A Self-Reflective Song: “Your Song” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

Songwriters love to write songs about songs, meditating on the meaning and power of music. You can listen to my playlist Metamusic: Songs about Songs on RDIO as you read about “Your Song,” lyrics by Bernie Taupin and music by Elton John, the first of a series of posts on metamusic.

The song begins “It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside.” The feeling, of course, is love. “I don’t have much money,” John sings, “but boy if I did / I’d buy a big house where we both could live.” The songwriters, longtime collaborators, may not have had much money when they wrote the song, but it became their first pop hit and is now worth a fortune, enough to buy two or three houses.

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Welcome to Eatster! (A Meta-Holiday, Proposed by Chika Michelle Okafo)

Let’s eat! And let us celebrate that! No birth, no death, no battles fought or wars won–I propose a new holiday!  One for which no one had to suffer or struggle or push another human being out of their body and then get no credit for doing so, one we’ve all earned just by virtue of being alive and managing to get out of bed most mornings (go you!).

Eatster!: a celebration of celebration, a holiday just for the hell of it, there when you need it–a reason to party when you have no reason to party.  The only rule is you make up the rules!  My first rule of Eatster!: EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT EATSTER! My second rule: hotpants appreciated.

(Eatster! A Meta-Holiday.)

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Alejo Sauras on Being Himself

Do directors sometimes tell you just to be yourself? I asked Alejo Sauras, Spanish film and TV actor. I was writing about actors portraying themselves onscreen and off and thinking about the burdens of stardom when it occurred to me that I could interview my friend Alejo. Without hesitation, he answered, “No, never! Be yourself, no! Don’t be yourself.” He pointed to the table. “Be this one on the paper!”

Oh! I thought. There goes my central idea. All my interview questions had been built around the ironic notion of actors playing themselves, the meta idea of self-reflective acting. Well, I told myself, carry on with the interview, and later I will find a way to fit the pieces together. Watch me now as I try.

(Alejo at Wiggy-Okie at the House of Fish.)

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Alejo Sauras On Being Famous in Spain

You want to be famous, don’t you? I can read it in your eyes, the hunger for attention.

Well, we all want people to adore and admire us, to fuss and fawn over us, to call us good-looking and talented. But if the genie of celluloid granted your wish, would you enjoy the fame? Or would shout “Leave me alone!” and punch the paparazzi?

I have a friend who is famous in Spain: Alejo Sauras. He has been in fourteen movies, ten shorts, six TV series, a guest role in nine other TV series, and five plays. You may not know who he is, but people recognize him wherever he goes in España. He is fairly well-known in Latin America and even Central Europe (where they have started showing his TV series Los Serrano). Even here in San Francisco, fans come up to him on the street. Nevertheless, he told me, “I can walk a little more freely in every country but mine.”

(Alejo kicking back in Dolores Park on Easter Sunday.)

I know from talking to him that being a celebrity is not not all glamour and glitter–sometimes it is a kick in the groin–but would he trade celebrity for an ordinary life? I was working on a post about actors playing themselves, mulling over the benefits and drawbacks of stardom, so I decided to ask him.

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Like This!: The Liking of the Liking of Liking

I just liked a new Facebook page called, “Liking.” I liked it before I liked it and I still like it. You should like it too. Why not?

The “Like” button on Facebook has changed the verb. Before Facebook, “like” was a positive emotion one felt towards a person or object, but now “liking” means pressing a button. Doing so means you like something in the traditional sense, so the like button refers back to the furry and friendly emotion. The button hasn’t replaced the feeling, so there is no reason not to like it.

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Don’t Invalidate My Existence: A Meta-Dream

Sometimes I realize I am dreaming. Once, my college friend Robert Lochner and I were in line at the check-out counter of a grocery store. I told Robert I was dreaming as the cashier began to ring me up and that everyone in my dream was a figment of my imagination and that they would cease to exist as soon as I woke up. Robert, who was familiar with my philosophical posturing, rolled his eyes, but kept quiet, waiting for his turn at the register. The cashier, however, got very upset.

“I don’t care what you believe,” she said, pointing at me, “but don’t you invalidate my existence! You hear me? You can think whatever you want–I don’t care–but it is extremely, extremely rude to tell someone they don’t exist. How would you feel if I told you were just a character in my dream? A figment of my imagination? How would you like that?”

That is all I remember. I woke up. My friend Robert survived the dream although I haven’t heard from him in years. I was about to say that the cashier did not survive, but I have told this story several times and now I have written it down and sent it out into the cloud. The cashier doggedly continues her existence in spite of my insensitive comments. She exists. She is real.

(To read more about the reality of fiction, read my book Narrative Madness, available at narrativemadness.com or on Amazon.)

Registering the Registering of the Fact of Registering: Jean Paul’s Definition of Philosophy

German Romantic writer Jean Paul defined philosophy in metaterms:

Whereas the entire Witz of philosophy is to make the subject “I” into an object and vice versa, the philosophy of the Witz nowadays is one that similarly tries to ensure that the ideas of this subject-object are treated sub-objectively; in other words, I am being profound and serious if I say, “I am registering the registering of the fact of registering the fact of registering’, or ‘I am reflecting on the fact of reflecting on the reflexion of a reflexion on a brush.’ These are serious sentences, which reveal infinite reflexion (‘Widerschein ins Unendliche’)! Such depths are certainly beyond the reach of some people! I’ll go further: only he who shows himself able to write, several times in a row, the genitive of the same infinitive of whatever verb, can be allowed to say: I am philosophizing . . .

Dallenbach, Lucien. The Mirror in the Text. Trans. Jeremy Whiteley and Emma Hughes. Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1989.

Metamusic and Metasongs: Music about Music, Songs about Songs

Metamusic is music about music: songs that reference themselves, the singer, other songs, other singers, musical instruments, the process of writing or recording a song, the music industry, or anything else that is related to music.

You’d think that the world would have had enough of silly meta-songs. I look around me and see it isn’t so. Singers love to sing about singing!

In the first half of this post, we’ll look closely at some passages from metasongs, examining what makes them meta. In the second half, I present a longer list of metamusic for you to explore. Whenever possible, I have linked to the song on YouTube, preferably a music video. Most songs are available on Spotify and Pandora.

Bad Music by Blectum from Blechdom

The singer of this soulful meta-song, Kevin Blechdom, slips in and out of tune, as she sings about bad music. (Click on the link and listen to it as you read). 

“There’s bad music everywhere. There’s bad music everywhere. There’s bad music in the air.”

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The Conventions of Unconventionality: An Overview of Metafiction

An overview of major themes I found while studying metafiction for the Metaclass, a self-study course for a masters of literature at San Francisco State University. This summary will also serve as a guide to the posts I have written over the last four months (with notes about a few others I intend to write). It is not meant to be a comprehensive list of meta conventions, but an addition to the the list found under Meta-Meta and Metafiction. (Nor is this intended to be a summary of themes I developed about writing and teaching, the metaclass aspect. Those themes may be found in Putting It All Together: Collaborative and Integrated Reading and Writing.)

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