January 6, 2015

Through A Glass, Darkly

Apropos of nothing, my favorite Norman Rockwell painting

I just finished watching Life Itself, a candid and stirring tribute to movie critic Roger Ebert, film's greatest friend. I give it two thumbs up. Of course, the second thumb is redundant. There is still a hole in my soul where my frequent trips to Roger's blog used to be. I much admired his writing skills. He had a way of conveying very sophisticated and nuanced ideas about movies, and life itself, without ever seeming pretentious. His blog entries always provoked thoughtful feedback from articulate and passionate readers, and Roger frequently replied to many of the comments. He was passionate, intelligent, generous and courageous. People like that I call heroes.

Heroes. I have so many. Hitchcock. Dali. Chaplin. McCartney. Vonnegut. Zappa. Perhaps only Santa has a longer list. My love for the arts can never be properly articulated,. Art and pop culture is my life support system. Aside from love, art is the finest thing that humanity can produce. In a world where humans are defined by their propensity for destruction, art is creation. It is a reminder that a man can pick up a paintbrush instead of a gun. You know a society is in trouble when its art is suppressed. Art is the proverbial canary in society's coalmine.

A few years ago, I realized that I fit all the criteria for Asperger's Syndrome. Obsessive devotion to specialized interests. Check. Social awkwardness and difficulty making eye contact. Check. Repetition of routines and rituals. Check. I don't like phone calls or long-sleeved shirts. Fluorescent lights can be very oppressive. I don't give a damn about football, but I will play pinball on my PS3 until I pass out from exhaustion. I walk a little funny, and my enunciation sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. Emotions? My face may say Spock, but inside I am Kirk.

Is it a burden? A handicap? In other's eyes, maybe, but never to me. It was only a burden to me when I was growing up unaware of my condition and its name, when I thought my classmates' cruelty toward me was a random act. These days I might be misunderstood, but I understand that I'm speaking a different language, and therefore I hold no grudges. If I had been born "normal," I might be glad I did not have Asperger's. Thankfully, I rarely feel persecuted these days.

Like most people with Asperger's, there is the one companion to whom I devote most of my energies. Heather is my wife. She is my confidant. She is my best friend. She is my muse. When time permits, we are happily inseparable. She knows my frustration of being geographically separated from my two amazing daughters. At my lowest point, she helped me regain my footing, and I believe she might literally be an angel.. Seven years, no serious arguments. How many couples can make that boast?

I have put considerable time and effort into studying the art of songwriting. For twenty-five years I've been at it. The first 500 songs I wrote I discarded. It's only been in the last two years that I've been able to synthesize all my influences into what I believe is a unique sound. I have dozens upon dozens of songs to record, and I write an average of one new song a week. I feel my music must be recorded in solitude, so my mission currently is to save money and build a proper home studio. My music is the part of me I can leave behind when my life journey is through. I do not care if my music is popular. I do not care if I make a lot of money. My burning desire is to make recordings that sound as close as possible to the sounds in my head. In this way, I will express myself in a way that I cannot otherwise do. I am grateful that my dream is still alive.

It is clear to me now that this blog is a permanent record of my influences. Only time will tell if that record has value to anyone else but me. However, I am going to post here as often as I can all the things that I feel are valuable and worthy of note. I hope to present exhibits here that will make you want to dig deeper on your own. If you have an open mind, there is endless treasure to discover. I also have a nagging desire to do some creative writing, maybe short fiction. Fair warning.

Comments are always deeply appreciated, unless you live in India and have some money waiting for me. I'm talking to you, Sirjit Chakrabarti!