The Night Gwen Stacy Died: Speaking for others. 

It's been more than a year since we last posted an entry to this Cosplay blog. I have found myself, to a complete extent, unmotivated to actually compose anything about life's happenings. Although I enjoy sharing anecdotes, and have been collecting relevant notes to continue this thing, I've kept it all to myself.  I've got tens of Word files with just a few lines of poetry or quick notes on an experience related to one of the songs yet to be blogged. Sometimes I'll open one of those documents, read it, wonder what I was thinking at the time, really hate it, then lose motivation altogether.  Other times, I just can't weave a theme through the ramblings. It's also tough to convince myself to extrovert a stream of consciousness into this text field, publish it to the world, and allow myself to appreciate the overt nature of the content. Some people can do that just fine, and that content can be charming, but I usually have to take a couple sittings...okay, a LOT of sittings, to knock one of these out. 

I also wanted to share that there are new POOR ME shows finally on their way again. We've got new merchandise (and vinyl). There will also be more reason to stay connected on social media. As we've stated through sharing thoughts on Cosplay in the past, taking a stance in the face of public disagreement, attempting to empower others to pursue self-improvement, and to reflect on how to challenge ourselves are important dialogues for us, to both the record and how we approach our music in a general sense.  Those themes were present on Readymade, and now on Cosplay, but Cosplay had a unique challenge that Readymade did not -- Cosplay was a constant exercise in empathy.  As I tried to hop into the heads of these comic book personas, I would read fan synopses of what superhero fans had thought motivated their favorite superheroes -- and opinions varied wildly.  In the case of Spider-Man, for example, some felt the character was driven by insatiable anger felt toward a 'mean world,' others felt he was obligated to a pervasive sense of duty, while others thought he was simply a prideful hot-shot. There were more perspectives, of course -- but the point is, some arguments resonated with me while others seemed to miss the mark.  There did seem to be a unanimous sense that Spider-Man's loss of Gwen Stacy was a jarring turning point, though. Everyone seems to think that Spider-Man gained his third dimension on the night that Gwen Stacy died in the comic book world, and thus, is the topic of this particular blog entry.  But first, to finish my previous trajectory -- writing to 'speak for others' is an immensely difficult task when compared to personal narratives, Empathy isn't simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of another through a willingness to understand. I believe it has to be practiced. Every singular experience has a multitude of 'appropriate' emotional and intellectual responses, so the desire alone -- to arrive at the precise emotional state of another -- is not exhaustive. I won't be concluding that I've practiced empathy enough over the course of Cosplay to be appropriately seasoned to empathize with everyone, at every moment, fictional or no.  I won't be concluding that I was successful, even once, with cracking open the psyche of the characters referenced on Cosplay.  I simply aim to say, in this entry, that I flirted with empathy in the same way those fan synopses had;  I stepped outside of myself to better examine how I might respond to a similar situation, then I stepped back to write a sympathetic account of another's experience.  

The last six months has had me thinking a lot about empathy for a couple reasons; 1) I was constantly trying to push myself to coalesce this entry into a publishable version, and The Night Gwen Stacy Died was the first song written for Cosplay that attempted to exemplify what I've stated above, and 2) public life, be it in the news, on social media, etc.,  seems to have engendered torrents of selfish posturing, soap-boxing and resentment.  It seems to me, at least, that all this is happening to a greater extreme than prior to the release of this record.  Honestly, it seems to have started around Trump's inauguration, and has snowballed since. I'm not arguing necessarily for causation, for the record -- I'm arguing for a time stamp. I'll leave commentary for cause to someone more qualified.  And no, I don't have proof of this 'poverty of empathy' in the first place, so forgive the phenomenalism in its entirety if you must. The claim is perhaps a product, after all, of the phenomena I worry we might be netted.

So,take or leave my interpretations of how public life has been transformed as of late, but the change looks something like this to me... 

We seem to be in constant worry that our neighbors don't see eye to eye, terrified that -- if we don't share our most candid opinions openly and publicly -- our neighbors will never understand our unique plight.  I certainly believe a confidence exists -- for many -- that no one will be taking survey of their unique position anytime soon, and they must represent themselves, else be stamped out. Being heard seems to mean shouting louder than everyone else, never worrying ourselves with audience comprehension or sympathies.  Personal narratives are easy, though.  Speaking with others, for others, takes more practice.  I've typically felt that the path of most resistance is often the most fruitful. 

I need to be clear here; I don't think that the entirety of public life in the US can be boiled down to an absence of empathy. I'll be the first to say that's ridiculous. But, I do think such an indictment helps to highlight a shift I've personally sensed, gives it form, and minimally provides a reminder that empathy is a prerequisite for garnering mutual understanding. At best, if your 'spidey-senses' have arrived at a similar sentiment, I hope listening and reading along to The Night Gwen Stacey Died ends up being a refreshing exercise in validating someone else's experience. 

Either way, let's get back on the rails... 

In The Night Gwen Stacey Died, I didn't attempt to further narrow or select an 'official take' on Spider-Man's motivation. Spider-Man, to me, is always trying to 'figure it out,' adjusting to life's unpredictability with a healthy dose of heart, humility, and hubris -- like most of us.  In this song about Gwen Stacey's fateful fall, I wanted to capture Spider-Man's attempts to learn through empathy, to catch him transforming through his viewpoint on what Gwen would have wanted.  I thought this would be especially interesting, because Spider-Man would be wholly unable to verify Gwen's perspective for Spider-Man, as that opportunity had just slipped from his hands.  


Don’t depend on my intent. When I crack my knuckles red, I’m bearing skin not cut to fit. 

Eternally, lives spent doubting live to die. And you’re right; you can’t save them all if you can’t save one. 

The more there is, the less you see. All stripped down, there’s something to save. 

It’s only bad. It’s only bad. It’s only bad.  So I’ll be missing you – I can’t capture the fortitude. 

When all the rest is recompense, please discharge my offense. 

A nameless face; a basket case. 

So count my time as served and don’t say a word. 

No, they’ll never learn that life is dear on the edge. 

And we built our modest rabbit hole – I’m not one for the size, but where we start. 

That’s the hardest part. 

And they’ll read of once a lonely boy suffering from himself. 

He can save a world that takes away. 

We have built a world that takes away. 

So slow me down. I can stabilize my sight, when all around we’re dying to find what’s been around. 

Just too afraid to straighten strides over dotted lines. 

You fell so quickly, I would doubt my drive. 

And I felt this notion -- this was your design. 

You took the fall. 

The more there is, the less you see; all stripped down, there’s something to save. 

It’s only bad. It’s only bad.  It’s only bad.  So I’ll be missing you. 

Can’t capture the fortitude. 

I can dry these blurry eyes.  When all around we’re dying to find what’s been around. 

Just too afraid to straighten strides over dotted lines. 

So count my time as served and don’t say a word. 

No, they’ll never learn that life is dear on the edge.


Leave a comment

Add comment