Monday, February 26, 2007

Neu und Besser

Frankly I do not know why I have taken so long to realize that to continue this blog as a musical critique would have been the death of it. Woebot is having quite a laugh with Paul Morley's piece in the Observer on Sunday, but is Morley not right? So many bloggers come totally unprepared, without the merest hint of any maturity into the world of online journalism that they vent one inanity after another into the blogosphere." As long as it's new, as long as it flashes in 40 million different colours", as Johnny puts it in Naked. The birth and death of the same thing are proclaimed in a few weeks time. Yeah, I guess you could call that the end of history.

I too was at first totally fascinated by all those people in the blogosphere who toss around references to Deleuze, Lacan, Barthes, Derrida and whoever is the (wo)man of the day. It is why I decided sometime last year to finally start reading all those referenced authors and philosophers, so that at least I would be able to understand the difference between a K-punk and his many imitators.

More importantly, of course, it was to find out where I really stood amid all those different points of view. I have not really made a definite choice yet, I even suppose I never will. I could never fully adopt a Lacanian take (as Dejan does), because history has taught me that there are many different truths (cfr. Dejan and Zizek) and that it is best not to take a fixed point of view.

This could be perceived as ideological cowardness, but, frankly, are we not way past that? Most contemporary thinkers - sometimes I think everyone after Heidegger - just deal in hermeneutics and refuse to offer a fixed point of view. Rightly so? I am in doubt.

One side of the story tells me that by focusing solely on hermeneutics and declaring the end of all great stories and concepts thinkers have opened up a Box of Pandora of intellectual nonsense that gets employed by the intellectually less gifted (by that I do not mean people with a low IQ or such stuff, but writers who have not taken the time to consider which tools they should use and, even more importantly, have not taken the time to absorb the lessons these tools offer them) to show how clever they are by mentioning such or such 'big name'.

The other part shows that almost no-one any longer dares to do anything other than hermeneutics, i.e. just offering tools and methodology to analyse post-modern problems.

This mere hermeneutic approach, I suspect, will only bring up more post-modern problems, a sort of post-to-the-power-x-modernism, while all the while the question should be how we are going to escape from post-modernism into something new that is truly worthwhile.

The link between this hermeneutics-for-philosophy and the sorry state of blogging may be a thin one, but I think there are at least some parallels. Because in the blogosphere everyone can at least pretend that he is a specialist in his given field. You only have to look at the by now very old and very sad mentionings of "the eighties" in relation to today's musical scene.

It is a bit of a shame that James Murphy does not really live up to his own point by blatantly ripping the 80ies himself, but he sure had a point with his "borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties". Damn! With The Klaxons we even have our first case of unremembered nostalgia for the unremembered nineties. At the present rate of dilution of thought next year we will surely experience the first symptoms of borrowed nostalgia for the remembered noneties.

It is why I felt a bit uneasy at the lengthy column of text dedicated to new rave (which as a "style" is completely devoid of any meaning) by the always so sharp Philip Sherburne. K-punk dismissed the phenomenon and its presumed attributes in a short post and very rightly so. It is a sorry state of affairs when journalists and writers have to dedicate a piece to utter nothingness, just because their editor wants his magazine to be in tow to the latest fad on Myspace or other extended nitwitworks.

I will never forget the mail I got from my editor at the end of 2006 in which he stated that our predictive article on the next big musical things in 2007 might as well contain absolute off-the-map bullshit, because no-one would remember it at the end of the same year. He was right of course, but does that make me feel good? I mean, how much difference is there between such a text and one that is puked out by the infamous post-modern lingo generator that someone put on the net a few years ago?

All these analyses are nonetheless offered up as inventive, original and learned news items, the newer and the less thought-over the better. And, of course, real journalism has been infected by this development along the way. If then someone, like Morley, admittedly someone from the old school, dares attempt to bring the phenomenon back to its real dimensions, i.e. as a mere avalanche of shit clogging up your brains, eyes and ears, he is all too readily dismissed as an old fart. Instead such remarks should lead to a deserved mea culpa and some reflection.

Nonetheless, since I have a positive attitude and am - hopefully for some time longer - still hopeful, I expect that one day out of this sea of muck may arise a blogosphere that truly lives up to its promises, a sort of direct democracy that is really worthy of its name. So we have a K-punk, we have a Cultural Parody Center, we have a Steven Shaviro, but it is not nearly enough to posit a true renaissance of thought. Time to get our hands and minds dirty.


OMC said...

