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[Inside_Dierdre: Unrequited_Love,_Part_5]

So, now that the cat's out of the bag, let's have another little chat about unrequited love, shall we?

Our FAQ answered a lot of questions that no one really asked, but since its publication, the question I am getting most often in my WTC mailbag is this one: "Don't you really love Trent? Because, I totally believed you" and that's a question I want to answer right now:


Remember all those times Dierdre said that the most attractive thing about Trent is his body of work? That was in 100% earnest from the real girl behind Ms. Keating. Trent Reznor's work has meant more to me than that of any other artist, ever, and I am totally not kidding when I tell you that I will love him forever for doing it. Seriously, you guys, there is no way I could have written more than half the shit I have on this website if that work of art hadn't really and truly made Trent a permanent, and unshakeable place in my heart a long goddamned time ago.

We've spent a lot of time talking about this word "love" here on WTC, and about all the different kinds of love one could experience. There's love of one's mate, child, devoted friend, or beloved pet, and there's the love we feel for Sparklepants-wearing rockstars with great asses, etc. What I'd like to talk about today is the kind of love we sometimes feel for an artist who has helped us articulate our most elusive truths right when they were most needed, who has taught us the things we most had to learn at just the right moment in our lives, and who has been a comfort and solace to us in our most serious moments, because THAT is a love I bear Trent Reznor FOR REAL, and always will.

One of my favorite literary critics, J. Hillis Miller, wrote a totally brilliant article called Literature and Religion. In it, he talks about how he sees the relation between a critic and the work he studies: "The proper model" says Miller, "...is not that of scientist to physical objects, but that of one man to another in charity." He goes on to say that the proper approach is love, and that "Love wants the other person as he is, in all his recalcitrant particularity... the lover says to the loved one, 'Volo ut sis': 'I wish you to be.' " To take that even further, I'll quote Miller again, this time from his book On Literature: "The relation between reader and story read is like a love affair. In both cases, it is a matter of giving yourself without reservation to another."

To bring it all down from academic nosebleed territory, I'll just quote one of Rock's greatest geniuses, The Who's mastermind Pete Townshend, who once wrote a song called "Jools and Jim". It's about how people on the outside look in, without really seeing. In it, he sings, "Typewriter tappers/You're all just crappers/You listen to love with your intellect", and I'll just tell you that listening to love with my intellect has always been among the last things of which I would like to be guilty. As Dierdre has said, many times, the thing I most believe about Trent Reznor, and about any artist like him, is that he works from the soul, and that even if we don't know what he gets up to as a daily guy, if we have listened to him with love, we know something more fundamental.

Here's the thing: I agree with Miller and Townshend. I don't think you can even hear what a work of art truly consists of if you aren't looking at it, or listening to it, with love. There are those who would argue that you can't be a proper critic, with a clear eye to the flaws, without objectivity and distance, but I think "objectivity" is a false god, and that "flaws" are the most essential ingredient to the paradoxical conundrum of human perfection in all of its recalcitrant particularity. Distance can teach us perspective, and that is often useful, but the perspective provided by distance is useless without having first been close enough to have been effected by the gravitational pull of that other planet.

I once wrote a photo essay explaining in what was, I think, a pretty convincing manner, that Trent has always been trying to get us to love him. I stressed the notion that he has always been trying to compel us sexually, but I think the truth is even more embarrassing FOR HIM, because what he's really always been asking for is truly our love. Art is a communication from the soul of one man to the rest of us, and it is asking us to see him, to understand him, to know what's in his heart, and to love him for it. The bottom line is this: to Trent Reznor, as prickly as he has always been, I've never been able to say "No".

What does all this have to do with unrequited love? Nothing, really. My love for Trent is requited everytime he makes a new record and I get to rig up my headphones and give myself without reservation to the voluptuous pleasure of letting it into my heart. Does that sound crazy, overwrought, and senselessly romantic?

Well, it's like I said: Dierdre and I have a lot in common.

Posted by Dierdre ~ in unrequited_love | Permalink


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I think that love for an artist is often born out of intense gratitude because art can be cathartic and live-saving. Because you can often put on your headphones no matter what you're going through, musicians have the power to be there for you during the best and worst times of your life. And even though it's a kind of one-way relationship, you really do feel a kinship and a connection with an artist, especially if the art can help you reach an emotional catharsis or help you articulate things that you can't bring yourself to express on your own or even just distract you enough so that you can endure. In that way, regardless of what the artist's original intentions or motives were, that artist has performed a real service, and I think love is a natural response to that experience.

Because Trent's music is so personal and sincere and dark, it's no wonder that people who are dealing with heavy shit turn to NIN during their "Aarrrrrgggghhhhh!" moments. And the heavier the shit, the more intense the gratitude that you feel. Which I'm sure is very bewildering to the artist who did not have that particular fan and his/her problems in mind when creating or performing the song but then is given all sorts of credit for keeping that person alive. But it really does happen that way...

Posted by: maise | Mar 13, 2006 10:03:48 AM


Good new image over at NIN.com! Trent working on something with Saul "super genius" Williams.

Awwww, yeah.

Posted by: Dierdre | Mar 13, 2006 12:16:22 PM

To add to what Maise said....

