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The Beauty in Bleak (Exquisite Gloom Redux)

September 26, 2015

The Beauty in Bleak

I feel down today.  I woke up to a life that had missed its turn many miles back and was now so far off its intended path as to make reversing course to find the untaken fork impossible.  Feeling excruciatingly foreign, I play at countering reasonless, fanatic beheaders from behind a suit-and-tie bureaucrat’s desk at an age when my younger self fantasized I would be eloquently and convincingly extolling the merits of my liberal worldview over cold lemonade with William F. Buckley.  Far removed from the tiny clutch of family and friends who so charitably care about me, I am desperately lonely but nonetheless so fully given over to my hermit introversion that I stridently choose drawn-curtain solitude over a walk in the sun for fear of being forced into a passing exchange of greetings with a too-eager doorman upon exiting the elevator.  I can’t bring myself to answer welcome, wonderful overnight emails from daughter, uncle, and long-lost friend because I am unable to imagine words I could type that would successfully escape the deep hole from which they were sprung.

It is goddamn glorious!  Every inch of my skin tingles with the electricity of sweeping misery.  The daydream visions behind my closed eyelids flicker in extreme high definition; so palpable I sense I could step into and live inside them if I could only find the right footing.  I am a bundle of rapidly firing synapses, my jittery thoughts somehow transmitting both trillions of bytes and nil data sets concurrently.  I spent an hour and a half on the elliptical just now, and could have easily done double or triple that.  The usual day-to-day cloud of numbness is banished.  I feel alive in my despair, brutally and magnificently alive!

Musically, there is but one option, albeit one I find myself unable to properly set to paper in my present state.  Happily, back in March 2013, some long-forgotten and in-all-likelihood fictitious person claiming my name managed to put the story to words.  I’ll let him tell it again this time:


As an accompaniment to pitch black or candlelit tread-milling, it is hard to imagine a more effective conveyance.  Within minutes your consciousness is transported into a land of perpetual night, foggy-marsh stone castles, and loam-covered knolls.  The castles host a maze of shadowy passageways lit by flickering torches, a few wrought iron adornments affixed to otherwise bare walls.  You instinctively make your way towards the faint glimpses of a ghostly maiden that tease your peripheral vision in the twilight.  Her flowing hair, flowing gown, and flowing desire tantalize you, but she is continually beyond reach, not in mocking but rather sharing despair at the futility of your attempts to join her.  With each failure, your need for her grows until you can think of nothing else.  Only she matters.  You sense an inexplicable yet timeless connection.  You can discern not where or when but you know that you were are soul mates.

She has been taken from you unjustly and your love, no that’s not strong enough, your longing for her is all-encompassing.  Eventually you realize that she is being kept from you by otherworldly powers against which you have neither recourse nor remedy.  They care not for your suffering.  Your desperate pleas for compassion fall on deaf ears.  Despite the bottomless depths of your anguish, to them you are naught but an insignificant midge, unworthy of even a moment’s thought.  You cast yourself to the stone floor in hopelessness, doomed to forever haunt these nocturnal halls and hills with your beloved just beyond your grasp.  You yearn for Death to take pity and end your torment, but it will never be.  Your sorrow is eternal.  You are crushingly alone, with no one to lament your circumstance nor even to take pleasure at your woe.  You are inconsequential, and yet your pain fills the universe.  Please. End. This.

My Dying Bride

Such is the awesome splendor of English doom metal band My Dying Bride.  Their music is the perfect soundtrack for solitude, albeit not the reassuring solitude of sunny forests filled with chirping birds and gleaming, dew-covered leaves.  This is music for dark, lonely rooms and extended solo road trips through desolate landscapes.  This is music through which to escape the misery of one’s own earthly isolation by subsiding into the deeper, blanketing gloom of the vast, empty cosmos.

Joy is to be found here; the joy of recognizing one’s own utter irrelevance, the joy of realizing that there is no greater scheme, the joy of seeing that one’s personal suffering, while wholly unavoidable, serves no larger purpose.  My Dying Bride represents liberation from the shackles of hope.  There is true, boundless beauty in the abyss.  Come. Join. Us.

The Light at the End of the World: 

From → Music

  1. The safe route… Sometimes I reach for Univers Zero “Heresie” to soundtrack the deep.
    Last week I listened to Penderecki “Song of Solomon” for the first time. The record includes “Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima”, which is why I bought the album, but “Song” makes the threnody sound like a sunlit morning stroll. Wasn’t the Song of Solomon meant to be erotic? Yes, as revealed by H. Bosch.

    The honest path… Writing about the music seems like a culpable avoidance of the suffering heart of your piece. I could comment on your courage, or offer some two-dimensional words of encouragement, but that would lessen your reveal. Even typing that sentence leaves a taste like rancid orange in my mouth.

    A fantasy path… I’ve come to value the contact over the past year or so, despite never acknowledging the CD you sent with the single. (Shame has more attack plans than an SAS platoon). So I imagine trying to assess whether a big manly hug was appropriate, followed by a trip to the nearest record shop.

    Comrade… I had this list on the wall of my office for many years, and still quote items to clients to this day. Read slowly. Have handkerchief nearby.

    • Hold on a minute, did I reveal something here? If so, it was clearly inadvertent, quite probably fabricated, and most definitely a grave mistake. I’m thinking another fan letter to Cher for my next entry…

      Thanks much all around VC, sincerely. Me too. I appreciated the Kopps list but must admit I can only imagine it hanging on my wall in small italics on the bottom-right corner of a primary-colored, leaned-back R. Crumb “Keep On Truckin’…” print. As yet, I guess I am able to fully ingest my cosmic humbling only aurally.

  2. I’m not the best person to correspond with on this point at the moment, following Wales mighty victory over our foreign overlords on Saturday I have been walking around work with an enormous grin NOT gloating so loudly it sounds like a siren; I’m afraid I am really that easily pleased.

    Surely black moods are when you need to listen to something really, really shallow and plastic? Never mind all your windswept eloquence, reach for the ‘DC!

    • I imagine it depends on whether the goal is to embrace or to counter, to wallow or to escape, assuming that is that the chemicals/demons in one’s head at the moment of decision even allow such choice at all.

      (And… with that little morsel that I hope reads as a sort of enigmatic fatalism to fully sell the bit, I guess that I can admit now that right after the My Dying Bride album, I next cued up some Spinal Tap.)

      As for the glory of Wales this past Saturday, I’m not sure where I stand. Did you give comeuppance to foreign overlords that once tyrannically ruled over my ancestors as well, therefore inviting shared celebration from these shores? Or is it a case of internecine struggle within the one group of former tyrants and thus only to be celebrated for the fact of the rift vice the outcome of the battle?

      • 1. Funnily enough when the black dog comes a’ calling and I feel low, I stop listening to music altogether. It’s often how I, never very adept at emotions, realise I am actually feeling very low.

        2. Let’s all gang up and stick it to the oppressors. Okay, so we need to gloss over the fact I was born in England, have English wife, kids, house and workplace AND one of my ancestors was apparently William Penn’s right-hand man; but I reckon I can work out a plausible denial there.

  3. I don’t usually seek out music for my black moods. Usually my black moods are caused by music – like if all 3 radio stations are playing Katy Perry at the same time.

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