The blogosphere moves in waves, sometimes it feels brilliant and sometimes it falls flat. So it goes. I sort of recognize what Morley’s is on about (although The Knife and Scott Walker are instant-classics, so he’s too quick in dismissing everything.) This feeling of critical nearness that feels just too close, or maybe better too close without a chance of getting some distance again, a slowness of thought…no chance to masticate on words. But we want it all, don’t we? Hear every record that was ever made and hear everything that’s coming out… tomorrow, it’s an almost superhuman task. Obviously back in the day with Melody Maker you had a week to digest stuff (even then a week was considered too little time by the Dutch music press, the cause of “typical British hype”.) We will never go back to that situation though, so it’s up to the user to deal with it, create an personal ethos to deal with this situation.

But yeah there’s seems at the moment to be a bit of lull, with too many lazy join-the-dots “analyses”, a bit of nadir was reached with that Reynolds list of “look how many tracks with the word ghost in it”…although it was responsible for my favorite blogentry of 2006, Ian Penman’s scathing criticism (or should that be exorcism? ;) of lazy hauntology.

dj dejan said...

You're a demanding fan, Le Feu! Although when mentioning the best blogs, you could have skipped mein Dubbelbroeder kpunk and my good daddy Shaviro; the Cultural Parody Center is the best and we will not have it ANY OTHER WAY.

My appreciation of Jacques Lacan, which you keep calling to the stand, is not based on his books, or on anybody else's books. I don't think I even read much of Lacan's original writing - it's convoluted, pretentious and boring. I always read him in passages. I received Lacan's Bible through undergoing his analysis. My experiences were so good that I am prepared to put my ass on the line in defence of daddy Lacan - in spite of his criminal writing style.

In the text you say you haven't yet given your ass to any philosophic daddy, but it sounds to me like your anal affinities gravitate towards Derrida. The problem with Derrida, as I'm sure you know, is that his deconstruction implies a complicity with the objects he is dekonstrukting. So be careful there, and don't do any fisting with Derrida.

Speaking of NEW developments in cultural theory, I am almost finished reading Jonathan Bellers CINEMATIC MODE OF PRODUCTION, recommended by Le Colonel Chabert, and I must tell you this is probably one of the best and most original media crit books in a really long time!

Fire in the Mind said...

isn't the point of derrida that the fisting is not really necessary? and then i am asking myself (just as i asked dominic: so what is wrong with sonic fetishism?): what is wrong with committing yourself. this does not have to be final, not? or should it?

i guess i am just having a problem with the frequent contra-intuitive writing that i encounter on the blogosphere. i read those things with all their deleuzian/barthian/lacanian/what-do-i-know
references and i am thinking: come on!

it is just the same with the discussion i am having with dominic a few post below. i feel that by producing so much text we are missing the point. we seem to look not for ways out, but for ways in, a sort of literary auto-cannibalism. if there is not something new (i am not even
going to say: something better) that comes out of all this then what is the bother? i want to find ways out and oppose the saying that "there is no way out of po-mo". that is bullshit! there is always a way out. or there should be.

is that demanding? if so, then yes i am terribly demanding. no, i am pretty certain: i am very demanding. and i think the solution will never be found if we are going to gravitate around our own premises/asses forever. (with which i am not refering to dominic)

and with me this precludes a constantly re-evaluation of your own position. there is critique everywhere, but where is the critique of the self? seldom do i read blogwritings where the writer does ask himself "why do i write this?"

what i am trying to say (and this is just an example): shouldn't dominic rather have tried to explain why these racists are the focus of his inquiries in the first place? why is he fascinated by them? why are we fascinated by them. because there is an appealing tension between the aesthetics we like and the ideology we dislike. take it from there and maybe you will end up somewhere. that is critique.

and that is ultimately the reason why i did not like his rhizomatic take on racism in the arts. you can not join the dots between all those different approaches to, strategies for, ideologies about and reasons for racism.

you can defend yourself by calling it rhizomatic but that is again missing the point. because you are then creating a new certainty. the point should be interrogating yourself, thus creating uncertainty.

if i re-read my own blog quickly i am seeing an "I". that is creating uncertainty, because by writing out of yourself and daring to stand for something, you posit yourself as vulnerable. how many of those post-k-punk blogs dare put themselves in the eye/I of the storm? they are always playing neutral. neutral is for newspapers and academic writings. where is their intuition and where is their fight with it?

dejan said...

you seem to be putting lacan and derrida/deleuze in the same pot, but you see the crucial departure all these have made after lacan is their belief that language is a set of free-floating signifiers (derrida), or just one of the many modalities available to the human machine (deleuze)... lacan is unique in the group for claiming, through clinical psychoanalytic insight, that a certain fixation is necessary in language - the bond between the signifier and the signified, that is to say, the Symbolic order. All this blather about the decline of symbolic efficacy, supported by the Zizek academia, comes from this central idea in Lacan, versus a glorification of rhisomatic multiplicity and ambiguity and the resulting relativism, coming from the post-Lacan school. As far as I can see k-punk tries to blend the two in his Gothic materialism, with results that still didn't manage to impress me, while Shaviro is predominantly on the Deleuzian side. Their imitators, followers and slaves can basically be put in these two groups. It isn't really that complex.

