23. Faith in the Muse

"Eurytus [...] boasted that he would surpass even the Muses [...] whereon they were angry, and maimed him."


Hope all are well!

In this newsletter I’ll review the winding trail I’ve been walking with some recent media experiments.

(To skip the analysis and go straight to my latest coolest thing, feel free to click here.)

Trusting the Muse?

In the 16th newsletter I mentioned this Kanye quote, and the pole-star role it serves for me:

I try to yoke myself to this ‘discipline of dopeness’. And however I struggle to the contrary, it seems to lead me towards experiments in media.

I don’t know why I like media. I mean, I do know - it’s flexible, it can be hype as fuck, it has a strange spirituality to it, and it comes to me naturally. And more reasons that I struggle to verbalize.

But I certainly don’t know how to make money in media. I don’t know why I spend so much time on it. But when I just try to ‘make what seems cool,’ it keeps coming out as media, in some form - like these sci-fi vignettes, to pick a random example. And my product gets better and better over time, which is a good sign.

This all arguably sounds cool in the abstract - especially when it’s someone else doing it - but who knows about this Muse thing, man.

Is she to be trusted? Or will she send me crashing headlong to my doom?

When I make something that ‘seems sick’ but is of a very unclear relation to the rest of my life and plans, the HOPE is that the spark of instinct (and the sparks of instinct that follow it, once I finally release the current iteration into the wild) might be something like Disney’s, when he chose to quit animation and fuck around with model trains:

I suspect there’s an art to this - stepping into and out of the chaotic world of spark and inspiration, returning and departing from the soberer world of long-term planning, financial wisdom, and an ordered life.

Eventually, of course, one wants a lossless and glorious synthesis. But you work with what you’ve got.

Some stuff I made

(Long-term readers will see these experiments as successors to those described in Devising a conceptual palette and CURZIISM goes to the silver screen.)

I love readings of old works.

A lot of times, people who are a bit averse to ‘learning history’ will still become entranced by some old work - gaining an appreciation for the olde and dusty without really meaning to.

So I did a reading of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Hound - a magnificent and chilling short story. And I tried to push my own cutting edge on the media side.

So once the story was recorded, I added a reactive audio equalizer built in After Effects:

Plus, some hype intro music [30 sec]:

I had an extreme amount of fun with the intro and outro music.

Why? I don’t know why. It just hypes me up.

One of my favorite examples of the outro music hype is a recent video I made.

The context is that I recently shaved off my moustache live on Twitch to 80+ viewers. It was a spur of the moment thing.

But it led to a bit of a crisis in my corner of twitter. They got to know me on the basis of the moustache. But who the hell was I, to them, without it?

I’m obviously a Kanye fan, so putting my face(s) on his Life of Pablo album cover was inevitable:

And pairing it with very Ye-ish music just took it to another level [30 sec]:

But overall, zooming out - I didn’t get too many views on the Lovecraft thing, and I’m not sure that many people watched the entire stache-shaving video in order to get to the ending music. This was all fine, but I thought I could do better.

It so happened that a Twitter friend of mine is very hyped about The Little Prince, and after some Shakespeare readings a group of us did on Discord, she decided to organize a TLP performance and recording:

Performing all two hours of TLP with 8-ish people, all of whom have their own Twitter audiences, caused a nice engagement spike, and more importantly was fun. From a community building perspective, it gave a variety of people a chance to perform and be expressive in a relatively polished and socially positive context. And of course, The Little Prince itself is a wonderful book.

Still - somehow, the most fun thing to me about the TLP recording was the intro above, with the music. I took way too long in picking a piano clip with the right vibe. It felt like a great balance of nostalgia and hope.

A similar thought process went into the outtro music to my video with Rival Voices:

And I guess I’ve been wondering whether I could steer in that direction more directly, unattached to a long YouTube video or reading or interview.

So when @becomingcritter posted this rant, and asked people to ‘sample’ it…

I took him literally, and used it as a sample:

Now, this recording I made, while funny to people who know Critter (and hype in its own right), is RATHER unpolished. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but the beat drop at 0:32 is mistimed. I like it, but it’s a draft. I could do better.

So I did. And this brings us to my latest experiment - an attempted synthesis of the hype instinct, the engagement with spiritual concepts, video that pops, and a genre of extremely sick music I’ve been enjoying this year. And it’s only 77 seconds long.

I call it:

What is it for? I couldn’t say. But it was fun as hell to make. Here it is:

This experimentation - ever-obedient, ever-rebellious - shall continue.