Down The Line: Don’t Let The Darkness Eat You Up

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about the personal varying affect of art in general, be it the written word, a piece of music or stenciling on the wall. It’s kind of interesting to get into the motive (as much as one can ‘get into’ the motive) of the love and affectation of any type of aesthetic stimulus. Why do we gaze into any object for an extended amount of time? It can be used as object of analysis, as a stepping stone to greater inspiration for our own output, or lastly, what I find to be the case most often with myself: its amount and height of mental and emotional affectation.

As a musician myself, the vast majority of music I enjoy stems from one of the above: critiquing a performance of Chopin’s Valse Op. 64 No. 2 to better my technical grace as a pianist, listening to acoustic ditties (otherwise known as masterpieces) by Sufjan or Joanna in attempt to improve my songwriting, or dancing around to the Arcade Fire because, well, sometimes a little “Rebellion (Lies)” is all you need on the way home from a tiring day.

However, there are the occasional hidden gems one stumbles upon from time to time that kill in all three categories and beyond. I’ve found “Down The Line” by Swedish-Argentine José González to be one of these. As object of analysis, it’s rhythmic and percussive accents, simple vocal line and walking bass are perfectly fitting. As inspiration, I’m not sure I need to go into much detail here- it’s the concept of ‘beauty in simplicity’ at its finest. In “Notes of a Dirty Old Man,” Charles Bukowski says An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way; an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way.” José has done this. I can’t and won’t begin to disclose what these unadorned verses mean to me, but maybe you can see for yourself.

 

 

I see problems down the line

I know that I’m right.

There was a dirt upon your hands
doing the same mistake twice
making the same mistake twice

Come on over, don’t be so caught up
It’s not about compromising.
I see problems down the line
I know that I’m right

I see darkness down the line
I know it’s hard to fight.
There was a dirt upon your hands
doing the same mistake twice
making the same mistake twice.

Come on over, be so caught up, it’s all about colonizing.

I see problems down the line
I know that I’m right.

Don’t let the darkness eat you up  

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When The Bottles Break

In light of the decision to begin sharing bits of my personal work when it relates to music as a whole, here is another bit from my reel. I opted to shoot the first 16mm music video in my undergrad film department in lieu of my senior vocal recital. I have never regretted it.

 

 

 

Song written and performed by Thomas Villarreal

Directed by Diana Hereld

Photography by Dave Sweetman

Production Asst. Savannah Shealy

Feat. Nicole Wilson-Murphy

 

 

 

Edited by Diana Hereld

Photography by Josh Dowdy

“Dance Class” written and performed by Asche and Spencer for the film “Stay.”

 

The Artist’s Unconscious, The Metaphor of Birth and Waking Life

Every now and again during the inevitable agony of cultivating, constructing, and evaluating the creative process, the artist finds they’ve become “stuck.” Trapped in the limbo of their piece, somewhere between conception and establishment, they are striving for the “release” of sorts. Just as the actor or musician diligently prepares for a performance, somewhere between the realization and the execution, everything we’ve known and bred must be let go with the wind. This concept can seem painfully simple, cliché and worst of all, beaten to death. I can assure you, it is not the rudimentary discussion you might think.

It’s a beyond well-known fact that we as evolving humans use a shamefully small percentage of our potential intellect and brain-function capacity*; but how do we relate this to our unconscious? From beginning to end in the creative journey, how often do we actually realize to rely on and draw from unseen layers?

In this more in-depth analysis, Dr. Cheryl Arutt gives a fascinating discussion of the artist and the unconscious using the metaphor of birth that is truly carried out to the end. This article may be found here.

*Note: I am not trying to give way to the common myth that we only use ten percent of our brain (Beyerstein, 1999). However, we have approximately 100-150 billion neurons in our brain, with each neuron connecting to about 10,000 others. If every single neuron connected with every single other neuron, our brain would be roughly 12.5 miles in diameter (Nelson and Bower, 1990) and close to the size of London.

A Reflection On Grief and Fear

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.”

-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

My father died two weeks ago, during this hour, today. Yesterday would have been his birthday. During the past month, I’ve flown to Seattle and back three times, to be with him, and two days ago for his funeral. I’ve never felt something quite exquisitely distressing as the loss of my dad. It’s not a stabbing, unbearable pain, as one might feel when they are hurt or abandoned by a lover… but more a confusion. A frantic, desperate confusion, and emptiness. All of the clichés I have witnessed over the years now begin to make malevolent sense with sickening clarity.

“I feel as if I’m falling and can’t see the ground.”

“It’s like I’m in a daze.”

“I roam the house, searching for any piece of them left behind, but am left ever with nothing. Not a trace.”

All of these cruel notions, I feel. I go about my days. I continued teaching lessons the morning after he died. I’ve more distracting plates spinning than I can count-but the slightest thing, like a visual in the grocery store of a father holding his daughter’s hand sends me into a silent, trapped hysteria.

But then, there is something else. There are the other clichés; the one’s that I’ve found to be far more detrimental:

“Try not to think about it.”

“You have to keep busy.”

“He’s in a better place.”

It’s not that these aren’t wholly appreciated, and stem exclusively from a caring love. But I’m learning something-it almost flawlessly separates the ones who have felt this pain from the ones who have not. The ones who have lost one such as this? They sit. They listen. They cry with you. And occasionally, you are blessed to receive those beautiful words: “You will get through this. Everything will be alright.” By saying this, instead of minimizing or overshadowing the loss, aftershock and long-lingering effects, you have not only joined the bereaved where they kneel, you have acknowledged their pain and thus bore witness to their anguish. You have given them what they possibly need the very most: the immediate motivation to continue to live.

