November 2013

* frozen

"Every person of genius is considerably helped by being dead."
(Robert S. Lund)

John Lennon at his best despised cheap sentiment and had to learn the hard way that once you've made your mark on history those who can't will be so grateful they'll turn it into a cage for you. Those who choose to falsify their memories - to pine for a neverland 1960s that never really happened that way in the first place - insult the retroactive Eden they enshrine.

So in this time of gut-curdling sanctimonies about ultimate icons, I hope you will bear with my own pontifications long enough to let me say that the Beatles were certainly far more than a group of four talented musicians who might even have been the best of their generation. The Beatles were most of all a moment. But their generation was not the only generation in history, and to keep turning the gutted lantern of those dreams this way and that in hopes the flame will somehow flicker up again in the '80s is as futile a pursuit as trying to turn Lennon's lyrics into poetry. It is for that moment - not for John Lennon the man - that you are mourning, if you are mourning. Ultimately you are mourning for yourself.

Remember that other guy, the old friend of theirs, who once said, "Don't follow leaders?" Well, he was right. But the very people who took those words and made them into banners were violating the slogan they carried. And they're still doing it today. The Beatles did lead but they led with a wink. They may have been more popular than Jesus, but I don't think they wanted to be the world's religion. That would have cheapened and rendered tawdry what was special and wonderful about them. John Lennon didn't want that, or he wouldn't have retired for the last half of the '70s. His assasination was only the most extreme extension of all the forces that led him to do so in the first place.

In some of his last interviews before he died, he said, "What I realized during the five years away was that when I said the dream is over, I had made the physical break from the Beatles but, mentally there is still this big thing on my back about what people expected of me." And: "We were the hip ones of the '60s. But the world is not like the '60s. The whole world has changed." And: "Produce your own dream. It's quite possible to do anything... the unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions."

(Thinking the Unthinkable about John Lennon - by Lester Bangs) titan

Sterling Morrison


"I was a biker type and hung around with nasty black people and nasty white people and black rock-n-roll music. On the other hand, you had very sensitive and responsible young people suddenly attuned to certain cosmic questions that beckon us all, and expressing these concerns through acoustic guitars and lilting harmonies and pale melodies. I hate these people.

The thing that ruined music was virtuosity - competence - as an end in itself. It means nothing. It was a very terrible thing.

Why is it that the Velvet Underground's celebrated lyricsmiths never published a lyrics sheet? Was that to make you strain to hear the lyrics that you could never hear? No. It's because they were saying, "Fuck you. If you wanna listen to lyrics, then read the New York Times." It has nothing to do with the intellectual apprehension of content.

If you're going to rock music to learn something verbally rather than physically or viscerally, then you're in a sad shape, baby.

Bob Dylan I hate. I like the Doors. I like Jim Morrison, but for different reasons probably than you people think you like the Doors. I like Jim Morrison, he's real nice.

Most people I like are dead. I like Jimi Hendrix, he's real nice. I like Mickey Dolenz. He was very far away from it all. he was real interesting. I don't know John Lennon, but I admire him immensely. Oh, I hate Frank Zappa. He's really horrible, but he's a good guitar player. I don't have a shitty attitude at all. He does, but I don't. Because he has an exploitative approach to life and I don't. Mine is just self indulgent. There's a world of difference. If you told Frank Zappa to eat shit in public, he'd do it if it sold records. I would do it if I like to. And if they told me it wouldn't sell records."

(Sterling Morrison, 1980)



"Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them continue as forms of mutual exploitation, a mental or physical barter, to be terminated when one or both parties run out of goods."
(W. H. Auden)

"Poets are shameless with their experiences: they exploit them."

"In war, the strong make slaves of the weak, and in peace the rich makes slaves of the poor."
(Oscar Wilde)

An exploitative approach to life requires a lack of empathy, feeling entitled and above the rules, and seeing other people as appendages whose sole purpose is to fill them with narcissistic supply (attention from the public, good or bad). Yet sometimes the narcissist doesn't get everything she needs through more subtle means. She needs to take a more direct approach. Thus another narcissistic trait: "interpersonally exploitative, that is, takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends."

An exploitative relationship may take many forms. But it generally involves using others without regard for their own feelings and interests. The criminal doesn't even think about what's best for others. He places no value on open, fair and honest exchanges. He's too concerned with satiating his own hunger for whatever it is that he needs, be it physical, emotional, financial, whatever. For criminals with some kind of power, such as religious figures, chief executives, politicians and the like, this is like taking candy from a baby."

(Interpersonal Exploitation, Psychology Today)