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Here’s an SAT question for you: What Gabriel Garcia Marquez is to Magical Realism; Mo Yan is to ___________.” The answer isn’t official, but someday it very well may be “Hallucinatory Realism”, or at least that’s what the Nobel Prize committee is calling recent Nobel Prize-Winner Mo Yan’s unique writing style.
Mo Yan, a pseudonym this Chinese writer has chosen for himself that means “Not Talking”, has found his written words are actually echoing around the world as his original style of blending fairy tales and history with the modern world has reinvented a whole new genre of possiblities for literature.
It is especially exciting to see the Nobel Prize committee embracing something so extraordinarily different. For a glimpse into the style of Mo Yan, an excerpt from his novel Red Sorghum appears below:
“When the peasants took breaks from their work in the fields, the older people would sit on a rock and begin telling tales. Someone might say that in 1937, it was at this very spot that the Japanese killed, or that so and so had been killed by a bullet that ran through his stomach, making a big hole in it. The following day, another person might retell the same tale differently, and so on. Every time the tale was told, something was added. The more times the tale was told, the richer it became. The images became more and more colorful. Gradually, history became myth.“
Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.
No matter how miserable you are feeling at the moment, if you look back, there have surely been events in your life that have made you happy. Maybe the time you bought your first car, or the time you received that long-desired promotion. Or the time you lost 15 pounds and were able to get back into your favorite jeans without cutting off your circulation. When good things happen, we feel positive emotions — like excitement, relief, pride and, of course, happiness. These feelings are essential for our well-being.
But the problem is, happiness doesn’t usually last. The excitement of that first car purchase wears off, the thrill of the promotion gives way to the anxiety of handling the responsibilities that came with it. Sure, you think, it’s nice to be a size eight again. But it would be really great to be a size six…
Psychologists call this phenomenon hedonic adaptation. The idea is that no matter how good something makes us feel (or, for the record, how bad), most of the time we drift back to where we started, emotionally speaking. One often-cited study famously showed that despite their initial euphoria, lottery winners were no happier than non-winners 18 months later. The same tendency to return to “baseline” has been shown to occur after marriage, voluntary job changes, and promotions — the kinds of things we usually expect to change our happiness and well-being for the better in a permanent way.
Why can’t we make the happiness last? Psychologists (and renown happiness experts) Kennon Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky argue in a recent paper that our hedonic adaption occurs for two reasons.
When a positive change first occurs (say, you move into a great new house), there are usually lots of positive events happening as a result. You get to break in that new six-burner range, take a long bath in your first soaking tub, and appreciate the roominess of your new garage. But over time, there are fewer positive events to experience, because you get used to all the home’s features, and after a while you just don’t notice them anymore. With fewer positive events, and thus fewer positive emotions (excitement, pride, happiness), your newfound well-being can’t be sustained.
The second reason happiness fades is that even when positive events continue — if, for instance, your fitness and healthy eating habits leave you looking great, and this results in lots of new opportunities for romance on a regular basis — the change begins to simply be seen as the “new normal.” And as a result, your aspiration level shifts — you feel like you need to look even better. Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has referred to this process as a kind of “satisfaction treadmill.” Because we continuously shift our standards upward once we’ve reached them, we’ve got to keep running in order to feel satisfied again.
But don’t despair; it is possible to make happiness last by slowing the adaptation process or even halting it all together. Sheldon and Lyubomirsky found in a recent study that two anti-adaptation tools were effective in sustaining gains in happiness over time: variety and appreciation.
Variety is, as we all know, the spice of life. But it’s also a potent weapon against adaptation, because we don’t get “used to” positive events when our experiences are novel, or unexpected. When, on the other hand, a positive experience is repetitive — when you know exactly what to expect — you don’t get the same kick out of it.
Positive changes that are experienced in a variety of ways are more likely to lead to lasting happiness. So you’ll be happier with your new spouse if you spend time doing new things together, rather than getting stuck in a boring routine. You’ll be happier at your job if you are able to tackle new tasks and challenges, if there is some day-to-day variety in what you do. You’ll be happier with your soaker tub if you run out and get yourself some new bubble bath, or try lighting candles (or maybe ask someone to join you in it).
