Saturday, December 10, 2005

1) Downside of listening to the local Top 40 station: The fact that they play "My Humps" even more often than its chart position dictates; the constant announcement for an Xmas sweepstakes, the sole prize in which is money toward a boob job ("you can make 'em smaller -- we don't care!"); an ad soliciting dancers for a gentleman's club, in the form of a conversation between a young woman who is already working there and one who has always wanted to ("it's safe -- and the hours are flexible!"); Nickelback's "Photograph," which is one foul combo of post-Goo Goos and a melodic bite from "Hard For Me to Say I'm Sorry"). Major upside, currently: Rhianna.

2) Recent talk about photography reminds me to point to the work of Jill Magid, whose work includes "performances" staged in front of various London security cameras, forming a sort of citywide narrative. (which footage she then somehow obtains and screens); basically using the extant system as her medium. Here's an interview. Oddly, she claims not to be thinking of the work politically, which on the face of it sounds disingenuous. Apparently, some of her work is in "Balance and Power: Surveillance and Performance in Video Art," up now in Champaign, but the weather's been too iffy for me to get serious about making the drive.

3) Re Ange's mention of Sasha's thought about indie-rock ("there are no children in it"): the topic is interestingly touched on by Xgau, playing Kim and Thurston (bohos-w/-kid) against Ira and Georgia (w/o). "Only childless couples enjoy the kind of slack that accrues to shy kids with a junk room." (N.B. -- he likes both bands.) Maybe worth adding that indie has preferred those who act like kids to those who raise them. This can be of use when it's a route to something else (2nd and 3rd Beat Happening album; J. Richman as founding figure of the genre); I've grown quite uninterested in the version that is actually the exploitative confusion of dysfunction with innocence.

[Knight's move to Jim B.'s recent screed on not wanting the same thing as anybody else. Are those our two choices: "Connecticut" or "Anything not fun for me for five minutes is immediately abandoned"? Lousy menu; false opposition.]

4) Just beginning Badiou's recently translated Metapolitics. Opening is bracing, and rather damning toward my customary habits/methods:

"What is political philosophy? It is the programme which, holding politics -- or better still, the political -- as an objective datum, or even invariant, of universal experience, accords philosophy the task of thinking it. Overall, philosophy's task would be to generate an analysis of the political, in fine, quite obviously to submit this analysis to ethical norms. The philosopher would then have the triple advantage of being, first, the analyst and thinker of this brutal and confused objectivity which constitutes the empirical character of real instances of politics; second, the one who determines the principles of the good politics, of politics conforming to ethical demands; and, third, in order to meet these demands, the one exempt from militant involvement in any genuine political process. Whence the philosopher could keep the Real at arm's length indefinitely in the manner most dear to him: that of judgment."

This speaks to some of what bothers me about my own recent posts; I sometimes wonder if even "protest songs" might not be a slightly less dishonorable use of my diffuse and diminishing energies. Can't say w/o getting further in what I'll think of Badiou's notion of "metapolitics," designed to replace the traditional project of political philosophy flayed above. (Would also like to get to his Ethics; though I gather he's a systematic philosopher of sorts, I suspect that I'm unlikely gain purchase on his ontological and math-y work.)

5) Book I've always meant to mention here, but never have: Robert Ray's The Avant-Garde Finds Andy Hardy (H.U.P, 1995), which uses MGM's exceedingly popular but critically neglected cycle of Mickey Rooney vehicles as the object for a variety of ludic critical procedures. Including an alphabetical one -- I had remembered this when writing AF, but couldn't refer to the book at the time -- I found my copy just before moving. But the memory of it was on my mind. The point is to uncover new possibilities for academic criticism -- Ray's associated w/ "The Florida School," though I got more out of this than anything I've read by Geoffrey Ulmer -- but, as I just suggested, it's of interest to the practical critic interested in "finding a form" as well. Seriously -- working writers might give it a spin, even if you don't share my antecedent interest in the movies discussed.

6) Just in case your list of ways we shit on the world was running short, please add dumping technowaste in (to name just one place we know about) Lagos; partly made possible by our failure to sign on to The Basel Convention against exporting hazardous waste. What's especially lovely is when the recipient countries burn CRTs to reduce the volume, thus releasing a good deal of lead into the atmosphere. Too much more at Basel Action Network.

7) It's hard, I find, to go wrong with The Everly Brothers. I think they may end up on the short list of artists -- really, just Monk and The Minutemen -- for whom I suspend my usual interest in hearing all about the reasons I'm actually supposed to hate what I love.

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