60 Minutes +/- w/o Madame Psychosis

How is it possible to miss someone you’ve never met?

Characters are constantly either floating up to or falling beneath Infinite Jest’s surface and, on the whole, it makes for a soothing rhythm. When one character waxes, another wanes. You don’t really miss any of them when they’re gone.

Except but I read this passage about the absence of my favourite character earlier this week:

Now WYYY was back to running ‘Sixty Minutes More or Less’ without anybody at all at the helm. For the past several nights Mario has lain there in a sarcophagally tapered sleeping bag of GoreTex and fiberfill and listened to them run the weird static ambient musics Madame Psychosis uses for background, but now without any spoken voice as foreground; and the static momentumless music as subject instead of environment is somehow terribly disturbing: Hal listened to a few minutes of the stuff and told his brother it sounded like somebody’s mind coming apart right before your ears.

I’m feeling the loss that much more acutely, right along with Booboo (who doesn’t know he knows Madame P.) this week as I’m also reading this earlier passage for Drawing on the Infinite:

Joelle is thinking about what she has in her purse. She sits alone in her linen veil and pretty skirt, obliquely looked at, listening to bits of conversation she reels in out of the overall voices’ noise but seeing no one really else, the absolute end of her life and beauty running in a kind of stuttered old hand-held 16mm right before her eyes

What I keep coming back to – as someone who was a musician before he became irretrievably stuck in books – is that aural image (I also have synaesthesia, so I’m allowed to mix terms this way) of static, ambient, momentum music that is, itself, subject.

So here’s my ‘Sixty Minutes More or Less With[out] Madame Psychosis’ playlist. The first track does feature spoken voice, and it’s the only thing I can think of that’s even vaguely like listening to M.P. on air. For the rest you’ll just have to make do without.

Just for something a little extra this week (we’re halfway through the book now after all), I also have a download of some of my recent watercolours. You can grab ’em right here.

If there’s any music you know that feels, listening to it, like reading Infinite Jest feels: let me know in the comments below and I’d love to have a listen.


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13 thoughts on “60 Minutes +/- w/o Madame Psychosis”

  1. If you look for an endless soundtrack to Infinite Jest, listen to the live music from the “Golden Machine” at the website of a current German “Unendlicher Spass” reading project:


    During the runtime of the project the synthesizer plays random music, which is part of the result. The book is recorded by anyone who uploads a recording, page per page. The goal is to create one of the longest audiobooks so far. Every reading is accompanied by the music from the “Golden Machine”. You can listen into the recordings so far (“ANHÖREN”). Of course, they are in German, but you get a taste of what it sounds.

  2. Obvious choice probably, but aside from Brian Eno’s ‘The Big Ship,’ a solid case could probably be made for ‘Becalmed’ and a good chunk of that Another Green World album if you’re in an IJ sorta mindset.

  3. Great choices, Nathan. I am similarly inclined toward the music I imagine running on “Sixty Minutes More or Less” with my own rotation consisting of Tortoise, Boards of Canada, Seaworthy, Balmorhea, Colleen, Stars of the Lid, Susumu Yokata, Talkdemonic, Hala Strana, STS9, Porn Sword Tobacco, Fennesz… and more minimal mambo to boot. Slip on the old environmental unit…

    And I do love your watercolours. Very nice TSBYSCD podium. Thank you for the Eschaton cart.

  4. Ha! In the upcoming episode of Concavity (as in, like, tomorrow, but recorded last week), Matt and I talk about a lot of these bands. Very cool. How was Sunn O))) live?!

  5. Love the music selection. Speaking of, I’m on the hunt for some of ridiculous, so-minimal-you-can-hear-the-ocean-breeze blissed-out island loop music, tracks so long and numbing they could turn your brain to coconut mush. Ever since this bit from Molly Notkin’s party, my inner soundtrack for the book has been *entirely* Minimal Mambo:

    “Another large loose group is dancing in the cleared space between the cluster of directorial chairs and the bedroom door, most favoring Y.D.A.U.’s Minimal Mambo, this autumn’s East Coast anticraze, the dancers appearing to be just this side of standing still, the subtlest possible hints of fingers snapping under right-angled elbows”

    Any suggestions?

    1. Tough criteria, man! Feldman’s Rothko Chapel ticks a lot (but not all of these boxes for me); maybe some of the sadder stuff from the Lost soundtracks (Michael Giacchino) v. slowed down.

      Or: you could pop into a ukulele shop and ask to hear them all being tuned?

  6. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mmoths, This Will Destroy You.

    That’s been my “blackout all the background noise so I can read in peace” playlist. Given some of what you put on this list, I’m guessing you know one or two of these already.

    1. Yes!! GY!BE played my home town 3 weeks ago, but I missed them (I had to choose between them and Sunn O)) – probably (??) the right choice). Sigur Ros and this book just go together for me, so I can totally see these three too.

      1. I saw GY!BE live once before and it was a standing only gig where they played for three hours straight. It was great, but way way too long to endorse seeing them again.

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