Seductive Bare-Chested Masculine Confidence

Seductive Bare-Chested Masculine Confidence

Actually, now that I’ve had some more time to think about it from the perspective of a quick character study, while looking more closely at the very interesting photographs of this guy, perhaps I should have described him as “alluring,” rather than “seductive.” “Alluring” suggests, I think, a less cold-hearted stance toward/with others, while “seductive” implies intentionally hard-hearted and calculated schemes to take advantage of others. But the “bare-chested masculine confidence” is certainly a fitting description of the aura he projects.

This is a very handsome, muscular fellow, who most men and women would probably find to be quite attractive. The guy recently won a national title, Mr. America, Mr. American Glamour, Mr. Fascination, or some title like that. Well, at least I know for darn sure that I’m correct about the Mister part. In almost all of the photographs of him, this manly man looks you straight in the eye. In that sense he creates an impression of invitation, with an implication of closeness.

On the other hand, his gaze has a certain vacant quality, conveying a decidedly disinterested air. In other words, there exists a paradox of social attachment or closeness, accompanied by an opposite message of social distance. I’m wondering if this social ambivalence might be somewhat characteristic of people who are celebrities, as well as of people who want or are trying to be celebrities. Anyway, at the very least my comments here have attempted to establish an underlying point that there’s nothing improper about looking closely at men who are alluring and very attractive. Perhaps it’s more a matter of how you think about it.

The Alluring Guy with Bare-Chested Confidence

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April 5th: “You Believe in Dreams in a Dream-Forsaken Land”

You Believe in Dreams in a Dream-Forsaken Land

Roseanne Cash in The New York Times

The Ear of the Beholder

“I have spent a lifetime in the service of creative fiction, as well as non-fiction ornamented by fiction….The “truth” (or “honesty”) and the “facts” are not necessarily the same, they are not necessarily equal and one often requires the suspension of the other. This may not be the case in higher math or on Wall Street (or, actually, it may work there as well, but I’m clueless about that) but it is an immutable “truth” in art and music that facts are not necessarily the best indicators of the deepest human experience.

The table where you found the suicide note, the cup of coffee that turned cold because you were distracted in a painful reverie staring out the old wavy-glass window at the rain dripping off the eaves, the seashell left in the coat pocket from the last time you were at that favorite spot at the ocean, when it all came clear that you were at the right place with the wrong man, the letters, the photos, the marbles and jewels – all these physical, material, real-world artifacts carry poetic weight and should be used liberally in songwriting. These are the facts that convey truth to me.

The exact words he said, who was right or wrong, whether he relapsed on the 7th or the 10th, why exactly she does what she does, the depth and weight and timbre of the feelings, whether Love Heals Everything – these aren’t facts, these are ever-changing blobs of emotional mercury, and when you are working in rhyme, it can be much more powerful and resonant to write about the shards of the coffee cup than about the feeling that caused him to throw it across the room. You are better off moving the furniture than you are directly analyzing the furniture maker. This is to say nothing of the fact that the lyrical content of songs is by definition wholly entwined with melody, rhythm, tone and possibly a backbeat, and these carry their own authority.

Recently, I wrote a song with Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello. It was a wild idea I had while I was lying around recovering from surgery this past winter. They are both friends – I’ve known Kris since my childhood – and Elvis and I had just written a song together by email. …. I asked them separately if they would be interested in recording together, the three of us, and they were both game. We started talking about this in February. We found that the only day in a six-month window when the three of us would be in New York at the same time, without obligations, was April 5th. I booked the studio, not knowing what we would do. As the date got closer, I started to get a little nervous and thought maybe my initial idea of recording old songs of ours together might not have the fresh energy and originality I was looking for. Elvis and John Leventhal, my husband and frequent collaborator and producer, kept mentioning that they hoped we could write something together that day, but that also made me anxious. It seemed too much pressure for one day.