It’s funny, what we see in movies and television. A month or so ago, I watched the first episode of Six Feet Under (which I swiftly found to be a poor judgment call at the time). But we see these. We see the woman receive the phone call alerting her that her husband has been killed. We see her throw her pots and pans, and ultimately crumple to the floor. We witness this motion in action in Hollywood and Music…and yet it can’t prepare us for when you get that call.

When my mother called me at 6:30 pm Monday, August 1st, I had readied myself, but not for so soon. I had just flown back to LA the night before! It didn’t matter. She said “Diana,” her voice cracked, and my body immediately shut down. I don’t believe I cried, I just remember immediately calling a friend, getting a voicemail, and sitting down. Around 11pm, I received a kind text from someone, and went to bed. What interests me about this? It’s not me. I am an emotional, extroverted, open person. When I feel something, I say it. I feel it to the highest degree. But this? The prospect of losing my daddy? It’s like I’m acting the one way I could not have foreseen: utterly emotionally trapped.

The scariest aspect of this for me is that it’s my greatest childhood fear come to life. From as long as I can remember, to the time I was about 17, I had a dream, recurring being a mild way to describe it. It began as the typical Jungian archetype of the sensation of screaming, but no sound could be heard. Running away from something, but the use of my legs was lost. It always ended with me throwing myself on the ground, and giving up. I couldn’t cause action or motion with any of my faculties, so I gave up. Around then, I would wake, crawl back into bed from the ground, and try to forget.

If we view this from an artist’s perspective, it becomes a bit more interesting. What is the artist’s greatest need? To express themselves, regardless of the possible noble or ill intended outcome. What, then, should be the artist’s greatest fear? The inability to articulate what they deem critical. It is these thoughts that have plagued my mind in recent days, and will reflected upon again in this medium soon, hopefully with a type of resolution to my own shortcomings.

Hegel and The Philosophy of Art : Part 1

It has somewhat violently come to my attention over the past couple of years that my ideas on Diana's old art cornerthe origin and meaning of art in general result in a bit of a clash and breakdown not only theoretically, but pragmatically in everyday practice. Though my gut reaction has typically been to tread lightly on the visible exterior and remain privately faithful to my own stubborn intuitions, it is not difficult to predict the inevitable destruction that not-so-patiently awaits me there. It proves dangerous territory not only in terms of intellectual risk, but in that as a musician and professional the implications and repercussions of the outcome are tremendous. The time has come to devastate my philosophy: it cannot only suffer the dismantle/repair, it must be rebuilt from the bottom up.

What is art, then? Where does it come from? It is action or motion, necessarily existent ex-something or other, or reaction? Can it be borne solely via some lofty internal emotion, or must it come from a type of universal awareness and harmony?  One question is easily answered: it is not derived simply of motion; it is action. At it’s very base art requires consciousness, therefore it cannot lie in the solely biological and animal aspect. It must assemble from the neurological and symbolic: the heart of dramatism.[i]

One catastrophic event in particular that has become almost the norm for some is the temptation to jump ahead of oneself and ask the “what may” and “what should” questions before coming to grips with the act and the purpose (the “what is” and “why”). As in any philosophic, psychoanalytic or scientific quest, if one does not set out from the very beginning with all unfounded assumptions aside, the task’s entire integrity becomes vulnerable to limitation and error. If the terms of the hypothesis are not clearly understood, by the time one attempts at an end result the outcome can only be adulterated.

So I find myself here again: Where does art originate?  In Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics, he states the following:

“At the very origin of art there existed the tendency of the imagination to struggle upward out of nature into spirituality. But, as yet, the struggle consisted in nothing more than a yearning of the spirit, and, insofar as this failed to furnish a precise content for art, art could really be of service only in providing external forms for mere natural significations, or impersonal abstractions of the substantial inner principle which constitutes the central point of the world.”[ii]

He goes on to express that though it may have begun this way, it does not remain so. His notions on Classic Art assert that spirituality now realizes the basis and principle of content: it becomes external form. By the union of the spiritual and idealization of the natural, it would seem that “Classic Art” makes up the perfect and absolute personification of the ideal.

But already I am ahead of myself. I am yet unequipped to venture into the differences in Classic, Romantic, Symbolic Art or formalism until I better understand where (on or apart from earth) it comes from. As I work my way through Hegel’s Philosophy of Art[iii], I will continue to share my findings and ideas (and hopefully one day, a re-born concept of what art should be).

For now, I leave you with a glimpse of inexpressible significance to me as I sort through these issues. Poor is what I am, but if I am forced to take what I cannot yet afford, I shall continue to steal from the richest-


[i] Kenneth Burke. The Philosophy of Literary Form. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.

[ii] Hegel, G.W.F.. “Of the Romantic Form of Art.” Lectures on Aesthetics. Trans. Bernard Bosanquet. Ed. and intro. Michael Inwood. Harmdondsworth: Penguin, 1993.

[iii] Hegel, G.W.F. The Philosophy Of Art. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 2006

Art Lets Truth Originate


Truth, defined as event and conflict, is centered in the work of art which is also considered as an event and a conflict. Art, embodied in the work of art as its origin, lets truth originate because it is both the specific expressions of truth as well as the condition for the expression of truth. In this way art not only expresses truth, it is truth. When a work of art is created it gives truth a location to become, a work-place. Heidegger indicates when he states that “Art is the setting-into-work of truth.” In another similar formulation he also states: “Art is truth setting itself to work.” By these statements he means that art is the entire process of truth freely realizing itself in a work of art. Art is the becoming and happening of truth. This, then, is the full meaning of “ART LETS TRUTH ORIGINATE.”

-Barend Kiefte

In quotatations-
Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art“, in Poetry. Language. Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper and Row Publications, 1971, p. 77