(Libretto to) Untitled Concerto for Essayist and Orchestra
An Incomplete Composition by Mike Farmer*
(introductory fanfare with clarinet)
Hello there. I’d like to talk to you about the 1999 film Fight Club, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter. As you may know, Fight Club is based on a novel by writer Chuck Palahniuk.
As you may also know, the story of Fight Club concerns a man played by Edward Norton who struggles with the humdrum realities of his sales job and materialistic lifestyle while struggling to conquer a nagging case of insomnia. From there, the story gets ludicrous.
In Fight Club, Brad Pitt’s character Tyler Durden attempts to sum up the American condition approximately:
We’ve been raised to believe that one day we’ll all be millionaires, movie stars, and rock gods. But we won’t. And we’re not. And as we slowly learn that, we struggle to accept it and come to terms with the direction our life is going in . Fortunately while this 1999 movie-film gave voice to that feeling of despair, the technological industry at great expense had come up with a solution to mollify the masses. (timpani roll)
They called it. . . the World Wide Web. They also called it the Information Superhighway. Either way, the Internet allowed us to transmit our individual auras across the vast online continent such as it was at the turn of the millennium. Soon anybody could make their own. . . (trumpet flourish) homepage.
(insert dreamy harp music, with dreamy grand piano following and AOL startup sound samples)
Home-page. Think about those two words put together. Home. Page. Our own personal home. . . (voice pitch begins to modulate downward until it sounds muddled) page where we could share our thoughts, pictures, current developments, past accomplishments, our hopes, aspirations, dreams and even our job resumes.
(analog synthesizer bleeps and hums)
(back to regular voice pitch/clarity) With Internet expanding around the world and technology further making it easily accessible, faster and even portable, each one of us in our own micro-minute way are now able to become stars. Has it made our lives more convenient? Certainly. Have these developments made us happier? I think you know the answer to that one.
(digital synthesizer squiggles and frantic simulated 808-style bass patterns)
Of course! Think about the people who are famous right now. White rappers with jail tattoos. Conspiracy theorists, professional racists and race-baiters, Would-be political pundits and would-be social activists. Failed comedians and pretend models. Many of you are probably thinking to yourselves “Why are they famous? What do they have that I don’t have? They don’t even have any actual talent!” And you very well may have a point. But if it’s any comfort, and it’s a cold comfort, these people are mostly famous on the Internet. And Internet fame as anyone who has been through it can attest, is the cruelest fame of all.
But the architects of the Internet in the 1990’s had it wrong. It was not nor is it now an information superhighway. Rather it is a Digital Atmosphere. And as Earth pollutes the actual atmosphere with discarded spacecraft, broken satellites and other assorted NASA flotsam. . . so too is our Digital Atmosphere polluted.
(percussion grows louder)
And anybody who seen Fight Club enough times, and anyone who’s ever had to futz and fuss over cellphones, smart phones, data plans, data packages and the rest will tell you. . . to quote the words of Tyler Durden once more, the things you own can end up owning you.
(percussion rises to a crescendo, then halts suddenly)
Social media can drive you crazy.
(ugly dissonant chords)
I am Jack’s blue checkmark.
*NOTE TO SELF: find someone to compose arrange the musical portions of the concerto