I’ve been puzzled by this question, what happened to the underground? Is the underground still there in music or how does that whole thing work nowadays? Ofcourse theres something outside of the mainstream, but the old implication of the underground being what the mainstream should be is long gone.
I’m nothing, I should be everything Yes, I did just quote Marx. The underground, it used to be the area of hard working bands, hoping to achieve mainstream succes with their unique sound. Perhaps some of them were a bit head strong or just weird, but they all had the same goal in common. That goal would be, becoming big and playing stadiums, you know… the rockstar life. Ofcourse, this still happens, bands playi in tiny, sweaty venues, hoping to be the next name in the charts. It doesn’t matter if you play hiphop or hardcore punk.
Not all bands have that goal in sight though. If you start playing death metal, the days of glory are long past. You are not hoping to achieve succes anywhere outside of your scene. The scene is a closed community, surrounding a genre. It’s become a thing like a niche, a rarity. Musicians realise that too, if they commit to a style, the mainstream is as far away as ever from them. Is that scene still underground? Perhaps, maybe the underground just has accepted it’s never going to become mainstream. The same thing as that a death metal band accepts they’ll probably never draw that punkrock crowd to their shows.
Hipster Girl! That brings me to the next issue with this story, what is that thing with hipsters. Can something be hipster and still be underground? Not every band that is appreciated by what is considered the hipster crowd, ever really surfaces in the mainstream, but it starts to feel like whatever scene is involved with the hipster scene, ends up being in a transferral zone, between underground and mainstream. Neither accepts this music to the fullest. Look at a band like Deafheaven, from my black metal world. They have become a hipster band, meaning black metal has spat them out. Still, they are stuck in limbo, neither here nor there. When the scene spits you out, you can barely get back in.
A third way or any way I’m not sure what state the world is in. Do we still do justice to the dense system, by using such generic terms like mainstream or underground? A middle way seems to not really resolve anything, but there’s a clear scene in between that is neither one nor the other. It’s peculiar enough to be called a third way, but it only shows the variety that actually exists and is going in all directions. The new music landscape seems to be one of pluralism, anything goes. It’s the postmodern condition in pop form.
The mainstream is still, there, but it’s hardly something that plays a part in the deep, dense underground that shows itself in many guises, sometimes even that of mainstream. Maybe the underground never was something that could be united by any general terms. It seems that nowadays it just happens to be confident where it is, whether its embraced in its scene, the general underground or just in its small, weird hipster niche.
There’s still plenty of sound from the underground.
I know that most of you will read this and make a frown or do a face thing expression of confusion mixed with disgust at this ridiculous topic. Self Help Books, yes. I have read some and I can tell you about a few that I think for my fellow nerdy readers might be useful. I have to say, they might not be the standard ones you’d expect. It’s just stuff that I feel helped me learn.
Granted, I’m not a perfect being and still heavily in the proces of learning to control my anger and hatred for the human race, but I believe that these books have actually helped me come to grips with myself and learn to love the bomb…. Not the boob, I already praised that highly. Let me list them for you here with some explanation and perhaps you can find something for yourself.
Mind that I’m part of an audience that likes the nerdy-side of things and therefor finds solace in reading books that are nerd-inspired, geeky and that I can relate to on a personal level. I’m sure there’s plenty of sports writers and such who can do that just as well for you if you’re into that more. Oh… and hockey. Let’s see about that bullshit of the self-help industry.
Stephen R. Covey – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Oh yes, you’ve heard this one before, so stop me, stop me oh stop me…. It is after all still the most effective, well written book in the whole genre. Sure, it’s a bit idealistic and supposes some grand wisdom in its seven habits, but not without reason pretty much every other book refers to this one. I guess in a way it speaks to so many people due to it being very middle of the road and staying close to an abstract level. The anecdotes help in giving you a sense of understanding though. I do believe that this book may be a bit over some peoples head though. If you want to give it a try, go for the abridged audio version first. Not only does it speak much more to you, it also stays closer to the core ideas instead of jumping in the deep end.
I mean, this is kinda like the Jedi manual when it comes to it. So it might scare you away at first, because you first need to grasp some basics and be OK with not moving at immense speeds forward. I felt empowered at first and disillusioned after a while, because of its almost religious striving for mastery. This kind of brings me to my next title.
