Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Wasn't Always A Joyless Kantian

When I get in that mood, whole bursts of recrudescence. From some time ago.

I once read a description of a night out where the narrator claimed that he understood why house music was called house music, saying that it was because you could fucking live in it. You know what he means when we get in there, sit for a bit longer, summoning up the courage to venture onto the still only a third full dance-floor, and then go for it. You’ve got to work at it to begin with, locate the beat, internalise it, then find your external expression of it, picking it out with quick fluid movements, letting your feet, legs and waist carry the bass-line and your hands, arms and shoulders providing points to hang the percussion on. It’s generally best to find it while you’re still sitting (as if you could avoid it), nodding your head, tapping a foot or your fingers on your seat, picking out the main beat, because that’s what’ll drag you onto the dance-floor: that innocent little movement will be so perfect, you’ll just have to make another, and then there’ll be this gradual crescendo pulling you off your seat and onto the floor.

You might not quite get it at first, be too aware that your movements aren’t absolutely synchronised with the frills and riffs of the beat that should be driving what you’re doing, look around, notice the emptiness of the dance-floor, just a bit too self-conscious for the abandon really needed. It’s the beginning of the night though, the DJ on now, in the end, is the shit they put on first to warm up for the real kings of manipulation who’ll come later: we know it and he does too. There’s another six hours of this to come and if you haven’t got it now, you fucking will have it later, seeing it like it’s a courtship, and it’s only a matter of time before you get your hooks into each other. So you wait a bit, watch the dance-floor slowly fill up from the front while you’re sitting at the side, trying to have conversations which are inevitably completely misunderstood and inaudible, always half your mind assessing the state of the music, the dance-floor and how much you’re feeling the need of both of them. There’ll probably be a few abortive attempts to get your freak on, where you just get up and pretty quickly know that you’ve mistaken the appreciation of the beat and perhaps boredom that you were feeling for the ability to completely immerse yourself you’re waiting for. Eventually you’ll find it though. You’ll get up, the beat having done its miraculous work, and within a minute or so, you’ll know it’s right, feel its imperative running right through you. That’s when the pills’ll start to do their wonderful work.

I’ve got to that point now and I’m fucking loving it. It always takes me longer to come up than anyone else, watching for them giving into the music in a gradual escalation of frenzy and absorption or for their conversation to become more involved, more concerned, more alive, movements more jittery, not really envying them, stoical about it, knowing that it wouldn’t be fair to be otherwise, aware that you’ll be feeling it soon too. But when it hits you. When it fucking hits you. You’ll just be dancing, having discovered that eminently satisfactory medium where you know that maybe you’re not quite as submerged in it as you might be, but you’re happy with the place that you’re at, feeling it enough, and then it starts. First it’s in your fingers and feet, unadulterated joy lapping gently but unavoidably away at the edges of your consciousness, and this smug grin gradually breaks out across you face, because you know, you’re anticipating it rising up through you, and then it does. It pushes its way up through the veins and muscles and bones in your arms and legs, like you can actually track the movement of pure pleasure through your body, moving inexorably towards your brain and your heart, this second skin of wonder creeping up over you from your extremities, seeping in through your pores as it comes. The smile just gets wider and wider, and you’re driving it on, giving it more and more encouragement to completely take you over, punching the adrenaline through your body with ever-more abandoned, ever-more frenetic movements, and the fucking thing doesn’t even need it, it’s just going to do what it does regardless. And then it fucking hits you. Then it fucking hits you. This huge sledgehammer of unalloyed happiness exploding through every nerve in your body, like light pouring out of every inch of your skin, all perfectly in time with the fulfilment of all the promises the music has been making. A ton of bricks of amazed, astounded, wondrous love crashing into your whole fucking body.

I suppose it’s then that you really know why they call it house music. It’s not just that you could live in it if you felt like it, you are living in it, and it’s just the best place there could possibly be to live, a structure perfectly aligned and attuned to your needs, complementing every little jerk to the music with another thrust of joy coursing through you, encouraging you to encourage the drug, which then just makes you feel the music more. A perfect symbiotic relationship, the virtuous circle of all virtuous circles and you can almost see, feel, reach out and touch the shapes that you’ve been trying to describe with your dancing, the interior of the house you’re now inhabiting. You want everyone to share in this epiphany, everyone to know just how absolutely perfect and wonderful this endless, surging happiness is, to pass on this freedom from the petty little concerns and drudgery of the world.

Kant once said that the aim of all human existence ought to be the creation of a Kingdom of Ends, where all people were valued as ends in themselves, and that we could get to this perfect place by use of reason, claiming that desires were dangerous and inhibiting. Fuck you Kant, fuck you. This is the Kingdom of Ends, right here on the dance-floor, created by lots of people deciding to abandon all semblance of rationality to mind-altering drugs and music in a frenzy of passion and desire, and finding that when they did that, all the hard-heartedness and penny-pinching rational self-interest was washed through them and away, replaced by this boundless gladness at your own and every other fucker’s happiness.

Obviously, having written about something doesn't imply you've done it.

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