Art is Not Just Angst - Why "Joker" is Ass

By A Band Called SAD

Art is Not Just Angst - Why "Joker" is Ass
A quick essay about Joker (2019) and how our culture puts darkness and negative emotion on a pedestal.

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The [Uninformed] Horror of Being Human during the Dark Ages

By A Band Called SAD

A short essay trying to understand what our lives mean when we have nothing outside of ourselves to judge them on.

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Songs & Thoughts 1

By A Band Called SAD

Songs & Thoughts 1
some light news and a playlist i made for you <3

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an Ode to Rooms

By A Band Called SAD

Room. funny funny word. Kind of stupid to say. Kind of silly to think that for something so ever present and far reaching as rooms are in civilization--in our relationships, our senses of identity--for as tangled up with who we are as rooms are, it's a dumb fucking word. 


I really love rooms. I don’t think people pay them much mind, though. It might be that the name is the reason but I suspect that this is not the primary cause.


The majority of all of our lives are spent in rooms, the beginnings and ends, yet we usually divide our attentions towards things happening in the room rather than the room itself.


On a large enough scale, at a fast enough rate, the building, life, and then decay of a room and a building is quite a dramatic show, albeit—less intense and bombastic than a human life. Each room is a monolith and a testament and a piece of art because it proves that someone existed and reached out through time to help me with my life, and that reaffirms the fact that we both exist and do have an impact. Yet I can be so thankless to the drywall, or the ceramic tile. One day, it too, like me, will be gone. We won’t see it go, and I guess it never really did anything, but it gave so much. Sometimes a room can give you more than any person possibly can. Some rooms gave me permission to give myself the things that I needed. 


If you ever realize that you’re in a room, which can be surprisingly difficult to remember, take a second to think about all of the lives it took to make it possible for you to be there—including you.




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a Semi-Manifesto

By A Band Called SAD

This was written in a desperate attempt to make sense of and relay to my bandmates all of the ideas I’ve cared about lately and are driving the music I’ve been writing for our releases coming up in 2020. I don’t know if I succeeded, but even if I didn’t, that in-and-of-itself philosophically aligns with my ideas so fuck it.

a Brief yet Sordid Glimpse into the Mind of a Serial Mad Man
(a Semi-Manfesto)

Listening to “God Bless Tiny Tim” by Tiny Tim

Often times when I’m at a loss for words, writing a song or otherwise, I’ll try to dive deep into myself and break down the complex, indescribable, wordless feelings that we all feel all the time into a list single ideas, or situations that evoke similar feelings.

That’s what I try to do. This is what really happened when I did it for this:
Nihilism adopted by optimists in a digital age
Maximalism out of fear of opportunity cost
The ability to get ideas out is no longer limited by our toolset only our ability
Recording and writing happen simultaneously
“I’m going to fish today” Not “I’m going to catch three fish today”
many of the things that are so unique and end up defining us are things that we are passengers to and have no idea are happening
Reflecting on reflection
Seeing a lack of choice as a form of freedom
Off the Grid
Every Moment is a Fresh Start
Mourning the loss of alternate realities where things could have happened are often more painful than what happened in the past, almost like an opportunity cost and sunk-cost-guilt just for existing and, oftentimes, having made no decision at all
Learning how to be truly vulnerable for the first time
Technology averse
Having a voice
Having autonomy simply by existing
Living NOW
Living with intention in everything you do. From showering to sex to music.
History becoming consumerism
Embracing Inevitability

So now that you’re more intimate with my particular brand of mental illness, I’ll start with a one-two-three-four at the top with what I believe sums up this whole stage of me as an artist and thinker and what I so desperately want to get across.
Nihilism adopted by Optimists in a Digital Age

The momentum of youth is something everyone is a victim to. Bright lights. Loud sounds. Looking back, people really just told me what to do, where to be, what to watch, what to say. And most of it wasn’t even my parents.

