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Alex Carnevale
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Kara VanderBijl
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Mia Nguyen
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Durga Chew-Bose
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Brittany Julious
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This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Wednesday
Dec032014

In Which We Reconsider The Niceties Of Today

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.

Hi,

Aaron has been dating my friend Katy for just short of two years. She loves him dearly and sees a future for them together. They are both in their late twenties. Recently, Aaron told me in confidence that his Italian-born parents want him to take a long trip to Italy and "find a wife there." I guess this is something of a tradition. He has had some great experiences with his family in Italy and he confessed that it is something he has considered. 

I recently observed someone ask Aaron whether he had a girlfriend, and he said yes, "She is really nice." This struck me as true but also a bit underwhelming. Do I tell Katy any of this, and how do I advise Aaron?

Priya C.

Dear Priya,

That's how someone would describe material possessions, like a soft pashmina or an adopted pug, not a significant other. There's definitely a lack of passion in his cadence and demeanor. According to his missteps, the red flags line up perfectly. One, he doesn't love Katy enough and is already resorting to flying out to Italy. Two, a part of him still wants to please his parents to fill a void (i.e. parents never got him the Yorkshire terrier he wanted on his 5th birthday). 

When we were younger, my parents knew my brothers and I weren't going to have traditional marriages. Not every parent is going to let their child run into the wild to figure their own romantic endeavors. They fully accepted the upcoming cultural and generational shifts. Marriage is just the cherry on top for them. I rolled merrily along with my life and didn't expect anything of it until I met a girl in college who had an arranged marriage. She fell in love with him as time went on, but it was an unusual and fortunate circumstance not everyone is so lucky to have. 

Aaron should fully accept the full responsibility of what is to come. If he is percolating the idea of flying to Italy quite heavily then he should tell how Katy how he really feels about her. More importantly, ask him if Katy is his soulmate, or if the timing is right, "his soulsies."

Hi,

I was recently talking with my boyfriend about 9/11. He explained that he had been a freshman in college when the attack occurred, and described some of the things that happened at his Ivy League school during the attack - people crying, others screaming in shock and trying to reach their loved ones. Unfortunately all I could think about as he was telling this story is how I was in fourth grade when this happened. Before this anecdote, our age difference did not seem so important, but now I can't get it out of my mind. What should I do?

Martha S.

Dear Martha,

You are correct in stating that anyone who was in college during 9/11 is old, perhaps too old for you. In order to verify your hypothesis, here are some indications that your partner (#loveofyourlife) may just not be the right age.

- He was in graduate school during the Second World War.

- He thinks that penicillin is a "miracle life-saving drug" and defends it for hours whenever you rag on it.

- He wanted to name your cat Clementine or Archibald.

- His drug dealer asked him if he ever watched Fawlty Towers, and his response was anything except, "What the fuck are you talking about?"

- He soothes his feet by washing them in a water basin with Lucille Ball's face and torso on it. -

He asks you if that "upstart nation" Israel is going to be around for good.

Age isn't important, but not having the right opinions about things like John Cleese and Israel could come back to bite you in the ass later on IMO.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

 

"Accidental Song" - The Magic Numbers (mp3)

"Better Than Him" - The Magic Numbers (mp3)

Tuesday
Dec022014

In Which Samuel Beckett Renders A Found Verdict

Other Writers

It is difficult for a great creator to acknowledge his or her peers without feeling he or she has diminished himself in the process. Samuel Beckett was both overly vain and excessively humble. While some of his friends were making a great living, he was struggling with long hours of translation, along with frustration that some of his editors and readers were not able to understand works like Murphy and Watt. In addition, pain in his anal cavity made his long days of sitting difficult to bear. In his letters, he appraises a variety of his precursors in a cranky, yet enlightening fashion.

CARL JUNG

He struck me as a kind of super AE, the mind infinitely more ample, provocative and penetrating, but the same cuttle-fish's discharge & escapes from the issue in the end. He let fall some remarkable things nevertheless. He protests so vehemently that he is not a mystic that he must be one of the very most nebulous kind.

His lecture the night I went consisted mainly in the so-called synthetic (versus Freudian analytic) interpretation of three dreams of a patient who finally went to the dogs because he insisted on taking a certain element in the dreams as the Oedipus position when Jung told him it was nothing of the kind!

The mind is I suppose the best Swiss, Lavater & Rousseau, mixture of enthusiasm & Euclid, a methodical rhapsody. Jolas' pigeon all right, but I should think in the end less than the dirt under Freud's nails. I can't imagine his curing a fly of neurosis. He insists in patients having their horoscope cast!

HONORE DE BALZAC

The bathos of style & thought is so enormous that I wonder is he writing seriously or in parody. And yet I go on reading it.

