Michael Godard: Art that is Freedom from Success

Posted by @ 11:51 am on August 28th, 2012

The UK  low-res pop band Cleaners From Venus have a song called “Corridor of Dreams,” which I think is basically the most chillwave, or even dadwave, thing possible. I don’t mean this as a joke or even as disrespectful. Ariel Pink was and is a huge fan of this band. I found out about this song when I was dating (or trying to sleep with?) a girl in a band in Oakland CA, before I left for NYC, in 2010. We were driving to get milk shakes from McDonalds in West Oakland. It was a hot spring day. She had amazing tits and didn’t give a fuck what I thought of here. I let her borrow my Fender and she almost didn’t give it back. The woman in question dropped it off with Frankie Rose when she came to New York on tour.  I didn’t go to her show. She said my guitar was a piece of shit.

She put the song on, in her tour van, and I didn’t want to leave California, ever.

I’m listening to it now. It has the most amazing lyrics. They are all fantastic. Here are a couple lines.

We’ll there’s friends that go in and friends that go out of my life / and things which occur when you balance on the edge of a knife / and I never considered the idea taking a dive 

This is a kind of artistic posture that totally gives up on giving a shit. This is about living a life in the shadow of pain and inequality: the UK class system, the end of empire, the joy and personal agony of small escapes. Drop out and just be happy. Take a dive. Fuck the edge of a knife, at least in terms of ambitions. You can always just slide along on your addicitons and hopes and fears.

The visually corollary is the paintings of Mr. Michael Godard, which I find to be insanely confronting: a healthy confrontation with the intense critique culture of corporate marketing and it’s awkward edges in the art and fashion world. Stupid, drunk, beautiful, going nowhere.

There are hundreds of these. Obviously, the dude doesn’t give a fuck. He’s working in a space that is humor and dive culture, and a bit of noir. It’s more Simpsons than Hopper, though there is pulp quality that Bukowski might not have hated. It’s humor that’s checked by allusions to alcoholism and despair. The characters are all olive-people, who remind me more of emoticons than actual portrait subjects. This is an escapist art, the stuff of basement bars and little pool halls. This is bowling alley culture. A sculpture of IDGAF, with a few things in common with animated .gif: brevity, resolution, repetition. The chillness aesthetic (LA 90s, Hawaii, Jay and Silent Bob, art school drop-outs, alien scull bongs) may have totally moved online, or maybe it’s waiting there till everyone decides how they want to live this generation out. It’s the drinking-ground of what was called the middle class. The bad taste is intentional, pure, but not forced. If you stop trying so hard to understand it, you smile, and maybe you have another drink.

Not a lot of writers exist in this space, because it’s about getting crushed by critics. Dave Barry comes to mind, though I’ve probably never finished one his books. Jimmy Buffett, with the same lack of comprehension, though I know the music of all his albums. And certainly hundreds of others who never got a book deal. Maybe this isn’t a form fit for the future, or at least the future of the novel. Maybe this is all casualty of the last culture. If we want to go out in flames, we’re not going to relax our way into oblivion like Europeans. This is the USA, after all. Global warming does not equal global chilling out, global beach party, higher wages, better food, cheaper housing, a high-five from the .0001 precent superclass. They fucking hate this shit, you know it.