Wednesday, May 9, 2012

the triangle tingles

The work I’ve been doing for the last 9 months is pretty jolly boring. No, that’s an understatement. The most boring job I’ve ever done before was folding underpants in a clothing sweatsh factory where no one ever spoke to me, but it was nowhere near as bad as this.

Ivan Denisovitch, in Solzhenitsin’s novel, works in unspeakable conditions in a Soviet gulag but is able to find a challenge in his work – building a pointless wall with useless bricks, each day he tries to see if he can lay more bricks than the day before.

What I’m doing now is staring at a screen, pushing buttons every few seconds and with every push feeling frustrated because I know I could fix what’s in front of me but I’m not allowed to. There is a point to this pointless exercise but it’s against every human instinct to do something the wrong way, all day every day, week after week and month after month. Well, I can’t say more than that because I serve the public and am sworn to secrecy – if I told you more than that I would have to kill you.

However, the people who hired me are not setting out to brainwash or torture, and they have kindly provided each of us mindless workers with a top notch set of headphones – to help ease the pain of seeming pointlessness we are allowed to bring in [commercially produced and therefore virus-free] CDs and listen to music while we grit our teeth and press ‘enter’.

The music has been a treat because I’m rarely able to listen to music in my own time, and my fellow morons team mates and I have swapped discs, found new music to like or dislike, and rediscovered old faves. This last week I’ve been revisiting Dylan.

It took a while [years ago] to accept his “voice” but I did come to like it – though Joanie’s is infinitely more bearable. I get the impression Bob could be an arrogant son of a sea-cook and sometimes his lyrics are viciously/hilarious, but he has managed to achieve two very remarkable things:
The first is that he has succeeded in creating music – and creating it well – in a variety of styles. There was the stream-of-consciousness folky protest stage; there was an electric stage; something muzakly relaxing on his Self Portrait album; his Nashville stage took the divorce and the sad dog out of country and western; there was some droll tom-foolery on The Basement Tapes he recorded with The Band; and some completely astounding music on his Desire album. [Strangely enough I ignored his born again phase so cannot comment on that.]

The second is that, without doing any actual research, I would venture his songs have had as many covers as Lennon-McCartney’s music.

It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I particularly like Farewell Angelina because the words have a pleasing rhyme and meter, throw up [mostly] nice images, all wrapped up in a very pleasing tune.


  1. It's a pretty song.

    As for your job....I'm trying to imagine what's worse; the boredom or the frustration of not being able to fix what's broken.

    1. Boring jobs usually have one of two things going for them - either the hands do the work, leaving the mind free to wonder [quite liberating, really], or the hands do the work while free to chat. Other jobs that demand mental focus, no matter how basic, usually throw up either a sense of achievement, or one or two interesting challenges a day.

      The frustration, on the other hand, is the sort of mind-game a cult could use quite successfully to brainwash someone: Set them up to fail, and then offer a limited range of possibilities for success.
      Cognitive dissonance.

  2. I'm really loving the song.

    I just wanted to add that.

    1. It's very reassuring and soothing, eh!

  3. You may like to check out these albums Blonde On Blonde, Bring it all Back Home to Me, Blood on the Tracks, Under the Red Sky, Highway 61 Revisited and Slow Train Coming. When Bob changed from acoustic to electric music after his motor bike accident he was widely condemmed by the folky mob and was even called a traitor to the folky cause :-).

    1. Know many of the tracks on Blonde on Blonde - Jackie Kennedy being the Lady Diana of her day, a pill box hat was an easy target: "It balances on your head just like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine."
      Have blood on the tracks, highway 61 and john wesley harding on disc, but the basement tapes - "I have a hard time waking most mornings", self portrait and desire are still on vinyl. They'll probably remain on vinyl until I can put my ego aside long enough to work out how to convert them to digital files.
      The others you mention will be a YouTube challenge when my contract runs out in a few weeks.

      Dylan was probably not alone in being accused of treachery - and the folkies were as fanatical as later idealogical groups. [Though no one should have to listen to leaving on a jet plane and some others more than once in any one life time].Interesting you use the expression "folky cause" :)

  4. Here's a new challenge - perhaps you could train yourself to read a book while you're on the job?? My most tedious job was in a factory - I amused myself (and hopefully fellow workers) by developing the plot of a murder mystery called 'Death in the Factory'. The punchline was that no one killed the victim - she died of boredom ...

    1. LOL... unfortunately the eyes and the brain are engaged on the job which is what makes it so difficult not to get involved in the frustrating part of the job. This would make any real attempt at reading conspicuously naughty. Beside, aren't there enough public servants ripping off taxpayers in the news already? Must do my share.
      LOVE the idea of constructing a story though! We do some claytons chatting via internal email, so your idea is full of possibility. Can't imagine coming up with a punchline to top yours!