Monday, June 8, 2015

Unlimited Possibility, Collective Effervescence & Me Asking Andrew WK About The Party Bible

I need to stop waiting so long before posting stuff I liked from books I read and the time I finish the book, because by the time I get to posting, so much time has elapsed that it's almost like I didn't read the book at all. On the other hand, when I see what I marked in the book that I liked, because so much time has elapsed and I've forgotten what it was that I liked, that I am delighted by what I marked because clearly, those things being marked by me, were pre-screened for the present me by past me, and I know my own taste. What a convenient way of pre-screening books for myself!

So in preparation for meeting Andrew WK when he was in town last, not only did I spend some quality time with his oeuvre, I also read Phillip Crandall's Andrew WK's I Get Wet from the 33 1/3 series. I liked how funny it was, and how he talked to a bunch of people from AWK's life. There's some good oral history stuff too.

One quote I liked in particular was from Spencer Sweeney, artist and early supporter (credited for "Technical assistance" on the I Get Wet 10th Anniversary Special Deluxe Edition), this on page 105):

"We were trying to come up with the definition of magic one time. What I was able to come up with at that point is, it's possibility. So the gray area is the area of unlimited possibility. And possibility is the true magic. A part of Andrew's philosophical standpoint of maintaining this space--occupying this gray area--is the area of questioning. Even though that may be something that many people may find frustrating, because then you have to apply energy to look for answers or truths of explanations, it also maintains the space of absolute possibility. And that is where you can find the magic."

This quote is basically about keeping an open, curious mind in collaborative atmospheres, when the right type of exploratory thinking is encouraged. Happy accidents, serendipitous connections, unanticipated contributions -- these things are the type of things that can occur in this magical "gray area" of possibility. Now if only I could find a way to make every interaction I have with people feel this way. You know what the problem is? We are not playful enough with each other. Just throwing that out there. We need more play. Or more partying, I suppose, since we are talking about the king of partying.

This seems like as good a moment as any to share the snippet of video where I asked him about his book, The Party Bible, which was announced back in 2013-ish. The book is not out yet, so I asked him about it. When he answered, I regretted asking him the question the way I did, but he was super nice.

I felt like a goofball and I cringe a little when I watch myself in this:

But so enough of that. I can't say much about the rest of the interview because it's for something else that is for a different website that hasn't launched yet, but I will say that he was very kind, and so was everybody in his crew.
Another quote I like is on page 121. Crandell was talking about a friend's love for AWK after hearing his music only once:

"...whoever made that thing that stirred this feeling has to be a friend. Music fosters the environment where thrills and emotions thrive, and to deny a kinship along the way is defeating music's purpose and ignoring its potential."


I feel like it's one degree past that feeling you get when you read someone's book or zine or comic or see their stand-up or listen to their podcast and you love it, and you're like "This person and I totally click. We would be awesome friends"? It's like that. But with music.

But it's not totally just that; it's feeling a kinship with someone, which isn't quite being friends with them, it's feeling an affinity with.

Whatever, you know what I mean.

And finally, my favorite part is this thoughtful moment on pages 144-145. Courtesy of Barbara Ehrenreich's 2006 Dancing In the Streets, Crandall talks about dancing, and how it may have evolved out of people tricking predators by making many people look like one huge scary beast. These synchronized movements create a communal feeling, which explains dancing and its communal party-like atmosphere that it creates. Also courtesy of Ehrenreich, Crandall writes about Emile Durkheim's term "collective effervescence" and Victor Turner's idea of communitas:

"Collective effervescence, 'the ritually induced passion or ecstasy that cements social bonds,' forms what the sociologist said is the basis for religion. Turner, the book notes, recognized collective ecstasy as something more universal and an expression of what he called communitas, 'the spontaneous love and solidarity that can arise within a community of equals.' Ehrenreich says both concepts reach toward a group-uniting concept of love, but that the 'love that binds people to the collective has no name at all to speak.'
We submit: PARTY!"

So, so, so good. At my next shindig I'm totally quoting French sociology while playing Party Til You Puke, because that's how I party. That's how I liked my books, and that's how I like my parties. Oh! Oh! And!At my next party I'm totally shovelling peanut butter Combos in my mouth and quoting snippets from the note on AWK's computer desktop between roughly the years 2001 to 2008: "DON'T BE A FUCKING WIMP. BE STRONG," "COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING" and my favorite: "BE INVINCIBLE AND LIFT WEIGHTS."

You'll be thrilled to know that was on pg 155.

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