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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Woe bestowed upon thy talons!

With some reluctance, the decision has been made to rid my hands of the excess nail I've grown during the process of concentrating more on the nylon strings of the classical guitar. Despite being far from ridiculous in length, they greatly enhanced the tone of my fingerpicking and my burgeoning semblance of technique.

Sadly though (due to a childhood go-carting accident involving rims without tyres, ashphalt and excessive speed) my middle finger has grown somewhat retarded, and despite several frustrating attempts to remedy the problem via shaping, filing, and various other techniques, it stands defiant as a hindrance to my picking; a further crippling disfigurement my playing could well do without.


So I've decided to try (for the time being at least) to go back to my previous technique of flesh with a slight release on the fingertip. And with my need to feel the strings, I'm not currently considering the idea of picks that you can get moulded around your fingertips.

I struggle with knowing where the hell on the guitar I am anyway, so removing myself even further from the instrument doesn't sound like much of a solution.

Whispers of the tracklisting ...

Here, as depicted in a genealogy (slash) origin (burn) inspiration (pillage) creativity flowchart format, be the confirmed tracklisting of

Cnut Whispers; and still the lowest ebb doth run


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Art (as) is contemplation

Richey Edwards
Jeff Mangum; to his own extent.
Stephen Fry; briefly.
And now, as of yesterday (and in a far more permanent fashion), J D Salinger.

Although, if the rumours regarding his accumulation of countless manuscripts organised into coloured folders do indeed prove correct, I'm sure we'll be basking in Mr Salinger's lengthy last laugh very shortly. And possibly for several decades to come if he's been productive on the literary front.

Of course, he might’ve had absolutely no need or desire to’ve kept himself busy all these years (certainly no obligation), and he could've quite comfortably spent the rest of his life just running down his alotted time like most ordinary people. Although he could only afford himself this luxury on account of this being precisely what he wasn’t: ordinary.

And I myself had no unholy need for him to be productive in his latter years either, as The Catcher In The Rye had already changed my life; and I'd be surprised if somebody could perform such a deed twice.

Or why they'd even need to ...

Disclaimer: Lengthy digression beyond!

It’s why truly innovative artists rarely live up to the expectations of their followers; if they do, then their previous works have failed to be properly understood.

THERE IS NOTHING TO GET.

But Art should change you.

And by this I mean that works of art can do only one of two things: they can either wholly transform the observer, or merely reinforce ideals already stoic in their foundation. There lie no other options. Or rather, there does, but they all inevitably lead to medocrity, and, although any derivatives thereof could perhaps be constitutive of art, they should never be considered associable as Art itself.

All of which is highly subjective because every member of any audience is host only to their own timeline of experience. As in, music (let's take, Queen, for instance) is only as relevant as the day you first hear it. Not just the first time you listen to it, mind, but the first time you truly hear it.

Plenty of people miss the trend but get the message. The vast majority, however, will get the trend but remain apathetic to any wider significance entirely.

Bah, I can sense these words collapsing under their own heft, for in many ways this argument might seem to exclude (from any consideration as art whatsoever) all subsequent pieces of the same branch which one might eventually discover, although this isn’t strictly true, as allowance is still held for anything to be considered art in the eyes of the individual (as perspective is relative only to experience thereof) ...

So perhaps this argument’s focus might be better served in account of art’s perception to each member of audience; why some people view a chair in an empty room as a masterpiece whilst others vehemently oppose the idea as an atrocity of contemporārius.

If one has already been changed by seeing a deceased family member’s house devoid of all but one chair, then this piece of art will not affect them. Similarly, however, another might see the chair and attribute all manner of grand illusions upon it, possibly dictated by the artist in his own explanation, possibly (one might say hopefully) not, thus transforming the scene (for them) into Art.

Most people won’t care. They’ll be more concerned with getting past the entry’s donation box without molestation by a gallery attendant.

So art, by this definition at least, is the act of contemplation. Which, ultimately, is undertaken by the interpreter, and not the creator. Resources are manipulated by artists into being, but the performance of Art itself lies in its appreciation; not the enjoyment factor, but the moral and ethical contribution it ultimately imprints upon those who 'get it'.

Bear in mind, there is nothing to get.

And if a viewer doesn’t care, then what you offer them isn’t Art.

