Thursday, June 2, 2016

Song of the Day #311 - Daft Punk - Emotion


Song of the Day was on break after I received some bad news: a close internet friend of mine died. There's a lot of music I want to talk about but it wouldn't feel right to not mention this. I really have no idea what to say, though. It was hard enough to talk about dead celebrities... this was someone I'd been talking with for over a decade. Grief was a weird awful feeling but I think I'm getting back to normal now. I can care about stupid things again. I can conceivably write things without being wholly occupied with expressing my memories, or my current emotional state, or at least meta-expressing the challenges around this. This isn't one of those things, though.

Writing has helped a lot. It begins to quench this awful feeling that not only had I lost something great, but that I didn't even understand what I had lost. Sure, exploring my understanding of that was extremely emotional, often painfully nostalgic and sad, but it was a rich, meaningful sadness, one that signified the truth of my feelings. But it will never wholly quench the feeling. That's what I think I have to come to understand. It is impossible to ever write something "enough" or "complete". Eventually you have to move on, and you have to realize that moving on isn't the same as forgetting or neglecting. And it's what he would have wanted me to do, as a writer himself... beyond that, it's what I ought to do, for myself, if his ambitions truly influenced me. And I know they did.

But, like I said, I would have felt right to move on from this in silence, even just on this blog, so we're taking a look at this. Daft Punk was one of his favorite artists. He was the one who, after many had lost faith, kept me hyped about the possibility of a new album. And in 2013, after years of waiting, it was sharing in his joy that got me so invested in Random Access Memories, an investment which was rewarded a dozen times over.

I'm not sure if this is one of his favorite Daft Punk songs, but it's one of mine, and one that feels appropriate. I've always liked to think that their 2005 album Human After All forms a sort of narrative of person-hood, one that, through mirroring with technological engagement, becomes all the more real in how it engages with our lives... I don't think I can explain it all right now. The important contrast comes right at the end, when we go from "Technologic", the hyper-maximalist exhaustive itemization of a life's techno-activities, to "Emotion", the super-minimal dreamy journey into what remains.

And what remains? It is something that carries with it the tastes and achievements of what came before... although the simple, ambient soundscape sounds much different than what had come before (besides maybe the instrumental interlude "Make Love", also a masterpiece), it's still constructed from the elements introduced in the rest of the album. Thus it really feels like the spirit of Human After All, the qualities of the album that could never be put on paper, could never be reduced or defined, now constituting the whole. The message of this transcendent form is the singular word "emotion". Not happiness or sadness, but emotion, everything. What lasts longer than anything is the impression you make on the feelings of others.

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