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What We're Reading: Suno Deko on Spiritual Texts, Internet Feminism and Pre-Civil War Erotica

Tired of reading the same recommended books from the usual sources? Just think of our bi-weekly What We’re Reading column as your non-committal book club with FADER and some of your favorite bands and artists. For this installment, it’s Georgia-based songsmith David Courtright aka Suno Deko. Thrown Color, his debut EP, is out July 22nd on Stratosfear; listen to "Bluets" right here.

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
This book came to me in a time of life/spiritual turmoil. My band of three years had just broken up, and I was finally putting myself to the task of starting Suno Deko, which had been in the back of my mind but I’d been too consumed with that other band and also mostly just afraid to really put myself into it. On top of that, I’d just moved in with my current partner of four years, and the transition—with everything happening at once—was difficult. This book blew my mind completely wide open, and the entire way that I view life and the universe and the experience of being a human being were fundamentally altered. Tolle is a contemporary spiritual teacher (bffs with Oprah) and his book basically breaks down the mechanics of identity and ego, and lays out why suffering occurs and why it’s entirely self-created, and, thankfully, how to move beyond it into the present moment. There are parts that feel a little corny and self-helpy, but as a whole, this book is a dense and powerful spiritual text. It enables you to see your own thoughts and the emotions they generate, and really the entire construction of who you are, from a higher perspective, one of great stillness and clarity. Tolle and Thich Nhat Hanh—and to a lesser extent, Pema Chodron and Abraham-Hicks—are all sources that I turn to engage in the present moment and, as Hicks says, “align with source energy.” For 90% of people it’s probably new age bullshit, but at this point I am full of so much joy on such a regular basis, that I feel like something about it worked.

The Garden Room by Joy Katz
My dear friend and poetry soul mate Maggie Ginestra, who runs an incredible art collective called Sumptuary in Atlanta, gave me this book during a poetry date/book swap more than a year ago. I think I lent her my Heather Christle (give it back!). This tiny 33-page book of poems takes the form of a house, with titles like “Color of the walls,” and “Linen Closet,” but the rooms in the interior of this house are far more interior than you would imagine. I haven’t had a collection of poems so resolutely infiltrate my own writing practice in some time, not since reading Christle and also Anthony McCann’s I <3 Your Fate a few years ago. Her language is white-hot and she turns a phrase on its head so many times you forget where the ceiling of this hellish-but-also-exquisitely-beautiful house you’re in is: I took the furtive towers of our thighs, made them public as ice. / While I go about my day a naked burn goes on, a hiss. / A clean, continuous tone. A hearing test." How the fuck do you even write that?

“Not All Women: A Reflection On Being A Musician and Female,” Impose
This article is some of the most righteous and also horrifying and painful writing about misogyny in the music world I’ve read in some time. I was deeply affected by it, and cried through a lot of it. Obviously I have no concept of what it’s like being a woman, but touring with women I see the daily barrage of offhanded sexism and dismissal that women deal with. It’s been encouraging recently to see so many women speaking out about their experiences, and I feel like feminism, especially on the internet, is terribly exciting right now. It’s hard as a white male, even though I’m gay, to find my footing in all of it so I just try to shut up and be supportive, and try to step in when I see it happening (which is all the fucking time). Just recently my friend Emily Reo was asked if she was the girlfriend on tour with the band, even though she had just finished playing a set under her own name. It’s so nonchalant but so dismissive, ugh. This article moved me to the core, and I wanna shout out to all those brave ladies who are speaking out. Please keep telling your stories. Not that you need a man to tell you that lol.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Whitman is my total homo spiritual forefather, and when I first read his book Leaves of Grass in tenth grade it fundamentally altered my entire spiritual landscape and brought me deeply into the physical world as a place of divinity. I have read that book over and over and return to it often, most recently in the back seat of my Prius, Tilly, while on tour with Julie Byrne and Cameron Potter aka Little Spoon this spring hurtling through the immense and striated rusty landscape of Wyoming. He has a way of getting deep into the bones of language to describe and celebrate the things that are often impossible to express in words. The way he talks about the ocean makes me want to take my clothes off and become one with it forever:

You sea! I resign myself to you also . . . I guess what you mean,
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers,
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me;
We must have a turn together . . . I undress . . . hurry me out of sight of the land,
Cushion me soft . . . rock me in billowy drowse,
Dash me with amorous wet . . . I can repay you.

What a hornball! To me he is the greatest American writer, and changed the face of language in this country in such a magnificent way. And to be writing such erotic gay poetry pre-Civil War I gotta hand it to this bear. He was really onto something.

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What We're Reading: Suno Deko on Spiritual Texts, Internet Feminism and Pre-Civil War Erotica