It might, however, be art. Because a lot of people walk through art galleries like ghosts, moping along in unbearable silence (as instructed to do so by the raised fingers of those most vile of creatures, the art appreciatists!) whilst attempting to justify their presence through a decidedly crass 'soaking in' of the entire experience; joyless eyes searching for some measure by which to account their conformist view of perceived culture.

Which is bullshit.

And so was the C- that I received for my seventh form assignment on The Catcher In The Rye.

Although, come to think of it, what I turned in was merely a regurgitated lesson; it was devoid of contemplation almost entirely, and rather full of verbatim.

Which has only taken me nineteen years (and this very blog entry) to figure out ... !

Thank you Miss Ryan. I apologise for the years of slander.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dairy Queen

Track Analysis:
Rock Pigs (Pt.1, Squalor)


Even despite their lack of hand claps, the following videos pretty much sum up Squalor without any need for expansive digression - right down to Nick Oliveri's expression in that first screenshot.

In fact, both of these videos serve as accurate portrayals of my approach to music in general.






Filth by any other name still smells ...

The eidolon of irony

Track Analysis:
Untitled (Transition 1)

The lack of any proper title for this track could partly be called in evidence of its inclusion on the album proving somewhat of an afterthought, although seeing as the piece was originally intended as a crescendoed end to In the Old Attic ... such a statement wouldn't be wholly true.

'Twas indeed the last track recorded, however.
And was done so mostly as an afterthought ...


Still, relegation to it occurring as a mere clumsy addition is perhaps unjustified.

Though on most counts such a description is accurate.

In fact, initially mooted for this album was the idea of making extensive use of the classical guitar, although for whatever reason this notion was heavily bypassed, and here we are bared (and perhaps spared) to its only instance.

All manner of excuses can of course be guided along the plank under the false(death)hood of viable reason but, when push eventually came to shove, they all deserved to serve as equal ballast.


And all continue (on some level) to weigh the track down even now ...

Here be thy list and thy shameless scapegoat!
  • Nylon slippage due to inadequate half hitch knots (researched)
  • Inconveniently short but well-manicured fingernails (grown out)
  • Atrocious technique due to a flailing 4th finger (fixed by sellotaping it to my 3rd finger and trained to perform otherwise!)
  • Behold the power of the mighty Ashton CG-44 (and I, The Ashton Butcher!)
  • The lack of a church (still in abundant evidence)


...

So more than anything it’s a song of ghosts.

And a vague attempt to exorcise them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Legend of Cnut

Following is the legend of Cnut, the excerpt itself taken from The Book of Virtues by William J Bennett, as told by James Baldwin.


Long ago, England was ruled by a king named Canute. Like many leaders and men of power, Canute was surrounded by people who were always praising him. Every time he walked into a room, the flattery began.


"You are the greatest man that ever lived," one would say.

"O king, there can never be another as mighty as you," another would insist.

"Your highness, there is nothing you cannot do," someone would smile.

"Great Canute, you are the monarch of all," another would sing. "Nothing in this world dares to disobey you."

The king was a man of sense, and he grew tired of hearing such foolish speeches.

One day he was walking by the seashore, and his officers and courtiers were with him, praising him as usual. Canute decided to teach them a lesson.

"So you say I am the greatest man in the world?" he asked them.

"O king," they cried, "there never has been anyone as mighty as you, and there never be anyone so great, ever again!"

"And you say all things obey me?" Canute asked.

"Absolutely!" they said. "The world bows before you, and gives you honor."

"I see," the king answered. "In that case, bring me my chair, and we will go down to the water."

"At once, your majesty!" They scrambled to carry his royal chair over the sands.

"Bring it closer to the sea," Canute called. "Put it right here, right at the water's edge." He sat down and surveyed the ocean before him. "I notice the tide is coming in. Do you think it will stop if I give the command?"

His officers were puzzled, but they did not dare say no. "Give the order, O great king, and it will obey," one of then assured him.

"Very well. Sea," cried Canute, "I command you to come no further! Waves, stop your rolling!. Surf, stop your pounding! Do not dare touch my feet!"

He waited a moment, quietly, and a tiny wave rushed up the sand and lapped at his feet.

"How dare you!" Canute shouted. "Ocean, turn back now! I have ordered you to retreat before me, and now you must obey! Go back!"

And in answer another wave swept forward and curled around the king's feet. The tide came in, just as it always did. The water rose higher and higher. It came up around the king's chair, and wet not only his feet, but also his robe. His officers stood before him, alarmed, and wondering whether he was not mad.

