A Meditation On Demolished Thoughts

Written by Toni Oswald
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Included in Thurston Moore's album Demolished Thoughts is a magical booklet. It contains the album's lyrics, personal photos, collage and a few poems by Mr Moore. One of the poems is called "small press" and ends with these lines;
This is what is awesome:

3.the twilight world of poetry 
4.the wild lover

So simply put and and yet so profound. I could not have defined awesome any better, in fact this is my new definition of awesome. The album, Demolished Thoughts, could also be described by those four words and that would be simply put as well, but underneath those simple words and phrases lies a great big beautiful mystery and at the heart of this album there is an invocation of all that is mysterious in life and love.

Finding this album feels like a fantasy I play with myself where I walk through the streets of New York City and looking down at some point I find that someone's lost diary lies in the gutter below me which I hastily pick up and take home to find that some strange and unknown person has entered my world. It is not a famous and celebrated person who has written these words, just a man who has lived a rich and full life and in the collage of words, photos and mementos he reveals something to me about himself and the life he has lived and is living, but they are only clues to his life, they do not tell the whole story and so I must begin to unravel not necessarily the truth of the story but the essence of the life which contains both truth and lies.

a meditation on demolished thoughts zani 4.jpgAll great albums feel like this to me. They transcend what is knowable and take you on a journey into someone else's world where ultimately you find some kind of connection, some answer you may have been looking for but didn't know you were looking for it till you found it. When I was kid growing up in Houston, Texas I would put on an album and with total reverence hold the cover before me, looking at it deeply, trying to discover something about who the people were that made it and any clues to what the songs might mean. These people had answers to me. At least answers to the questions I was asking. " How does one stay true?, How do you live a life outside of society? Where can I get the kind of kicks I am looking for?" These kinds of people (artist, musicians, writers, poets. etc) were living the dance of life, living out new possibilities, transcending what was acceptable in culture and these albums for me were guide books on how to possibly do that, especially the punk scene which was all about freedom to be whatever you wanted to be. Meditating on these albums I felt encouraged that I was not alone in thinking differently than most of the people around me and gave me the courage to express that isolation and pain and even celebrate it as another facet of life. Art and music helped me get through my adolescence. Fuck, it has helped me get through my whole life. Great art and great albums are like prayers, " Oh holy holy music, help me to be free and inspired in this crazy shut down world, help me to get through another day knowing that if I cannot find grace in the world outside I know you will always grant that kindness to me, you who makes sense out of this unspeakable, unknowable chaos."

For me, this is not just another album and I am not trying to write some album review giving my opinion on what might be good or bad about it. This piece of work is a world unto itself containing not just music but art, poetry and collage; a love letter to a life and the past and future of that life, the mystery of that life, the passion and remembering of that life. Beautiful little impressions of times and places that inspired awe and made a boy become a man. In meditation, we stay with the breath, we stay with the moment and our thoughts begin to recede, so listening to Demolished Thoughts is like staying with the breath, living out each moment fully. It is a mediation of a life, of love, of music and the poetic landscape. It does take you to that place, the twilight world of poetry.

This album begins with a benediction, which is a form of prayer and an expression of good wishes for someone else. Right out of the gate, you are not alone here, someone wishes you well and the horse you ride, rides with grace, but maybe only for today and for now that is enough. Benediction is a prayer to love and the mystery of love that entangles us and of which we have no real power over in the end. "You better hold your lover down" and "life is just a flame" speak to us of loves unpredictability. The wild lover is the free, untamed lover. When we fall in love, it is as if all bets are off. We live more freely, passionately, blindly, even reckless at times. We call in sick to work and go to the park instead, we stay up late and walk the city streets talking all night, kissing in alleyways. We try new things, we change our hair, we say hi to everyone and mean it. We start a novel, write poetry, make mix tapes especially for our beloved. Even jump off of buildings...metaphorically speaking. You know how it goes....We are inspired! But somewhere underneath these astounding feelings lies a feeling of deep sadness. I suppose it is the sadness of knowing that all things change, all things end, all things must pass away eventually. So in this state of grace/love you feel it all and you feel it with an open heart. Love has opened you up and you are willing to accept it all; the good and the bad without judgement. Maybe that is why it all feels so right, you are finally living life from moment to moment, just diving into it even though the fear is still there, you let go of control and give in to life even though death always waits. The flowering of love and how we behave when it is happening can teach us so much about how to live our lives filled with passion and grace if we only allowed ourselves to. But we always go back to discrimination and control and that is where love ends, for love is a state of acceptance. Acceptance and the power and beauty of simple things "simple pleasures strike like lightening"- True love can only be free.

