[NetBehaviour] The Report on Keeping on Going

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Tue Dec 22 06:53:06 CET 2020

The Report on Keeping on Going

Mon Dec 21 12:56:37 EST 2020

http://www.alansondheim.org/TEST.GIF 1994 image
http://www.alansondheim.org/remnant.mp3 2008 audio
http://www.alansondheim.org/net0.txt 1994 text
http://www.alansondheim.org/hemiptera2.mp4 2006 video
http://www.alansondheim.org/PEN.GIF 1996 image

Every day I do the best I can. I make a new work, sometimes for
better, sometimes worse. I never know how it will be received.
There are so many posts, at least 365 or so a year, that they may
well appear like sludge - theory sludge, virtual world sludge,
elit sludge, music sludge, video sludge, random writings and
walks, slither-gate academicized ascii pourings (here's one!), and
this illness has been going on for well over twenty-five years
now, day and night in, day and night out. My audience becomes me
alone, the work a form of self assertion in an empty field. The
work is works. I try not to repeat myself; even though a date
changes constantly, it would be easy to fall into work that
doesn't challenge me, that just goes on and on in repetitive
decay. On one had hubris; on the other, collapse.

The hubris horrifies me; my audience at most is ten people, and
that's truly an exaggeration for the most part. If I post
something on youtube with a title indicative of sexuality, I'll
get hits and disappointments in the thousands (at one point,
something hit close to a million) - that the result of naming, not
actual content; I'm sure to disappoint. For the most part I'm the
only person who learns from what I do, and I have to avoid turning
that knowledge into self-hatred and a feeling of uselessness. The
result is perversely that I push myself harder; in fact my work
might as well originate in perverseness; I admit I'm perverse; I
admit I'm trapped in that; I admit I can't say a way out; I admit
it's a form of psychological self-strangulation. Now that that's
over, I can proceed.

The impulse is to create completion, as if my mind and body are
forms of infection, tawdry, incomplete themselves. As if each
piece were my last, in spite of the fact that together they form
numerous trajectories. I honestly believe more than metaphor - in
fact each piece _is_ my last; several hours later the usual fear
arises, that there will be no other, that I will have run out of
things to do or say or video, whatever. This is more than
neurosis; it's a way of life that goes back to what for me was a
jittery childhood.

About the music - it's music but it's also goals I set myself,
ways of proceeding that are conceptual - for example the last
piece I "put up" this morning - I think (with Covid, I'm never
sure) - the long-necked saz piece - playing the lowest three frets
in addition to the open strings - on an instrument with well over
twenty frets - thinking what might I do with this - what sort of
complexity beyond the usual rhythm - so that there are these
clusters that spread out, dissipate, repeat, almost inaudible in
the midst of a sonic chaos produced by the length of the thin
strings and their doubling and tripling - as for me, I don't
remember trying to play like this before - this sound-block, yes,
that's familiar, but not held to this particular geography - then
I lose myself in the music, in fact, always surprised if and when
I can pull this off, but while playing, the sound, the tacit
knowledge of the sound- and instrument-scape become interspersed
worlds in themselves - it's always like this - I was brought up
told I was practically tone-dead (maybe I am!) - I can't sing a
note, can't hold a tone vocally - sometimes I can match things -
my knowledge of intervals is screwed up - I manage somehow
- the same with the videos and other visual works - I'm somewhat
color-blind - it's there, mainly red-green - god knows what you
see - I adjust the spectrum to suit me -

I'm always surprised when I produce a work which is simultaneously
part of a series and independent, and part of totalities loosely
connected by time and subterranean strands of subject-matter like
the wood-web. I usually exceed myself but I'm always aware that
this will occur, that no one else might get it, that at least for
me, I'm not writing poetry or fiction or making abstractions, but
am trying constantly to work out ideas in whatever form; my words
for example in my writing are charged for me in ways that are
almost never apparent to anyone else. But the theory is there,
working out issues of ontology and epistemology in relation to the
body, mind, abstraction, digital and analog, and so on and so
forth - it's always there, always concrete for me - I could give a
(useless, boring) talk on any one of the pieces I write - imbuing
the language with what I see/hear/think that isn't evident to
others. I know this is hubris (again), pride (again), absurd
(always), preposterous (yes), ugly (as well), but it's what drives
me, gnaws at me.

I figure I have a few more years left to produce. Thanks to Covid
and the situation in Rhode Island, I find perhaps more than the
usual anxiety, depression, mental fog, fatigue. I've stopped using
a sleeping pill and an occasional anti-depressant, relying only on
melatonin to sleep, and that has helped a lot. My sleep is wildly
broken up, usually asleep around 3 a.m. and up and working around
7 or 8 a.m. It's not enough and I crash during the day. I'm driven
to keep myself driven. Once I'm gone that's it for the texts of
course. I read incessantly, a book on science and patterning, on
Chinese classical novels, on London, on cybertheory (an older
book), my own Writing Under (attempting to come to grips with it),
a little poetry and more theory (jumping in and out of digital
theory, phenomenology, genocide studies and testimonies, the
Talmud (I can't make heads or tails of it from a certain aspect),
and articles/texts/talks on Covid, logic, cosmology, non-western
musics, and so forth). All of these things inform my work. I try
to read, watch, and listen to as much else as possible. Spanish
football, luge and skeleton calm me down; I work if I can with
them in the background. I dream constantly of leaving an America
which I don't recognize and don't want to be complicit in. I fear
the rise in antisemitism and the closure of discourses of all
sorts. I fear the police. I fear people without masks. We give to
charity as best we can. We hunker down. I am deeply deeply
grateful to Azure, we are good for each other and we keep going. I
worry when I can't work any longer, I won't want to live. I know
that's selfish, and I feel hopeless about that selfishness.
Perhaps in time I'll be more generous and think about "just
living" although at this point, I don't know what that is and how
to go about it. If I'm lucky I'll work until the end, do the best
I can, and not repeat myself, at least not in my mind.

Mon Dec 21 12:56:37 EST 2020
Mon Dec 21 16:40:40 EST 2020


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