Books longer than Ulysses have been written in an effort by heretofore sane men to understand, through the catharsis of that subtle therapy that occurs between a man and his typewriter, everything Pynchon was doing, was hinting at, pointing at, in Gravity's Rainbow.
That's fine – men have wasted time on worse things. Yes, the book deserves a careful reading, it deserves a second reading, so that the myriad digressions and discombobulated characters all shimmer into focus at last. Above all of that, it deserves reading.
Pynchon's language is, at first, seemingly disjointed, a little Kerouac-esque, and then you realise there's a fluidity that threads through all of the broken movements.
This disconcerting ballet of words is, ultimately, the carrot on the stick as you wade through the initial mire of this perfect post-war tableau, building up your tolerance through the minor key portrait of the world we lived in, strengthening our reserves before we get into the darkly humorous mystery that chugs through the halls of metaphysics, love, physics and big, big questions that Pynchon approaches, orbits, examines, and shoots off away from again, only to come orbiting back at another scale, another angle.
The view from the top of the mountain is not inherently better than the view from the valley – what separates them is the effort, the sense of accomplishment that envelopes the former. Up there the knowledge is esoteric, and hard-earned.
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This book lives up there.
Among the instruments at man's disposal, from the violin to the synthesizer, nothing is as expressive, as direct, as the human voice. It could be argued that everything else is a dim approximation, an attempt at replicating grace.
Mike Patton, the vocalist for Faith No More, has a vocal range of over six octaves. He can, essentially, hit every note on a grand piano. Listening to him use his voice as an instrument is no different an experience than watching any great virtuoso on an instrument they love.
This album is old now. It was released in 1989, which makes it one of the harbingers of what we now know as the 90s sound, which eventually was called ‘alternative', but which we just called rock music.
Yes kids, there was a time when Faith No More rubbed shoulders with Blind Faith, and it all made sense.
What if music was categorised by what the artist was aiming to achieve, rather than genre? We could leave all of the sugar-pop in the garage sale milk crate and get on with the process of listening to music with some meaning. Music like this album, which, over two decades later, is as timely, as deep, as rocking, as the day it came out. 4WD