Academic reading temporarily ruined literature for me. Or, maybe it was video games. From high school through college, my previously passionate hobby of reading more or less shit the bed, ending up largely relegated to summer vacations. Not to say that previously I would casually seek out great works of literature; my 7th grade tastes gravitated to the oeuvre of cheap thrill dispenser and latter-day Republican shill Michael Crichton. Reading was still a worthy hobby and one that could have naturally progressed into something more substantial. It, however, did not; the demands of academic assignments like Great Expectations combined with the demands of multiple Nintendo consoles left no free time for furthering my misguided but noble former hobby.
Around 2004, I got into the band Thrice and a year later they put out their album Vheissu. It was a more serious turn, an attempt to bring a sense of musical experimentation and maturity to (or perhaps to break free from) the genres of emo and hardcore which they were getting lumped into at the time. I liked the album a lot and (in reading more about it) discovered that its inspiration was the novel V. by Thomas Pynchon. I don’t remember much of the book other than an overall sense of miscreants putzing around and underneath New York City. It was an incredible blend of serious ambition and mastery of prose as well as absurd humor (something missing from the very contemplative Vheissu) that got me hooked on the author and launched me back into the realm of literary exploration. For what it’s worth, his most recent novel Bleeding Edge was published a few months ago; it’s quite enjoyable and an accessible entry point for those new to the author.
The song “Stand And Feel Your Worth” was one of my favorites from the album. Elemental and religious imagery notwithstanding, the song is just straight up uplifting. It’s also a good example of the music experimentation the band was going for; the song’s breakdown ventures into almost jazzy territory. The elemental imagery is worth mentioning because Thrice quadrupled down on its experimental phase after Vheissu; the band’s follow up effort was a series of four concept albums each dedicated to a different element (fire, water, earth, and air – each of which are evoked if not outright mentioned in the lyrics to “Stand And Feel Your Worth”). Lyrically and within the context of the band’s progression, it’s a song about growth.
I owe this album a lot for expanding the scope of my literary exposure. At the moment, I’ve got a book queue that is damn near stressful. Almost every time I walk into a bookstore, I walk out with a book I’ll be lucky to read within the next three years. It’s the kind of problem I hope gets worse.
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