~ Saturday, February 07, 2004 ~
A Musician's Day
Looking through some old music class notes and assignments, I rediscovered this piece of prose by Eric Satie. It comes from a larger work called Mémoires d’un amnésique.
A Musician's Day
An artist must regulate his life. Here is my precise daily schedule. I rise at 7:18, am inspired from 10:30 to 11:47. I lunch at 12:11 and leave the table at 12:14. A healthy horse-back ride on my property from 1:19 to 2:35. Another round of inspiration from 3:12 to 4:07. From 5:00 to 6:47 various occupations (fencing, reflection, immobility, visits, contemplation, dexterity, swimming, etc.). Dinner is served at 7:16 and finished at 7:20. Afterward from 8:09 to 9:59 symphonic readings out loud. I go to bed regularly at 10:37. Once a week I wake up with a start 3:14 A.M. (Tuesdays.)
I eat only white foods: eggs, sugar, shredded bones, the fat of dead animals, rice, turnips, sausages in camphor, pastry, cheese (the white varieties), cotton salad, and certain kinds of fish (skinned). I boil my wine and drink it cold mixed with fuchsia juice. I have a good appetite but never talk when eating for fear of strangling.
I breathe carefully (a little at a time) and dance very rarely. When walking I hold my sides and look steadily behind me. Being of serious demanor, it is unintentional when I laugh. I always apologize very affably. I sleep with only one eye closed; I sleep very hard. My bed is round with a hold in it for my head to go through. Every hour a servant takes my temperature and gives me another.
For a long time I have subscribed to a fashion magazine. I wear a white cap, white socks, and a white vest.
My doctor has always told me to smoke. He even explains himself: "Smoke, my friend. Otherwise someone else will smoke in your place."
Then, just the next day, I learned that They Might Be Giants had written a song called "Memoirs of an Amnesiac" (or at least, they'd once played a song at a concert, to which they then pinned this title). I've never heard the song, but it doesn't matter. The point is that this is a very good way of explaining part of what interests me about TMBG. It's not just satire, although that is the result; it's the art of stretching a concept until it's distorted, creating silliness where none existed before. There's a quote by Dr. Seuss that explains the nonsensical lifestyle as "...a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope...that enables you to laugh at life's realities." In A Musician's Day, Satie began with a simple, reasonable statement--"An artist must regulate his life"--and spun it out until the idea of a life conducted with maximum regularity was lying plainly before him, and before his reader, unrolled in all its glorious absurdity. They Might Be Giants use a different medium, but some of their songs have the same flavor. For example, "I Should Be Allowed To Think" begins with a very basic and reasonable idea: people who have suffered should be allowed to express that suffering, unhindered. However, in the next verse, it shows how that same line of reasoning can be used to support a ridiculous demand: I saw graffiti declaring the names of lousy bands, therefore it would be okay for me to spout inanities loudly and publicly. It's a good illustration of how the argument for entitlement looks when it's stretched--that's the satire aspect of it--but on a different level, it shows TMBG's preference for silly things (for the Sil?), and a gift for creating silliness (silth?) out of the Perfectly Reasonable just by looking at it from the right vantage point. It isn't that this morsel of Perfect Reasonability has really been asking for it; rather, it's just that there needs to be more silliness in life, and this bit of seriousness was available. It's the aesthetic of the absurd.
Current Music: Follow Me To Carlow, Off Kilter
~ prattled by Miriam at 11:09 p.m. [+]
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