"Well, my friends," Canute said, "it seems I do not have quite so much power as you would have me believe. Perhaps you have learned something today. Perhaps now you will remember there is only one King who is all-powerful, and it is he who rules the sea, and holds the ocean in the hollow of his hand. I suggest you reserve your praises for him."

The royal officers and courtiers hung their heads and looked foolish. And some say Canute took off his crown soon afterward, and never wore it again.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Language as a landscape

Track Analysis:
In the Old Attic, to save the City, build a house of your own

Aristophanes (c.445 - c.385 B.C.) has long been another favourite writer of mine, as previously alluded to here in the analysis of Mégas Aléxandros. To the reader in me, the language employed most accurately resembles a triffid, coiling around the insides of my brain like Procleon’s daughters’ tongue for his three obols. The prose is fluid, exciting, mountainous and (being that my occipital cortex interprets language as landscapes) every reading feels like a journey. It’s dynamic, loud then soft, it ebbs and flows with effortless grace, and is laden with substance without feeling like Caiaphas’ robe.


And moving to clarify exactly what I mean by ‘language as landscapes’, it’s simply that, when I read a sentence, I see (in my mind) the silhouette of a landscape, similar to a soundwave for the most part, although sound alone has little bearing upon its form.

My rudimentary understanding is that the height of soundwaves is relative to loudness (occasionally sharpness can be perceived as a factor, I guess) whereas the written words I'm deciphering appear rather more like a fluctuating texture that’s derived from various types of sound, either unavoidable (as in syllabic metre) or implied (by tone, mood, and other variables dependent upon my inner reading voice). The shape of the text, spacing of words, phrases, heights of letters et cetera - all of this also seems part of the calculation.

And when a sentence is bad, it’s typically because it just reads as flat. Like an overly-compressed waveform, it has no movement.

But the song under current discussion doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with this.
Nope, not in the slightest.

The title simply draws heavily upon the writings of Aristophanes, for he was the master of Old Attic comedy.
Reference 1

And in The Frogs, a play which sees him reflecting upon his perceived duties as a poet, when Euripides asks Dionysus, “What do you want a poet for?”, the reply is, “To save the City of course.”
Reference 2

Also, from memory, Dionysus instructs a parasitic poet he’s in conversation with to desist in stealing his thoughts and ideas by sharply instructing the culprit to “build a house of your own”; in short, banish thyself from my head, foul thief!
Reference 3

Of course, these initial themes have all undergone fairly vigourous re-interpretation since the title’s initial construction, and the piece now stands in defiant proclaim of the dominance tactics will always maintain over mere strategy, which is no more than its laughable cuckold.

For if you don’t like something, change it.

Or change your approach.

Change your reasoning.

Make a better excuse.

If the song isn’t dark enough, has perhaps even had the misfortune of being referred to as approaching ‘jovial’, alter its course. Refer to the offending section as stale, liken it to one’s old attic, a rut in which you’re stuck. Resurrect the song by burning it down in the middle third with some heavily manipulated ambiences after having made reference to words being landscapes, songs being cities. If you haven’t mentioned songs being cities, do so NOW. This tonal destruction of the middle third will then provide some room for the insertion of some slightly askew patterns more immediately fitting to the album’s tone. Add the jarringly beautiful voice of Amy G to reinforce the song's theme. Don’t entertain any arguments for why an instrumental can’t possess words. Or at least be possessive of those words.

Then write a convoluted blog in its defence.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Timmay!

Esteemed lyricist and wench devourer of Thy Deviant Flux, bear aural witness below if you will to the greatness of Portable Folk Band, because here be some royal blue vein action in the form of their entire "...introduces the Royal Postal Bazaar" album, which was so sweatily glorified by my tee shirt at practice two weeks hither.

Go forth and revel!




Some (perhaps even the majority) of their catalog is courteously available for download here

And if purchase be on thy mind and caressing of your pockets, proceed with haste and indeed bullion to this address.

Also recommended is their Envelope EP, which (along with a great hand-made booklet of poetry and prose) was included free with my purchase.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

dead fingers talk

Track Analysis:
Most natural painkiller what there is. LOVE.

Recorded on Wednesday, July 30, 1997; these were the last written words of William Seward Burroughs:

Love? What is It?
Most natural painkiller what there is.

LOVE.


And in so much as Burroughs’ final scrawl might initially seem a little mild to those acquainted with his canon, so too does the title of this track seem a little ungainly in the presence of several much weightier characters.

