While Ceephax has exposed me to a hyperactive, ultrajoyful side of myself, Why? has shown me how to cope with inexorable loss of impermanent identities. Just today I was going to go to an event I’d been looking forward to for over a year; the Stupor Bowl is a 50 mile bike ride in Minneapolis, stopping at 9 bars, and on the coldest day of the year. But after ceding a pool table yesterday to a man who my friends told me looked very much like myself, due to his moustache and cycling jacket, I became paralyzed by the self-awareness of my new identity. Without realising it I was becoming not just a person who rode their bicycle in the winter, but ‘a winter cyclist’. A winter cyclist is a person who takes pride in wrestling their bike in a blizzard when all their friends tell them it’s too dangerous to ride. There are elements of environmentalism and human vs. nature, but there are greater proportions of fashion, and bro-subculture.
Seeing the new label I’d taken made me ponder, having moved to North-Midwest-Central-North-America, what has become of the identies I used to hold. I had a lot invested in being: a vegan, a (motor)cyclist, a nudist and burner, a yogi, a feminist, an open source proponent, and being self-employed. None of them have disappeared but they have all become subdued and muted. It’s too hard not sharing these identities with my close community in academia. That is a shame. I want to make my life so that it can be easier to uphold those principles, and – very importantly – discover new turn ons. But this isn’t about thet future right now. It’s about finding yourself surprised to have changed.
“Pull up to critical mass in a gas guzzling ford.”
Why? of course came before and warned me about this moment. Although it’s not the stupor bowl but critical mass the reference is still perfect. I recall the first time I heard this lyric in 2012 when “Sod in the Seed” had come out. I was in my living room in Oakland in the height of my critical-massing-going life. Earlier that week I’d had narrowly escaped arrest for a having just feathered over the line of the patience of a cop at the protest. The feeling of invicibility and rebelious youth was fresh. That I was still residually high from the demonstration, and that my rap idol had been there and now was somehow “over” it was a great cognitive disonnance. Now it makes sense, I was forewarned that the atrophy of my dogma in political cycling is natural. Confess your inner feelings with special emphasis on your paradoxes and you’ll be free Yoni Wolf had instructed.
This Why? lyric realisation is merely the lesson-du-jour from the band’s discography. I recall so many of the first times I’ve understood a meaning from the backpack rapper that it’s becoming burdensome. Here’s the lucky part, my obsession with Nicholshon Baker lead me to an experimental treatment outlined in U and I, a story of his fascination with John Updike. I will now administer. The process calls for a complete ban on media consumption from the subject, then walk through the valley of the shadow of ego death, and find out how the fantasy of being Yoni Wolf has changed me.
I’ve restrained myself from listenening to any Why? since March 2014, and am ready to begin.