Reviving Notes and Plastic Ghosts

by languageformulatingbrain

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Most of the understanding I have of the 1980s is imaginary. What it was like for every person who lived through it is different, but I lived through a portion of it as a child. It is as if the ghosts of memories float about my mind, coming to and fro and telling me things. Is there some overarching purpose to the remembrances that appear and disappear from my consciousness? As an extreme skeptic, I find it difficult to come to any conclusion.

Like many of my generation, I found it hard to decide on any solid point of view or foundation for anchoring my life. The farther I dug, into the philosophy and theology that surrounded me in my youth, the less satisfied I was. I didn't find it nurturing; I was a romantic skeptic if that is even possible, always hoping that being skeptical would let me hang on to something beyond the mundane, only to have it dashed by my own skepticism. I wondered if there was a purpose to the games I played as a child, and I would read that there was. My father told me that if you can't figure out why someone's doing something, the answer is usually money.

The 80s were a sold-out decade; former counter-culture people had long graduated from college and while they kept a mostly liberal outlook on life, money became important to them as they had families to raise, mortgages to pay, and other things of this nature. They bought a smorgasbord of toys for their children: action figures, board games, all manner of plastic crap, video game consoles, and other ghosts of childhood memory. Few can deny the nostalgia felt when things from the 1980s were brought up, with comic-book heroes mingling with Mario and his mushroom-fueled adventures. Childhood was another world in the 80s, and like in every decade, some of us would never grow out of being a child.

It is the task of a child to learn. The games they play, their schooling, the knowledge they gain--it all is for the purpose of living a life. There is a tendency among some of us, however, to be stuck in this childhood of learning forever, and there is a curious predisposition for a sort of detached confusion among us. Some say we are the only ones who know what reality really is; we say that we are ignorant children.

Dreams mingled with reality; my first nightmare caused me to be told by my mother that I had been dreaming, which was a source of great confusion. How could I experience something and it not be real? This question seems to have obvious answers, but after a certain point in my life the line between what is real and what is a phantasmagoria of the mind would dissolve, fiction would be asserted by ghosts within to be real as they begged to gain shape; I would paint myself into a corner and hope that what I painted was real. The ghosts of the 1980s returned and lurked under every corner, the cocaine-fueled thoughts of addicts brought back from the dead to haunt the world once more.

I remembered that my father listened to progressive rock, or at the very least, this was the first music I remember hearing. There was music by The Alan Parsons Project, and then outside of the realm of prog-rock there was Dire Straits who must have hijacked some part of reality with their album Love Over Gold, which I remember seeing first as a 12-inch vinyl LP on my father's turntable (a turntable which was a once-prized possession of his that is now mine), and then as a much less impressive-looking compact disc.

Yes, the disc glittered like silver (not quite gold). It sounded perhaps more excellent than the crackling vinyl record, but the cover with the lightning bolt on the front was maybe a little less cool-looking when it was smaller. This was all very mainstream taste--I had no idea what was brewing beneath the surface of society within music; every note was, however, embraced with the child-like innocence that one expects from someone who encounters music for the first time.

Perhaps I had heard muzak before though, that once ubiquitous music (which was horrendous, in this writer's opinion) that did nothing to stir even a memory out of me. Did it surround me? I was taken to stores with my parents, and most of the stores played muzak in those round speakers that adorned ceilings. It must have been marketed very well, but in retrospect it made the stores that played it more boring, not more exciting. It made the stores dreary on an auditory level; indeed, the most ghostly of dark ambient albums created by underground artists can not match the sheer drear created by being in a JC Penny's department store and having to listen to such tripe.

Eventually, in later years, stores would play the least exciting hits that were played on the most boring stations on the radio. No one was allowed to cause auditory excitement or (dare I say) dancing among the shoppers until considerably later years when there was a short renaissance of funky, danceable music that was played on the speakers in stores. Eventually this gave way to music that seemed designed to annoy shoppers into wanting to shop online instead, and I sometimes wonder if some stores would have stayed alive if they had continued playing the funky, danceable music.

Ghost-like thoughts like these float through what appears to be a brain that I own, though I am skeptical that such a ludicrous existence as I have lived and experienced is even possible.

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