On being introduced to new art—ahem, content—via a short story about street hip-hop and crate digging, among other things . Before I knew it, I was surrounded. They were all around me, pressing closer and closer, and their eyes were piercing. Every time I turned
In pursuit of that rough and ready insight, I’ve been listening to the right of wrong and to the wrong of right in Brooklyn music for a couple of years. Here follows a smidgeon of the music in Brooklyn and a little of the Brooklyn in music, overheard.
“Virginia Woolf’s amazing essay ‘On Being Ill’—where she interrogates literature’s lack of focus on illness, the collective obsession with the drama of romance over the drama of often inseparable physical and mental ailments—has been a jumping off point. So, I’m writing though some of my own experiences via Woolf and also some other artists and writers.”
My uncle killed a man and was proud of it. / Some guy with a knife came at him in Flatbush / and he knocked the fucker to the ground. / The sidewalk finished the job. // By then he’d survived two wives and / a triple bypass. He carried the plastic tubing in his pocket / and would show it to you, to anyone. / He’d unbutton his shirt right there on the street / to show off the scar.
Early in the hour-long film, “The Judicial Murder of Jakub Mohr,” the central protagonist, a patient in a psychiatric ward, shouts in Czech, “My words are not my own!” [“Moje slova nejsou moje!”]. He is on Kafka-esque trial for saying out loud what is visibly true: a series of wires—“Threads!” rebukes the prosecutor—extend from his back and connect to an ominous box, which is held by a man who in turn dictates in whispers what the patient says. At one point, Mohr lists to the jury in indignation what he has become: a gramophone, a radio, an instrument. He is something between human self and machine, a cyborg, his agency mediated by the state and psychiatric institution.