Love is a chemical process. It’s the headrush of dopamine and the twisted nerves in one’s stomach, it’s hot sweats and clammy palms and it’s the intense pain in your chest when it all falls apart. Your body feels love. It feels it with every fibre and experiences excruciating withdrawal once it’s gone.
The physical process of love is as mysterious as that of the emotional. Scientists are as baffled about love as they are about dark matter, so are we to ever understand one of our most basic emotions?
Part of the wonder of love is its mystery. It’s the inexplicable emotions we feel that make the process so special. If we knew the precise chemical building blocks and the specific neurological firings of love, would the concept of love be as magical?
In this age of science, we draw ever closer to unravelling the mysteries of life’s magic – but there is still hope for us yet. Through art, we might regain the mysticism of human emotions. Crywolf, an upcoming musician, specialises in the marriage between the physical body and the ethereal soul in his hauntingly beautiful music. By means of spine-chilling harmonies, eerie percussion and angelic vocals, Crywolf enchants with his romantically melancholic words. His music both hurts and heals, leaving one with too many thoughts and emotions rattling around one’s head. He combines both flesh and heart with his intricate metaphors and heartbreaking poetry – giving love its enigmatic atmosphere once more.
Until next time,
Once upon a time, there lived a chosen youth. That chosen youth (probably an orphan, or possessing some equally depressing backstory) is then, through a series of accidents and an introduction to an elderly mentor, told that he/she is the possessor of mystical powers and is responsible for saving the world. Cue a training montage where the hero/heroine learns some new skills, falls in love with their childhood best friend and meets their adversary for the first time: the elderly mentor either dies, is kidnapped or abandons the hero. The hero/heroine is brutally defeated by said adversary and all seems lost, but then the love interest gives a rousing speech of encouragement to the hero and, thus supported, the hero goes out and defeats the adversary. The hero then gets all the glory, kisses the love interest and then the world lives happily ever after.
Lately, this is the recipe for every adventure story being told – but stories never used to be this droll in nature. In the times of the Greeks and the Romans, an adventure story wasn’t meant to make one feel all warm and fuzzy: its sole purpose was to provide an example and teach a lesson to those who heard it. The stories and mythology of that time reflected the harsh reality of the Graeco-Roman period. The gods represented war and chaos, envy and lust – and more often than not the “hero” of the story wasn’t perfect and usually died.
From Narcissus, the god of self-love, to the Furies, creatures of wrath and warfare, to Oedipus, lover of his own mother, the cultures of the Greeks and Romans was not for the faint-hearted. Their mythologies and beliefs took the duality of human nature and integrated it into their value systems, refusing to condemn human emotions, but rather choosing to punish the consequences of acting poorly with regard to those emotions.
It is, therefore, a pity, or a tragedy if you’d like, that we no longer use the formulae of the Greek and Roman mythologies as muses for our own stories. If we rather followed the stories of their culture, maybe we wouldn’t be so afraid of acknowledging our own emotions and maybe we could look past the tragedy of life and see the comedy of our everyday humanity.
Til next time,
Young love is bittersweet. As teenagers and young adults, we constantly seek the proverbial “one” – but with the attitude of impermanence. We want someone to call our “forever” – but only if that “forever” doesn’t extend past a few months. And yet the youth love with a passion destined for eternity, with all their hearts and all their time – and subsequently grieve that love with the same effort. Young love is filled with butterflies and raging fire, yet it brings about broken wings and scorched burns.
Young love is a feeling that not all artists can capture, either in a painting, song or film – yet Aquilo, a dynamic duo from the UK, do so perfectly. Their moody, dark pop captures the essence of modern love amongst the youth with such dexterity that it is actually shocking how few people know of them. Their entire image is the yearning fragility of young love, whether it be their sweeping music videos or melancholic lyrics – Aquilo encapsulates the emotions, both positive and negative, of the phenomenon of love.
The top tracks to look out for are the Silhouettes series, whose accompanying visuals are both stunning and thought-provoking in their narrative, and Good Girl, whose catchy chorus will have you dancing dreamily for the remainder of the week. So if one is in need of reminding of the tragedy of young love, or if one is currently experiencing it: this is the band for you.
Til next time,
“Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Time destroys all, whether our lives were monumental or not- or at least poet Percy Bysshe Shelley believes so. In his famous sonnet Ozymandias, Shelley ponders the ruins of a pharaoh’s statue and how nature and time spare no thought for the work of men. For the majority of the wonders of our ancestors, this sentiment can be proved true – as our cities, temples and statues have vanished beneath the earth and out of our memory.
Except for one awe-inspiring, thought-provoking relic: the Giza Necropolis. This mysterious symbol of ancient Egyptian culture has stood for over 5000 years, quietly watching the rise and fall of empires beneath the blazing heat of the African sun. Even more mysterious is the civilisation that built it. The Egyptians have long been the subject of vicious debate amongst scholars, often resulting in the division of the field studying their fantastic culture.
