Two Things I’m Mulling Over

1.  Donnell Alexander says,

Auto-tune is the definitive movement of our time because it makes the human voice anonymous. And how weird is that at first? After close to a decade of American Idol’s elevation of vocal histrionics, here’s a popular movement that tears the advantage of skilled vocal histrionics out of the frame. It makes total sense though because communication has become so automated and dodgy with the advent of new technologies: In our dalliances with cold media we’re constantly giving and receiving messages that are flat and misleading. We send images that our dated, tweet notes that pretend to convey where we are in our lives. Auto-Tune sorta collects all our digital lies and makes music of the de-humanization we’ve embraced.

I can’t decide if I agree with this or not.  But I’m thinking about it in terms of country music, which has been auto-tuning the fuck out of everyone for how long?  And yet has been slow to the digital revolution in other ways.  Is auto-tuning about making the human voice anonymous, indistinctive?  And, if so, what does that mean for a form like country music in which stars are made, in part, not through talent, but through being distinctive?

2.  Tom Crippen says, The past, like the poet said, is a fucked-up place. I guess the present, as a past in the making, is too.”

Very Small

The main difference between being “out in the country” here as opposed to being “out in the country” in the Midwest, aside from how “rural” seems to mean a bunch of god damn people everywhere.  I’m sorry.  If you can’t run out to the clothesline in your bra to grab a shirt without knowing, as opposed to worrying, that someone might see you, it just doesn’t feel very rural.

But I give, Tennessee, I give.  Somehow, this is rural.  Fine.

Where were we?

Oh, yes, the main difference between rural Illinois and rural Tennessee.  In rural Illinois, on a night like last night, before the rain, with the full moon in an inky blue sky, clouds streaking across it, the sky is enormous.  If you see everything in a circle in front of you, unless you are staring straight down, the sky is always at least half of what you see.  And the land stretches out around you so far that you can see land until the earth itself curves away from you and tips the flat land just out of sight.  A night like last night would make you feel very small, like the distance between you and the moon is only surmountable at the horizon, always out of reach.

But here, when you look out my front door, there are tall hills like the spines on the back of a stegosaurus and when you look up the road, there are gentler hills, but hills none the less, and then the ridge.  And even out the back door, there are more, slight hills.  You don’t see hills down the road, but knowing that Briley is there is just as potent a mental obstacle.

And then, the trees have all their leaves, and we have so many trees, that even during the day, when you’re outside, you have the feeling of being someplace with a green, glowing ceiling, held up by thick wooden pillars.  And at night, that feeling is even more pronounced.  Especially when the fog seems to roll in down the hills, down the road.  You step outside and the whole world seems small around you.  It’s hard to believe, on nights like that, that you are not the only person out on the porch in the whole world.  It’s hard not to believe that everything beyond the fog isn’t a dream.

And who’s to say what might not come out of the fog?

Usually it’s just cars, sometimes neighbors, sometimes something that only the dog can see.  But is it so hard to imagine the moon climbing down out of the sky, using the hills and the trees like steps, and sitting on the steps with you, sharing a beer?