And being that the song was originally thought a little pretty and not really aligned with the other tracks, it was only recorded once its position and brevity could be adorned with both a fitting title and reasonable excuse.

Song titles normally inspire the piece, although on this occasion it merely attempts to provide justification of its own inclusion.

And occasionally the feel of a particular piece will register its intent as an album closer ...

More great photos by John Minihan (in a much higher resolution) can be found here

Since first grabbing
The Burroughs File off the shelves of Scorpio Books to randomly open it at From A distant hand lifted before flicking through to see The Moving Times [an excerpt from St Louis Return, a photo of which is shown below], there’s been no greater influence upon my own humble endeavours than his.

Read him.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Crupt. OED. r

Track Analysis:
Rock Pigs (Pt.2, Corruption)

The hide of this peculiar beast was branded with the scorn of
FAILURE at its very conception, for the cross it bears is that of candour, in so much as it's an attempt to capture my songwriting process as honestly as could be mustered whilst under the thumb of its very own contrived evolution; the creative dilemma was akin to someone telling you not to think about the colour blue ...

Mere acknowledgement of intent immediately sullied the result; hence the project's unavoidable corruption and possible miscarriage altogether.


In essence, the material I write is almost assuredly based around ideas which've been harvested from opportune mistakes (commonly referred to as opportunites). These typically happen in one of three ways: during the initial learning phase of a new piece written by another band member, by randomly forming different chord shapes with my eyes closed and with the guitar purposely off-balanced, or by randomly pummeling the guitar with my fists in demented frustration. Executing my own songs in a terminally poor fashion also reaps me reward on occasion, and with the exception of assaulting my guitar as claimed above, all of these examples are present here.

Of course, for the more discerning of ear, the entire piece will likely be judged an assault.

In addition to these wonderous techniques however, several chords that (whilst agreeable to my senses upon a single strum) hadn’t been advanced beyond merest discovery nor graced with any picking patterns, and which had simply been written down in the back of my notebook, were also included.

These were worked on with my five year old daughter, who kindly tabulated the ones we eventually chose, as I held the shapes in place for her to decipher. The order of their eventual appearance in the song was also dictated by her, which was purposely done so as to remove any overtly conscious considerations on my part.




In another attempt to better document the gestalt of the piece, none of these sections were practised prior to being recorded at The Crunge later that evening.

For I revel in my clumsy.

A number of takes were cringed through with each separate piece and none of the mistakes were deleted. One track of each section (the least crap variant) was given a caretaker role and was required to be an adequate enough recording to prevent the track deteriorating into a total shitfest. This track would then be panned to one channel with the mistake-riddled chapter being exiled to serve on the other; two amygdalic probes vying for dominance.

There are, of course, exceptions throughout.


Every sound on this track eminated from the acoustic guitar during the normal process of simply laying the different sections down (the guitar went DI into the computer), although once this was done the recording was then subjected to several hours of brutal audio manipulation and a slew of effects strewn liberally throughout, further corrupting the result.


Rock Pigs (Pt.3, Exquisite Clutter)
is the final reference point for this experiment, and hopefully at least some of my writing process has been documented by the inclusion (and comparison) of both tracks, albiet without the usual stablemate of groundhog tedium, but no-one would wish to find themselves subjected to an hour and a half of endless falangic struggle harbouring of not very much other than a discernable lack of structure.

Not even, I suspect, for the sake of indulging artistic integrity.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gavin & The Rudder of Tyche!

Oh wonderous goddess of chance, speaketh thou as the medium of Concert FM 89.7, what playeth thou on my journey to Further's studio for the penultimate review of Cnut Whispers; and still the lowest ebb doth run before its slated release in two weeks time, and which now causes concern of thy slates not being protective enough of thy head as I raise it from the cowardly sands?

Oh divine and spiteful Tyche, what could prove more inspiring and troublesome than this!



Note: The actual piece heard was as follows (but I could find no example):
GAVIN: Autumnscape; In Vocation; Rajasthani Heart - Duncan Haynes
(cello), Jim Langabeer (fl), Babu Chatterji (tabla), Gitbox (Rattle RAT D005)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

1296

Track Analysis:
Eager after both gain and dominion

This entire album has probably been undertaken far in advance of the capabilities of its composer, for whilst the pieces can be written and the notes organised into various arrangements, there stands no virtuoso behind the instrumentalisation thereof. But that was always at least part of the experiment. Of course, as a performer, more fluency would most surely advance the music’s voice.

