Some Thoughts on Restriction and the Freedoms it Has Provided For Me – By: mOUNTbRENDON

I had an amazing conversation tonight (and in conversation I mean mostly relying on the others’ conversation) about loneliness. For some silly reason, I think that loneliness is my biggest strengths. Here’s my last writing assignment for the semester for my Nonfiction class. It explains why that is. Enjoy.

Assignment # 13: Develop a braided essay that weaves together your thoughts on three abstract concepts (such as time, travel, distance, language, memory history, etc.)

Some Thoughts on Restriction and the Freedoms it Has Provided For Me

A human is not a book. Growing up, I thought that, to be a good person, I had to form myself in the shape of a book and write the letters, B-I-B-L-E on my chest. I had to look like all the other walking, talking, and preaching books that surrounded me. At times, I tried to inch my way out of the pages, the box shape, that I had placed myself in and to allow the ink and the thin leafed pages to escape from the leather binding that became my skin. But each time I tried this, I was met with a subtly severe backlashing from the other books, so I climbed back in and I chose not to think about it. When you’re shaped like a book, you can’t help but feel extremely restricted, so you have to choose not to think about it.

All the while, a steady ticking sounded all around me as I rode a large swinging pendulum topped by stiffly printed Roman Numerals, watching me like attentive prison guards. The two large black hands constantly circling my consciousness always found a way to fill my mind with a panicking sense of claustrophobia. This feeling resurfaces nearly every day, but when I remind myself about the subtle beauty of those Roman Numerals, keeping me safe from free falling down into some kind of meaningless abyss, the claustrophobia goes away.

I feel a claustrophobia in language as well, but this never really goes away. I wonder what it would be like to live outside of language and to release the cog in the portion of my brain that translates signifier into verbal signified. It has forced an anxiety that I seem to carry with me in my every day life. But then I think about the passion this anxiety has created and how reliant my passion has been on the claustrophobia of language. A reliance that I have slowly come to embrace with open, but still rather restricted arms.

This embrace was made easier thanks to my arms reemerging from their former leather bookbinding. I learned to walk without a waddle, which seems simple, but when you’ve lived in the shape of a book for so many years, it takes practice. I was free to evaluate myself and to open up my own pages inside where I learned that no one should live in the shape of any kind of physical book. Instead, everyone should take his or her own shape and let the pages roam free on their own accord, because if you allow yourself to become shaped like a book, religion can be awfully restricting.

It can seem equally restricting to have to constantly stare at those pesky Roman Numerals guards as you try to fit your ever growing list of to dos and desires in that circular setting within the clock. But I’ve recently learned to find the beauty in this setting that has been forced upon us, because the things in life you love the most can be met with a much higher sense of importance and gratitude as you are forced to organize and prioritize around them.

Language is always there, always to be prioritized. It can form isolation, but is yet our greatest tool for community and relationship. As anxious as its restrictions make me, its uses are also my greatest motivators, my greatest passions. Without its restrictions, there would be no need for poetry, which I believe to be any attempt to reach beyond the constrictions of language, yet within its very words. Language and its restrictions are necessary, for without it, I would not be writing this very essay, and I would not find the joy in writing that I do. Because language, like life, is what you make of it.


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Bon Iver Meets the Grammies – By: mOUNTbRENDON

Here’s another writing assignment I did for my Nonfiction class. The assignment was…

Pick an emerging celebrity on whom to focus. Depict the present cultural moment by describing this person’s rise.

Enjoy.

 

Grammies

 Four years ago, in 2008, some guy named Justin Vernon, along with his band called Bon Iver, secluded themselves in a cabin in Wisconsin and independently recorded, produced, and released their first full-length album titled For Emma, Forever Ago. With help from the Internet, the album was circulated slowly until a small, independent record company called Jagjaguwar Records signed the band and rereleased the album as a more complete physical copy. It got some nice reviews from the likes of Pitchfork and Spin Magazine, but many of the reviews said that the recording quality was poor and the words were too difficult to understand.

 

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“I would get up there and be like, ‘This is for my parents, because they supported me,’ because I know they would think it would be stupid for me not to get up there,” Justin Vernon told the New York Times in 2011 upon finding out that Bon Iver was in line to be nominated for four Grammies, including “Best New Artist”, for their 2011 release of their second album, Bon Iver. “But I kinda feel like going up there and being like: ‘Everyone should go home, this is ridiculous. You should not be doing this. We should not be gathering in a big room and looking at each other and pretending this is important.

