Saturday, October 15, 2016

To every empire its own Caligula. Ubi est qui vomitorium?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

cult industry

From a apprenticeship under Pauline Kael:

"Regarding Hollywood, she would say,’Never underestimate how much those in power resent those with talent -- talent being the one thing they can’t buy for themselves. But they never tire of fucking with it. that’s their talent.’”

Upon the zeitgeistification of CBGB, after revisiting it some twenty-something years after the fact...
“The Jungian analyst and author James Hillman once observed that some cultural moments and institutions exert an afterlife hold on the imagination through the anecdotes and incidents that accrue into a corral reef of true myth -- or, as he put it in three little words, ‘all that lore.’ All that lore in what CBGBs compelled long after it became a raucous shell, and what has kept the myth of the Algonquin Round Table alive, no matter how mid-range the achievements of Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, and Robert Benchley appear today. ...Same for the Beats -- they were a self-aware, self-promoting lore syndicate whose exploits still inspire hipster doofuses today, at least those who foreswear irony. Lore is publicity that lasts long after there’s nothing left to publicize.”

- James Wolcott, Lucking Out

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Sunday, December 14, 2014

ironic year-specific footnote to that long sprawling and unrelentingly subjective thing about folk, bluegrass and etc that some people said i should write, but never did. but proly should've.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

faux consciousness

From one of Matt Collings's 'Diary' columns, c. 2007:

"Ideas are the false idols of current fashion in art. They exist so people in art circles can feel comfortable with political issues they don't really believe in, to make up for feeling uncomfortable with art. Art bores them but they don't realize it. [...]

"With the usual shallow market art you know exactly where you are. You know it's elitist and decadent. The pain is for the outsiders who don't understand, unless they're rich outsiders who can be pseudoinsiders by paying -- they can skip the 'understanding' square on the board and go straight to 'feel good about yourself,' maybe even pick up a 'boss everyone else around' card on the way."
The first part gave me a part-shudder/part-chuckle of recognition, if only because it describes about 2/3s of my grad-school art history professors.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

media freaks, ii

"Marshall McLuhan's distinctions between 'hot' and 'cool' media, and his notion of the television-created 'global village,' seem to be without much meaning, except on a trivial level. (If anything, thbe spread of wider comminication nets tends to bring about the disintegration of larger socities into fragmentary ethnic and primordial units.) But there are real consequences for the cohenence of a culture in the relative weights of print anfd the visual in the formation of knowledge. The print media allow for self-pacing and dialgue in comprehening an argument or in reflecting on an image. Print not only emphasizes the cognitive and the symbolic but is also, most imprtantly, the necessary mode for conceptual thought. The visual media -- I mean here film and television -- impose their pace on the viewer and, in emphasizing images rather than words, invite not conceptualization but dramatization.In the emphasis televison news places on disasters and human tragedies, it invites not purgation or understanding but sentimentality and pity, emotions that are quickly exhausted, and a pseudo-ritual in pseudo-participatio in the events. And, as the mode is inevitably one of overdramaitzation, the responses soon become either stilted or bored."

- Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976), pp. 107-108

* * * *

Have long heard of Bell's book; and, finally reading it now, have to wonder what all the honoraries were for. A simple (yet incisive) core thesis, reiterated again and again, to the point of redundancy. And swathed in pages of sweeping cultural generalizations that are constanl;y fatiguing in their lack of nuance.

And, despite his merits, McLuhan's a fairly easy target.If his metaphors and conceptualizations seem off the mark; well at least he deserves the credit for venturing into territory that no one before him thought worth critiquing, etc.. Still, I have to admit that Bell's bit cited above proved exceptionally prescient; considering how things have played out since,*

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* Except for "ethnic" and "primordial" [sic, 2x], substitute maybe ideological and (extremely) localized.

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