Από την πρώτη φορά που βρήκα τυχαία τα red hand files του Nick Cave εντελώς τυχαία από μία ανάρτηση στο Twitter. Άρχισα να τα διαβάζω μανιωδώς. Το πρώτο Red Hand File ανέβηκε τον Σεπτέμβριο του 2018 και έκτοτε ο Cave δεν έχει σταματήσει να απαντά στις ερωτήσεις των θαυμαστών του. Με το ίδιο πάθος, τρυφερότητα και ενδιαφέρον, πάντα.
Από τότε συλλέγω σε ένα note κάποια αποσπάσματα από τα γράμματά του στους θαυμαστές του και αποφάσισα να μοιραστώ τα αγαπημένα μου κομμάτια εδώ…
Creative people in general have an acute propensity for wonder. Great trauma can rob us of this, the ability to be awed by things. Everything loses its sheen and appears beyond our reach. We were surviving, but we were surviving in exile on the perimeter of our lives, way beyond anything that mattered.
We all needed to draw ourselves back to a state of wonder. My way was to write myself there. I sat and wrote and wrote, and in doing so I found a way back, or at least a way through the veil of grief, to the other side.
Absence, on the other hand, is a fertile ground where loss and love coalesce around memory to create ghosts that live among us.
I counted the words in all your lyrics and thought this might be the only way to tell you some of my results. The most used personal pronouns are ‘I’ (1332) and ‘You’ (970). The word ‘Love’, used as a noun, verb or other form, appears around 280 times, followed by ‘Eye’ or ‘Eyes’ (134) and ‘Night’, ‘Midnight’ or ‘Tonight’ (126). Did you know that you used the word ‘Sorry’ about 73 times? If one takes the most frequently used words (overlooking words like ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘an’ etc.) to build a basic sentence (SVO) it would be: I love you. I’m somehow not surprised, are you?The essence of everything seems to be love, in your lyrics, and all our lives.(Yes, I was bored. Terribly bored.)
I have printed your piece of writing in its entirety. Your efforts deserve as much. I have nothing to add, although perhaps I could talk briefly about the strange alliance between boredom and epiphany. Boredom is often dismissed as a lack of imagination – this is not true. Boredom is a signal that we are indeed imaginative creatures, and that the existential distress of being in a state of blah is often the mind readying itself for the epiphany. In your case, Lars, you were ‘terribly bored’. Boredom provoked you to action. You did your crazy statistics. You arrived at the conclusion that love is the essence of everything. By doing so, you have moved the world one step closer to its redemption. Congratulations! You are awesome!
Much love, Nick
Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable.
There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves. We are tiny, trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief’s awesome presence. It occupies the core of our being and extends through our fingers to the limits of the universe. Within that whirling gyre all manner of madnesses exist; ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. These are precious gifts that are as valid and as real as we need them to be. They are the spirit guides that lead us out of the darkness.
Creativity is not something that can disappear. The creative impulse is simply the strategy used to catch ideas. Ideas are everywhere and forever available, provided you are prepared to accept them. This takes a certain responsibility to the artistic process. There is discipline and rigour and preparation involved. You must prove yourself worthy of the idea.
We are professional dreamers. We work, therefore we dream.
I think we get what we are willing to believe, and that our experience of the world extends exactly to the limits of our interest and credence. I am interested in the idea of possibility and uncertainty. Possibility, by its very nature, extends beyond provable facts, and uncertainty propels us forward. I try to meet the world with an open and curious mind, insisting on nothing other than the freedom to look beyond what we think we know.
I had been awarded an honorary doctorate by Monash University in Melbourne and my mother accompanied me to the university to receive it. I was feeling a little intimidated by the whole thing because I was stepping out of my rock ‘n’ roll comfort zone, in-to the academic sphere and the whole affair had me feeling quite uncomfortable. I mentioned this to my mother, and as we stepped out of the car into the university grounds, she said,
“Head high and fuck ‘em all.”
I am passing this crucial piece of maternal wisdom on to you Bam and Catherine – and to the rest of you out there. It is my mother’s gift to you.
10 HIDING SONGS
Avalanche, Leonard Cohen
Katie Cruel, Karen Dalton
On the Beach, Neil Young
Tupelo, John Lee Hooker
T.B. Sheets, Van Morrison
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, Bob Dylan
Plain Gold Ring, Nina Simone
Holocaust, Big Star
Becalmed, Brian Eno
One Fine Morning, Bill Callahan
Mother of Earth, The Gun Club.
