Friday, August 20, 2004

Sasha's referring in part to the email that follows, written before teaching today (Tagore and Tractatus 6.4, just to give you the coordinates of my non-blog headspace). Some further comment after the tildes.

What I sent, revised for a family audience:

Yeah, fine on the tone; mine was gassy too. Tho, how is what's giving you indigestion different than the 'hip-hop's just about bitches and money' kneejerk you very rightly complain about, from people who have no stake in paying attention? Otherwise, yrs was just the tipping point w/r/t some other things, including seeing too much exceptionalism-via-ignorance re my good and great friend John. The 4AD records are in danger of becoming OutKast for critics who 'hate indie-rock.'

Inclined to agree about Malkmus -- like Murdoch, does good stuff but is liked for shallow reasons; terrible influence. NB that almost no one I named could be said to be working in his shadow; maybe Berman, except the influence actually probably runs both ways. My guys and gals are low on absurdity, also on twee, also on 'outsider'-hood.

Maybe there's stuff that covers the 'rebel yell' market -- I wouldn't mock someone who cited Fugazi, but beyond that, I wouldn't know. Most of my list is in one way or another 'writerly,' and may be adult, but I'm an adult writer, and I thought that was what you were asking for, not that you were asking.

You know, right, that I dislike a lot of what's taken seriously by the successors to (and remaining dregs of) the community in which I was heavily invested in the '90s, from Oldham to the guy from the Decemberists? And that I know the difference between lyrics and poetry? If anything is irking me right now more than the notion that bands need midlist [or better] novelists to write songs, it's 'younger poets' who were probably in a band for 4 mos. in college and now need me to know their record collections.


This is not an ideal afternoon for me to get deep on this; but a few things:

I hadn't intended to get involved in 50 separate arguments about whether Z is any good. Sure, fine side bet, why not, but ultimately, if Jessica can't read past Berman, it's nothing to me. As noted, my list leaned heavily on indie-rock of the kind I know/knew well; funny how that would be, seeing as I wrote it. Someone whose postive kneejerking ran toward metal or garage rock or hardcore or some other current of the stream, main- or otherwise, that I don't swim in much would come up w/ a rather different list; that possibility only sharpens the point, which was just that it may not be quite the desert out there it's reputed to be.

Similarly, I have no interest in proposing general principles o' goodness. Fool's errand. If there's one thing you can read off what's expressed in this blog pretty consistently, it's that I hold to a principles of aesthetic incommensurability, which is distinct, though likely not incompatible with, aesthetic relativism.

Sasha suggests we start unpacking 'writerly.' I didn't mean much by it in the email, actually; I didn't mean, for example, that it starts on the page, is done by those w/ formal training or pretenses to publication, or is relevant to some particular literary tradition in its aims and effects. I meant something more like: Self-aware about aiming to have something interesting -- again, broadly defined -- going on in the words and (preferably, of course) in how the words bear on the music. Probably accompanied by some impulse toward or capactiy toward self-editing. But I don't say this is a necessary condition of the good. I'm sure there are plenty of bands whose lyrics are functional-to-dandy, but who aren't awfully self-conscious about them in the way I associate w/ writers of every tendency. But that wasn't wasn't what came to mind when I said to myself: Think of some good lyricists.

Some perspective about this might be given by my response to Joshua's 'assignat' a few weeks back, which I got to him too late to post. The brief version is just that the 10 or 12 songs I happened to pick that weekend ran to old country, a couple of show tunes, and snatches of "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "Message of Love." So, in some ways, it didn't reflect the views I'm defending here, which, make of what you will.

Briefly, to Jessica: Well, I enjoy Bettie Seervert, but frankly, I doubt I'd have thought of them if I hadn't complained about that Hal Hartley movie recently. But, more generally, particular merits aside: One of the interesting things about material conditions as they stand in the present is that there are technologies that allows you to listen to music made in the past. These conditions strike me as unlikely to change in the future.

I am surprised that both Sasha and Jess have some time for Richard Buckner. Live and learn.

Much not touched on, really do have to do some other work now. Unlikely that there will be more before Sunday.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?