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Cuddle Forever: Why art and music endeavor anything

Updated: Feb 11

The concept of motivation is insane, and the more that I meditate on it the more I realize that it exists in an exceedingly quantum, moral entanglement. It is in this bizarre sort of world are we forcibly exposed to evils that rear their heads every turn, seeming to work against decent attempts at an honest means or even working invisibly to prevent our solitude. It's weird to think how obvious the gap between a social dystopia (from perspective glimpses methinks cursorial a la "Brave New World") and the modern grace of the Western world has closed in a way less conjunctive and slightly more rushed than a Philip K. Dick novel. Indeed a growing collection of the most horrific facets from all my very favorite apocalyptic novelizations continue to humor me in the news, yet it would seem that a growing realization of my naivety is just as much to blame as the innocence of my counterparts: faith in the indominable human spirit. Without faith in the inner urge to love there is nothing.

Are you here?

Across 93 billion lightyears time might exist, and from here on Earth, it mostly seems like the forces of this universe operate in such a transient nature that distilling dreams into reality is remotely possible. It takes motivation to carry out the conscious toils of the physical inertia in this vastly increasing expanse. How do you handle the burden of its entropy? What moments give you pause? Every person on this planet has willed their life to now save for those who can't submit their volition, and at least those are willed by others. Really, what gives you purpose? What fills you with passion? What brings you here, now?

Paul Laffoley, 1965

When I was recording and producing my forthcoming album the implications of all my love and hatred for the world came to me. The process of recording cosmic passages at home is all but natural (for how this fits me it might be a lower fruit to jest about its synthetic excess), however, it's something I am summoned to do. My newest single is an example of this channeling. It was July of 2020, and I was working steadily in spite of the continuation of robust social distancing programs in the hospitality industry. I had all my synthesizers set up in the bedroom, so on days that I got up early enough I would make a loop, a good attempt at cogency; and then I would eat while whatever melody or textures I had developed echoed through the house. I remember when I was developing "Cuddle Forever," I came back to the loop and laid out this slow, pensive solo that became more whimsical as it traveled upwards. Even though it's a slow-changing lullaby I was pleased with the movement. I felt lucky to capture it. I had the next couple days off, and the next morning I wanted to check my work. I plugged in the headphones out of the cassette recorder directly into my bass amplifier and laid down on the bed with my wife.

I don't think the object of motivation should be bliss. If it's a side effect of what can be accomplished in life then that seems like a bonus. Ultimately, I've lost quite a few friends to the arbitrary, draconic thrill of achieving bliss, however, I do ironically believe that these losses are part of the reason I make ambient music. I'll listen back to it and drool idly while my mind wanders in splendors of sluggish psychedelia, curious about what I am hearing and how it happened. I don't listen to a lot of ambient specifically. My rotation is probably like 15%. During production and post of the drones and soundscapes I make they are something like heroin to me without the strings attached; the bliss is a desirable side effect. Too often the self-criticism of artists is sort of a catalyst for their own failure. It almost seems that people who make art with the goal of being happy with it are coping. That's simply not a good goal. The actual motivations for good art: truly ineffable, capturing juxtapositions of art and life, casting shadows on social expectations, slightly divisive yet apolitical, and in a synesthetic communion with unperceivable dimensions.

Seems like dadaism and brutalism did a lot for the essence of modern art in helping creators and architects of the mid-to-late 20th century to let go of expectation and overcome aspiring to beauty alone. Saying that here feels silly because I find "Cuddle Forever" to be pretty beautiful, but the purpose of bringing it up is to convey the hierarchy of alpha and omega at the moment of creation, unhindered by reason. In discussions I've had with artists on the precipice of masterpiece, or at least with artists on the brink of good work, they are esoteric. They walk around with bags under their eyes, variable features askew, muttering feebly to themselves about "I shouldn't do that... no. Yes, YES!" You might ask them why they are torturing themselves. What is the reason you want to complete this work, this thing that might go sight unseen and song unheard? The real reason for doing anything is as overdone as it is bespoke. The real reason is something you can look for your whole life and chase like bliss. I hope it comes to them.

David Lynch on the rationale of art
Photo: Sandro


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