Speaking for myself, I believe in the Lacanian doxa about language. I don't think you can break the Symbolic order, and for all your championing of mutation, I don't think such an intervention was performed successfully - yet. I think we will continue to need that Phallus we can hold on to, which brings stability to the world.

In essence I see both realms as existing next to each other, so there is this law of the language, AS WELL AS Deleuzian Becoming. But on that crucial point, about the symbolic order, about the necessity of having this linguistic fixation,I am dogmatic.

Zizek's interpretation of Lacan is NOT Lacan. Lacan himself warned against the use of analysis outside of the clinic. In the process of transposition the meaning changes, so if you want to study Lacan, you need other resources.

Racism and Lovecraft? I am not so fanatically into Lovecraft that I should be bothered to investigate, but off the top of my head, I think it;s silly to judge philosophi or writers on their political affiliations, and besides, even if L was racist, then his stories can also be read as a brilliant study of racism without being used for racist ideologies.

Fire I think Derrida's cock is unreliable, so in any case make sure to use a condom.

dejan said...

And now with the coming of Jonathan Beller, we have a THIRD option, which is a neomarxist reading of the media, and I assure you, Beller has come to some fascinating insights, improving a lot on the poststructuralists, so maybe this could be your next reading.

As for criticism, its limitations are 1) that your language in criticism becomes an artwork in itself , which can be analyzed and 2) that criticism is in principle so much less than creation.

Perhaps the antidote then, and what we admire about the komunikative punk and Shaviro, is to write clearly, brilliantly and originally , so that the language does not end up transforming the subject into your own art, while at the same time being excellent writing on its own terms. I think a balance between the two is the key to success.

dejan said...

in other words, maybe the reason you're huffing and puffing here and letting deridaddy's cock get to you is that you're in the process of finding your own voice as an Auteur?

Fire in the Mind said...

isn't that what i am trying to say all along? at this time and place i am still searching for a voice.

and sometimes i think it is wrong to start out in a negative way (what i do not like in others), but at the moment, with all the nonsense , or maybe i should say pseudo-sense, i.e. doxa, i am reading everyday, it is at least a way to get through to my own core-business.

but sometimes i feel that i would like to read k-punk's intuitions rather than his finished products. do you understand what i am aiming at?

Fire in the Mind said...


i think the word exorcism is particularly well chosen for what i am going to try in the future here. it is a question of what is useful and what is not.

dejan said...


maybe your dilemma is: am i a user, or am i creator? am i the psychoanalyst, the translator of the other's desire, or do i have my own desire so strong that i need to scream it to the world.

am i mozart, or am i salieri?

as for the possible ways besides general pissedoffedness (though pissedoffedness when delivered forcibly can be creative too) that you could find your voice:

a) first of all stop expecting that it will come of its own accord, and realize that it is something that needs to be built (so i would propose the exact opposite of your idea of writing too much and say, write as much as possible, all the time, or make your own music as much as possible)

b) maybe you can find your voice through assemblage ie combining all the voices you hear like kpunk or derrida or i don't know, in a process resembling what you described yesterday about kode 9
(creation through destruction etc)

c) if you're not a creator, but an analyst instead, then I must assure you shaviro is an excellent guide through literature (seldom known a better one in my life) so that surely saves you meandering through useless books... and i think k-punk's selections have always been excellent as well, discounting maybe his overemphasis on Englishness, which i don't find such a terribly thriving and interesting culture at the moment *though that's mijn opinie alleen.

d) the best thing about blogging to me is that things come out of interactions between blugghas and this is something really new and amaaaazing to me (even if the distance makes things frustrating, as I would much mor appreciate this conversation with some pot leaning comfortably in a sofa and being able to get your immediate feedback nonverbal as well as verbal). so if you immerse yourself in these interactions from time to time who knows maybe they bring you to your own formulation.

in any case: REPETITIO EST MATER STUDIORIUM thus keep working I would say.

This psychoanalysis will cost you 100 euro, payable by Mastercard, cheque or electronically to the Cultural Parody Center.

Dr. Dejan

dejan said...

exorcism - why not? i exorcized dr. zizek, though unsuccessfully (because new demons kept coming out)

but do keep a record of the exorcism, because that's the only way you will be able to get anywhere