I think there is a poisonous and toxic thing that happens to an individual when all of their entertainment, spare-time, and moral guidance becomes 1.) passive and 2.) informed by experiences that they weren’t a part of--and when all of their emotional fulfillment can be displaced and moved abroad to media consumption, relationships, drugs, alcohol, or Scrabble. When all of your activities are either given to you or a form of escapism. A loss of autonomy.

When you put down a novel, the novel does not continue without you. It requires constant vigilance and conscious determination to scroll passed each solitary letter printed on the page. It requires you to constantly assess whether or not you understood what you just read, causing an iterative type of reflection that gets deeper and more nuanced the longer you continue. If you don’t constantly evaluate whether or not you were engaged with the previous sentence, you simply can’t move forward with full understanding or enjoyment.

Now, I don’t read very much any more. I don’t think it’s a better form of media or entertainment than The Room or anything else for that matter. I simply think it’s a different form of entertainment that, paired with passive entertainment, can lead to a balanced diet of gluttony when practiced in moderation.

A movie goes on without you while you wander off. A timeline you’re scrolling through isn’t asking you if you can understand and retain what you just thumbed passed.

This all seems very tech-phobic and amish-adjacent, I realize this. But, I also realize that a digitally-enabled culture and societal infrastructure, where passive consumption is the primary form of leisure and entertainment, has only existed as we know it for, arguably, two hundred years. Humans have a very limited concept of time--thousands, millions, billions of years. I think that’s why some people struggle with the concept of evolution.
Could I imagine how long it takes a snail to go across the Great Wall of China? Maybe. Maybe? I don’t know. Could I conceptualize -- really -- how long it takes for the first living single-celled organism to become me? No.

So I don’t think it’s irrational or tech-phobic or even radical to say that: I don’t think we’ve realized the damage that media, and consumption, and off-placing emotional fulfillment for entertainment-based-passive-hedonism has and is going to do to us as a species--And more importantly how we relate to each other on a human level and to ourselves.
Think about this:

Before the invention of the moving image, you could not witness any situation without directly being involved in the situation. Really think about that. How much would you think you know about how the world works if you’d never seen a piece of media before? How much of the expectations and guilt you place on yourself and carry around would you really feel if you had nothing to compare yourself to but the people directly around you? Only your own life experiences? How much time would you feel like you need to disconnect and breathe?

Your knowledge of the world outside of the limitations of your five (?) immediate senses would have been approximately zeeeeerooooo.

It’s a beautiful type of solipsism that I believe might focus priorities, the perspectives we have of ourselves and each other, and tear down some of the disillusionment surrounding the “need” for fame, notoriety, power, money, likes, subscribers, that people our age are beginning to rebel against in favor of things less tangible and more introspective. Finding value from within.

Obviously I don’t want to live off the grid. Have you seen Breaking Bad?

What I’m saying in a very long, over-extended metaphor, is that I believe people are looking inwards right now for the first time in a long time. I think people are realizing that technology, social media, whatever--not used in moderation is devastating on the human psyche, and that embracing the moment and all of the baggage and ugliness that comes with that is what we’re meant to do purely on a mammalian level.

I think a lot of the popular music that’s dominated the past 10 or so years has been absolutely laden with hopelessness, anger, disillusionment, alienation, anxiety, coldness, depression, and many many other maladies of the modern heart.

I think we’re realizing now that proximity is not what we crave, intimacy is. We can use our feelings of isolation and alienation to bond with one another. These are symptoms of a sickness that everyone is feeling. I think now we’re realizing that using the depression and anger at the system we didn’t choose to grow up in as a panacea to bring us together and save ourselves from emotional isolation is the only way to reach a point in our culture where we can reconnect with each other and ourselves.

I hope one day technology can help us connect better in real life, and not allow people to essentially be reclusive, yet feign their brittle feeling of connected-ness every time they get a like or an upvote.

My youth and relationship with media led to a lot of disillusionment and cognitive dissonance between what I had and was experiencing and what I thought I understood to be real life based on the media I had consumed. I felt like I had imposter syndrome in my own narrative.