/a meditation on demolished thoughts zani 3So now we are on this journey, unraveling the twilight world of music and poetry. Mr. Moore speaks a lot about light and darkness in this meditation and it makes sense when you think about the above written "the twilight world of poetry". In this life, it seems we are always moving between the worlds of light and dark, our society and culture loves dualisms and separating out things between either or or, but in the twilight there is both/and and that is why the mystery which is in inherent in poetry feels so right to those of us who feel more comfortable in a shadow-land setting,where the good guy is not always so good and the bad guy is not always so bad, because that is not so interesting and ultimately no where near anything approaching reality. And the same goes with love, or at least falling in love with another person. You have all the swirling crazy love chemical feelings of sex and desire, the "someone else really gets me", the "i love you! i love you! i love you! i love you!!!!!!" ( and I use the lower case i here as we suddenly become unimportant in the face of loving the beloved), as well as all the beauty of true gentleness and real openness of heart towards another. On the other side of that coin though is the head and then you have jealousy, possession, control, routine, marriage and children, suffering, illness, death. We seem to straddle the line between these opposites, trying to make it all fit. But as high as love takes you, it also can take you to the depths of sorrow/hell. Disillusion sets in, we take the beloved for granted, things change in life, we grow up or we don't and the distant memory of the love we once shared so passionately becomes like a dream we keep trying to remember and get back to. A lot of people just become stuck and unhappy, some people take lovers, have affairs, some become workaholics, some all of the above. Some give up on love and never truly give their hearts ever again. Some write poems, novels, songs, albums and so on trying to make sense of it all. The beauty of Demolished Thoughts is that it has been created by a man in his 50's. It is not a break up album or a disillusioned with love album. Those are all too pat and too easy for someone as interesting as Mr. Moore who, as someone who has revealed that four of the things he finds awesome are life, today, the twilight world of poetry, and the wild lover, takes us on a journey of those four things because those are the things that make up a life and the living of it. To live an ecstatic life we must be wild lovers, living just for today in a twilight world of poetry because that is the life we are meant to live and anything or anyone that tells you different has no fucking clue whatsoever. Age does bring wisdom (hopefully) and contemplation and you can feel this on Demolished Thoughts. It was a beautiful choice for this to be an acoustic piece. Mr. Moore is at his most tender on this album, he know how fragile life and love can be and the acoustic instruments get that across without at all becoming "lite" or boring. Mr. Moore plays his twelve string acoustic with all the fury he has always applied to the electric guitar and Samara Lubelski's violin merges with his guitar and the lush harp to take us continually on a beautiful mess of dissonance and harmony. It is sometimes a lot like the Velvet Underground gone electric. Love and light, dissonance and darkness. These are all the ingredients for a rich life. And it definitely feels like a rich life here. It feels a lot like Henry Miller's Rosy Crucifixion, another contemplative artwork by a mature and older man looking back on life and love and seeing it with the eyes of someone who has lived and loved and even in the heartbreak and suffering of all of it, is still willing. Willing to love again, willing to celebrate the good and the bad because ultimately there is no good or bad, there is only life and WOW what a truly AWESOME experience of consciousness this all is. It doesn't really matter what happens; we live today, we live where the light and dark meet, we are wild and free and the choice we make is to give in to life and the living of it.

I am not even pretending to know here what Mr. Moore is trying to say on this album and it doesn't really matter as we all take from an artist work what resonates with us and find meaning from it according to our own experiences. I could get into each track, all the different textures of the music and so on, but this is not really about that and I respect you enough to not lay my opinion on you like it is some important critique. I can only say that experiencing a piece of artwork like Demolished Thoughts is opening up to a mature artist at work and I dare you to find other works in the western world put out in the last few years that offer something as real. There are very few, believe me, I am looking for them all time. At a point in time where the main drive in the western world is towards careerism and commerce rather than being a real artist making art no matter what, this reminds us what being an artist really is which for me is the living of life and then the contemplation and expression of that life regardless of worldly success. You do it because to stop means death. The fact that a major artist has put out such a personal and mysterious piece of work at this stage in his career actually kind of blows my mind. But then Mr. Moore has always been obsessed with poetry and poets and in that particular game, because there is no money and no real fame you just do your work. Well, Mr. Moore continues to do his work and it might even stand as his best work thus far.

What is the first thing that is awesome? Life. The gift of this life. Each life that is unique and unlike any other. Even if you believe in reincarnation, heaven , hell or nothing at all no one can argue that the life you live on the planet in this particular body is like no other you will ever live again. If we were truly able to keep that in mind at all times I think we would have a much easier go at living in awe, living in a state of grace, but because this seems to be a very difficult thing to do, we must have art, music and poetry to help us along. Life because it is mysterious is awe inspiring. And in awe we must live each day fully and when we do that we are compelled to invoke the power of words, the tower of song. When we live our lives with a feeling of awe and wonder we cannot help but live each day as a song, a dance....one note follows the other, one step follows another, not two steps ahead or twenty behind just right here, right now wild and free traversing the dark, the light.

Words can never be the thing anyway, they can only point us somewhere in the direction of what it actually is. Is that why poetry and music have such a power to shed light on the true mysteries of life...we are flowing and rhythmical. We are abstract, not concrete. we are wild and free. No one word or idea can pin us down but music and poetry seem to come closest to the simulacrum of what we actually may truly be. Enigmas of the song and dance....incantations praying for some kind of grace.

The album Demolished Thoughts by Thurston Moore was released in May of 2011 on Matador Records and produced by Beck Hansen. Playing on Demolished Thoughts are Thurston Moore (guitars and vocals), Samara Lubelski (violin), Mary Lattimore (harp and howl), Beck Hansen (synths, vocals, bass), Bram Inscore (bass), & Joey Waronker (percussion). CD/Album cover art by steven Parrino, courtesy of Steven Parrino Estate. CD/Album booklet art by Thurston Moore.

© Words by Toni Oswald
Read 5078 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:22
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