My entire summer has been exhausted by the writing of a prospective first or early chapter of my millstone thesis on the decreasingly fascinating and increasingly complex logic of my newbestfriend the portmanteau-word, and as a result I have spent a great deal of time staring blankly at Word, playing guitar, and contriving doomed pursuits (playwriting, story-writing, song-writing, this-writing) to keep my mind off-track at all costs. Of course the grinding guilt of Not Working On My Project ensures that any such distractions only prove distracting fleetingly, which in turn ensures that no progress is made in anything more interesting than my thesis, which then sends me back to my aborted side-projects, which … (repeat agonizingly).
All this means that my prospective play has no name or subject-matter; my story-writing has reached three paragraphs; I am still naff at playing the guitar; my song has three verses but no chorus, structure, rhythm, etc.; and this bit of stuff here may well never make it onto my blog.
I have, however, become absolutely masterful at staring blankly at Word, and my growing thesis chapter now contains a definition of a portmanteau-word which is so full of academic horseshit that I can be nothing but inestimably proud of it. What’s a portmanteau-word? Well … It is that movement beyond language through language that cleaves open an unknowable semantic space (in the area beyond sense) which both invites, through excess, and functionally negates, through excess, elements of control and interpretation which seek to delimit or ‘know’ its contents—a process which remains ongoing (or at least open to change) in perpetuity, although in different (and very often diminishing) degrees … Of course. I hope now that anyone doubting the applicability or usefulness of a doctoral degree in English literature feels suitably ashamed of themselves.
I perhaps peaked in the procrastination stakes yesterday, though—until now, that is—when I decided to compile a list of thirteen songs with such wondrous opening notes that they encompass the remaining composition so completely I don’t even need to listen on (weird, no?) … I can retrospectively rationalize this clear evidence of mental illness with the fact that, with time tight and a deadline fast approaching, I have worked subconsciously to develop nothing less than a brilliant time-saving device for the busy urban professional or feckless postgraduate. But I can barely even convince myself of this.
Here it stupid-well is. The songs are great even if the reasoning and motives aren’t.
Rachel’s (Music for Egon Schiele)
Sigur Ros (Brackets)
‘Broken Chord Can Sing a Little’
Silver Mt. Zion (He Has Left Us Alone)
‘Black Eyed Dog’
Nick Drake (Made to Love Magic)
‘Into my Arms’
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (Boatman’s Call)
‘You Ain’t Grieving’
Madelaine Hart (L.A.A)
‘Point of Disgust’
‘Who by Fire’
Leonard Cohen (New Skin for the Old Ceremony)
Joanna Newsom (Ys)
‘As Serious As Your Life’
Cat Power (The Covers Record)
And now: back to the essay …