The happiness you get from doing anything will fade if you do it the same way every day, so mix things up. Think about this before making a change because you believe it will make you happier. Will you be able to experience whatever it is in a variety of ways? Because if the answer is no, don’t expect the happiness to last.
Tool number two, appreciation, is in many ways the opposite of adaptation. It’s going out of your way to focus on something, rather than taking it for granted or letting it fade into the background. Appreciating can mean paying attention or noticing, but it is even more powerful when you take it farther — when you savor something, delighting in its qualities and relishing how it makes you feel, or when you experience gratitude, a sense of being fortunate for being in your current circumstances compared to others, or compared to where you have been in the past. When we appreciate our positive experiences, when we turn our mind’s eye toward them again and again in joy and wonder, we don’t just make our happiness last — we kick it up a notch, too.
Human beings spend a lot of time trying to figure out what will make them happy, but not nearly enough time trying to hang on to the happiness they already have. In a way, this is like focusing all your energy on making more money, without giving any thought to what you’ll do with the money you’ve already earned. The key to wealth, like the key to happiness, is to not only look for new opportunities, but to make the most of the ones you’ve been given.
BuzzedAbout.com, your virtual arthouse cafe’, has added some new galleries that you’ll want to check out. We’re happy to announce that the Visual Arts, Literature and Film galleries have now been added, so now artists from all genres can upload their work to share with friends and fans. At BuzzedAbout we support art from all types of artists, from avant garde to classical and from the formally trained to the self-taught. We believe in self-expression in all its forms and we hope you enjoy the variety we have to offer. See you at the cafe’!
If you’re going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day right, it starts with the beer and it needs to be an ale or lager. Nothing else. No Lite or Lights. Nothing with a lime twist. Guinness is fine, but you could also try Beamish, Murphy’s or Ohara’s. Now that you’ve got that out of the way, your next thought should be music.
To the Irish, drinking and music go hand in hand. And as you know, on St. Patty’s we’re all Irish. That also means that on this one hallowed night of the year all music can be Irish as well. It doesn’t need to be U2, Van Morrison or The Cranberries. Even Hip Hop can seem like a traditional Irish ballad, as long as you’ve got a stout in your hand and you and your buddies are singing along.
So go out and enjoy those block parties, or throw one of your own. Now that you know how to do it (the right way).
Jason Mraz treated audiences to his new single “I Won’t Give Up” on The Ellen DeGeneres show with a truly mesmerizing performance. His new album LOVE is to be released in April, and if this new song is any indication, it should be truly incredible. We, at BuzzedAbout, have been long-time fans of Mraz, who has proven time and again to be an amazing musical innovator. But there are times, like this one, when even his staunchest fans, like ourselves, are surprised by how breath-taking his voice can be. In one of the lyrics, Mraz asks “How old is your soul?” We wonder the same thing about you, Jason, how old is your soul? We have to presume that it’s nothing short of ancient, but we are so very grateful to have it here with us now.
If Jack Black was right in the classic, now cult-renowned movie, School of Rock, and the aim of rock ‘n roll in its purest sense is “Stickin’ it to the Man”, then Springsteen’s newest album Wrecking Ball can be held up as our modern-day standard bearer for “stickin’ it”. As Springsteen tells Rolling Stone, this is the first time he’s written a song about “a guy that wears a tie.” But that tie-donning, down-and-out, white-collar worker is the new 21st Century Tom Joad. Unlike the Grapes of Wrath character, however, there is no dust storm to blame, but rather a Wall Street that puts the futures of the unwitting on a giant metaphorical craps table: “Gambling man rolls the dice/Working man pays the bill” as Springsteen so eloquently croons.
