people; the bar will manage Friday night without you; Ross can wait another day to play ping pong… You're just learning how to be happy in a world made mostly of gas and dying meat."
- Tim Clare
I feel like being the kind of person who will just walk away if someone seems uninterested in my conversation. Conversely, I would very much like to just walk away if I'm not interested in theirs.
I don't like it when I'm talking to someone about something I'm really passionate about and they look dead behind the eyes, either because they are dead behind the eyes or because they have no clue what I'm talking about and are only pretending to know. They may also just be pretending to care... Who knows?
I guess this doesn't usually happen with people of my sex. I usually only have a conversation with another man if he really intrigues me, unless I HAVE to (unavoidable events and shit).
Therefore, I am referring to conversations with women. More specifically, I am referring to when I am thinking with my second head, which is pretty much all the time. This is a rant directed at myself more than anyone else.
It annoys me when I start chasing a girl just because she's gorgeous. When I do this, I automatically assume she will be great, put her on a pedestal, pick out her best qualities and focus on them. Naturally, one would think it's a great characteristic, to be able to always see the best in people, but I cannot stress how frustrating it is to talk to a woman who thinks she is the be-all-know-it-all just because she's gorgeous and has the attention of all the guys.
So I guess what I'm now telling myself is: be good to yourself, be self-aware, don't always glorify women and assume they are too good for you, be confident and don't waste your time with women who don't have anything to offer you intellectually or emotionally. They may have something to offer you physically, but your gonna have to put up with hours of bullshit chit-chat before anything interesting happens... It's what I like to call 'wanna-be big talk', which is in fact just a 'polished small talk'.
However, the reason I usually have to put up with this polished small talk is because I simply do not know how to play a woman, and I suck at one night stands. The only way I have ever been with a lady is by letting her get to know me... And then playing her.
Just kidding, I'm not a player.
I guess, at the heart of it is my need and desire to impress women and in doing so exhausting my energies pointlessly. I start talking to women, in the hope that one of them will be the special one, the one I fall for, the one that grabs my heart and turns my life upside down. With this goal at heart, all it takes is the 'night out scenario' for me to find myself rushing against time to make a connection before it's too late and I never see her again. You see, when one rushes in such a way, one does his best to show who he really is, in a short space of time, using language as his medium. I pick a subject I'm passionate about and let her have it. Most of the time though, I get blank reactions, or this feeling that she just wants to be numb for a few hours and that I'm just making her think too hard (go figure, she came to a club - a box filled with smoke and loud shit music - to intoxicate herself, I should've known there wouldn't be much there).
Now, my skepticism of clubs aside, not all women I speak to on a night out are blank behind the eyes and certainly very few are when I talk to them at any other time other than a night out! Nevertheless, I am always the one chasing, I am always making the move, I am always the one going out on a limb and showing her who I am, hoping that my passions will spark an interest in her, hoping that she will be positively surprised by what I am passionate about and will therefore become more fond of me, hoping that maybe she will be passionate about the same things... It is never the other way around! At least, it has never been so far!
So I guess, what I am really saying is that the conversations I have taken genuine pleasure in in the past, have been ones where there was a mutual spark. Ones where, something she says provokes me, makes me burn up with the desire to defend an opinion and to tell her how passionate I am about this, or that. These conversations rarely happen when I walk up to talk to a lady just because I think she is beautiful. To be honest, even the sex doesn't have 1/10 of the intensity, compared to when it was sex with someone I loved.
So, stop chasing. Stop fucking chasing! That's it! Be yourself, be kind to yourself, listen to Tim Clare, he had a point (maybe I missed the point because I'm sure that poem was about more than just an encouragement to be good to yourself... Or maybe that's exactly what it was about? Either way), he had a fucking point.
So, no more looking, no more chasing. From now on, I will only go out clubbing if there is a promise of good music and good company, I will only finish that fucking conversation if it fucking matters (and I will monitor myself, because I love talking and I end up saying loads of bullshit - this whole thing reversely applies to me too - she may be dead behind the eyes, but I love talking crap, speaking, making sounds, using my articulators, but not actually saying a thing), I will only chase, if there is a chase. Enough of this you-go-we-go-bullshit and pleasing others - always fucking pleasing others! I'm gonna be like JT (one my best friends), fuck going out! It sucks anyway and I only ever do it for other people! Plus, I already have to spend enough time in clubs as it is when I'm performing. I will no longer look. I will do what my heart wants to do at all times!
