This is another song from the Odyssey… I think it is from Penelope’s perspective, although I don’t know too much about it. It is one of those songs I wrote and then shoved in a drawer… all I remember is that I wrote it while taking out the garbage in Nashville and the skies were so blue, and in my imagination I was surrounded by stark white mountains capped by the puffiest clouds.
Another song from the Odyssey… Odysseus travels to Hades to seek guidance for his journey. Hell is a place we all visit at some point. Perhaps by visiting Hell while still alive we don’t have to go there when we die.
What is Hell? Hell is a place so black we can only look backwards.
A place where the light of the future has been extinguished by the shadows of the past. Suddenly we are engulfed by everything we had forgotten- lost opportunities, suppressed humiliations, mistakes we can never erase. We realize that what we thought was behind us- our past- was actually closer to us than our present- standing between us and the present like an atmosphere, a cover of clouds, and in Hell these clouds thicken and swallow us up. We are confronted with the ways we have hurt others and the ways we have hurt ourselves. We come face to face with the dark sides of those we loved, the ways they betrayed us, the love that existed only in words but not deeds. We see the ways we were overpowered by life and shaped by forces beyond our control. We realize we cannot change the past- not because it is behind us (it is not behind us at all!)-but because we never could have changed it. We did our best, but it was not enough. Our will was just a tiny candle in the big wide world, barely illuminating our own hand and bound for extinction.
Some dreams were fulfilled, but still they were hollow. Some goals were achieved, but still they led nowhere. Best friends slipped away, one by one, like sunsets. Ideals that seemed so tangible turned out to only be concepts. Right and wrong, success and failure, struggles and surrenders… in the end it all led to the same place… nowhere.
Another song from the Odyssey… Telemachus visits Menelaus who treats him like a king- far different from the way his mother’s suitors treat him (in fact they are planning to murder him on his trip home).
I remember playing this song in Nashville at “Coffeehouse Survivor”. Two musicians would play a song, a panel of three judges would score them, and the winner would go on to compete in the next round. I didn’t want to participate in something so savage and degrading, but since it was my philosophy to say yes to everything, I went anyway.
Treating art as something that can be scored and judged like that is… well, it is beyond ridiculous in my opinion, and harmful to everyone involved. It is like ranking people’s souls. Not to mention that art frequently deals with perspectives that are new, while judgments tend to stem from the values of days gone by.
But at any rate, I played this song in the first round, and lost by a landslide to a man in a cowboy hat. One judge even gave me a zero. Ouch.
Another song from the Odyssey… Odysseus’s encounter with the witch Circe… in the background you may be able to hear the snow plows & I really wish I could run away from New England at the moment… it is not the snow or the coldness that bothers me but the fact that they last forever. Two short months of spring/summer and then the struggle to survive starts all again. Plus, there is the lack of sunlight, which has the positive effect of making the thoughts and judgments of other people seem far away, but the negative effect of making your spirit feel like it is gasping for breath.
The prevailing philosophy on how to handle winter here is “Don’t fight it, embrace it.” When I press people for details, they generally recommend skiing. Which is a costly embrace. I think waging an all out war on winter may be a better idea for me, though I haven’t decided how to go about it just yet. If money were no object, I would buy hundreds of lamps and keep them turned on all day long, turn up the heat to 80 degrees, and fill a humidifier with the scent of ylang-ylangs and grapefruits, so I could live in a sunny and moist paradise.
As it stands, my best winter survival tips are tons of vitamin D and long car rides to ward off the dreaded cabin fever.
Another song from the Odyssey… Odysseus leaves Calypso’s island where he could have lived forever as an immortal sex slave in order to face probable death on the ocean, hoping that he can make it back to his wife and son on a pathetic homemade raft.
One of the last Odyssey songs… I was so enamored with fire at the time, that I would sometimes light up to 100 candles in a single room of my house. The air would get all hot and swirly and it felt like sitting in an oven. In addition, I was addicted to the fiery stimulation of performing. I couldn’t go one day without it, and if I had to, I would find some kind of trouble to get into to make up for it. Soon after writing this, I decided to move to Las Vegas so I could be free from the dampening, depressing effects of water once and for all.
But, in this song, are already the first cracks of doubt that fire is really the answer to everything.
Another song from the Odyssey, featuring the two elements that weighed most heavily on my mind at the time- fire and water. Water was, in my mind, the root of all evil, so it seemed fitting that Odysseus’ exile was spent wandering and lost in a watery hell. And fire was, to me, the most wonderful element, so it seemed fitting that the offerings the Greeks made to their gods were offerings of fire.
Living in Nashville, I saw the big black bat building that towered over the downtown as being emblematic of the element water, splashing its black liquid over everyone to extinguish the light of their individuality, and turning us all into slaves and clones.
Another song from the Odyssey… and a picture of Bill Gates. This is one of the pictures I used to hang on my wall when I lived in a tiny one room apartment. I found his presence very reassuring, like a guardian angel.
Another song from the Odyssey… Odysseus washes up naked on a foreign shore after barely escaping Calypso’s island where he has spent seven years crying for his wife (while working nights as a sex slave). Poor Odysseus! Why did life have to be so challenging for such a nice and clever guy?
One thing I like about the Odyssey is Odysseus’ constant fluctuation from king and hero to helpless beggar. Even his appearance fluctuates from that of an oily muscle-bound god to a shriveled, smelly weakling. In a world where people are treated so differently based on wealth and status, it reminds us to be careful, because you never know who may be a god in disguise or a king in distress.
Another song from the Odyssey… one thing I love about the Odyssey is the theme of hope, and how long it is reasonable to keep hope alive. This book might suggest that people tend to give up hope prematurely, and are sometimes even encouraged to do so by those who would benefit from their defeat.