Sunday, June 14, 2009

off the hook 2

Q: Anything interesting out there?
A: The Spiral Jetty.

As is probably obvious by now, I quite like the band Destroyer, especially their song 'what road' off the Your Blues album, a quote from which I used to open my expository essay: 'How To Lose Shin'. Anyway, there's a line in the song, in the verse after the one I quoted in that essay, that I found myself singing, but not really knowing what I was saying. Destroyer's songs often reference many things with an emphasis on women (or simply female characters), other songs (including other Destroyer songs), cities and so on. Dan Bejar, who simply burned a golden bridge, has his own metaphorical vocabulary as well that he's developed over the course of seven or so album. His lyrics have been referred to as hyper-literate. The lines I found myself singing were,

Able, willing, ready!
Fuck the Spiral Jetty!
Tonight we work large! We aim high! Pillars stare at a sky
Designed to come down upon
Everyone at once...

The piece which seemed to evoke a space that I couldn't specifically visualize was in the second line, spiral jetty. I know what a jetty is but wasn't quite sure if this was a metaphor, or what. So one night while browsing the Destroyer wiki I found that exact phrase hyperlinked in the lyrics (as anything referential is apt to be) and clicked it. It turned out that the Spiral Jetty is a land art sculpture by the artist Robert Smithson which is an actual spiral jetty off the shore and into the Great Salt Lake. It was completed in 1970.

Whether Dan Bejar is really saying fuck that piece of art, as in let's not be weighed down by this or let it rot, or not, is delightfully up for debate. However, I was thinking he meant it like to hell with it, while at the same time conversely drawing attention to it.

I clicked on and read the article on the Spiral Jetty at Wikipedia, where I saw two photos of the work and was frankly wowed by this thing. It's exactly what it sounds like, a plane curve tracing a point to its center. It's gorgeous, amazing, inspiring, and other hyperbolic terms – however in this case those words are pretty much right on the money. Or were at the time. Smithson died three years after the work was finished, and shortly thereafter the water levels rose and the piece was covered until 1999. It's expected that the work will go back under and eventually be ruined unless it's preserved. Currently it's owned by some art gallery in New York. I'm not sure if it's open to the public, though apparently you can walk to a location where the jetty is visible from. I hope I can go see it before it becomes more of an underwater adventure, and hopefully run out and walk to it's center.

I'm sure it'll be something, because, god, it's sublime. Will I say, fuck you? Probably. It will be at least half meant endearingly. To respond to the lyrics, well I think they're great. Inspiring, even vaguely revolutionary in a fatalistic socialist way or whatever. Fuck that, the lyrics are poetic, political only in envisioning some cloud like dream where we rise up. Maybe it's a scene from a play. Or god, what do I know?

For more: What Road and Smithson's Spiral Jetty

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