I think that in the end we all need our Nocturamas. Your Nocturama may, indeed, be the most important thing you ever do. Failure fortifies us. It moves us forward. It strips everything back to its essential nature and leaves us clean and pure, ready to begin again. You don’t create something as problematic as Nocturama without a certain risk and a little courage and the temerity to fail. I love this troubled record for that. It may just be my favourite.
But, I am not sure that this is all songs do. Of course, we go to songs to make us feel something happy, sad, sexy, homesick, excited or whatever, but this is not all a song does. What a great song makes us feel is a sense of awe. There is a reason for this. A sense of awe is almost exclusively predicated on our limitations as human beings. It is entirely to do with our audacity as humans to reach beyond our potential.
But, I don’t feel that when we listen to Smells Like Teen Spirit it is only the song that we are listening to. It feels to me, that what we are actually listening to is a withdrawn and alienated young man’s journey out of the small American town of Aberdeen “a young man who by any measure was a walking bundle of dysfunction and human limitation” a young man who had the temerity to howl his particular pain into a microphone and in doing so, by way of the heavens, reach into the hearts of a generation. We are also listening to Iggy Pop walk across his audience’s hands and smear himself in peanut butter whilst singing 1970. We are listening to Beethoven compose the Ninth Symphony while almost totally deaf. We are listening to Prince, that tiny cluster of purple atoms, singing in the pouring rain at the Super Bowl and blowing everyone’s minds. We are listening to Nina Simone stuff all her rage and disappointment into the most tender of love songs. We are listening to Paganini continue to play his Stradivarius as the strings snapped. We are listening to Jimi Hendrix kneel and set fire to his own instrument.
AI would have the capacity to write a good song, but not a great one. It lacks the nerve.
No wonder you can’t find your life. That life you once had does not exist. You have a new life.
We feel people must be sick to death of us, and our fucking grief. But grief is beyond our control; it is omnipotent and invincible and we are miniscule in its presence and when it comes for us, all we can do is to kneel before it, heads bowed and await its passing.
They are poets whose company I consistently enjoy.
This secret knowledge you have is a strength that lives only inside certain people. It is a strength that will inspire you to do wondrous things – like write stories, or draw pictures, or build rockets that fly to Mars. It will give you the courage to take on anything that the world might put in front of you. It’s a wild power that can be of untold value to the world. Your name, Ptolemy, is a warrior’s name. A boy full of inspiration with a warrior’s name! The world is waiting for you. Blow ‘em away, kid.
However, I think we must all look inside ourselves and acknowledge that we each have a capacity for malevolence. It requires little self-examination to envisage a situation where ‘good’ people could – under certain circumstances – perform acts that are wicked. This acknowledgement of our own capacity for evil, difficult as it may be, can ultimately become our redemption. If we don’t acknowledge our potential for malevolence, we disconnect ourselves from the unlimited ability for good that is contained within us. It is important to understand that as individual human beings we hold, in our own hands, the ability to both destroy and save the world.
Your simple act of solicitude is the spark of kindness that can illuminate the entire universe. The world already feels brighter.
My father was involved in amateur theatre and this meant that some nights he was away from home. At some point he explained to me that he was performing in the play Oedipus. To my child’s mind that involved him dressing up in a cat outfit – as in Oedi-puss. Many nights I would lie awake in bed, waiting for my father to come home, and in the silent darkness, if I concentrated hard enough, I could hear my blood beating in my ears. I would imagine this sound was my father’s footsteps coming down the garden path. I imagined him in his cat suit arriving home and the rhythm of his steps comforted me and I would fall asleep.
My father instilled in me the idea of the pre-eminence of creativity – that to create was an act of largesse that had the capacity to redeem the world, and that the pursuit of this path was a serious matter.
I know now. He meant that we are at war with the mundane and the uninspired, and that apathy and complacency are moral failings and that it is our urgent duty to be of service to the world. He meant that what we do in life has consequences, and that each of us are effectual and of great value. He believed in the sovereignty of the individual and felt that although we do not always have control over the things that happen to us, it is entirely our choice how we live our life in relation to them.
Sometimes, Theo, I think, that if there is an after-life, it will have something to do with the worlds we have dreamed or imagined, especially as children. I think these luminous imaginings, these memories, are locked deep into our sub-conscious and that the infinite and enigmatic nature of consciousness and the possibility of an after-life are inextricably linked. At times, I think that when I die and my spirit leaves my body, searching for its guide, it will be met by a glimmering man in a cat suit walking down the garden path toward me.