Photo: Shanghai smog, by 张 春海
1 hour ago
"When Doves Cry"Prince rolled through the Great White North last Tuesday and left behind a bucketful of purple pixie-dust...
"Nothing Compares 2 U"James Brown's legendary sax player, Maceo Parker, was along for the ride linking "Play That Funky Music" with "Alphabet Street" and "Delirious"....
“When I get up in the morning, my daily prayer is, grant me today my illusion, my daily illusion. Due to the fact that illusions are necessary, have become necessary for a life in a world completely devoid of a utopian conscience and utopian presentiment.” ~ Ernst BlochMy god, was there ever a more sickening bunch of neanderthals than the cretins moping around in Douglas Coupland's first novel, Generation X? At least I was too young to be sucked up into their demographic - apparently 1959-1965 is the window of inclusion. I never cottoned on to the slacker ennui aesthetic this novel embodies, and I'm pretty sure neither did Coupland. He went on to do much greater things, but unfortunately for him this cultural milestone will forever be hanging from his scrawny neck. I mean, what idiot travels to Palm Springs to find the meaning of life?
(Coupland, 1992)But what Coupland's Gen X'ers settle for is something far from any utopia:
We live small lives on the periphery; we are marginalized and there’s a great deal in which we choose not to participate. We wanted silence and we have that silence now…We had compulsions that made us confuse shopping with creativity, to take downers and assume that merely renting a video on a Saturday night was enough. But now that we live here in the desert, things are much, much better.”Their goals are modest, “small” even, and they avoid participating in “a great deal.” They also dislike noise and desire “silence." Sounds a bit like a cemetery to me. Nevertheless, they still hang on, even in Palm Springs, to the forces that caused them to leave in the first place. They lack the ability or desire to go all the way and imagine a real alternative outside of the natural flows of apathy or fear. Instead they succumb to a life of futurelessness, a dystopia where nostalgia is the only true respite.
“Something’s missing when instead of the possibility of radical difference, we find always and everywhere the same ideas of how we might proceed.” – Eric Cazdyn and Imre Szeman in After Globalization.What can be done in a world that's moving beyond our control? When systems take on a momentum of their own a sense of fatalism can overtake any gesture of collective will. Just look at what Stephen Harper has done in Canada's name at the Durban climate conference this week. Margaret Atwood’s 2003 novel, Oryx and Crake, is a warning and a harrowing portrait of the dystopia that awaits if we fail to harness a utopian conscience, if we fail to consider the “possibility of radical difference,” and succumb to the perception that forces remain beyond our control.
"He doesn’t know which is worse, a past he can’t regain or a present that will destroy him if he looks at it too clearly. Then there’s the future. Sheer vertigo."Jason Courtney)
“A new totalizing political art – if it is indeed possible at all – will have to hold to the truth of postmodernism, that is to say its fundamental object- the space of multinational capital - at the same time at which it achieves a breakthrough to some as yet unimaginable new mode of representing this last, in which we may again begin to grasp our positioning as individual and collective subjects and regain a capacity to act and struggle which is at present neutralized by our spatial as well as our social confusion."
"Schmaltz is an unprivate portrait of how private feeling is currently conceived, which social change can pitilessly revise."I'm not sure I'd agree that Schmaltz is exclusively "private feeling" - most art originates from a "private" space, essentially. Schmaltz differentiates itself through its fearless approach to sentimentality. Schmaltz replaces the notion of cool with genuine feeling. That it sometimes appears drippy or sappy is not only worth embracing because it offends Bourdieu's aristocracy, but because humans are sometimes naturally inclined this way. When it comes to the realm of feeling, Schmaltz exclaims, "No shame!"
"The single most important development in modern music is making a business out of it...you have reached a point where you can't just sit down and write because you know how to write and you love to write and eventually somebody will listen because they love to listen and maybe somebody will play it because they'll want to play it. That is gone." ~ Frank Zappa
"The culture industry not so much adapts to the reactions of its customers as it counterfeits them." ~ Theodor Adorno
"An emancipated community is a community of narrators and translators." ~ Jacques Rancière