What’s amazing is that at age 62, Springsteen can still be such a modern and relevant influence. Even after losing his life-long blood brother and saxophone-blasting sidekick Clarence Clemons in June of last year, Springsteen has endured to record the new Wrecking Ball cd, where Clemons’ spirit lives on in a stunning solo on the “Wrecking Ball” single. Tom Morello, who is well-known as the Grammy-winning, former lead guitarist for such mighty anti-“Man” protest groups as Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, also contributes to the Wrecking Ball album with mind-bending riffs. But even with these great talents by his side, it’s Springsteen himself who is able to convey the anger and disillusionment that the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Tea Party crowd alike have yet to directly proclaim. It just goes to show that sometimes you need “The Boss” to roll up his sleeves and make it happen.
We dig into the mind of L.O.G.’s iron-throated frontman on the eve of their new album release.
Randy Blythe, screamer and front man of Lamb of God, is an interesting and volatile character; especially when it comes to the complicated relationship between himself and guitarist Mark Morton. In an interview with Crave Online Blythe talks about the changes Lamb of God have made in the recording process as well as the new sound his voice is undertaking as time wears on.
By Johnny Firecloud
Lamb Of God have returned with their seventh studio album, Resolution, released January 24 via Epic. Produced by Josh Wilbur, the album is a raw and deeply introspective leap into the darkness, a relentless assault on the senses that comes with a power-metal band at the top of their game pushing the boundaries of the genre – as well as their own legacy.
CraveOnline caught up with frontman Randy Blythe about the new album, his singing techniques, his sometimes volatile but central friendship with guitarist Mark Morton and more.
I’ve been laughing all morning about this Dutch interview you did, where the guy was totally hammered and trying to keep it together enough to ask you questions.
Oh god yeah. It was his boss’ idea that he show up drunk, so he pounded a bottle of Jack Daniels. That was a very edited interview, too. It took a long time. He was a massive fan, and got completely wasted. It was in the morning, too. I’ve had many mornings like that.
I’m a big fan of the new record, really looking forward to seeing you guys beat some ass this year. But right out of the gate it comes off as a very unhappy album, lyrically. It’s very introspective.
It’s a really introspective record. Mark and I wrote the lyrics together, and in a lot of our past records we made a lot of statements about the outside world or other people surrounding us. And I think you have to be fair if you’re an artist, and examine yourself just as much as you examine the world around you. Nobody likes a pedantic jerk screaming all the time – you have to look at yourself. So this record, Mark and I explored the parts of our psyches and the areas o our minds that we aren’t very happy with.
That being said, for me, I don’t find it an unhappy record at all, because I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. It’s just an honest expression of the dark parts of our inner blackened souls(laughs). People have it a lot worse than we do. But a lot of the writing for me came out of me looking at the world as a forty year-old man, a year or two sober, taking a look at where I am and thinking, ‘What the fuck?’.
No matter how negative our lyrics can be construed as, the whole point is that we express ourselves creatively, and we make these experiences universal enough so that if there’s a kid who’s having a hard time, he might read that and take it, internalize it and say ‘Ok, I feel this way, and I’m not the only one.’ That’s what music did for me as a kid. The greatest compliment I can get from anyone is not ‘Oh, you did a killer job on this record’ or ‘Your vocals have improved…’ – no. The greatest compliment I can get from people is ‘I was having a really hard time in my life and your music helped me get through that.’ That’s huge to me. That’s what music did for me, and to think that I can do that for someone else is a wonderful, humbling and exhilarating sort of feeling.
I wanted to talk a little about your creative trust with Mark (Morton, guitarist) specifically, because it seems that your relationship with him allows for that extra push – there’s a lot to be said for the mentoring philosophy, of someone directly telling you “I know you can do better” – when usually there may not be a fucking soul who would say that to your face.
Mark and my relationship as lyricists is something that I really value and cherish. He and I are really tight friends. Obviously we’ve been in a band together for years, but we were also roofers together. And when you work on a roof with someone, where they’re holding a rope and if you fall they’re at the other end, you develop a lot of trust in that person. I have a very deep and very abiding trust in Mr. Morton that comes from being in a band and comes from working with him. It’s a visceral trust. As far as the creative process goes, with us when we do lyrics and stuff, it’s never been a pissing contest between us. Mark can say to me ‘I like this about that song you’ve written here, but that line is garbage.’ And I’ll say ‘Ok, I’ll try something else.’ We have a very open line of communication as far as our writing is concerned. He’s the same with me on the flipside.