I had a song that was incomplete, but a great idea, that I had started writing when I was halfway through recording Black Cadillac. It never really worked, and last year John picked it up again, streamlined it musically and suggested some lyric changes – actually lyric deletions, as he thought it was too wordy. I pared the first verse down to this:

You want love
But it’s never deep enough
You want life
But it’s never long enough
You want peace
Like it’s something you can buy
You want time
But you’re content to watch it fly

I loved the song, but it was still incomplete and didn’t seem to have a home. John thought this would be a great song to write with the gents, and so I sent the first verse by e-mail to Elvis and to Kris (by way of his wife, Lisa, as Kris doesn’t do e-mail), to see if they would be interested in finishing it with us. Elvis responded immediately, and within a couple days had e-mailed back a second verse, and some ideas for bridges. I loved his verse (“You want imagination but you cannot pretend…“), and we began a dialogue about where it should go. Nothing from Kris, who was touring in Europe.

We waited.

On April 4th, the day before the session, Lisa sent an e-mail saying, “Here are his thoughts so far…” and a verse from Kris that raised the hair on the back of my head and brought instant tears to my eyes. I sent it to Elvis, fingers shaking, and he wrote back within minutes, his excitement and exclamation points jumping off the screen.

It was perfect.

It all came together seamlessly the next day, in a way that I’ve seldom experienced in 30 years of recording. It was like alchemy. It was eight hours of magic (and I never use that word). Elvis tinkered with his verses a bit, we divided up the vocal parts and the three of us stood in a circle with the three musicians – John, Zev Katz and Joe Bonadio – and recorded the song. It still doesn’t have a proper title, or a home, but it is a thing of beauty. (Regarding the title, I suggested “Free Will,” Kris suggested “Faith and Free Will,” and Elvis was concerned that anything with “free will” would remind people of a movie about a whale; so right now we’re calling it “April 5th,” because that’s when we recorded it.) A few people who have heard it have said that even though the lyrics are uplifting, even elegiac, the song makes them cry, and they are not sure why. I had the same experience, and I’m not sure why, either. There are no “facts” in these lyrics, no literal references to our lives, beyond our combined assimilated experience and unstated values.

A few people who have heard it have said that even though the lyrics are uplifting, even elegiac, the song makes them cry, and they are not sure why. I had the same experience, and I’m not sure why, either. There are no “facts” in these lyrics, no literal references to our lives, beyond our combined assimilated experience and unstated values.

We are so deeply limited by language, and so ennobled by it. Songs are the attempt to convey what is under and behind language, and so it is counter-productive, if not counter-intuitive, to clutch at exactitudes of circumstance that retreat further in meaning the more desperate we become to quantify them.”

You Want Life, But It’s Never Long Enough

Twilight’s Ambiguity: Vagueness and Possibility

Rosanne Cash spoke about how some persons have reacted to hearing this song by saying that, “A few people who have heard it have said that even though the lyrics are uplifting, even elegiac, the song makes them cry, and they are not sure why. I had the same experience, and I’m not sure why, either.”

Just what is it about the lyrics of this new song that evokes the uncomfortable feelings relating to ambiguity and uncertainty? From my own perspective, the feeling of uncertainty, of not knowing, reflects the shadowy, twilight realm known as unformulated experience, which is so often characteristic of our greatest longings, as well as our desperate need to have them “heard.” Rosanne Cash’s wonderful contribution intentionally focuses upon some of our deeper emotional experiences: love, life, peace and time (to live). Sadly, those very wishes too often engender unbearable sources of frustration, the wishes seeming to be either unfulfilling or not obtainable.

Elvis Costello’s verse,”You want imagination but you cannot pretend,” poetically reveals the distressing sense of paradox that is inherent to the nature of our deeper emotional wishes, which can in turn serve as a barrier to maintaining a sense of and attaining our objects of benign hope. Kristofferson’s verse, “You believe in dreams in a dream-forsaken land,” is a similar reflection of life’s fundamental, ongoing and painful sense of paradox, with many-layers of potential meanings. In many areas of life, especially those mentioned in Roseanne Cash’s lyrics, the struggle to achieve a genuine sense of independence and maturity similarly means being able and willing to sustain the essential, complex tensions of paradox until one can achieve a new understanding, supported by a view of experience as emergent. All of these, in turn, call upon a wide-ranging capacity to recognize and appreciate multiple perspectives.

And be not afraid of courting surprise.

Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Kris Kristofferson: “April 5th”

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My Faves for Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The article presents some reflections on hope. It discusses how the attempt to specify the meaning of hope is complicated by the need to clarify the many relationships between hope and expectations. And yet, we must dare to hope. It is accompanied by pictures (incorporates Picasso’s Peace Dove) and two videos (including Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up).

