Every breadcrumb leads to an unlimited breadstick deal from Olive Garden
My life is a series of obsessions
My life is a series of obsessions. When I get into something, I get into it hard. There are entire years of my life when I would only listen to one band and their offshoots. I would memorize songs, song titles, where the song was recorded, why this person sang a song they did not write, who secretly overdubbed the basslines during this session because the bassist was actually not good. I would eventually branch out and start exploring the discographies of each member of that band pre-and-post that band. What did they listen to? There, I’d follow. It’s an interesting way to learn things because you get a set of tastes and directions from a singular guidepost. It’s a lot like going through a Wikipedia rabbit hole, but it’s a lot less prescribed.
Right now I am obsessed with language. Not necessarily grammar or syntax or “the rules” but the evolutionary path of all languages and the utility of language and whether or not language shapes culture or culture shapes language. Chicken and egg type stuff. These are interesting questions for a totally-uneducated-in-the-field type bozo to ponder uselessly.
I’m armchair-ing Japanese right now because I am obsessed with language and I am obsessed with Japanese music and literature. I don’t think I’ll rise to the level of fluency but whenever I recognize a word in the wild, I get excited like a kid. My daughter can say “Good morning,” “please,” and “thank you.” I get excited when I can recognize a single word out of a hundred on Japanese children’s books. I read these children’s books to my children selfishly. I am trying to study and they have to listen to me sound words out. My wife pointed out this is probably a good thing for them to see an adult learning how to read so that it is more natural for them to learn how to read in their own language. It’s a fair point and I’ll steal points for altruism. Humans can make hundreds of sounds for consonants and vowels and dipthongs and all that but each language only uses about a dozen or so. You can no longer hear easily sounds that exist because your brain filters them out when you’re a kid. The English R versus the Japanese R/L. All of that versus the Spanish rolled R. Try rolling your Rs if you’ve never had to in your own language. I still can’t do it (though learning the Japanese sound has slightly improved my ability to roll an R every 800 times).
I’ve been obsessed with language for a few years now. It’s fascinating to see how sentences are structured; the placement of the subject and object and how it defines your perceptions of the world and it really lays bare how little you know about your own language. I guess that must be true of all native speakers to their own tongue: we don’t learn our own languages the same way we learn another. The intense solitude of much of COVID gave me reason to search for things to do. My forthcoming book, XCRMNTMNTN, is a product of my obsessions, my feelings of restlessness, and being unable to output any creativity. Finishing it was huge. It felt good. It felt like the old times. XCRMNTMNTN also has a lot of poop in it. It comes out early next year via Ghoulish Books.
These breadcrumbs are never-ending. I will pick them off the table and stick them on my tongue until I’ve reconstituted an entire breadbasket from crumbs alone. Anyways, as Twitter crumbles I hope you will follow me and my obsessions in circles here. Hopefully this will be weekly. Probably monthly. Definitely sporadic.
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Currently listening to: Like a Fable by Shintaro Sakamoto
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This was fun to read! If you ever become obsessed with the Russian language I have a couple books I can send your way!
A fellow obsessive. This is going to be good. Glad I subscribed.