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER

When I was ill I found the only thing I could read was Schopenhauer. Everything else I tried only confirmed the feeling of sickness. It was very curious. Like suddenly a window opened on a fugue. I always knew he was one of the ones who mattered most to me, and it is a pleasure more real than any pleasure for a long time to begin to understand now why it is so.

JANE AUSTEN

Now I am reading the divine Jane. I think she had much to teach me. it is curious how English literature has never freed itself from the old morality typifications & simplifications. I suppose the cult of the horse has something to do with it. But writing infected with selective breeding of the vices & virtues becomes tiresome.


JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU

I must think of Rousseau as a champion of the right to be alone and as an authentically tragic figure in so far as he was denied the enjoyment of that right, not only by a society that considered solitude as a vice (il n'y a que le mechant qui soit seul) but by the infantile aspect, afraid of the dark, of his own constitution.

MARCEL PROUST

A short essay on him (30,000 words) was my first prose work. It had been commissioned by Chatto & Windus for their series of Dolphin Books. I concentrated on following the different stages of his key experience from the madeline dipped in tisane to the cobblestones in the courtyard of the Guermantes' great house. Since that time I have hardly looked at him. He impresses and irritates me. I find it hard to bear his obsessive need, among others, to bring everything back to laws. I think I am a poor judge of him.

GERTRUDE STEIN

The fabric of the language has at least become porous, if regrettably quite by accident and, as it were, as a consequence of a procedure somewhat akin to the technique of Feininger. The unhappy lady (is she still alive?) is undoubtedly still in love with her vehicle, if only, however, as a mathematician is with his numbers; for him the solution of the problem is of very secondary interest, yes, like the death of numbers, it must seem to him indeed dreadful.

In the meantime I am doing nothing.

FRANZ KAFKA

All I've read of his, apart from a few short texts, is about three-quarters of The Castle, and then in German, that is, losing a great deal. I felt at home, too much so - perhaps that is what stopped me from reading on. Case closed there and then. I remember feeling disturbed by the imperturbable aspect of his approach. I am wary of disasters that let themselves be recorded like a statement of accounts.

JOHN MILTON

Can't get a verse of his out of my mind: "Insuperable height of loftiest shade." 

"Free Advice" - Jonathan Wilson (mp3)

"Alpha Blondy Was King" - Jonathan Wilson (mp3)

Monday
Dec012014

In Which We Hope To Not Remember This

Body Talk

by JESSICA FURSETH

I never remember Decembers once they are gone. I walk through the days knowing I’ll forget them, that all the detail will fade, except for the feeling of stretching towards the light as it’s disappearing fast. This happens every year like clockwork, marking the seasons. My body is heavy with sleep and my brain is committing nothing to memory, like each day is a polaroid that gets thrown away.

It’s an odd feeling, being in the middle of a moment I know won’t stick. In the narrative of my life, it’s an anomaly: I’m living outside of my memory. I watched a TED talk once about the conflict between the self that experiences, and the self that remembers; how most of the time we choose things in service of our memories, even though the experiencing self may be having a different opinion in the moment. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, especially the question posed at the end: If you were going on a trip, would you choose differently if you knew you’d remember nothing afterwards?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is sometimes called winter depression, but I’m not actually unhappy. I used to be at this time of year, but getting older has fixed a lot. Now, the fog that sets in for the two darkest months is just a physical thing. Sometimes it feels like jetlag, or like having been woken up in the middle of the night. A sunlamp keeps me above water as I do the things I know to help: sleep at night, be awake during the day, go outside, eat properly, exercise. I don’t know what it says about me that I’m surprised: clean living seems to be the solution to almost everything.

People change all the time, I know that, but only if they really want to, or if something big happens. I don’t know which of the two are at work, but somehow the winter fog feels A little different this year. Card-carrying introvert that I am, I’m shocked to discover I’m becoming outgoing, all of a sudden drawn to people, to dinners, drinks, texting, even phone calls. I’ve always needed a lot of time by myself, becoming restless and unsettled if I didn’t get it, and normally, winter tends to bring out the worst elements in me. Still, this year, something is happening. It’s as dark as ever but somehow, change seems possible.

I keep waiting for my solitary nature to assert itself, but this isn’t about my head. Winter was has always been a whole-body experience, and this year it seems the body I live in wants to go out, talk to people, and get another drink on the rocks.

Maybe my body is simply taking advantage of this moment outside of memory, realising this is a holiday I won’t remember after it’s over. This is just for the experience. But unless I remember it, is this really happening? A feeling is bubbling up, it’s small but it’s there, and I’m hoping maybe it will be stronger than the waking sleep. Maybe this is a momentary reprieve, or maybe it’s a fundamental change, I don’t know. All I know is that it feels so physical.

Jessica Furseth is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find her twitter here and her website here. She tumbls here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about a London particular.

Photographs by the author.

"Make You Better" - The Decemberists (mp3)

"Lake Song" - The Decemberists (mp3)