Month: June 2015

The Calm Within the Thrash

Sometimes I have a trillion thoughts in my head, each buzzing and bouncing around my cranium in the way that a beehive hanging from a particularly weak tree brach will explode into a fury when some idiot kid decides to mess with the harmony of nature and chuck a rock the size of his fist at it (it’s always a ten-year old boy…).

Sometimes pockets of those thoughts congeal into a massive hulk of a thought that overtakes other thoughts, choking them out and making their buzzing all the more prevalent in my head. Sometimes the thoughts band together into an intricate web, threads of consciousness forming to and fro like a hairnet holding me hostage in my own body. The buzzing still becomes more prevalent, and all I can hear is a dim zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz that grows louder and louder with each passing second, drowning out all other sounds and thoughts around me. What nerve!

When this happens, all I can do is wait for it to pass, biding my time by staring blankly at the passing darkness of the train tunnel as we barrel onward into San Francisco. Or I’ll close my eyes and locate this monstrous beast of cognition, and employ whatever brainpower not diverted into this thing into stamping it out. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to the duration of my train ride (around half an hour), depending on how much coffee I’ve had up until that point.

It always passes, but I feel significantly drained afterward, like I’ve used up all of my mana in taking out the dragon hiding in the innermost chamber of a sprawling dungeon, and now I have to spend the next hour breaking pots that strangers had probably needed for transporting things.

I feel empty afterward, so I listen to death metal, or noise punk, or the soothing eddies of sound that ambient electronic music sends into my brain—I’m looking at you, Boards of Canada. Yes, death metal does not seem like the kind of music to put on immediately after “doing battle” with your own mind—it’d probably be more fitting for psyching yourself into running or exercising—but you would be surprised at what 200+ beats per minute of thrashing guitars and a double-pedal drum kit can do to hush a frantic inner state.

If Meshuggah or Gorgoroth are too Satanic or Scandinavian for your tastes, why not the atmospheric screeching of Deafheaven, or the brooding transcendentalism of Liturgy? Hipsters go crazy over that kind of metal, I hear.

Regardless, I never feel fully replenished from this, as all blasting metal through my earbuds into my head does is mask whatever my own brain chemistry gets up to in its spare time. All the structured noise in the world could never compete with how fucking loud my brain gets, and it is always loud. The most I can do is escape, even for a little bit, from the incessant buzzing of a computer that never shuts down.