I am obsessed with the idea of writing Daft Punk-inspired stories.
I want my stories to be dictated by something outside my control. I want to be taken out of the equation, to write from inside a coma, devoid of ego. I want to hit rock bottom of meaninglessness. I want to not eat or sleep for days and have dreams and altered states and permeate them and never return and transmit stories from beyond via hash marks unobserved in the night sky. I keep thinking it is possible to write stories inspired by Daft Punk maybe because it is impossible. I want to dissect something, to eat the inside of a cockroach. I want to wear a robot's head and view the world though its diodes.
I want to write something that will free me from having to write. I want to strip everything away. I want to pare it all away, flay the skin of the story until only bones are cluttering up the yard and police are called, people saying, "He was always so quiet, kept to himself." And the papers will quote someone who knew me who said, "Not surprised." And the photographs of me will not be flattering. I will refuse to speak and they will strap me into a chair with leather straps and a switch will be flipped and all of the lights will grow dimmer for the few seconds it takes to transform me into an angel.
The first story I wrote to "One More Time" was about a human woman and a male robot who were married and their struggle to relate to each other. "She treats him like a human, hoping that the way he is treated might be the way he will one day act." He wished that he could forget that he was a robot so that he could experience emotions, and she wished that she could forget that she was human so that his lack of feelings didn't hurt so much.
I tried writing stream of conscious prose while listening to the song: "Everything that was, is again, from the beginning repeating. I feel everything moving through me like waves, the oceans forming from the molecules of water separated out. Everything that was small, inconsequential, has become essential. Twisting together like patterns of something. I sit here enveloped in a moment of time, a repeated history."
I wanted to write something like a piece for the 33 1/3 series. I took these notes:
At the beginning of French techno/house/rave duo Daft Punk's sophomore album,
Discovery, you hear the words "One more time." They are an indication of contin-
uation. Once more, Daft Punk has put out an album of loops, beats and samples
perfectly modulated to the dance floor.
"A project ... is a flight-in-advance that we can try to pursue without becoming
impatient. This flight is potentially infinite, as is time-in-advance-of-itself. What
is more, when something marked by the Proustian adventure manages to escape,
it also escapes from itself and returns eternally in reverse, delaying the end, pausing
and amassing embeddings and metaphors. It makes more sense to pause for a
moment. We shall see one more time."1
"...Music is merely the highest means of representing and bringing to life the
plastic world of myth. Trusting to this noble illusion, tragedy may move its
limbs to the dithyrambic dance and surrender itself without a thought to an
orgiastic feeling of freedom, in which it is allowed to flourish as music in itself..."2
"Discovery's opening is so obliteratingly great it seems the world might be put
permanently on hold."3
"It was capitalism for the interior. The last bastion of colonialism. Colonize the
souls of the masses with pills. Make them yearn for one more disc, one more
spin of the turntables, Daft Punk synthesized and re-synthesized into an endless
orgasmic unity of techno-utopia."4
"In theory it implies instrumentals, possibly with a sung phrase looped or sampled
in, as in Daft Punk's UK hit "One More Time," ... the BPM [beats per minute]
encourages its own frenetic forms of dance which are meant to induce a state of
trance or hypnosis."5
The notion of continued time, of time after time, is an effort at immortality. One
more time and then another, suggesting an infinite repetition of time. Time that
goes forever, freed from the hour of death.
"One More Time" perpetuates the myth that time is infinite and that one can enter
into that eternity by perpetual repetition of the dance trance. By repeating the
mantra, one frees oneself from the plastic world which Daft Punk constantly reminds
us that we are mired in.
In an interview with DJ Times' Peter Woholenski, one half of Daft Punk, Thomas
Bangalter, says, "Criticizing the vocoder is like asking bands in the 60's, 'why do you
use the electric guitar?' It's just a tool... no big deal."6 Except for Daft Punk, it is more
than just a tool. It is why they appear in robot costumes and have song titles such as:
Digital Love, Short Circuit, Human After All, Robot Rock, etc. It poses a distinction
between the human element and the machine.
"The more vigorously man pursues the ultimate dream of modern technological
science - the conquest of the final limit, death - the more rapid that dream seems to
recede and the more imminent seems the historically unprecedented nightmare
that technology visits upon man... Technology tends to impose on man an
So what Daft Punk does is simultaneously create a sonic pathway to the infinite,
giving us the possibility of transcendence with regards to stagnant linear death-
obsessed existence and also reminds us that we are humans, we are alive, made of
flesh, the stuff that will die which is why this moment is so essential for us to
celebrate, to once again love, dance, sweat and get lost in transcendence.
The solution to the technology vs. man conundrum is to become immortal by
embracing death. "Hour to death and I feel so free."8 The only way to embrace
death is to embrace being human. The only way to become human is through
detachment. "It escapes itself and returns eternally in reverse." With regards to
time, Shakespeare said that music was both sweet and sour ("Music do I hear?/
Ha ha! Keep time!/How sour sweet music is,/When time is broken and no proportion
kept!"9), indicating that the solution is the problem. You have to reconcile these two
opposing thoughts within yourself. And at that moment, the discovery is made. 1 Kristeva, Julia. Time and Sense: Proust and the Experience of Literature. Columbia University Press, 1988. p 331-332.
2 Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Nietzsche Reader. Wiley-Blackwell, 2006. p 81.
3 Clover, Joshua. Spin Magazine, June 2001. vol 17 no 6. p 145.
4 Butler, Jonathan. Return of the Native. Breakwater books, 2007. p 47.
5 Loosely, David. Popular Music in Contemporary France. Berg Publishers, 2003. p 183.
6 http://www.djtimes.com/original/djmag/may01/daft.htm 7 Lentricchia, Frank. New Essays on White Noise. Cambridge University Press, 1991. p 71.
8 Smith, Patti. Early Work. Norton and Company, 1995. p 25.
9 Shakespeare. King Richard II Act V Scene IV.
I thought that I could take the physical manifestation of the song, "One More Time" and use it to control prose patterns.
The song was 5:20 long, which would represent the length of the story. There were distinct parts that could represent paragraphs.
And then each paragraph itself was made up of word segments.
I thought that this kind of structure would probably produce a bland story. I wanted the ups and downs of its cadence to somehow influence plot and more abstract choices of sentence crafting.
Will I continue writing Daft Punk stories? Even if I were to write the most eloquent and inspired story it won't be enough. Nothing will ever be enough for me to relinquish the thing I hold about my life, my life being worthless, unless I release it myself. And once I release it myself, I won't need these external gestures. Which almost makes me not want to give them up, because then what would I do? But of course, the point being I wouldn't need to do anything. The result being the more you do, the more you'll need to do; and it is only when you stop doing that you will be able to stop.