One recurring theme in my creative influences is I truly appreciate creators who make it plain that there are no rules or guidelines or limitations on what can be created. I frequently worry that all I come up with are tropes, that I’m following along channels carved by others, like water seeking the easiest path downward. It’s probably true.
Reminders that it doesn’t have to be that way are a welcome counterbalance.
1) Vaporwave artists – Everyone knows what this is by now, yeah? Bedroom producers taking music that was previously “invisible”– mall music, synth garbage, smooth jazz– and like dub producers adding weird production to make the invisible visible and alienating. Music for haunted corporate spaces. Elevators with no doors. They create and discard personas at will, name their tracks unpronouncable things, sell 20 albums for pay-what-you-want, plunder CD-ROMs for graphical inspiration. It was and is a punk anti-corporate musical subgenre for something that sounds the way it does.
2) William S. Burroughs and the espontaneo. I had never had any interest in the Beats, but an artist I admired said NAKED LUNCH was actually funny, so I figured I’d check it out. There’s a bit in there where Burroughs is telling the story of a ridiculous surgeon, Dr. Benway, bragging about how surgeons have it easy these days, etc. etc. and then I hit this stretch:
A young man leaps down into the operating theatre and, whipping out a scalpel, advances on the patient.
DR. BENWAY: “An espontaneo! Stop him before he guts my patient!”
(Espontaneo is a bull-fighting term for a member of the audience who leaps down into the ring, pulls out a concealed cape and attempts a few passes with the bull before he is dragged out of the ring.)
Again: there are no real rules, right? Burroughs wanted to use this bull-fighting term, so he used it, but he also wanted you to know what it meant so he just– completely interrupted his narrative to put an inline footnote. This blew me away. It’s a small thing, but this gesture of contempt toward narrative conventions stays with me.
3) Itch. I mean, dang. Look at all those games.
4) Coffee. Just… gettin’ real jittery.
5) The grim spectre of Death. I could talk about this one for a while, but I won’t.