This itself is unfortunate, as there are many more important things to be learned from the people who honoured their dead with such respect. Death was not to be feared, as it is today, and the tragedy of death was treated as a sacred celebration of the natural rhythm of life. The Egyptians understood the darkness and duality of life and as a result, their symbols have survived the millennia of time.
Until next week,
C. N. Botes
Let’s face it, engaging with modern media is no easy feat of will. One is constantly bombarded with overwhelming pessimism ranging from the increase in crime, political turmoil and economic instability. It is easy to start believing that we live in a world of malignant chaos in which goodness and compassion are miracles rather than the norm. We are constantly flooded with negative media: from apocalyptic action movies, materialistic mainstream music and aggressive consumerist visuals – our senses are filled with hopelessness and unhappiness.
And yet in this environment of murky gloom, a few rays of light are bursting through the chinks of the wall we face before us. Artists around the world are banding together behind the concept of a revolution of love. Whether they are underground musicians or street-artists or indie filmmakers, alternative media has shifted its focus once again to oppose the views of mainstream media. Instead of hate-filled and derogatory messages or product pumped brainwashing, more artists than before are zooming in on positive messages of love, introspective ideas of inner-peace and thought-provoking oppositions to modern society. One such artist is Lana Del Rey.
As stated previously on this blog, I acknowledge that there are people who do not consider her to be a good musician or songwriter, and they quite frankly find her to be quite annoying and false. But this post is not aimed at providing a criticism of her music, but rather towards awareness of the growing movement of positivity in art. Lana Del Rey’s new single serves as the perfect vessel of this movement from the world of alternative music to mainstream media. As a breakout artist that started on the underground artist, Lana del Rey acts as a mediator between both audiences.
“Love,” her latest single, conveys all the fundamental messages of alternative media’s shift of focus. With its both melancholic and hopeful tones and encouraging lyrics, “Love” serves as an inspirational point of departure for the revolution of compassion and love as shown in alternative media.
The accompanying visuals for the single also add to the promising atmosphere of the song. Picturesque images of idyllic youth and the cosmos in harmony create an inspiring experience for the listener and overwhelmingly leaves one with the feeling that yes, the world might seem dark and dangerous, but it is only in the darkness that one can experience light, and it is only at night that one can see their dreams in the stars.
Til next week,
Why do we believe in gods?
By all accounts, humanity should be an atheistic race. We, of all the sentient organisms on this planet, are the only species to possess logic and reason – yet we succumb to our most primal instinct: fear. Fear is what drives religion: the fear of the unknown, the fear of consequences and the fear of others. Religion was created in order to fill the gaping chasms of our understanding of the world; yet instead of pacifying our fears of the unknown, religion only fuels fear by creating consequences of terror which motivate our behaviour. If we commit certain acts, we are condemned to hell – yet logic says that as reason-possessing beings, we should naturally not commit these acts.
And yet we do. Humanity time and time again loses track of its rationality, and it is the irrational that saves it. It is the guiding voices of gods, myths and stories that once again rights the imbalance of human nature. The duality of religion as both a saviour and destroyer of balance is what makes it so vitally important to the duality of humanity.
Religion acts as a mediator between the two primal emotions of fear and love: it gives us certainty in the face of chaos and motivates our moral behaviour. Religion itself defines humanity, yet humanity does not necessarily require it.
Yet humanity chooses religion again and again, and as done so since the beginning of our reason.
The cause of this, at least in my opinion, is the spirituality of human nature. We recognise our own souls, and acknowledge the differences between reality and fantasy – and it is this that makes our experience of the universe so much more intense. Religion aids our spiritual selves in the translation of the intensity of our experiences, it assists in the pacification of our souls and the balancing of our nature.
Whether you believe in a higher power or not, one cannot deny the profound effect religion has upon people. It is the motivator of our past, it motivates the majority of us in the present, and will probably motivate our actions in the future. The question is whether it will motivate us towards fear, or love.
Till next week,
c. n. botes.
Teenage restlessness is a global phenomenon. At least once in their adolescence, most young people experience the overwhelming urge to move, leave and explore. I’d like to think it’s because of our nomadic origins that we do not feel comfortable remaining in one place for too long. It’s a beautiful feeling, this all-encompassing curiosity for the unknown that grips the heart – and it is even more wonderful when that urge is fulfilled.
It is a new year, and with it comes the usual new beginnings – but this year has placed me in an entirely new environment, which is both terrifying and electrifying. There’s something so special about the integration of one’s self into a new community, where one can discover new information about oneself and others. This is why I believe travel is so vital for one’s understanding of the world. Travel reveals all perspectives, and can assist one’s growth and greatly affect the path of their life journey. Travel and experience push people out of their comfort zones and thus gives them more room to expand their world view.
