I’ve been feeling increasingly trapped by the English language lately, on several levels. It’s becoming clear just how inefficient a means of communicating it is. Sure, I can provoke a reaction with words, I can even occaisionally manage to communicate what’s in my head, without it becoming lost in ten thousand other things. My Ninth Art columns are a particular victim of this – most of the most interesting ideas in them (which is to say, the ones that kepe me thinking about them and unable to make up my mind if the notion is clever or bullshit) I lay out there are one sentence as an aside to a larger column. They’re mentioned in passing, and no more, because I can’t actually formulate a coherent opinion on them.
But what I have real trouble doing is conveying a precise feeling, without lapsing into purple prose. I can’t get the precision I want out of my mother tounge. There aren’t words for the concepts I really want to convey, because they’re your/my own experiences, hugely, intensely personal things, and still, they’re the only things that are worth talking about. So I perpetrate god-awful prose, most of it in private, trying to arrive at some kind of technique through which to filter my experience, without sounding like some overblown eejit. Well, no more than I do normally.
Grant Morrison’s Invisibles series had the notion that high-dimensional/more enlightened beings would not talk in words, but instead in “emotional aggregates”, which is exactly what I find myself reaching towards these days. Trying to refine communication down to the point where there’s no barrier between the words and the experiences and emotions they’re conveying.
But in this eternal quest to write something I’m happy with, I think I’ve just hit a stumbling block that I can’t get past. It doesn’t matter if I can conquer my weak prose fiction skills and write a novel, or master the five act drama form, or even set aside my loathing and write poetry, the one form I will never master is songwriting. I just don’t speak music. I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument, I just don’t understand music on any level beyond enjoying the experience of listening to it. Every single time I’ve tried to do anything musical, I have failed laughably. It’s simply not within the range of my gifts.
This is starting to fuck me off slightly, because I don’t know anything closer to “talking in emotional aggregates” than music. Music has a much more direct key to the emotions than any set of words – why d’you think that there’s no film or TV shown that doesn’t have a sountrack playing near-contastanly, even if it’s almost conpletely concealed in the background? It’s providing subliminal emotional cues. It’s no accident that Joss Whedon just the soundtrack out of that episode of Buffy – it produced a weird numb shock effect, that made the show draining and hard to watch, the perfect effect. The absence of the soundtrack was much more noticeable than any soundtrack ever is.
But try how I might, and despite what the horrorscope I read for laughs on the train yesterday might say, I don’t think I’ll ever manage songwriting.
So it’s back to beating around with a completely different toolset for me.
Well, after I’ve finished tidying up, that is.
Addendum: not five minutes after writing this, I found myself reading Keiron Gillen and Natalie Sandells rather excellent Hit which is in a similar sort of vein to my thoughts, only funny.