Friday, February 23, 2007

Synagogue and Sigur Ros

whenever i go home to teaneck for holidays or weekends, i usually spend at least an hour sitting in synagogue with my father. clenching an unused prayerbook, i spend the hour vasciallating between opinions of different albums i own, running through song lyrics (when i was in high school i prided myself on being able to run through the entire "master of puppets" album, including drum fills and note-for-note guitar solos in a single friday night service), and feeling indescribably awful for the people who sit through that mundanity thrice daily.

this weekend in teaneck began just like any other: show up, rip sister's israeli cd's, make sister mix with music that my parents don't want her listening to, promise father i'll shower in a minute i just need to answer one more email, then set off to synagogue, practically emanating a trail of dread on the sidewalk behind me. but as i sat through services, mouthing hadag nachash and sigur ros innocuously to myself, it dawned on me that i really don't know why i do any of it: the dressing up, the fake praying, the synagogue, the handshakes, the fake smiles, the contrived religious fervor, the song lyrics, the yarmulke clips that hurt my hair. except that, not only do i not have a reason for doing it, but i am equally lacking a reason to avoid doing it; i'm lethargically clueless, i determined, and carrying through on a practiced series of motions primarily to avoid confronting the vast emptiness that lies inanimately beneath my frantic busy-ness.

instantaneously, i knew and felt instinctively that the epiphany made me smarter. viscerally, even, there was a psychosomatic change, and somehow, with a revelation having so much to do with behavioral vacuousness, my cognitive abilities graduated to a deeply metaphysical significance. see what sigur ros can do for a revelatory experience? i swear, even when i'm doing crossword puzzles i want to have sigur ros playing in the background to contribute to the illusion of profundity. nothing says "do not disturb: deep thoughts in progress" like a person filling out a crossword puzzle and pounding sigur ros.

and, just in case you were wondering, the answer is yes: it's even harder than it seems to sing songs in an invented language, despite the apparent similarities between the "hopelandic" and icelandic tongues. in fact, half the fun at an east coast sigur ros show is experiencing 5,000 emotional new yorkers attempting to mimic falsetto phonemes for 2 hours. I've done it more than once, and I think it's only slightly easier than predicting the next thing a dog is going to say, or building a castle out of running water.

Stay diatonic, nordic music
DJ five alarm pyre

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