by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Mirrors into lake

Adam and the Amethysts - "Dreaming". The post-postmodern crisis comes out of the postmodern crisis. They are the same crisis, in essence. But whereas the postmodern crisis provokes a throwing-up of hands, a despairing cry, the post-postmodern crisis solicits, or even demands, a solution. The problem is simple enough, when you gloss the details: there is no Truth, there is no Beauty, there is no objective reality (or there is no accessing it) through the distortion of language, enculturation, personal experience. Some have argued that there is still a sanctitude to Death, that this is the Last True Thing, but this seems difficult to maintain in a post-9/11 world, when even that horror has joined the lexicon of reality-TV and the simulacrum of 24-hour news.

So this is a shaky world of ten trillion Schrödinger's cats, and we are the poor souls who wander through, clutching our iPhones. The postmodernists responded with despair, alienation, formal play. And the post-postmodernists, what of them? Is there an answer to the ennui of the subjective, the loneliness of the "real"? How can we love if there is no Love?

Adam and the Amethysts have found a solution. They have found it with slow synths, grim & flickering guitar, saxophone. The solution is this: We pretend. No, there is no Truth; no there is no Beauty; no there is no Real, no Rights, no Love. But we can pretend. We can lie. We can lie, even to ourselves. This is the age of doublethink and fiction, so let us use these tools like liferafts.

"Dreaming" opens with a vision of a mystic cave, a Great Spirit, a pilgrimage. Its story is one of purpose, meaning, mission. And it is not real. The Amethysts show us this not just with melody, reverb, little whirlies - they show us in the song-title. They show us in the chorus. "It seems like I'm dreaming," Adam Waito sings. The reassurance of the Great Spirit, the solace of this vision, is imaginary. The Amethysts know this. They know these are phantoms. The same is true in the next part of the song, as the narrator drives through Northern Ontario, arm's-length from a lover. The mundane is just as illusory as the fantastic. "It only ran a mile an hour / so we watched the scenery / baby." This too - the small towns, the vast forests, that beloved baby - is not Real. It is not founded on anything underlying. "It seems like I'm dreaming," Waito repeats, without any fear.

Waito has no fear because he has solved the post-postmodern problem. He is not despairing. He is not lost. He is simply willful. He is simply listening to his story, accepting it, believing it. The full chorus is this: "If it seems like I'm dreaming / Don't wake me." Because this is the answer to the existential challenge of our time: Choose a Love. Or this: Choose a Truth. Choose a Love, choose a Truth, choose a Beauty; choose any purpose that you wish, clutch it, treat it as Real. Pretend. Lie. Dream, and dodge waking. There need not be any basis for universal human rights: we can enact them because we want to. We can fall in love, head over heels, with all the force of wish. "If it seems like we're dreaming / Don't wake me."

Then again, maybe "Dreaming" is none of the above. Maybe it's an awesome spectral jam, a journey and homewarming, a work of gorgeous wistful yes, longing and fulfillment in the same good chords. Maybe it's just one of the best songs released this year, with "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh", murmur, harmony, and that electric guitar, like painted lines on a long, garlanded road.

[buy Flickering Flashlight / watch "Dreaming"'s (nsfw) music video / come to Adam & the Amethysts' Montreal album launch, tonight at Sala Rossa, with Elfin Saddle]

(image source)

Posted by Sean at November 10, 2011 11:22 AM


Posted by dan at November 10, 2011 12:10 PM


Posted by Ben Hubbird at November 10, 2011 1:15 PM

nice write up

Posted by David at November 10, 2011 11:19 PM


Posted by Ryan at November 11, 2011 6:35 AM

Needed this after a long week. Thanks.

Posted by Mae at November 11, 2011 8:34 AM

yes, a thousand times yes

Posted by ellen at November 14, 2011 10:35 AM


Posted by Karin S. at November 25, 2011 1:54 PM

Post a comment

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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