Mecca Normal (h2so4 10)
Who shot Elvis?
Our history is more than gone, it has betrayed us. It wasn't medieval,
but Renaissance man who invented the gun. Shams like Leonardo
Da Vinci, a mediocre artist but fantastic inventor of imaginary
war machines that have all mysteriously come to life (the real
reason for the Gioconda's Machiavellian smile), fill the pages
of the books upon which our history should have been written.
Medieval man invented the devil, Renaissance man constructed him,
and he's called betrayal.
Dante puts the practitioners of betrayal in the lowest pit of
hell, undergoing the worst torture of all, because betrayal breaks
the faith we have in each other, destroys community, and society
things which haven't existed since the Middle Ages. Or perhaps
they have never existed. Instead we have had written into our
history books the plight of politically dissected man, his theories
of societal organization, his critiques of the inevitability of
hierarchy (from Machiavelli to Marx), and have erected for ourselves
an endless intractable system of repetitious slavery and illusory
liberation, posited as both our past and our future realities.
Mark Eitzel once told me that, listening to Elvis Costello, he
could see Elvis as he listened trying desperately to reach the
mountain top, digging in with his fingernails at the precipice
of profundity, almost at the peak of poetry, in a holiness of
words and inspiration, but then slipping ever backwards along
the slope, pulled endlessly back down by the enormous backpack
of cleverness on his back that he always carries with him into
his songs. This is how I feel reading the presskit to Mecca Normal's
new CD, Who shot Elvis? William Langland wrote a lovely poem about this type of studious
obfuscation of the holiness of poetic/musical/spiritual/artistic
knowledge with a lot of cruddy logic and what then (in the 13th
century) passed for politics, before Renaissance man made literature
a game of imitation and a pastime of the rich for a couple of
centuries (Lancelot and Petrarch, Petrarch and Lancelot) a poem
called Piers Plowman. Or, as St. Augustine says in his Confessions,
"There is present in the soul... a kind of empty longing and curiosity
which aims not at taking pleasure in the flesh but at acquiring
experience through the flesh, and this empty curiosity is dignified
by the names of learning and science," and nowadays many other
names as well, especially in North America, which William Carlos
William so aptly sums up with this incomplete sentence: "The niggardliness
of our history, our stupidity, sluggishness of spirit, the falseness
of our historical notes, the complete missing of the point."
We've arrived at the historical point in which we can use words
like "betrayal" against whomever we choose for whatever actions
we choose, rendering it meaningless and therefore assuring ourselves
that our personal hegemony (and our political party) is served
at the expense of any kind of self-awareness. This is why the
dark ages are considered dark, because in them self-awareness
was entirely social and now we are all so alone in our thinking
(both psychiatric and bohemian) that every one else is always
at fault for our "betrayals" (through our selfishness of thought,
or precious centrality in all discourse) of what could have been
and is still always potentially some macabre sense of community
amongst the many sets of apparently open eyes surrounding us.
This lack of self-absorption appears to us as a tragic and primitive
Now we push people away and then, when they go, we consider ourselves
abandoned and the party line betrayed, as if we were our own internalized
political party, a social organization, a set of rules and imperatives,
the betrayal of history and a little learning personified.
In other words, there is nothing descriptive I could say about
this record that wasn't already said in the all-too-clever presskit.
In other words, I hope that Mecca Normal don't do as Elvis Costello
and Paul Westerberg have done; that is, read their presskit. In
other words, as Leonard Cohen has said: "Every man has a way to
betray the revolution, / this was mine." In other words, "don't
take your sphinx to town."