wax banks

second-best since Cantor

Month: May, 2015

from a file on my hard drive called ‘sabbath – hippie sludge’

sabbath: hippie sludge

‘iron man’: closing mind left body jam
(parallel progression to ‘black sabbath’ solo)

behind the wall of sleep

(un)motivated time changes as obstacle (for me) — idiomatic metal — where from? crimson king as early sample

electric miles — which rock tradition was miles moving towards? i think something between zeppelin and the improv-heavy ‘jam band’ (‘hippie groove’) stuff…there’s a ‘metal’ quality to some of his rock, but without the anglo-pagan vibe of so much actual metal. he comes to it from another direction. pure bottom-heavy rhythm madness first. every instrument contributing to the groove, the atmosphere. rhythmic atmosphere.

miles is working with a smaller number of degrees of freedom than phish, though he achieves higher intensity along several axes than they almost ever do. harmonic density and extreme harmonic simplicity — dense creation within simple framework.

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Terry Pratchett, SOURCERY.

Granting that this book was for the most part pure pleasure, like all the other Discworld books I’ve read, I have to admit that this was a weaker effort — like Mort, which I foolishly read only after its far superior do-over Reaper Man. Sourcery‘s various plots barely seem to hold together, the overall threat is rather diffuse (though in fairness, so’s the threat of nuclear war), and because Rincewind is much the weakest of Pratchett’s protagonists, there isn’t always a clear or (at any rate) interesting motivation carrying the band of heroes from one sequence to the next.

That said, Rincewind’s final moments with Coin in the Dungeon Dimensions are moving. And the book’s full of good jokes and rare kindness.

And then there’s a moment, at the height of the wizard war, when the magical army led by the Archchancellor’s hat is destroyed, along with an entire city, and the victorious Ankh-Morpork wizards burst into cheering — ‘though some of the older wizards forbore to cheer.’ Written as it is by an English fellow of a certain age, that line went through me like a knife. The entire book is full of throwaway lines like that, granting the cast of grotesques not just motivations and psychologies but entire life stories in a handful of words.

Reading so much Pratchett has given me new appreciation for the coldly logical ambivalence of Douglas Adams. Despite some similarities in style, the two writers wrote at completely different temperatures. Pratchett’s angry humanity and Wodehousian generosity of spirit perfectly suited his crowded, cosmopolitan Discworld setting, which is constantly surviving and wearily shrugging off calamity in (what I think of as) a characteristically English humour; meanwhile Adams’s Pythonian callousness and pitch-black bureaucratic ironies were well matched to the pitiless void of space. I wonder which of the two I’ll prefer, as I get older. Thank heavens I needn’t choose just one.

Back to Aegypt.

I’ve been reading in John Crowley’s Aegypt cycle for years now. Like Little, Big, Aegypt moves at its own pace through its own imaginary land, and I don’t feel rushed to finish it; it’s been nice to revisit Pierce Moffett, John Dee, Giordano Bruno, and the rest of the cast when they call out to me, or I to them. I don’t normally read this way. But I don’t mind.

I’m just now about to finish the second volume, Love and Sleep. The first volume was extraordinary — a Pynchon-level achievement, like Little, Big — but I’ve just read Crowley’s vivid, hallucinatory rendering of Dee and Kelley’s alchemical creation of gold, which also functions as a six- or eight-level-deep allegory for various arcs of the narrative, and I’m quite comfortable saying Love and Sleep is one of the best novels I’ve ever read.

When Pynchon dies, will Crowley be the best we have? I should say: if Pynchon dies, or the committee of scholars who write his impossibly multifaceted novels disbands.

Can’t tell you how nice it is to have a whole universe to look forward to.