Puritans, Goths, avant-garde artists, hell-raising poets and fashion icon Coco Chanel all saw something special in it. Now black, that most enigmatic of colours, has become even darker and more mysterious.
I enjoyed the WWI focus in the Arts section of the Sunday Times. This piece, by Ed Rothstein, wonders why people reacted so negatively to the carnage of WWI when they hadn’t done so to almost equally horrific ones, like the US Civil War. It seems to me that one of the biggest changes in cultural attitudes over the last 200 years involves not only the value but the meaning of a human life. Before modern medicine, death is so frequent, arbitrary, and unavoidable that a life must mean less, or else we would have spent all our time in grief; there must be life after life, or else we have surely been shortchanged by our meager lifespans. As medicine and standards of living improve, a cult of mourning emerges that gives more meaning to life by extending it past death in the lives of the still-living, while at the same time recognizing the inevitability of death. Death has meaning, even if life does not. And then the Great War provides the first widespread example of technology being used to end life at the same time technology has the capacity to safe life. This was not the case during the Civil War: if you didn’t die on the battlefield, you were almost equally likely to die at home. Now, no more. If a human life becomes something we can preserve, it becomes something we must preserve. The idea that we have a duty to prevent all death (seen, for instance, in calls to prevent mass shootings by making it easier to involuntarily commit people with mental health problems) seems likes a moral inevitability, but it is very much a historical development.
I was about to write something about art or some shit about love but the 20 year-old’s DJ boyfriend’s friend just spent the past 10 minutes laughing so hard I lost my train of thought. It was one of those forced kind of laughs that you only suffer from when you’re young and not fully aware of how shitty the world is but kind of just aware of it enough that you still have to force a good tear-jerking laughter every now and then? It was loud. It made me angry. Or not even angry, just irritable enough to make me want to process why I found it irritating. I found nothing in the processing except more irritability because I am a terrible person.
A few months ago I wrote something on here about my first impressions of Los Angeles. I think I wrote something to the tune of “ask me again in a few months and I’ll tell you how I really feel.” How I feel now is thus:
I love Los Angeles and I never want to leave. I love it’s fucked up sidewalks. I love the distance between neighborhoods that would feel like an eternity in any other city. I love how much this city doesn’t give a fuck about anyone without having to go through a deep cold winter, fireside introspective soul-searching bullshit.
I CAN’T FIGHT THIS FEELING. I FEEL FOR YOU. THE BOYS OF SUMMER, THE WILD BOYS, LOVERBOY, LOVER GIRL. BORN IN THE USA, FRESH, YOU’RE THE INSPIRATION. DO WHAT YOU DO. BE NEAR ME. LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME. THE SEARCH IS OVER. YOU GIVE GOOD LOVE.
WHAT ABOUT LOVE? THE POWER OF LOVE. FREEWAY OF LOVE. METHOD OF MODERN LOVE.
SENTIMENTAL STREET: ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK, SUMMER OF ‘69. RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT, MIAMI VICE THEME. NEUTRON DANCE. LIKE A VIRGIN, HEAD OVER HEELS, OUT OF TOUCH, I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS. OH SHEILA, RASPBERRY BERET, MATERIAL GIRL. DRESS YOU UP, ANGEL, PART TIME LOVER, EASY LOVER. CRAZY FOR YOU. SAVING ALL MY LOVE FOR YOU. BETTER BE GOOD TO ME.
JUNGLE LOVE. HEAVEN. THE HEAT IS ON. SOME LIKE IT HOT. I’M ON FIRE. ST. ELMO’S FIRE. WALKING ON SUNSHINE. RUN TO YOU. ALL I NEED, IN MY HOUSE, PRIVATE DANCER, ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT. OBSESSION. I CAN’T HOLD BACK. ONE MORE NIGHT. NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS.
PENNY LOVER, ALL SHE WANTS TO DO IS DANCE. WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO.
IF YOU LOVE SOMEBODY SET THEM FREE. FREEDOM, FORTRESS AROUND YOUR HEART, SUGAR WALLS, SOLID, A VIEW TO A KILL. SEPARATE LIVES, LONELY OL’ NIGHT. WHO’S HOLDING DONNA NOW? MISSING YOU.
SUDDENLY, EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD. STRUT. MONEY FOR NOTHING. MISLED. CARELESS WHISPER, VOICES CARRY. WHO’S ZOOMIN’ WHO? SHOUT: COOL IT NOW, WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER HERO.
WOULD I LIE TO YOU? WE ARE THE WORLD. WE BUILT THIS CITY. WE BELONG. YOU BELONG TO THE CITY. NEVER SURRENDER.
EVERYTIME YOU GO AWAY, CHERISH GLORY DAYS. TOO LATE FOR GOODBYES. DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. DON’T LOSE MY NUMBER. THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER.
Oh, one last thing. I did not mention AXEL F, VALOTTE or SUSSUIDO because those songs suck. Never listen to them and you will go far. Good luck.
WHEN I'M AT THE STEAM PUNK AMERICANA BAR DANCING TO BLUEGRASS AND ONE OF THE DAISIES I PUT IN MY HAIR FALLS OUT BUT THEN THE FIRE DEMON WHO FOLLOWS ME AROUND IS LIKE "IT'S OKAY" AND HE PICKS UP THE DAISY AND THOUGHTFULLY SAYS "YOU KNOW THIS BAR'S WHOLE THEME IS JUST A THROWBACK TO A MORE RACIST TIME" AND THE DAISY BURNS UP IN HIS SMOLDERING HANDS AND I REALIZE I HAVE TO LEAVE.