I did this sort of post last month. Thought I’d do it again.
It’s Saturday. I’m reading L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine issue #6, which opens with a special section devoted to three chunks from Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons. Michael Davidson offers the first contribution in the issue, which he begins by making a distinction between the two ways that Stein scholars tended to categorize her work (granted this issue came out in 1978, but the categories still seem to be pretty paradigmatic examples of orthodox Stein interpretation): on the one hand, Davidson argues, her writing is seen as all play, deriving strictly out of her early research work with William James and automatic writing and later invigorated by Cubist formalism; on the other hand, her writing is seen as hermetically Symbolist, concerned with encoding sexual and biographical information in complex little verbal machines which contextualize their own environments. Both views, Davidson says, operate on either side of a referential paradigm: one wants her to mean nothing and the other wants her to mean intrinsically. But what makes Tender Buttons so vital, Davidson argues, is not the strategies by which meaning is avoided or encoded but how each piece points at possibilities for meaning.
I like this argument. It’s not about meaning vs. meaninglessness, it’s about exploring the possibilities engendered by the confounding nature of the text.
Anyway, here are five albums (plus two extra bonus albums!) I’ve recently been spinning, which I thought you might find interesting (hint: if you click on the artist and title it will take you to the magic place):
Pitchfork says: “Unfortunately, none of these songs actually feel like songs. Only a few have choruses or any significant chord changes. Instead, they’re set pieces, which makes sense: Lynch’s films often seem to be more about luxuriating in his atmosphere than about following his plots, and that carries over to this music as well.”
Paste says: “What a mess…Crazy Clown Time, recorded in Lynch’s personal studio with engineer Big Dean Hurley, isn’t exactly fart-blank, but this visual master shouldn’t quit his day job.”
The Atlantic says: “Lynch dares to disturb, and that requires a bravery that cares not for our comfort, but for the integrity of the art itself.”
NPR says: “It sounds absurd, yes, and Crazy Clown Time … won’t be for everyone. But you can be sure that no two people will come away with the same experience of this record, and there aren’t many artists working today who can make that claim.”
Gorgeous video debut of my favorite band in Atlanta, Lyonnais, on the occasion of the release of their debut album “Want for Wish for Nowhere” from Hoss Records. This has become one of my favorite records to write to. Highly recommended.
It’s Saturday. I’m working on a paper I’ll be presenting in two weeks at the A.S.A.P. conference in Pittsburgh, entitled: “Gen-Web: The Emergent Literary Coterie.” My goal will be, in part, to bring the current online literary scene to the dinner table of academia. If you should find yourself in PA between October 27-30, you should come by the Wyndham Hotel and catch a panel or two. It’s gonna be a kick-ass conference, because it’s geared toward bleeding-edge research and innovative approaches to literature. The president of the association is a mentor of mine, Brian McHale, who has written extensively about innovative literature, including the seminal volume Postmodernist Fiction. The advisory committee for the organization includes Charles Bernstein, N. Katherine Hayles, Linda Hutcheon, Michael Berube and many other internationally recognized and groundbreaking scholars and distinguished practitioners in the contemporary arts. So the atmosphere should be pretty cool. If you’re around Friday night, for instance, Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid) will be giving a plenary session at the Warhol Museum. Not to mention, Friday afternoon htmlgiant friends Johannes Göransson & Joyelle McSweeney will team up with Josh Corey and Monica Mody to present a panel on “The Pastoral and the Necropastoral.”
This post isn’t going to be about that, though. Instead it’s going to be about some music I’ve been listening to lately…
[Those in Pacific Standard Time, click on image if you want to fucking rock out with me, and turn it up you fags.]
LANDAU EUGENE MURPHY JR.
This former car wash employee turned Sinatra-style superstar walked away with $1 million last night after winning NBC’s summer variety program America’s Got Talent.
The West Virginia native will be featured as a headlining act at Las Vegas’s legendary Caesars Palace®, hosted by none other than Jerry Springer.
Watch America’s favorite contestant perform his acclaimed rendition of “My Way” below, and remember, the American dream is not dead so FUCK ALL YOU GREAT GATSBY F. SCOTT FITZGERALD ZEALOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you’re at all familiar with independent music and hip hop, chances are you’ve been hearing a lot about Action Bronson this summer. Hailing from Flushing, Queens, the Albanian-American chef’s debut record Dr. Lecter was received with universal acclaim with its slick, sometimes self loathing, sometimes violent, other times just straight clever rhymes, not to mention his numerous comparisons to Ghostface Killah. Along with the album came a number of music videos, the most memorable of which I’ve chosen to break down with you today.
The video opens with the line “know you broke my heart [something] when you said goodbye to me” coupled with the image of fat being trimmed away from a cut of raw meat. The meat (“carne” in Spanish) represents the carnality of love. As it is trimmed away, then spiced, such is the speaker’s heart and soul cut open, salt rubbed into the wounds. Here, an unconscious woman is revealed in the foreground of Action’s cooking. The literal death of a once meaningful relationship.
All the Albums that Have Been Released in 2011 Thus Far that I Have Downloaded Illegally (with Commentary)
936 – Peaking Lights → I like this, but I’m not gonna get all excited about it.
A I A : Alien Observer – Grouper → This seems like alien music maybe? Just kidding, but am I? I think I liked this.
A I A : Dream Loss – Grouper → This is the same as the other one, right?
All Eternals Deck – The Mountain Goats → Forgettable. Forgiveable.
Angels Exodus – Lil B → Can’t go wrong, but also… can’t remember listening to this ever. Still seems good.
Apocalypse – Bill Callahan → One of my favorite albums of the year. Very funny, very smart. Excellent songwriting by a consistently excellent songwriter. Listened to this walking from East Village to West Village several mornings. Really good music videos.
Maybe you see all these videos and think “I don’t have time for this shit” and while I totally sympathize with that, I strongly suggest you make the time for this video if you have so much as a passive interest in the art of music, which you should because literature is music; cavemen played music; music is probably older than language, probably they are more or less the same thing, which is interesting because it seems to me the only thing separating music from noise is some form of repetition.
Skip to like 4:30 to avoid the usual b.s.
Thanks to my friend Eric Schaefer, who puts out Answering Machine Recordings, for sharing.
In their song “Hahahaha jk,” Das Racist proclaims, “We’re not racist: We love white people!”
[Sorry, I wanted to find a video of a live performance, but YouTube is sometimes inadequate. At least you can listen the song?]
I love Das Racist. They are smart and clever and funny and their lyrics are just plain fantastic. But that one line, it sticks with me. Partially because it’s true, partially because it speaks to racial issues in a very pointed and problematic way.
Imagine if Eminem had a lyric like: I’m not racist, I love black people. How many people would be pissed? (Come on. It’s not like we don’t all know it’s true!) But because Das Racist has at their easy disposal the “race” card, it’s not only funny, it comes to embody a certain degree of truth.
As a woman of color, I can say: I’m not racist, I love white people. No one would call me racist, at least not to my face.
So tell me about the name of the new record, Illuminati Thug Mafia?
It’s kinda like the unseen terrible, you know what I mean. All these things have a negative mythology to them. At the same time these organizations, you know that none of us completely know, have their own culture individually. You hear Illuminati, you hear thug, you hear mafia you kind of dismissed it instantly, or at least a degree where you prepare what the the fuck you’re gonna hear. You already prepare yourself to already not believe it, take it with a grain of salt. In a way combine all three of those and it kind of like it’s some real super power, the ultimate fucking ridiculousness.