[tags: art, hope, music video, Josh Groban, You Raise Me Up]

See the rest of my Faves at Faves

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Looking at You: And You the Same

On Attachment: Looking at You, Looking at Me, Looking at You

Looking at You: And You The Same

Feeling Connected

I’m looking at you
Looking at me
Looking at you
And you the same.

Disembedded, 2005


Looking at You, Looking at Me, Looking at You

Please Note: I have written a comment about this posting, and I hope very deeply that you might read it and, perhaps, respond. My very best wishes to you.
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On Listening, Paying Attention, Recognition and Loving Relationships

Thoughts on Recognition and Loving Relationships

Edward Hopper: Summer Evening

Recently, I pointed out an article that Peggy Noonan had published in The Wall Street Journal.  She noted that, “Barack Obama has a great thinking look.  I mean the look he gets on his face when he’s thinking, not the look he presents in debate, where they all control their faces knowing they may be in the reaction shot and fearing they’ll look shrewd and clever, as opposed to open and strong.  I mean the look he gets in an interview or conversation when he’s listening and not conscious of his expression.  It’s a very present look.  He seems more in the moment than handling the moment.  I’ve noticed this the past few months, since he entered the national stage.

While Noonan was talking about her observations within the context of a political perspective, for me her comments resonated with the more personal issue of developing a loving, mutually reciprocal relationship.  Noonan pointed out a capacity to listen, to hear the other, to pay attention to the other.  The process of paying real attention to the other involves having the experience with/of the other perceived as outside the self, as well as an experience with/of my subjective conceptualization or impression of the other.

But beyond attention, we have both a need for recognition by the other, as well as wishes to be able to recognize the other in return, to experience a cherished other and have a co-constructed personal involvement that is distinctively characterized by a sense of nourishing, mutual recognition.  However there is an inevitable tension between connection and separation, the self’s wish for absolute independence conflicts with the self’s need for recognition.  In trying to establish itself as an independent entity, the self must yet recognize the other as a subject like itself in order to be recognized by it.  This immediately compromises the self’s absoluteness and poses the problem that the other could be equally absolute and independent.

Each self wants to be recognized and yet to maintain its absolute identity: The self says, “I want to affect you, but I want nothing you do or say to affect me, I am who I am.”  In its encounter with the other, the self wishes to affirm its absolute independence, even though its need for the other and the other’s similar wish give the lie to it.

This confrontation with the other’s subjectivity and the limits of one’s self-assertion is a difficult one to mediate.  The need for recognition leads to a fundamental paradox; in the very moment of realizing our own independent will, we are dependent on another to recognize it.  At the very moment we come to understanding the meaning of I, myself, we are forced to see the limitations of that self.  At the moment when we understand that separate minds can share similar feelings, we begin to find out that these minds can also disagree.

The ideal resolution of the paradox of recognition is for it to continue as a constant tension between recognizing the other and asserting the self.  It is for this purpose that carrying on a co-constructed, mutually reciprocal loving relationship with another necessarily entails ongoing practice in the sustaining of contradiction.  The latter is an ability that is enhanced to the degree that we are willing to appreciate, preferably embrace, the uncertainty that is inherent to our involvement in everyday life, to the choices that we make and to what might possibly emerge from those choices.

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Thanks to Connecticut’s Daily Column: News, Photos and Weird Stuff

The Daily Column: News, Photos and Weird Stuff

Richie, The Daily Column Owner/Administrator

And They Got Logos Too!!

Every now and then, I notice that there is a surprising increase in the number of readers from Connecticut and surrounding areas to my blog.  They will be coming to see a particular posting, such as this classically foolish object of their present curiosities: A Coney Island of the Mind: The Mermaid Parade.  This leads me to become mindful of the probability that The Daily Column in Connecticut has shown an interest in one of my postings and has pointed their readers this way.

The Daily Column describes itself not only as a daily collection of links to news, photos and weird stuff, but also as a social community with a sense of style that the “OFFICIAL Daily Column MySpace Page” characterizes as “a place where you dont have to pretend to be someone or something your not.”  Of course I can’t speak for you, but I like that thought very much.

And I’d like to extend my deep thanks to the folks over at The Daily Column.  I think that it does a person good to feel that one is appreciated by another, every now and then.

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