Distortion and the Weird

My recent pushes for integrating music into writing have focused heavily on distortion.

It feels easier to me to point to noise as the current motivator, at least at first. The obvious parallels are there: the focus on texture over hookiness and songcraft, the purpose of the work being a combination of violent impact and ambiance, and the content being driven more by experiential intensity than any specific element. But the comparison falls flat here. Noise is, in many ways, a thing in and of itself; noise records and noise performances seem to sit in a world of their own in very little dialogue with the outside world. They construct a dark fantasy of their own which is meant to subsume the real and leave the listener stranded in this alien universe. Which is wonderful, and something I enjoy a great deal. But isn’t quite what I want to do with this current batch of stories.

The change in phraseology for me comes in interrogating the mechanisms of noise. For me, the primary component that makes noise work is distortion. You can have samples, loops, found sounds, all of that, but the thing that marks noise and hardcore and powerviolence and grind and crust as something beyond is distortion. It is the taking of sound and pushing it into the red, turning the mundane or the melodic into shrieking, howling dissonance where before it may not have been; it is the finding of chaos in order, and the ugliness in beauty. This can be read as a flippant angsty statement, but that’s shallow. The intent is more to show how things contain universes within themselves, and that a deeper wonder and beauty comes from acknowledging and witnessing these internal infinities, which bleed from light and beauty to darkness and ugliness, from harmony to dissonance, and then, as noise teaches us, into something beyond dissonance, where the grating, harrowing walls of white noise and abrasive punishing sound transform themselves and transform us by means of excoriation into something stranger.

There are people better than me at writing the beautiful-in-the-real, and people better than me at writing the strange. Right now I’m focused on that liminal space between, the translational zone, where one transforms into the other or, better, sits in an amorphous formless space between, without identity, without body.

It’s hard to sell stories that are meant to end precisely at this moment of unmooring and offer no revelation or central mood or theme to return to. I want you to witness, for lack of a better term, ego death; I want you to witness the erasure of the object as the cancerous internal ungrounding, which generates Self faster than the Body can contain and bound it, overwhelms the real and leaves the Thing, the Story, without center and without form. But to do that, I need distortion.

So: I start with a normal story, perhaps a bit strange bit still following normal rules. Then, I push it into what appears to be a digression, a fixation on a granular strangeness. And from this is born another, and another, which seep into and subsume and eradicate the center until the story is left in tatters in your hands. But not a realistic ungrounding; one of the revelation of internal worlds erupting into the external, breaking apart not just the plot but also the sense of reality, as what once was perhaps a strange take on realistic fiction becomes more and more strange, fantastical, bizarre. Weird. Distorted.

Weird Twitter fell apart for some good and some bad reasons, but I still think there is a necessary power in the Weird.

Of course, these are just my attempts heading into the stories. It’s always interesting to see which stories turn into dead-ends, which evolve into something else, and which appear to be dead-ends until I interject a contradictory element to get them to their ending. We’ll see.