The more I look, the less I find anyway... Is it any wonder that the only time I have ever truly fallen in love, I wasn't looking?
London has finally organized an awesome busking scheme. I've just signed up for a one-hour set in Trafalgar Square, just like I used to back in Edinburgh. I now get to wait, write this entry, admire this iconic place, listen to Nando's great music (he's playing 'Rocket Man' at the moment) and chill-out. I'm happy. I am also very nostalgic. This reminds me a lot of Edinburgh. I want to go there right now. All the guys from 'Occupied' are either there right now or going there soon. I miss them. A year ago today we were together.
I've had a little cameo in Nando's set too, while he was playing A Horse With No Name, I joined in with that anthemic melody at the end of each chorus. I did this while sitting on my amp, facing him, amongst the audience... And then he looped the chords and nodded to me as he gave me a solo. This is what music is about. Or better yet, this is what street performance is about! We communicated as if we'd known each other for years - me and this performer called Nando Lynch (who turns out to be from São Paulo by the way! Haha). I'd never played that song before either, I love my ears...
I ended up playing Wonderwall with Nando as well. Then, as he packed up and the next performer, an italian called Andrea Carola, was setting up, I met this American lady who told me this crazy story about her daughter in law and her experiences with Islamic law in Abu Dhabi. There was a doctor who was willing to let her daughter die, as she was diagnosed with an Ectopic pregnancy, just because she wasn't married to her partner before she got pregnant. Gratefully, there was another doctor at that hospital.
The next performer, Andrea Carola, is also very good. An amazing guitarist with a very soulful and intriguing voice. He reminds me of a cross between Eric Clapton and John Mayer - simply awesome! He is a very grateful performer who clearly values the opportunity and ability to perform in the streets of London. He kept thanking everyone who dropped a coin in his guitar case, and he seemed to appreciate the music and what was happening in front of him. He is a fine example of a musician who understands the meaning of the saying, "a musician is only as good as his last performance". I really admire musicians like that.
I then started jamming with Andrea too! I couldn't help myself, he just played some classics like James Brown and I couldn't help myself! This lovely lady called Naghme Moghaddam managed to capture the moment in her photographs! She also got one of me sitting on my amp, writing this entry on my little journal. So that's it, if you want good music, you needn't go far people! Screw all this heartless top of charts bullshit and simply roam the streets of London for a few hours!
"If the number one song is about your butt, that's a problem."
- Dave Grohl
Let's talk about the artistic value of a YouTube channel. What do you think about that? Is the work of art you put on there cheapened, no matter how beautiful it is, by the medium it is being perceived in?
Nice talking. Don't really have much else to say. This is one of those 'the beauty is in the eye of the beholder' situations.
On second thought, I do have a lot to say about this: I had decided I was gonna try to get a slomo video of me jumping off the roof of my house into my pool, back in Portugal. I ended up not doing it - I know, would've been cool right?! Next time!
But it got me thinking, if I had made that video and posted it, on a medium that is used to present me as an artist, where I share my art, would that have been art? Is that art? Of course, the video on its own can be art, I simply need to put it on a TV screen at the Tate Modern! It certainly can be some form of very cheap art, if I put it on my 'artistic channel'... But, in reality, it's just a video of me jumping off a roof, right?
Ever since I studied art at university, I decided to define art as 'anything that expresses anything'. And the most important art is that which expresses something important. And something important is something the artist truly cares about. But, the catch is that it has to be honest, genuine, from the heart - no bullshitting! No pretending to care just so you can call yourself an artist and certainly no pretending to care just so you can make some money as an artist.
That's why I absolutely loathe, with a passion (probably one of the only things I hate - and hate is a strong word), any music that is made without heart. One song that comes to mind is that 'it's all about the bass' monstrosity that plays on the radio all the time....Dave Grohl is right... And the worst part is that I have to play that shit everytime I get hired to play in a club - though, I'm not complaining, I believe I get paid to add some passion, craft and artistry to an otherwise barren combination of top of chart 'hits'.
But, let us not forget that the producers behind these terrible songs are geniuses! Not only do they manage to make something that sells, but they also use loads of craft and technique for the creation of these crappy pop tunes. They are the ones upholding any form of discipline in that part of the industry! I mean, it takes some serious sound engineering, music theory and music technology knowledge to produce such great sounding pop tunes!
