25.6.15

Minecraft



After I put out the last Woebot EP in early 2013 I hit a brick wall.

From 2003 my activities had had an internal logic. First I had blogged. Then as that reached a critical mass I set up the forum Dissensus. I went from writing a few reviews for The Wire to eventually penning the odd feature for that magazine.

At the same time there was my foray into making my own music. This went from printing mini CD-Rs to progressing to getting vinyl LPs mastered. From single digit sales to double digits. Ah well, lol, I sold more than that probably… From just sampling to actually playing and recording my own music. I guess if you were to put all this activity on a graph it would be like a straight line at 45ยบ.

Then I just tore it all up. I was weary of whole thing. I didn't want to put more music out. I was sick of hassling people for PR. In terms of writing about music I'd looked after all the recording artists I knew - people who I felt needed a helping hand. Beyond that I had never wanted to be part of the machine.

I didn't feel like the whole ten-year-long enterprise had been a disaster or a mistake. There were things I'd been really proud of achieving. But I simply couldn't do it any longer. It had turned bad. Curdled. I ought to qualify that statement about being proud though. Gnawing away at me these past few years has been a feeling that the whole fucking thing was a complete waste of time. So much energy invested in funny music.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who thinks this? Perhaps my emotional investment in the whole field is proportionally larger than sensible people's. To the degree that it becomes inherently problematic. Other people might place a single dollar bet, rather than gamble the whole farm, and think nothing of their engagement. Or if they are in deep - they have the sense not to question their attachment.

I didn't write about music any more. I didn't make or release any more music. I sold all my music gear; my MPC 2500, my Moog etc etc, all of it. I took my record collection apart for the first time and put it into categories: Sixties America, Sixties UK etc. Previous to that it had always been a chaotic mess. That was a hugely significant moment for me. Then I stopped buying records.

Even as I tried to figure out what to do next, a problem I happily (eventually) solved, what I did start doing around July 2013 was play Minecraft. My children had played a lot over the past few years and I joined in with them. Typically I became fascinated to the point of obsession. Of course, it's quite risible that a 40-year-old man should play computer games...

What I find particularly interesting about the experience of playing Minecraft is that it is a perfect antidote to what I see as being the condition of life in the modern world. This is why it became so successful. I have never seen anyone reflect on what I see as the crux of its achievement. So yeah, prepare yourself for the big theory!

When you play Minecraft, when you spawn as "Steve", you're immersed in a new world. Like Robinson Crusoe you enter a sphere where the very limits of your emotional experience are your own immediate reality. You need to eat. You kill a cow. A zombie attacks you. You need light. You make a torch. You mine. You're never troubled by the pointless layer of shit that is our modern socially-mediated life. You're not continually distracted from the relevance of your own subjective experience and its value; the way modern life continually robs us of our selves. If you were troubled by your body image for instance, Minecraft would be a great game to play. It truly is the most wonderful salve.

Over the past two and half years, slowly but surely bits of my old life have grown back. The good bits. I maintain that Minecraft had its role to play in fostering this. I started buying records again. At the same time I felt a growing conviction that, although I was a twisted individual who had always experienced an economically irrational attachment to the universal unconscious as mediated through recorded music, frankly, that was my lot in life.