(Unfortunately, in the opinion of some) I have a tendency bordering on a penchant for releasing material which, although constructed according to both thought and intention, is perhaps poorly executed. Perfection be damned though, for I’d rather a swift turnaround of concept than teethering the work to a stake until its toiler becomes proficient.

Those same naysayers probably hate paragraphs starting with an open bracket too ...

And so it is thusly, with a swipe of Apollon's righteous indignance, that my invitation to burn with the others in the sixth bolgia of the eighth circle of hell is heralded ...

For, whilst on one level I covet the romanticism of living in a realm of suggestion - where the most important considerations of any artistic endeavour are the underlying ideas of its creator, (a concept that’s almost exclusively based around my own selfish convenience), on a second, and much deeper level, I secretly hate my own apology, for it makes me a hypocrite; I’m justifying my lack of talent with an abundance of talk disguised as reason.

So I long for times past, wherein Dante fretted over thirty-four cantos of rhyming Latin, those centuries lost where composers could write symphonies without midi files, and the decades recently faded in which it was imperative that musician’s knew their craft thoroughly ... and yet I’m equally enthralled with the luxury I’ve been afforded to simply plug my Ibanez TCY-10 into my Audigy2ZS, record several different takes to a click track, manipulate the results accordingly, upload the files to Mediafire, and call myself a musician.

At which point some ill-defined solace is rudely syphoned from the fact that Virgil’s The Aeneid (which he spent eleven years writing, occasionally at the pace of a single perfectly-phrased sentence a day) was itself released unfinished. But it’s a decent stretch to get there ...

Another disclaimer could proclaim that I’m more architect than artist.

And still, even then, The Manic Street Preachers said it with far more conviction than I, with Faster. And I’m sure they’d be properly appalled at my improper alignment with it ...



So my philosophy with regards my own compositions is suggestive of ideas being rather more interesting (though not necessarily more important) than precision. There’s a time and place where both can be successfully sated I’m sure, but a champion of this I am certainly not.

And on both counts.

I don’t have the patience, and time (as always) is an issue. I learnt this from the Beat Generation. I’m not sure in which work it was mentioned however, but the quote itself was something akin to one “knowing the value of time,” (perhaps it was during
On The Road in someone’s basement after an all-night discussion, maybe it was referred to in Allen Ginsberg’s Mid-fifties journals 1954-1958) - it was almost certainly attributable to him though. Possibly whilst bearing the alias of Carlo Marx.


It’s a virtue I long to embrace.

But again, this is something of a false dichotomy, because the transitional piece in question was actually recorded because I was able to play the section better than I’d done previously; the same melody appears elsewhere on the album as an outro section.

And this is where the ‘gain and dominion’ referred to in the title becomes relevant to this particular track. Although, even then, it admittedly does so only in relation to the general horror of my initial takes. I could’ve re-recorded them, I guess, but doing so would pose the added complications of trying to get the same sound with possibly different strings and settings in an effort to have it all still fit comfortably in the mix without destroying the elusive ‘emotion’ of the first capture - a bit like taking a surprise photograph of your family at a picnic only to re-do the same shot with everybody posing in the same manner because an unsuspecting Aunt Polly had her eyes closed. You’d never get that same shot again. Even if everybody played their role to perfection.


And I guess that’s what I aim to capture during my recording sessions.

Further notes:

The actual title of this track is a portion of a quote from Geoffrey Malaterra, an eleventh century monk and historian, with regards the Normans, from whence my line originally is said to stem ....

"Specially marked by cunning, despising their own inheritance in the hope of winning a greater, eager after both gain and dominion, given to imitation of all kinds, holding a certain mean between lavishness and greediness, that is, perhaps uniting, as they certainly did, these two seemingly opposite qualities. Their chief men were specially lavish through their desire of good report. They were, moreover, a race skillful in flattery, given to the study of eloquence, so that the very boys were orators, a race altogether unbridled unless held firmly down by the yoke of justice. They were enduring of toil, hunger, and cold whenever fortune laid it on them, given to hunting and hawking, delighting in the pleasure of horses, and of all the weapons and garb of war."


Friday, January 15, 2010

Okay. Quit. Mad. Stop.

