Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2007. hello all. we are returned from paradise. must report that there is at least one place left where peace still exists. you know i had this little rant written about this that i found at steven johnsons blog. but i decided to delete it because why start off the new year with the same old crazily fucking absurd story. right?

instead i will start with the cheery winter story of the donner party. i watched a dvd from the american experience doc series. beautifully done by the brother (?) of ken burns, he of the epic civil war documentary. very much in the ken burns style. but anyway, i digress. the point of all that is to get to alexis de tocqueville. the documentary begins with a quote by him. he continues to amaze me. i will really sit down and read him one day when i grow up. but for now i will continue to marvel at his insight into america and americans in the little snippets i find littered throughout our culture. he made these observations in the 1800's no less. the 1800's. this particular quote is not only appropriate to the doomed donner partys decision to find 'the shortest route' to california, but is also, i think, appropriate to the holiday season and the crazy wake of shopping that follows. it sums up eloquently a major theme in my work, in my spiritual struggle and in our collective and unexamined dreams. have at it.

"it is odd to watch with what feverish ardour americans pursue prosperity, ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it. they cleave to the things of this world as if assured that they will never die and yet rush to snatch any that comes within their reach, as if they expected to stop living before they had relished them. death steps in, in the end, and stops them, before they have grown tired of this futile pursuit of that complete felicity which always escapes them." -alexis de tocqueville

18 comments:

ThoughtCancer said...

That's funny that you bring up Tocqueville. I have one of his qoutes hanging above my computer screen here at work. His insight into the American character was staggering, moreso that he made them 150 years ago. The qoute I have here at work is:

"As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?"

ArclightRecords said...

Was listening to Why Something...today and decided to do a search to see if you were up to anything musically these days and stumbled upon your blog. So have you released anything recently?

matt volpe said...

Hey Eric!

Happy 2007. Glad to hear you and your wife had good break in paradise!
My family and I had a wonderful Christmas and New Years. It was great to spend some quality time with the little guy and play him some more bass. I received a fretless squier jazz bass from my mom, it's awesome. I like that it's cheap, feels light as a feather and plays like a 2000 dollar instrument! It's my first delve into the fretless world and it's a lot of fun. Have you ever played one?

Great insight into the French sociologist Tocqueville, thanks very much for opening my eyes and ears to his work. I look forward to reading more of his works.

By the way, regarding your comment a little ways back about learning another great bass player's work to help become inspired, I have recetnly picked up an Elton John greatest hits CD. I'm not a huge fan of the music, but I've always respected the musicianship on his songs from the 70's, especially the bass playing. I believe it was Dee Murray, an awesome melodic player. So I am going to give that a go and learn it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Hope all else is well and look
forward to speaking with you in 07!

Best, Matt

Chris (C. Brian) said...

Eric,

Bienvenido a 2007.

Ken Burns . . . bought Civil War series for my father-in-law.

Happiness, spirituality, and Alexis de Tocqueville: your observations made me think of the work of Viennese psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who survived the concentration camps and wrote Man's Search for Meaning. This slim volume is one of the most cogent, deep, and spiritual works in existence (IMHO).In it he talks about concepts such as "hyperintention" and "paradoxical intention" . . . the insomniac who desperately wants rest and tries so hard to fall asleep, but can't. Frankl advises the insomniac to stay awake as long as possible. Paradoxically, he or she will most likely fall asleep by switching strategies. His theories reminds me that happiness and success - - when pursued directly and intentionally - - can sometimes elude us.

"Don't aim at success - the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run - in the long run, I say! - success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it." - Man's Search for Meaning

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year all! EA, I dropped a query off in the November 15 blog entry of yours. The question is thematically more consistent with the ideas you expressed then, so I threw it in there. I would be interested on your ideas on the matter if they don't cross any uncomfortable boundries. Perhaps you have already seen it and decided to ignore. In that case thanks anyways.

Be well,

SR

Anonymous said...

November 30th blog entry

Mike Walters said...

Hi Eric, I hope you had a nice Christmas and that the New Year is treating you well. I took a look at the blog you linked to and had to laugh. It seems like we're going back in time or something. How can this stuff happen in this day and age? It's truly amazing to me. I think you and the rest of Jane's said it best when you wrote "Idiots Rule".
Latter Mike

Anonymous said...

eric,

thanks for this blog. as a jane's fan from back in the day it is deeply comforting to find intelligent life here

jim

-ea. said...

thoughtcancer- thanks for the quote. he is fucking good. this afternoon i thumbed through 'democracy in america' at the library. still seems a little much to read cover to cover. maybe someday.

-ea. said...

arclightrecords- i have a meeting on monday with the front runners for putting out a new solo record that is very nearly finished.

-ea. said...

matt volpe - thank you matt. fretless. nice. i havent thought of fretless in a while. i have never had one. i might have to pick one up. always make me think of david j.

dee murray. wow. takes me back. i can instantly see the record caribou in my minds eye. that was a time when music was so innocent an experience for me. i was too young to attach any sense of identity to it or to make it anything other than it was just what i wanted to listen to. i was maybe eleven. i didnt know there was any artistic difference between the elton john, david bowie, simon and garfunkel, or kiss that i was listening to.

-ea. said...

chris c. brian- i can remember seeing the frankl book in my fathers bookshelves as a kid. i will have to give it a look through. i agree about keeping your focus off of 'success'. but i think that still implies that we have control over success. it is my opinion that one should make ones life about things that we have more control over; like happiness, well-being, fulfillment. unless you are born into it, success needs a whole lot of blind luck to come to anyone. that is certainly the story of any 'success' ive seen in my life. which brings me back to another tocqueville observation. i dont know the actual quote but he made the observation that americans believe they are on their way to a higher income class while europeans do not believe they are on their way up. the truth is that with rare exception no one really winds up at a different level than when they began; european or american.

-ea. said...

thanks mike and welcome jim.

matt volpe said...

Eric,

Yeah the fretless is a lot of fun. Great observation about being young and just listening to all sorts of music without any preconceptions--gotta love youth, I wish that same kind of innocence can carry into adulthood. But I guess that's the price of one growing up.

Quick question: Are you a fan of Incubus at all? I've been a long time fan of their music I think they're new record Light Grenades is fantastic. Especially the song DIG, great song. Just wanted to pass that along...
Talk soon, Matt

-ea. said...

matt- i have only ever heard little bits and pieces of incubus here and there. i cant say that it has never interested me. but again, never really listened to them.

-ea. said...

matt- oops. it should read: i cant say that it has EVER interested me.

matt volpe said...

EA, That's cool. By the way, I think I remember you mentioned in a response to someone earlier that you were having a meeting today regarding your new record. Good luck with that! Look foward to it... MV

Anonymous said...

Yep, I'll echo these sentiments and I hope that you find the beauracracy streamlined, the business fair, and the support sufficient. The music should be a breath of fresh air in a sea of mediocrity.

Be well,

SR