Saturday, 25 April 2009

Song From Under the Floorboards

I saw my friend Amy the other day.
Amy is good with naked women.
We talked about Dostoevsky.

Amy is an artist, but she had never shown me her portfolio before. She is very good at life drawing, and has a real eye for the female form. She had several nude studies on her iPhone, and even on the small screen, the curves of her figures were beautiful and involving.

By coincidence, Amy mentioned that she wanted to read some Dostoevsky, the Russian author I alluded to the other day. I mentioned this book, and the song that Howard Devoto made of it. Devoto restored the original Russian word the translator rendered less poetically; the anonymous narrator addresses the reader from between the floorboards of his apartment.

I am angry, I am ill and I'm as ugly as sin
My irritability keeps me alive and kicking
I know the meaning of life, it doesn't help me a bit
I know beauty and I know a good thing when I see it

1982 was a year when I was not good with naked women, and everything in my life felt crooked, rather than curved. "A Song from Under the Floorboards" was an existential crisis you could dance to, with an insistent opening riff that moved harmonically and went nowhere melodically. I was angry, and I felt ill and I felt ugly. These last few months, I have felt it all over again.

This is a song from under the floorboards
This is a song from where the wall is cracked
By force of habit, I am an insect
I have to confess
I'm proud as hell of that fact.

I know the highest and the best
I accord them all due respect
But the brightest jewel inside of me
Glows with pleasure at my own stupidity.

This is a song from under the floorboards ....

I was never stupid at school. Stubborn, yes; lazy, distracted... and afraid to speak out. But I did not manage to be stupid. (Yes, dear reader, I knew too much.) And I knew a good thing when I saw it.
I knew beauty, but it was not the involving kind.

I used to make phantoms I could later chase
Images of all that could be desired
Then I got tired of counting all of these blessings
And then I just got tired

This is a song from under the floorboards ...


Z said...

Crime and Punishment is one of the finest books I've ever read, and I've read it many times over the last 40 years. I don't know why it is that I've read nothing else by Dostoevsky.

I hope you regain harmony soon. You know it, all you have to do is feel it.

Mel said...


Steph Barton said...

Don't feel ill.
Don't feel ugly.
Feel the Force.
Feel a gentle breeze.
Feel a violent breeze.
Feel a goat.
Feel things you have never felt before.
Feel bananas.
Feel amazing.
Feel Croatia.
Feel Good.