But, does all that hard work and discipline make it art though? You have shit loads of craft and technique, you know all the theory, but where is the feeling? One can't go without the other!
So, if I go back to my roof-adventure-video-idea, I can confidently say that that crap would express some serious euphoria - and that's an emotion right?! Certainly a more powerful emotion than any other shit that some of these 'artists' try to pretend they convey! I mean, they don't even fail to convey it, they fail to pretend to convey it - sometimes I can't even believe they are genuinely enjoying it themselves.
However, where's the craft in my video? Sure, I'm a great climber, but that's that! In other words, my video idea is just as artistically questionable as the next appalling song that comes on on the radio. But, I'm cool with that because I personally would always favour expression and feeling over discipline, and at the end of the day, I'm making money by being myself, I'm making money by showing the world who I am.
At least I haven't been told to prance around by someone who's given me a name and put some fake boobs and bleach blond hair on me...
"The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."
- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Everyone has their own spoon with their own two drops of oil and their own goal of not dropping it. In which case, my dreams and my objectives are the equivalent of the goal, the objective, the dream of not dropping the oil.
That is why I appreciate a beautiful view out of a window, a 'marvel of the world' in other words, better when I am in the process of completing a goal, in the thick of trying to keep my oil from spilling. This happened in the process of writing this down when I looked out of the airplane window earlier today as we flew over the beautiful city of Lisbon.
Sometimes the view is my objective, in which case it will make me happy just by existing, and I will be happy simply by being in it's presence. I may travel from very far just to see a sunset over Sintra mountain for example... And once I'm done appreciating it, I will move on to find another objective, something else to appreciate.
Similarly, I often appreciate music better when I'm in the process of completing a task, a goal. In this case, the music is the equivalent of the view on the plane earlier today. Alternatively, the music may be the goal itself in the same way as the view, the act of listening to it can be my goal. It can therefore be my goal as well as my mediator. I like it when the music, the view, the marvel acts as the mediator, it reminds me that the journey is the destination.
The view, the music, the beauties of life are our mediators - they are the mediums through which we may find our happiness - we just have to keep those two drops of oil on our spoon as best as we can while we appreciate them and we will be happy. We need to keep those two drops on the spoon, and we will. We won't try to keep them there, we will keep them there, because as a wise being once said, ''do or do not, there is no try''.
So what's your two drops?
Just 7 days left guys! Occupied is hitting the Fringe Festival on the 11th of August opening at the Royal Greenside Terrace at 17:15. We are currently in the middle of rehearsals, already stationed here in Edinburgh. Meanwhile I'm busking all over the city with some incredible opportunities to play on the Royal Mile.
It was originally performed in Cambridge at the Corpus Playroom and I had the awesome experience of being part of the original cast, bringing a part to life, being amongst the first to perform Harry Buckoke's 'Occupied'. I've now been re-cast with that same part in this brand new piece of writing which won the 'RSC/Marlowe' Award in 2013.
Its funny, quick witted, contemporary writing with some life drawing and forum theatre put in the mix! Check out our trailer by clicking here! You can get your tickets for a great price by clicking here, especially if you're a student like us! :p
I hope to see all of you guys who are around Edinburgh there! Its gonna be great fun!
"Hey! Benny Southstreet!
Harry The Horse! How are you! You know Nicely-Nicely Johnson"
Opening night of Guys & Dolls at the ADC Theatre tomorrow, Tuesday 15th of April 2014.
I'm playing 'Harry The Horse' in this hilarious show, filled with gamblers, hot box girls, wanna-be gangsters and the 'cream of society' in 1950's New York.
Tickets sold at the door or on the ADC website (click here).
They're selling out, so you better be fast!
We've got a surprise for you coming up in just a few days. If you want to find out more or to keep informed of what's going on, just check out the official event post:
Next Tuesday! The 18th of February 2014!
Crystal X will be playing at the O2 Academy in Islington!
Doors open at 19:00.
Ticket prices on the door: 8.00 pounds.
Tickets can be bought for 6.00 pounds by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
or by dropping us a line on our Connect page.
More info at the official O2 Academy Islington webpage!
Its gonna be a rock'n'roll night! Hope to see you all there!
We will be launching a promotional campaign to engage all the fans out there! You have captured some great moments along Marcelo's journey and we'd love to showcase your pictures and videos on the website. As such we'll set up a promotional campaign that rewards the coolest video or pick of the week. Stay tuned for more!