 

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Meanwhile, a man somewhere in the Midwest turned to his friend while browsing the Internet on his laptop.

“Who are the Baha Men?” he asked.

“Not sure,” his friend replied.

“Must be worth checking out. They won a Grammy.”

 

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“We wanted to play our music,” Vernon told Billboard after Bon Iver was offered to perform at the 2012 Grammies. “But we were told that we couldn’t play. We had to do a collaboration with someone else…Rock n’ Roll should not be decided by people who have that job. Rock n’ Roll should be the fucking people with a guitar around their backs. And their friends. And their managers.”

 

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Thousands of other independent artists quietly cheered Vernon on as he accepted the award for “Best New Artist” on National Television during the 2012 Grammies. However, they did not applaud the award itself, or him even being there, though it was certainly an encouragement to many. It was more his reaction that found their respect and admiration.

“It’s really hard to accept this award,” Justin Vernon said in his acceptance speech. “There’s so much talent out here, on this stage, and a lot of talent that’s not here tonight. It’s also hard to accept because when I started to make songs I did it for the inherent reward of making songs. I’m a little bit uncomfortable up here, but with that discomfort I also have a sense of gratitude to all the nominees, all the non-nominees, that have never been here and never will be here…”

 

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“Bon Iver? Really? Over J Cole? Who are u? Wait, I know, a 25 year old wit a comb over…FOH!” someone posted on twitter.

“Who is the bon iver guy?” another post read, not unlike countless others. “He looks like a homeless guy.”

“Who the hell just won Best New Artist..bonnie blue, bonnie bear, scooby doo , yogi bear like who is this baldin white man w a combover.”

 

– – –

 

Months later, Bon Iver once again disappeared into the shadows of popular culture, perhaps to cabin in Wisconsin, or maybe to quietly go about touring the U.S. Perhaps both. One can only speculate at this time.

 

The Pamphlet – By: mOUNTbRENDON

This is one of my writing assignments for my Nonfiction class. The prompt was:

Present an intriguing, eccentric person as an embodiment of common human traits, such as tendencies toward obsession, paranoia, megalomania, etc.

The Pamphlet

“Follow me,” is what I tell everyone I meet. “I know the way to your salvation.”

Yeah, I get flack for what I say and do. I get a lot of flack, but so did the founding fathers, Martin Luther King, Jesus, and even Bob Dylan. But you don’t see anyone criticizing any of them now days. I’m looking toward the future, and not just my future, your future too.

“Take this pamphlet,” I tell people. “It has all the answers you need. The answers to all your pain and suffering and doubts and insecurities are all in there. Just read it and be cured.”

People tell me that I can’t be serious. “You can’t really believe in all of this,” they say. But I believe in every word I say. And I care about it too. I care about it just like I care about you.

I ask people on the street, “Do you wonder how you can feel confident and secure about your life? I can guarantee that you can feel and be secure if you listen and believe. That’s all it takes. Just listen to what I have to say and believe it with all your being.”

“Just listen to this song,” I’ve been trying to say. “It’s the only song you’ll ever need, the only song on the radio. Watch this movie and read this magazine. And they all come with a free pamphlet.”

You know how it is though, when you take a stand for something you truly believe in. People will cast you out, they’ll yell at you, shut the door in your face; criticize everything you stand for, every fiber of your being. But you can’t let that stop you when you’re dealing with something bigger than yourself.

If you listen and believe though, you won’t have to worry about it as much as me. Step one is “Listen to the experts.” I can recite the pamphlet by heart.  We’re the experts for a reason. We can be trusted and that’s why we have the power and expertise that we do.

Step two is, “Simplify.” Life is only hard if you make it hard and that means life is only easy if you make it easy. Listen to people like me and we’ll make your life as simple as possible.

Step three is the most important. “Believe.” If you believe with everything you have then you will have the ability to live a life you never thought possible. Believe, believe, believe.

Step four, “Beware of false prophets.” This is the toughest one, but again only if you make it tough.

“What is a false prophet” people ask me. A false prophet will tell you lies. They are built around deception and complication. That’s the biggest way to notice them. Yeah, I’ve been called a false prophet before, but that was by a false prophet, so it didn’t bother me much.

I believe in these steps more than I believe in my own existence and for me not to sacrifice the way I sacrifice and to share this with as many people as I possibly can, it would be cheating not only myself, but you and everyone around me. This what I live for and what I care most about, my calling if you will.