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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Jane informs me that a previous year's poster for "Paris Plage" -- the city-sponsored "beach," complete w/ sand and volleyball courts that occupies the square in front of city hall at the height of summer -- already made the mild Situationist joke I ended with above. I'm only mildly surprised: Kristin Ross to one side, there's something to be said for a culture that makes even this much explicit contact w/ its logics of failed revolt. I don't expect the advertising for Los Angeles civic events to evoke the spirit of the Watts Riots anytime soon. (Meanwhile, an NPR story mentions Chirac's repeal of the mandatory 35-hrs-max work week -- now, the French can work more if they "want to.")

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Curious upcoming tour pairings: The Roots/Deerhoof; Shellac/Scout Niblett. Curious sponsorship pairing, for next leg of Go4 tour: URB and VH1 Classic.

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By accident, the week or so during which I've spent the least time online in the last 2 years was also one in which the poetry segment of the 'sphere became particularly nasty. Other than issuing a promissory note* for some future pedantry about the uses and abuses of "speech act" terminology, I'm keeping out of it. Often, I regret that my finite energies make it the case that I must relegate myself to the margins of the poetry community; at times like these, I do not. (Readers who don't know already know what I'm on about, you're likely not missing out on much.)

*Eh, might as well do it now. I worry that a distinction between illocutionary and perlocutionary acts/effects is being conflated in JM's posts on assertion, exaggeration, etc. The classical (Austinian) view is this: The illocutionary force an utterance -- asserting, asking, ordering, promising, christinening, etc. -- is characteristically connected to some verbal form or other (the first three correspond to the main grammatical moods, the others to more "specialized" formulas), at least to a great enough to degree that they can be fruitfully studied as a part of linguistic meaning, alongside the even more classical components of reference, propositional comment etc. (Austin's contribution was to propose that an interesting theory of force could be given, contra Frege.) Perlocutionary effect -- what further end an assertion, promise, and so on is for -- is not nearly so highly conventionalized. The gist being that: An assertion isn't "always" also (name your favorite rhetorical end). One may question whether this distinction holds, for Derridean reasons or others*, but I think it's dangerous to run over it w/o comment.

But "of course," I am merely correcting an exaggeration, and thus being "irritating."

Maybe we'll take up implicature another time.

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Jordan:

i) What I should really be rebutting is the claim that I was on my game at Million Poems, but thank you. If I am meant to draw the conclusion that it might be healthy to stop taking theoretical claims as referenda on my practice in particular -- point taken and appreciated.

ii) "...what's about race, class, and normative privilege"? Most obviously, the relatively large amount of positive press given to, more or less, indie-rock, proportional to its cultural and/or aesthetic weight and/or ambition. And something similar can be said about "rock" more broadly. (I gather from the Newsweek I read on the plain that the new Stones album is a scrappy return to form.)

Put that way, as a point mostly internal to rock-crit and those who follow it, it all sounds pretty thimble-sized. But if some of what's at issue didn't devolve on social divisions, I doubt I'd be as interested, or as pained. In the mid-'80s/early-'90s, you could almost fool yourself that the "battle lines" were drawn between whatever the "Corporate Rock Still Sucks" bumper sticker was supposed to refer to and a smaller-scale, arguably more aesthetically vital countertradition of "independent producers." You could even think you were really doing something by showing up for the Sister tour. (But even then -- I was usually the power-popper among pigfucks; and 3 Feet High and Straight Outta Compton and Nation of Millions were on my turntable [and one is sung over on my 1st solo 7"] if not my radio show; and eventually realized that, to take an example, Cupid and Psyche '85 meant as much or more to me than, oh, New Day Rising.)

Anyway, the point is that this illusion can no longer be maintained. An indie-rocker, particularly a white, male, educated-at-a-selective-institution one, who thinks (a) that he's doing something oppositional in relation to the-vapid-products-of-the-culture-industry and (b) that he can plausibly be a quietist about the value -- or the existence! -- of some other musics is fooling himself. Badly.

iii) In insisting on some of this, and in taking on board some version of a cultural-studiesish view of such matters (whether arrived at or applied academically or not), I thought I was simply agreeing w/ the huge parts of Sasha's account which I do, in fact, agree with. Parroting them, even. [I suspect that our biggest difference is terminological: When he says "indie-rock," he's comfortable using it mainly to refer to stuff that we both dislike, and then say something exceptional about the exceptions. I dislike the term, but if I'm gonna use it, I'm less likely to use it in quite that way.]

Beyond salutary contact w/ Sahsa, Jane, Matos, Jeff C., and others, two things have troubled what was the mostly peaceful but unrefreshing formalist sleep I had sunk into by the turn of my millenium: The whole hoo-hah over the OutKast voting (not that I agree with all of the charges issued to me or others in that discussion, but it made me think); and the occasion on which, outside a New Pornographers show, a guy I'd met exactly once before and knew a little bit of my writing informed me that the LA Weekly's music section needed to cover "more white guys with guitars." So, yeah, I've become sensitized since all this (not to mention less inclined than I might have otherwise been to pitch someone a piece about Twin Cinema.)

I suppose I've gotten sidetracked, but I wanted some of this out there. As I have been advised, I will now move on.

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Meanwhile, back at Bemsha, in the comment box to this post, two poets smooth over some earlier difference by bonding over Will Oldham. (Though they end by disagreeing about which version of "Gulf Streams" is better.)

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