We have a saying in the band: Better is Better. It doesn’t matter who brought it in and who made it better – better is better. We try to use what serves the music the most, and not get bent out of shape.
That’s a really selfless approach from an artistic standpoint. I can’t imagine many musical collectives making that process work easily.
Well it’s been a real learning process. It wasn’t like all of a sudden we came out like Ghandi. There was a lot of arguing and a lot of fighting, particularly in the older days. But we just have a very easy, very comfortable relationship.
You said recently in reference to your voice that “My instrument is changing” – aside from the struggles of aging, how does that affect your vocal preparation? You’re doing some different stuff on these tracks.
When I’m recording, now I’m a lot more cautious with my voice. If your throat is fucked up, the only thing that’s going to fix it is vocal rest. No amount of hot tea, no amount of chloraseptic… those are band-aids. That might get you through a show, but if you’re making a record and your voice is getting blown out, you have to stop. Recording vocals for this record took a lot longer than we thought it would. The ideal thing for me would be to record for three days and have two days off. Because it’s like any muscle – if you’re lifting weights, you wouldn’t work the same muscle group for eight hours a day without any rest. You would just destroy it. For me it’s the same thing with my vocal cords. But that’s not what we did – time restraints got in the way and such. But I’m a lot more conscious of how my throat is feeling these days, so we made sure to put some breaks in there.
For a show, and preparing for a show and recording, it’s the same thing. I do a vocal warm-up that I got from Melissa Cross, a lady out of New York that I go to sometimes…
You’re on her Zen of Screaming DVD, right?
Yeah, I got that (laughs). I use her bass warm-up. I’m a bass baritone. Every now and then I’ll screw up and miss a warm-up, and I can get through a show, but I notice it if I’m lazy and I don’t do the warm-ups, my throat starts hurting more, and my power certainly isn’t there. Doing the warm-ups, it makes you perform the different techniques you can use in order to maintain your sound and now blow your throat out. It’s like muscle memory, reinforcing that by warming up every day. If I don’t do that I suffer.
Singing with Cannabis Corpse had to feel like a bit of stylistic schizophrenia, too. How did that happen, anyway?
Oh man, that was very interesting. I completely destroyed my throat – actually to the point that I was nervous. Their singer and guitar player had parted ways with the band, and I go skateboarding with their drummer Josh. He’s my skateboarding buddy. And I was sitting on the shitter one day, and he sent me a text message saying that Nick and Andy had left the band. I’m texting back and forth with him, like ‘That fucking sucks, bro, do you have shows booked?’ and he’s like ‘Yeah…’. I was like ‘Damn dude, I’d fill in for you, but I’m doing this Lamb of God thing.’ He asked if I was gonna be around for this Corey Smoot benefit show, if I would be in town, and I just started laughing. I’m like ‘Yes I will, I’ll do it.’ All this took place over text message while I’m on the shitter.
Read more here
By MATTHEW PERPETUA
Prog rockers the Mars Volta have announced their sixth album, Noctourniquet, will hit stores on March 27th. The album, the band’s first set of new songs since Octahedron was released in 2009, will tell the story of a character inspired by the Superman villain Solomon Grundy and the Greek myth of Hyacinthus. As with previous Mars Volta records, the music was composed by Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, who also produced the set.
As of yet it is unclear how the emergence of a new Mars Volta album will fit into Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez’s commitments to their previous band, At the Drive-In, who recently announced that they are reuniting after 11 years apart. So far At the Drive-In have only officially announced performances at the Coachella festival in April, though it is implied that the group will be playing other gigs through 2012.
The track listing for Noctourniquet is as follows:
“The Whip Hand”
“Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound”
“The Malkin Jewel”
“Trinkets Pale of Moon”
“Zed and Two Naughts”