My phone switches over to slow mode on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, just west of Bedford. Spotify glitches and coughs, I want out of the car and this is only the beginning. I put on a CD: the new EP by Forced into Femininity. I prepare myself for impending continuity, I’m thirsty for it, picking at the steering wheel cover, shuffling my hair. The album begins. I light a cigarette. My eyes narrow at the opening beat, a tiny city nudges at my temples and fills the car and –
Glitches. Confusion conjures difficult scenarios – stopped in traffic, full of bugs, an erroneous paint job, this world is full of soul that I will never know.
Glitches. My astonishment feels extreme but I can’t stop comparing this coincidence to the experience of witnessing an accident happen a split second before it actually does. It takes me a few more glitches and the entrance of a vocal line to realize that the glitching is intentional but it’s too late. I’ve already entered an extreme territory where glitching is the condition for truth. I’ve driven right through it, sense data sliced open like a curtain and it turns out that this particular alternate reality drops you right back onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
We’re here now, listening to this album, the glitching is consistent and I accept it, hand to mouth. Pragmatically, I turn wholeheartedly towards the question of how the glitching impacts the album as a whole. Upon the introduction of the vocals my focus shifts. These are desperate tones, implosive sounds, and once I connect the lyrical content of the track to the unforgiving vocals I realize that Jill Flanagan’s voice has navigated many a serrated territory and any immunity I’m experiencing is a result of this.
This is what the grip of NOW feels like. Even if NOW is “OK” we’re still enmeshed in a metaphysical battle once we attempt to determine why, why NOW, when the rest of the world is so obviously stunted by a fear that’s reinforced by a perpetually disturbed rhythm. Jill’s voice is fearless, as the tracks turn over they ruthlessly overturn hideous beliefs and bear the weight of the world’s burdens, religiosity, societal repression, white guilt, bigotry. In dystopian terms, humanity is failing to pass the emissions test of life.
The more seriously one embarks on the project of revealing the nature of who & what one is, the more they are ostracized by the majority. This problem has been clear for a long time and “I’m Making Progress” carries what’s apparent through to it’s unreasonable end. A lot can happen, but the blunt duality reinforced by Christian Norms and Capitalist wet dreams isn’t going anywhere, (especially now, given what has been, insofar as I see it, a presidential campaign and cabinet that has successfully marketed political omniscience to it’s advantage.)
The glitches disappear, reappear, blink on and off. Eventually you’ll see them in advance but only if you’re willing to confront yourself. Know that the practices of some are predictably sick. Use this to your advantage, make art, Forced into Femininity proves this can be done.
There’s a pattern. There are beats and an opportunity to build an enlightened and applicable language even though the other side will use your words to propagate hate. The image of a person yelling at a rock is hard to shake. Regardless of the dramatic arc I’m extracting from Jill’s music, progress is unstable, inarticulate, so prone to abstraction that a vanishing act on both sides can ensue for decades.
Then again, communication is always an option and claims to progress are present, hold them, take them with you like you would a light bulb from a Rodeway Inn. Strip the xenophoic, nepotistic, the very rich and gentrified, the ignorant and homophobic, the seductive promises of racism and sexism and the even more seductive force of a televised psychosis that heats these fears with glowing light, of light. Unscrew the source, shine it where it never shines.
Eschewing guns, we strategize, attempt to build with words, words are the problem, we go crazy, too much of everything, the end is nigh, it’s a brand new day, we have, at least for now, the ability and right to claim progress, while speeding down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, weaving through cars with guns, we feel in our hearts that we’re almost there, we celebrate, cheer, we’ve made it, only to realize that our destination has been co-opted by Walmart and it’s the only company still hiring, machines have taken over, no one leaves their room, there are police robots, and here we are, radiating comprehension, understanding, fluid as hell, over the top, and still we’ve made progress, defined by our choices and aware of change. So what do we do now?
“There’s nothing more to be done, leave it alone.”
And this is only the beginning.
I pull over.