Wil Wheaton – Just A Geek
What I felt was most important to help understanding myself is being understood and able to relate to things. I have never been able to put my anxieties and worries to words, they never made much sense to me and felt very instinctive. The Covey book put me onto reading more and so I started getting into this biographical account of Wil Wheaton. Wil is the kind of guy, whose humor and take on life I really appreciated as soon as I started to get into his stuff. Specially his ‘law’ on gaming really appealed to me and even got me to name my blog after it.
In his book he tells his story and though I havent been a struggling actor with a glorious past, I was a guy (or am, but I chose not to see it that way. anymore) who graduated with a thesis that was called brilliant and then failed to live up to anyone’s expectations, mostly my own. I felt I could relate to that. In his book, there’s some shifts of personality, of approach to things that you can learn from. For someone in the acting bizz, everything is larger than life. Not just the successes, also the failures. It thought me about those, but also about what it means to be driven and follow your gut.
Chris Hardwick – The Nerdist Way
Thanks to Wil Wheaton I found out about Chris Hardwick, a dude that, like me, had struggled with some health issues in the past and had shifted that around. The difference is that Chris is, unlike me, highly productive and succesful. That is exactly what Hardwick tries to bring across in this book, making it awesome. The silly way he does it in appeals to me too, because self-deflating humor has become a huge part of me and the way I deal with myself. I mean, you can hardly be a dick to yourself, right?
Turns out you can and I do that a lot. Instead of rising above, facing things head on, I tend to flee. I do that in an almost scorched earth way sometimes. Chris speaks to me in the sense that he has been there, he has been down to a lost, alcohol guzzling has-been and back to the top in a place he wanted to be. that feels amazingly powerfull and therefor something to learn from.
Kevin Smith – Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good.
Yeah, I found inpsiration in the work of Kevin Smith, you know… the guy who is Silent Bob. It’s maybe not even this book, but the podcasts he did with Jason Mewes (Jay) about some real life problems. A lot of the book is about this friendship and it shows how far you can go in doing your best for others. Also another story of falling down and getting up again, learning and growing and finding that crock o’ gold at the end of it all.
The podcasts deal more with looking back and making fun of your own fucked up mistakes in the past life that you have to deal with. Acceptance is a way to growth that is pretty hard and that lesson is definitely in here too.
Gordie Howe – Mr. Hockey
I did say I love hockey, right? This book is about the challenged life of Gordie Howe, the absolute superstar of hockey. He went on to play till he was 50 years old, being the oldest NHL player of all time, only surpassed in points way later by Wayne Gretzky. It is kinda ok if you are surpassed by ‘The Great One’. The book shows remarkable love for the game and humility from the man. Its amazing to read how even in his eighties he still notices every aspect of a game he watches. There’s a lot of quirky little things in there that show how normal the guy is.
Gordie Howe is an inspiration to go for what you believe in and stick with it. Not untill they tell you to quit, but up till you think its time to quit. Humility, respect, acceptance and love, its all in there in the life of a real stand up guy.
Alright, I suppose this is sort of a weird list of books to consider self-help. I also have to admit that by now, I hate Covey’s book. It’s way to high flying. Anyways, I think books inspire, not the ‘right books. What inspires you might just as well be Harry Potter. As long as you keep reading, you find idols, icons, villains and dreams. The most important thing is to keep having those.
I tricked you a little bit into reading this. I hope you still enjoyed that and maybe you’ll pick one up from my list.
I think this blog might be found by someone who needs to figure out what and why I’m the one they’re facing one of these days. I have more and more of these meetings and maybe all that info people are looking for, they couldn’t find on my blog. Only the sad annotations of my self-help proceedings in trying to overcome the demons of my childhood.
From a bullied kid to a shy teenager and a calculated young adult, I’m not the child of the flowers and sunshine. I’m a kid of the 80’s, which might explain my love for the bleak reality of Joy Division and the Smiths.
I’m just a day dreamer who has embraced his romantic side but leaps from rock to rock, in order to cross the river of his own fears and awkwardness. I don’t read people well… Or maybe I do read them very well, I am just not the ‘judge by the cover person’. Small talk is for me like Kierkegaard is to you.
My heart doesn’t beat like a jungle drum, but buzzes like the fuzzed out, lo-fi recordings of early black metal albums in Grieghallen studios in Norway. I wear hockey jerseys at home, because I feel the game of hockey is the last bastion of true gladiators.
I live in books and music and dwell in despair, understand hatred and the loss of meaning but love to grapple with the unknown. My persistence and tenacity takes its own pace.
My dream is to become a researcher. It’s all I really want. To boldly go where no man has gone before. I’m Guido Segers, I’m most pleased to meet you.
