diarist art

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I was in the middle of reading Carrie Fisher’s newest book when she passed away. She’s been a heroine of mine for a long time and inspires me in many ways. 

These are some of my favorite quotes of hers, including the obituary she once wrote for herself: “She drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.”

anonymous asked:

regarding your analysis of C&L: you mentioned that you don't connect with it as much because it is a more general account of grief, while ACL@M has it's own explicit narrative. comparing Twin Fantasy and Teens of Denial, could you say that your own art has moved in the direction of C&L? TF has a very clear narrative that is relatable in a much deeper way than ToD because it tells a specific, personal story. i love both albums, but your analysis aligns with my feelings about your project.

I’ve seen the term “relatability” thrown around a lot in conversations where people compare, usually in a disappointed tone of voice, ToD with TF. I can’t say I really know what it means. I wrote Denial in the same way that I’ve written every album I’ve made since Twin Fantasy: I’ve started with personal experiences, and attempted to tie them together with more universal sentiments, to create a work with a coherent conceptual arc that stands as something larger than myself. I’ve never written an album like ACL@M. Twin Fantasy was every bit an attempt to create something universal as Denial was; I specifically remember writing Bodys to be an anthem, something people could sing along to with no knowledge of me or my “story”. This was mixed with more diaristic elements elsewhere, obviously, but only inasmuch as it serviced the record as an independent object for it to be diaristic. I’ve never felt that the most important thing on a record is to “tell my story”. That’s not what art is about to me; that’s not how the art that is important to me has affected me. I think every record I’ve made does tell a story, but it is only mine in the sense that my name is on the credits. 

Denial is created in the exact same manner, to the exact same proposed end; it’s a diaristic work of art. Songs like “Drugs With Friends” are specific and personal in a way that I shouldn’t really have to point out. The album tells a story just as TF does, propelled by its musical and conceptual structure, and by repeated motifs and images. The mirroring of song titles, the splitting of sides into “Hometown Hero” and “Cosmic Hero”, the recurring image of being “split in two” - these are not random upcroppings any more than the images and patterns on Twin Fantasy are random. I structured them in a very specific way, to create a specific unfolding of meaning. 

The real difference between these two albums is content. Twin Fantasy is a romance; Teens of Denial is a bildungsroman. Most people will prefer a romance over a bildungsroman, as it speaks to a more essential aspect of humanity. I can’t protest this, and I feel the same way - I think romance is inherently a stronger genre, being (presumably) about two people instead of one. Denial is by no means one of my favorite records. I wrote it during a period in my life where I was not feeling a lot of love. Its tone and content reflect that. I made it because that’s what I do - records have always marked the various phases of my life, and I needed to get out of this one, so I needed to make a record. I think it is what it is, and it’s good for what it is, and other people without a lot of love in their lives might relate to it more strongly than anything else I could have created. If you can’t relate, then consider yourself lucky, and consider checking out one of my many other albums on other subjects.

I think, though, that the reason that a vague term like “relatability” has been selected as appropriate in driving this discourse is that the discourse is based more on how the album was promoted than what the album actually is, when you sit down and listen to it. When we’d wrapped up the record and I was discussing with our publicist what the best approach would be for promoting it, I sent her a track-by-track breakdown of the album, explaining the overarching narrative, and how each song fit in context. Ultimately, we decided to leave this aspect of the record unspoken in promotional material, and focus instead on the strength of the songs as individual works. Thus, the narrative that subsequently built up around the album was about its songs, their accessibility, their potential as works of mass consumption. I had assumed, perhaps blithely, that people who preferred concept records to pop songs, who sought meaning through the building of ideas through a record rather than an immediate emotional release provided by an explicit turn of phrase, would encounter the album on their own time, listen to it while reading the lyrics, and discover that it did, in fact, function on this level as well. I underestimated the power of promotional narrative to influence people’s beliefs about what a thing actually is. This is an idea that has always haunted me, because I don’t speak through press releases, I speak through my art. Most artists do. A press release is something designed to get people to look at art - it should, under no circumstances, be able to replace the art, to override its meaning through memetic repetition. (This is also a large part of what bothered me with C&L; I was tired of seeing people trying to interpret lines like “You checked your texts while I masturbated” under an unshakeable assumption that it must be about his mother’s death.) You must not allow the world to convince you to consume art like this. Art so rarely falls into your lap unannounced, but you must make the effort to pretend as such each time you enter a work; forget what you know about the artist, what you’ve heard other people say about the work, and try to experience it as direct communication. That is the only way you will be able to understand the art as it was intended to be understood.