For me, growing up essentially raised by a screen and the media that the powers-that-be decided to curate and beam into my fucking eyes -- my expectations for how life was supposed to be were completely shaped and informed by what other people, media people, carefully curated for me to see, and not by what I had experienced personally.

I don’t believe I saw a real person cry -- in front of me -- in a room -- with just us because they were being emotionally vulnerable until I was in high school -- maybe. Maybe later.

But I saw thousands of people cry through my little black mirror.

What does a human being become when the expectations we define around how to behave vulnerably are designed by people who use emotion in a way that creates the most satisfying narrative?

Life is not as simple, linear, or cohesive as your favorite Orange is the New Black episode. And that’s awesome!

The reason music speaks to me is because I truly have no idea what is going to happen when I sit down to make something. I completely surrender myself to the will of the universe. But the strange thing is, that the thing you’re doing has to end up how it’s going to. It’s inevitable. You can not change how something ends. You might stop doing something. But that’s how it’s supposed to end. It would have always and did end like that. But, the ends don’t justify the means because there are only means. For art, sad movies are great because you can feel catharsis through something else, but music is great because I can evoke something out of myself that:
1.) I didn’t intend to,
2.) didn’t know was there, and
3.) simply by the act of even pressing a key or fingering a note, I’ve created something that didn’t exist before.

I am living through the means and am a leaf on the river of destiny, helpless to the momentum of time and gravity, enjoying the ride with the wind through my hair and the sadness I feel for not always being able to recognize this moment I’m in.
Bob Dylan once said, “It frightens me the awful truth, of how sweet life can be.”

I have autonomy. The frequencies of a single note, that wouldn’t exist without me, fill up every single millimeter of a room and fade into obscurity and nothingness all at once. And it’s magic. It’s a form of autonomy that exists in all living things or even inanimate things that have an effect on the surrounding environment. But on top of having this certain innate power, we also need our humanity to interpret this cold brew of mathematical frequencies and wiggly air as beautiful. Or holy. Or cathartic. Or reverent. Or sad. Or Lil Nas X.

I made that note. That note evoked something. I have autonomy over myself. In this moment, I and that note were all there was. No past or future, no sky above, no earth below, just a tiny cause and an effect that it took the entire existence and history of the universe to create.

So really, I have a view where the art and music I’m going to create is inevitable. The things I have to say about culture and society and myself are things I have no choice in saying because I was plopped down in a moment in history I didn’t ask to be in--and that moment made me who I am. It is about reflecting on the moment, and reflecting on reflecting on the moment, and bittersweetly and nostalgically comparing it to the past, and being so grateful that I have the rest of my life to be a better person. And even if I don’t and I die tomorrow, at least I have this moment to think about how it might turn out. Which, spoiler alert, everybody’s story turns out the same.

If I’m being receptive to myself, it’s inevitably going to be something raw and true and pure and adjacent to these ramblings. I am so focused in my angst, and emotional development, and getting out of this hole that I feel a lot of people are in that it couldn’t possibly end up being something that it wasn’t supposed to.

So what do I mean by “Nihilism Adopted by Optimists in the Digital Age”?
A few ways to sum it up:
Camaraderie through realizing our sadness and disillusionment can bring us together.
Mourning the things that never happen to help us appreciate what we do have.
Surrendering to the moment.
Being vulnerable and open to yourself. You are your own God.
You have power.
Gratitude in the face of suffering.
You have regret but that doesn’t define your future.
You can overcome the way you were raised.
Technology does not define you.
Facebook is bullshit.

So, “SAD” and the capital letters, and the tongue-in-cheek attempt of an aesthetic, and all my other pretentious nonsense are supposed to sum up the hopelessness we feel and how we should embrace that hopelessness, reject the norm of passive consumption just for the sake of entertainment, and come together so we can ride this roller coaster to hell in good company with people who are also emotionally vulnerable and want to be good people and live and die truly free to nothing but their own word.

I want people to feel saved when they hear us.

I think. :)

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