This morning, the swallowing of peanut butter and toast triggered more than just digestive juices in me. Thanks peanut butter and toast, how quaintly you relate to my argument.
I’m not just rambling about toast here because I love peanut butter (even though ohmygod I love peanut butter more than most things). I’m actually rambling about music and movies and life and stuff. I swear.
I’ve been noticing a trend in music and movies and life and stuff lately…or really, I should I say I noticed the trend over toast this morning. I was reading an article about Bjork’s new album, “Biophilia,” in the New York Times which I found to be quite helpful, as I often completely miss the point of albums until I have listened to them ten or twenty times. I wouldn’t totally call “Biophilia” a concept album, but it is definitely an album with a concept. In this case the concept is the universe. And viruses. And the body. (Yeah, yeah, I know it’s called biophilia. Like I said, I’m slow). More importantly the album is about how the self is just a reaction and interconnection to and within these larger forces. She sings about the planets in a way that make it seem as if they are human bodies with as many feelings as you or me or anybody. She talks about viruses as if she is crooning about love and flowers. Maybe it is because Bjork is from Iceland, which has always seemed like another planet to me. It’s a country where there are still volcanoes and glaciers, and yet, you have to walk out your door everyday and find meaning to life amongst untamed nature. Pretty intense shit.
I have also seen this theme in a 2011 album by Jenny Hval entitled, “Viscera.” Please do yourself a favor and listen to this album. It’s like Lush infused with Laura Marling and a smutty 13-year old’s diary. It’s incredible. But it’s uncannily similar to Bjork’s album in the way that it makes everyday bodily functions seem like the most monumental events. It’s a bit more blatant than “Biophilia.” You can easily pick out the word “erection” at least four times within the first three tracks, and the first track sounds like it could be a passage from Cosmo magazine with all of its scandalous talk of clitorises (clitori?) and electric toothbrushes. But it’s just so EPIC. The third track, “Portrait of the Young Girl As An Artist,” explodes with a Bark Psychosis-like energy that gets me every time. I don’t know how you transition from boners to epicness. Or maybe, I just never though of it before. Hval teaches us to celebrate our human qualities. They’re not gross, they’re beautiful.
Last but certainly not least (or, idk, maybe it’s just as irrelevant as everything else in the whole universe) is “The Tree of Life,” 2011. I watched this movie way too late. And by that I mean I should have watched it everyday since I’ve been born. It would have saved me so much hell through high school and hormones and so many other equally tragic events. Terrence Malick succeeds in telling a pretty normal story about a boy’s life in the context of the whole universe, and all of creation. Scenes of growing up are juxtaposed with scenes of dinosaurs. Science. Biology. Puberty. The Big Bang. Texas. At the same time that we feel like everything is insignificant we also feel like our whole existence should be celebrated. Who the fuck can do that? I don’t think the Bible could even achieve that.
I think I have to stop. It’s 9:30 in the morning and I have Spanish in 20 minutes. I could go on. I could talk about the book I recently read called “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera where the characters have urges to empty their bowels in the midst of sexual interactions. But, I think you get the point (and I guess I’m only technically supposed to write about music on here). I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this theme was a trend and why it is important. I know it isn’t really a new theme either…I think “Unbearable Lightness” was written in the ’80s (that date could be really wrong). From taking tons of art history I know that there is usually also a social or political context for most recurring themes in art. I’m not sure I know the context this time. The world is fucked up? Sure. The point is I’ve been seeing this theme a lot lately, and I need to see it. We all do. Just remember: your life is important. So is the universe, and so is your strep throat. But in the end, none of it’s that important.