Track Analysis:
Mégas Aléxandros (Oxus Rheuma and Thy Gordian Knuckles)

I’ve had a fascination with Alexander the Great for a long while. Iron Maiden’s Somewhere In Time has a lot to do with it. But then, at one time, Iron Maiden had a lot to do with everything. Rime of the Ancient Mariner resulted in my reading of Coleridge’s poem, Two Minutes To Midnight helped reinforce my nightly anti-toothbrushing stance as I demonstrated to my parents the activity’s sheer pointlessness in the face of our inevitable nuclear destruction, the detailed artwork of Aces High frustrated my art teacher as I saw fit to complete the entire year’s syllabus using nothing but black ballpoint pens and an exclusive plagarism of Derek Riggs, the first cassette of the double album Live After Death became my personal anthem for life, and songs such as Alexander the Great, Flight of Icarus, and Powerslave eventually had me signing up for Classical Studies in my final year of high school ...

Stupid shit caused me to fail it dismally, however. Most notably the desk graffiti, although sadly I can’t remember anywhere near enough of it. The initial statement was a simple ‘Dead people are cool’, which was slowly added to throughout the year by various students scribing into the wooden desk with compasses the reasons why this was so. ‘Because you can make them sleep in the wet patch’ is the only one I can properly recall.

It’s the only one I need to.


Which reminds me, in my copy of Aristophanes’ The Wasps/The Poet and the Women/The Frogs (purchased from a second-hand bookshop several years post-secondary education), halfway through the list of students who’d obviously been granted temporary study ownership of the book thoughout the 1980’s one of them (the most likely candidate being R J Thompson from the class of 1988) had defiantly written, ‘Let Time Be STILL!’


I would’ve bought the book just for that scribble had I not already done so (I only found this quote fairly recently) ...

Four words can have a lot of power.


Dead people are cool caused distraction and led to failure.

Let time be still!
continues to inspire me to this day.

As does an utterance from an older co-worker who (upon hearing my complaints with regards the frustratingly distant weekend) warned me,
“Don’t wish away life.” She was right. And I had shitty plans anyway; I can’t even remember what I did.

But
her name was Jan Browne.


And several years ago the words
Okay. Quit. Mad. Stop. had me forking over twenty seven hard-earned dollars for a small book of Kerouac’s poetry called Pomes All Sizes; the ratio used being incorporative only of wages versus physical size, an admittedly ridiculous scheme.

And to this day I couldn’t tell you what else that book of poetry really contains. But it doesn’t matter - I’d pay twenty seven dollars for those four words alone.


Of course it needn’t only be phrases harbouring of exactly four words, itself a ridiculous claim that can be disproven thusly - (and by humiliation), for when I first wanted to start writing a novel I went to borrow a book instructing me on how best to do so. Thankfully the first two words of the very first chapter were ‘Start writing’ and so, with a silent ‘fuck, yes’, I shut the book (which in retrospect sounded remarkably like one slapping his own forehead) and handed it back.

So ...


That’s the extended backstory to this song. Or perhaps the essence of it. Or at the very least its attempt to excuse itself, because (being that it’s an instrumental piece) the foundation from whence it was born was never going to be lived up to in any musical sense. And so the title of the track is far more interesting than the actual track itself, which was supposed to be ambitious, or at the very least rival its given name for dominance of character, but it does neither. And here (it could be argued for no other reason than for the sake of saving face) is where it succeeds, in so much as we get to witness an instrumental piece crumpling beneath the weight of words, albiet a hefty eight of them.


Further Notes:

Alexander the Great refused to drink the water offered to him during his campaign’s ‘death march’ to the Oxus River as he wished to suffer the hardships of rank and file.

The etymology of ‘Rheuma’ is this: [Middle English reume, from Old French, from Late Latin rheuma, from Greek, a flowing, rheum]. It’s no doubt incorrectly used as I’ve employed it here but the discovery of it’s Latin meaning whilst reading about rheumatology was far too convenient to pass up its usage thereas.

Rheumatology is important because it relates to ‘Thy Gordian Knuckles’, which describes the feeling of my hands on occasion due to Ankylosing Spondylitis - a rheumatic condition I’ve hosted for the last twenty or so years. This adapted phrase is derived from ‘The Gordian Knot’, which Alexander the Great cut with his sword, as legend had it that he who untied the knot would become the king of Asia. Today ‘cutting the Gordian knot’ is used as a metaphor for a stubborn problem that’s solved by a bold stroke (known as an Alexandrian solution).

I have no sword but, as evident from this post’s underlying theme, I remain forever hopeful of the pen proving mightier at any rate ...