Over the weekend, I was having a discussion about wanting to know what a certain song was about...what did it mean to the artist. My friends told me sometimes it's better not to know, because the artist would want each person to have a connection or relate to the art in a personal way.
It's an interesting thought, but the detective in me always wants to know (exactly what were they thinking about). I can't help it.

D., cool pic...I wonder if as the tour rolls on...if new things will crop up in the setlist? I didn't hear a new song Saturday night, but I heard songs I haven't hear them play live yet...really enjoyed that!

Posted by: bex | Mar 13, 2006 12:51:10 PM

You know what, though? I can honestly tell you that this past year has been one of the most adventurous and joyful years of my life. I am doing things right now that I have dreamed of for YEARS, and while I am doing them, Trent's music is as much my soundtrack as ever. I really don't just mean that he says what you can't or that he gets me through the dark days, and in fact, I can't honestly say that Trent's music ever helped me get through dark days.

I'll tell you what it did do, back in 1994 when he first changed my mind, and I mean that in a very literal sense: he gave me the courage to choose to live through dark days in the hope of something finer. His work, and the kinds of things it made me think about, helped me tell myself the truth, and then act on it, even though it was scary.

I think Trent casts the net pretty wide in his writing. Some writers are obsessed with details and include loads of concrete things; others are all about ideas and orientations of the soul. Trent is of the later ilk, and I think it means that people can find ways to relate what he says to the specifics of their lives... But for me, he's always had more of a catalyst's effect.

He helps me think.

(Thanks, Trent!)

Posted by: Dierdre | Mar 13, 2006 1:07:01 PM

Well, I think it just speaks to the versatility of the work that it can be someone's invisible sun in good times and bad.

I'm in straight-up Sam Lowry-esque oppression mode at the moment, so I'm just focusing on art as a tool of endurance...

Posted by: maise | Mar 13, 2006 1:24:34 PM

there's lots of big words flyin around. i'm getting lost easily. BUT i was thinking about something that kind of goes with this, like 10 minutes ago.

you know how sometimes people argue about the meaning of closer? I'm always torn between the fact that maybe he's just talking about fucking, just plain, hot, unabashes, animalistic fucking. or the way he talks about how they let him violate them and desecrate them and... well you know how it goes- if he's talking about love.
as much as i hate myself for loving that song i think about how amazing of a raw writer he is. you know what i mean? he's not the worlds best writer, especailly at that point in time when he was still fairly young and rough but just how he writes almost in a sense of vunrability. he just lays things out there and lets you take it and chew it and digest it and toss around what it means. i dont know. maybe he's not as smart as we give him credit for. but that's why i never want to meet him. i prefer him as a demi-god.

Posted by: Tori | Mar 13, 2006 8:44:17 PM

Tori, I think that's a really good thought. Here's what I'd say: "Closer" is about fucking, and it's also about love. There are a lot of times when Trent uses the context of one thing to actually be talking about another.

And, I don't think you should hate yourself for loving that song; that's a good goddamned song.

Posted by: Dierdre | Mar 13, 2006 9:30:11 PM

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?

Posted by: Jane | Mar 14, 2006 1:19:28 AM

No way should you hate yourself for loving "Closer," Tori. It's a really good song. Perhaps the music snobs/NIN elitist fans would have you feeling guilty about liking it because it was a radio hit, but I personally have no patience for the people who like to keep the best bands hidden away from everyone else not deemed to be "cool" enough.

Posted by: maise | Mar 14, 2006 7:08:23 AM

I just want to say that I enjoy the "new" Dierdre a lot more. I'm also more than a tad relieved that the "old" Dierdre has been retired; she could be endearing at times, but never stopped being freaky. :D

I was looking through the archives and found the Meathead stuff. One question —sorry if it's already been asked: Was he in on it too? Because that would've fucking ruled.

Posted by: C | Mar 14, 2006 7:00:06 PM

C, I don't know if Meathead got that we were kidding or not. I hope he did, but I suspect he didn't. Oh well.

I miss old Dierdre. She may make occasional appearances.

Posted by: Dierdre | Mar 15, 2006 3:17:18 AM

I think everyone would agree that D needs to come visit when she can.

Posted by: Iris | Mar 15, 2006 10:29:07 AM

I understand the feeling towards the artist. I have that for one other, and now I am finding more and more as I listen to him, being fairly new to the fandom myself, that trent almost demands a spot in your heart. And I haven't the audacity to turn him away.

Welcome in, make yourself at home Mr. R.

Posted by: KittyKins | Jul 30, 2006 12:34:43 AM

Welcome to WTC, Kittykins!

Posted by: Dierdre | Jul 30, 2006 12:43:08 AM

Danke ~^.^~ I couldn't not join, you people are too cool for school....holy lord did I actually just use that phrase?

Posted by: KittyKins | Jul 30, 2006 8:35:53 AM

Yes. U see Dierdre i love Trent in many ways not just every inch of his hotness but his songs and him have helped me through a lot of really bad shit i was going through a year ago. If it wasn't 4 Trent i'd probably be a souless cow. I have him 2 thank 4 that.

Posted by: Rachel | Aug 21, 2006 11:21:02 AM

Rachel, does the word "flood" mean anything to you?

Because it means something to me.

Posted by: maise | Aug 21, 2006 11:23:23 AM

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