This year I’d like to share these new experiences with you via this platform and others. Through the Human Darkness series I will be sharing my thoughts upon human psychology and how it affects our art, and by means of other projects I would like to share my thoughts on several other topics – and subsequently, open up many conversations about the many sensations that we as humans experience. I hope that you are as excited for 2017 as I am, and I wish you the very best for the coming year.
In closing, I’d like to quote my favourite author, Neil Gaiman:
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously.
I hope you will make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked and you will have people to love and to like in return. And most importantly, because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now – I hope that you will, when you need to, be wise and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself.”
Until next week,
C. N. Botes
There are bands that age gracefully, and then there’s Blink – 182. There’s Green Day and Billy Talent who now provide commentary on the younger generation, and there’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who keep things fresh but still write from their perspective. Blink – 182 does none of this. They’re basically a bunch of forty-something-year-old dads who still have mohawks and sing about being a teenager at Warped Tour.
If you are anything like me, Blink – 182 has been a staple in my pop-punk lifestyle: who hasn’t sung ‘What’s My Age Again?’ at the top of their lungs after a long day at the beach? Generations of kids have screamed out Blink – 182’s cleverly inappropriate lyrics for years, but it looks like the band’s golden era has come to an abrupt halt with their latest album.
“California” falls flat on its face and gets several nasty bruises along the way. The lyrics are empty and irrelevant as Blink struggles to remain current to their audience and frankly, all their lyrics do is reflect their age. Does Blink really expect fans to take them seriously when they refuse to admit their age and keep singing about being teenagers? Each of the fifteen tracks sounds exactly the same, just with different vocals and slightly different lyrics and after about five songs, I’d rather listen to mainstream radio, purely because there is at least some degree of variation between tracks.
So Blink, maybe it’s time to reconnect with your audience, perhaps you might find out that making music that you think they want isn’t exactly the music they actually want, and maybe, “California” will become a blip in the story of Blink – 182’s reign of glory.
My Rating: 4/10
til next time,
C. N. Botes
In order to set the festive mood, the extended metaphor for today’s album will be related to this Christmas season: every financially-comfortable family has probably experienced the phenomenon of the Luxury Chocolate Box. Its appearance is arbitrary – and no-one quite remembers which relative bestowed it upon the family – but its presence is well-received. It is usually pulled out after a heavy meal – when its array of sweet treats is light enough to be enjoyed whilst the family fights off the urge to lull into a coma.
“Death Of A Bachelor,” Panic! At The Disco’s latest offering is undoubtedly a Luxury Chocolate Box. It’s smooth indulgence in its purest form, as Brendon Urie shows off his silky vocals on every track. He takes on the role of a Beyonce – Frank Sinatra – glam rock love child as he serenades you with his unique voice, leaving you with a strong sense of nostalgia and the overwhelming urge to throw your hair up for a night on the town. Each track feels fun – whether it’s the peppy bounce of Victorious, the cocky swagger of “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” or the lazy swing of the title track – the album sticks to the mantra of ‘work hard, party harder’ with a slick mentality that leaves one full of bubbling confidence.
Like the Luxury Chocolate Box, there is a treat to suit everyone’s taste and steers clear of anything too serious. While the album’s frivolity may seem annoying to some, it has grown on me: it reflects the band’s (Brendon Urie’s) charisma, and it has quickly settled itself as one of my firm favourites. It brings back star-studded memories of bygone eras, whilst keeping up the times and – like the Luxury Chocolate Box – will continue to appear at all the right occasions.
My rating: 9/10
C. N. Botes
According to the internet, there are only two types of people on the planet: those who hate Black Veil Brides with the fires of their being, and slavering fangirls who’d willingly commit murder if someone said that Andy Biersack wasn’t attractive. as someone who’d once been classified as one of the latter, I’d like to make an amendment to the internet’s global assumption (both for my sake and for the sake of others)- Black Veil Brides does not only have obsessive fans, some of their fans are more casual in their enjoyment of the rock band’s music.
So when their frontman, Andy Biersack, announced that he was going to embark upon a solo project focusing on pop music a few years ago – I was apprehensive. Firstly: the pop scene is clearly oversaturated at the moment, secondly: I wondered if the 26-year-old had the mindset for pop music, considering his background in alternative music. And then “The Shadow Side” dropped and all my fears were cast aside. Dark, introspective and sincere, this album gives pop music the mature kick it so desperately needs. The album gives a complete portrait of a determined young man who understands society and chooses to be different. By using clever lyrics and his trademark heart-stirring vocals, Andy Black masters his subject matter with ease.
It is unfortunate that the album leans heavily on his voice, lyrics and the impressive list of celebrity collaborations, as I find the quality of the accompaniment is often overwhelmed by the synthetic vocal tuning from post-production. For an artist whose voice needs absolutely no automatic adjustment, it is a bit irritating to constantly hear synthetic changes within the music. Apart from that niggling issue, I thoroughly enjoy the album and cannot wait to hear more from the Andy Black solo project.
My rating: 7,5/10
So long and goodnight,
C. N. Botes