A new selection of books I’ve read, with work from Haldor Laxness, Kevin Smith, Thich Nhat Hanh and Chris Hardwick.
Haldor Laxness – Iceland’s Bell
“Have you ever seen Iceland rise from the sea?” Asks the protagonist of the Icelandic people Arnas Arnaeus at some point in this book. That sentence stuck with me in this novel by Nobel price winner Haldor Laxness about the impoverished people in Iceland during the Danish reign. The book consists out of three parts, of which the second and third are the more serious ones. The first part mainly features Jón Hreggvidson, a farmer who happens to be at the wrong places all the time and instead of getting his head lobt of ends up travelling all the way to Danmark to plea for his case.
The other character is a noble lady from Iceland who is instrumental in the continued existance of Jón Hreggvidson and embodies a different Iceland. She and Arnaeus have a bond, a romance that is like the fleeting romance Iceland has with its liberty. It never truly comes to pass in the book but always seems near. There’s a lot of black and bleak humor in the book, specially on the account of the Icelandic population, personified in crook and fool Hreggvidson, who the reader cannot but love, regardless of all his foolish behaviours and constant reciting of the same ballad. It’s a book that instills a love and sympathy for that strange island. Well worth reading, specially thanks to its complex symbolism and folk like telling style.
Chris Hardwick – The Nerdist Way
I started on ‘The Nerdist Way’, because I felt particularly in need of something to help me elevate my spirits. Originally I expected to find a fun book about the life of Chris Hardwick, but it turned out to be a very well intended self-help book for people with the same sort of obsessive syndroms and social awkwardness as him. Something I can relate to, but also filled with that particular humor, filled with self-deflating jokes. I was impressed by the upbeat nature and strenght of the book, which is an honest attempt to make a difference and really help people.
At various points Hardwick admits he is not a professional and suggests seeking professional help if you as a reader deal with specific problems. He talks about an attitude in life, a generally healthy lifestyle and even gives advice when it comes to excersising. The book outlines an alternative for those of us that have caught the nerd syndrome of sticking to the indoors. This book can really give you some motivation to make some changes and thus be living your life to the fullest. Chris Hardwick is an inspirational figure, not just in what he does, but also where he comes from. His punchline for this book seems to be: “I’ve been at my worst and now at my best, so I just want to try and share this so aothers can learn from it.” It really works because of that sheer honesty. Thich Nhat Hanh – Living Buddha, Living Christ
In this book the Vietnamese monk is attempting to define the underlying similarities between most big religious movements in the world. It’s a praise worthy attempt, because Thich Nhat Hanh seems to be spot on with a lot of things. He succesfully peels of the layers of dogmatism and classic indoctrination to reach the essential meaning of religious movements. He lists similarities between the Buddha and Christ, leaving out a lof of the fundamentelist motives inherent to various religions In that way, he sincerely opens up the dialogue with an open mind.
The author also describes the dismayed responses he has gotten over time, but points out that as religions learn from eachother, they can also remain relevant. This touches upon an issue that pretty much every major religion seems to face in recent times: loss of touch with the followers. Speaking from my own knowledge, I see that less and less people are visiting church. Some people rejoice over this, but I see it as a spiritual bankrupcy and I’m fairly sure that we’ll start seeing that some time in the future. I feel happy that books like this excist, offering a third way of finding a spirituality through the things that you find appealing in various religions, atleast I think Thich Nhat Hanh grants us that liberty, as long as we do it sincerely and respectfully.
Kevin Smith – Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good
So I continued with this biographical book by Kevin Smith. Smith is one of my favorite directors, whose films I think I’ve all watched. Red State is the last in line and Im planning to watch this very soon. In this book Smith talks about his life and whatever stuff happened to him in the same way his characters talk in the early films. So yeah, there’s a lot of metaphors involving dick jokes and such, but one needs to get over that to find the gold underneath, which is various life lessons and hilarious anecdotes about a lot of weird stuff and the film industry.
There’s also going to be a lot of Clerks being mentioned. I feel a bit of embarrasment now and then about the direct words used by Smith, but that just says more about me. I recommend this book for the simple reason that it is hilarious and cathartic. Im pretty sure that Kevin Smith has faced enough tribulations in his own way. Sure, there’ s that whole different level where it takes place, in Hollywood and all. Still, this is transferrable to real life and sure as hell we all need some advice from a fat man who did good.
Oh, there’s also bits about Jay & Silent Bob, Dogma, Clerks, Chasing Amy, Jersey Girl, Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis.