There has been no song I have listened to more consistently in 2011 than the cover of the Pixies’ “Where is my Mind?” from the Sucker Punch original soundtrack by Yoav featuring Emily Browning. For those of you who have seen Sucker Punch that haven’t made this connection, Emily is Baby Doll in the movie, thus she is in the video–this Australian siren has a pretty set of pipes and is featured all over the OST. I saw Yoav live in San Diego about eight years ago–opening up for Tori Amos of all people–and he is abominably talented as well. This phenomenal version of a spectacular song is just hauntingly beautiful. There really are not words. Check out this (apparently) German fan-made, wonderfully reconstructed version below; turn it up and full-screen this shit.
If you are just reading past the video and have not yet seen it, STOP. Go back and watch it. Context is very important in this world of too much information, and you will not get a true understanding of the rest of this blog post without watching the above. I don’t care if you have seen Sucker Punch or not; if you saw it and hated it: fine–I am talking to you Beth Accomando (and trust me, I love Zombie Beth). The availability of soundtracks and footage across the Internet allows for the basement creation of a six minute version of Sucker Punch that does a great job of substituting for the whole movie. The real question that I have for myself is this: why do I keep coming back to this song over and over again all year long? It is because the title is really, really thought-provoking: WHERE IS MY MIND?
This question seriously resonates with me because I am 40 years old now. I used to be smart–really smart, as proven by years of crushing K-12 curriculum and standardized tests at the top of my classes without any effort. Then I realized that I was more black sheep than white and got into the bad habits that I continue until this day: drinking like a fish, smoking like a chimney, eating as an afterthought maybe once a day, never seeing medical professionals, prescribing myself my own medicine, depriving myself of sleep to the point of just passing out on my couch each night, working until my fingers bleed, giving everything I have to the world right now. It is being present tense rather than living in the past or praying for the future, and it’s the only way that I know how to conduct myself to maximize my value to humankind. The problem is that this head-down approach causes me to lose my mind, and as I get older, sometimes I just stop what I am doing and I ask myself…
Where is my mind? It is–and always has been–fascinated with death. I “flunked” my first IQ test in my early years because I was grappling with the fact that I would never talk to my great-grandmother Massie ever again. When the score came back that I was a moron, my Mom–bless her heart–stormed into the school and demanded a do-over. IQ: 143 as opposed to 80-something. My teenage years of writing depressing poetry document this preoccupation well; I still believe that that the close presence of death smells like Pez candy. Over the years, I lost the rest of my grandparents as they moved on to the next level; these deaths are expected, but they are still sad and thought-provoking. Yet you see and hear about death all of the time: from horror movies to the nightly news; from video games where you can earn “extra lives” or “resurrect” or “respawn” to Steve Jobs‘ apparent sainthood, the Seal Team raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, and the execution of Troy Davis. Death and taxes: we are all just inured to it. As you get older and live more years, gaining more experience, you encounter instances of death that are more shocking than the normal background noise of life happening until it doesn’t anymore. Then it’s all you can do to not think about what dying means to you.
For me, personally, the untimely but beautiful death of my close friend Bela Chris Feher is strikingly haunting because he died doing what he loved to do: that is his legacy. That is setting the bar pretty damn high, and I don’t forgive him for leaving me behind. Bela was my friend, and I miss him every day; I would have loved to see what he would have thought of Occupy Wall Street. Remember, BC Feher is the guy who would send long diatribe e-mails to the Federal Government calling them out on complex conspiracy theories. I still find myself thinking “oh shit–you know who would love this? Bela!” and then I have to chiggity-check myself. I refuse to take his contact info out of my phone. I can’t watch Aliens or listen to The The or mention D&D without reminiscing about Chris. Because he is dead. And he left behind some truly epic stories, and that is precisely what I aim to do.
Let me be clear: I am not depressed, nor do I consider keeping an eye on He Who Rides a Pale Horse unhealthy in the least. Death is the second bookend, and our entire existence is spent putting this fact off until tomorrow. This inescapable event supersedes other important life measures and milestones: your spouse, your career, your family, your children, your accomplishments. Terence McKenna informed me that my responsibility as a Shaman are to view the “wiring under the boards” and return with critical information for the rest of my tribe; that is why I am exploring “Where is My Mind” in writing. Carlos Castaneda taught me that if you look fast enough with an empty mind over your left shoulder that you will see Death waiting. That is an incentive, my fellow human beings. I guess I’ve been at a Mexican standoff with the Grim Reaper long enough now that I just shrug. 40 years and you still can’t kill me! Come at me, bro.
I blog because my mind (aha! there it is!) wanders through the drudgery of everyday existence, past the wasteland of mortality, and suddenly stumbles on to a garden of legacy: what can I say I have truly accomplished so far in my life? What am I leaving behind when I level up? Can I die today–hoka hey–and be content that I was net-positive to the bank balance of humanity? I am certain that everyone at one time or another has had the distinct feeling that they are being watched, or on hidden camera: did I just hear laughter, an audience, a echo of soundtrack? There is a distinct deja-vu-esque prickle of awareness like some sort of prehistoric monster surfacing from your subconscious and thrilling up your spine: a frisson of “da fuq?” Maybe it’s a twitch of your Kundalini. A repeating black cat in The Matrix. Perhaps it is God watching your particular sitcom on His omniscient media center. Too many thoughts like this will drive a person insane; as A-Pope said:
Great wits are to madness near allied / And thin partitions do their bounds divide.
Seriously, ask yourself this question: where is your mind? What has that powerful, agile, sexy beast been doing the last five minutes? Do you remember what it feels like when you learn something earth-shakingly new and a big lightbulb goes on? Admire, acknowledge, and respect yourself for a minute; your body is a temple; verily, an Oracle of Delphi, where your brain, and your heart, and your soul, supposedly reside. Admit it to yourself: you are unique and totally, 100% perfect as is. You exist; that fact is relevant enough to take a deep breath and continue on and forward: there is only one You. Until you die. Then the bookends–and everything in between–go to the thrift store, and you have your legacy. Speaking of legacy; TIL from Reddit that The Pixies – Where Is My Mind? was transmitted to team behind the Mars Rover in order to “wake it up”. Wake up!
I write things down because I have always wanted to leave an important and cohesive body of work behind me for someone else to discover, enjoy, and maybe get lost in. Shit–my Dad even wrote a book; talk about setting the bar high, /grumble. Perhaps the Virtual Lilypad is an easily-accessible site for anthropology studies of privileged white males in San Diego from 1971 to 2011 and beyond. Maybe someone else will stumble across my original work and it will move them in a positive direction. At least I have generated a record that I existed once upon a time, and I have provided poems and DJ mixes and art to the international community. The world–especially the online, electronic world that we all increasingly participate in–suffers drastically from a lack of original content that can endure the test of time. For every single person that presses record and captures something, I guarantee that there are at least 1000 other people currently on this rock we agree to call Earth that will point to your effort and express “that is how I feel!” You just need to be brave enough to give yourself full credit. For me it is surviving 40 years of being on this damn planet. It’s a fucking accomplishment. And I am not dead yet.