Hi keston, just a few thoughts into the mix
I can see where we're heading with this and it might be ludicrously
unproductive but what the heck, it's after easter. Everything's rising
here, I mean the buds are opening and nests twittering so - there will be
comparison's that don't bear fruit and I dare to say that attempting to
argue Jimmy Nail as of equal merit to Beethoven is one of 'em. But before
we get into greyer contestations let's ask who the distinctions are of
value to and why? That is what values are being 'fostered' (sorry to bring
lager into it) and to whose purpose?
I guess, under Adorno's more often than not po-faced terms (taking on new
connotations through the monoculturalism of the BBC's Teletubbies), I
already 'capitulated to barbarism' thirty years ago, selling my 'soul'
(aged 13) to Hendrix at the Albert Hall ('69). A curious fulcrum between
'auratic' aspects of (cathartic) 'site-specific' event; dispersal of 'aura'
through the emergent mechanisms of popular culture, dialogistic values
between composed and improvisatory - between process and product -
between 'melody, rhythm and noise' - between 'audience' and 'performer' -
between formal and informal (matrixed and non-matrixed performance) -.
Departure, 'essay' as radical 'folk' - rupture as site of healing. As in
Adorno's analysis of jazz in 'Prisms', I suspect he would have reported
Hendrix as 'like everything else in the culture industry, gratifies desires
only to frustrate them at the same time . . . [allowing] the growing
respectability of mass culture to seduce him into equating a popular song
with modern art because of a few false notes squeaked by a clarinet; anyone
who mistakes a triad studded with "dirty notes" for atonality, has already
capitulated.' (p126-7). That's just before he gets into all that stuff bout
the 'emasculating' and 'weakness proclaiming' 'stumbling'
aspects of Jazz. Adorno likes to know where he stands poor thing. He
listened with prejudice (a topical toilet reference there) and looked with
To the Teddie and Benny show again then. Phew, all those Frankfurters,
still being digested and used as carte blanche on the Cam. Adorno then:
Kong Pup of the crunching phrase, ground on which the slippery will likely
out, champion of the curdled. From time to time, makes me laugh out loud.
He's brilliant and entertaining to read. He provides an entertainment for
certain minds, thumps his tables a lot. Benjamin, by contrast, is far less
'in denial'. Adorno's critique of the machinations of the culture industry
and its impact upon the 'consumer' skip along the alleyway with Chomsky's
'manufacture of consensus' or was it 'consent', it's not to hand and the
ellipse is cute? These are useful perspectives to marshall, provide
retreats of substance. But they are retreats, in that they offer the
succour of a 'them' and 'us'. 'Us' - the pure, the autonomous, the
resolute, those who navigate difficulty with our flashing intellectual
blades et al (look at Foucault's gender stuff in 'The Order of Things',
where through grand encyclopaeidic projects at the turn of the seventeenth
century, we are left with the 'spoken word . . . merely the female part of
language . . . its intellect passive' and 'writing [as] the active
intellect, the "male principle" of language [and] harbor of truth') (p39).
'Them', the other, their values our curiosity, - the great unwashed, the
oppressed, the consumer, the grasses in the wind of the capitalist machine,
the bourgeois sadists, the gullible et al. 'Them' is everything that 'us'
is not. 'Them' are the victims, 'Us' the true colours of longevity and
I'm sorry, Keston, but I'm glad you're ionterested and also not sure.
That's a productive state. I can't buy into these rank binaries. Plus, I'm
unconvinced that there is any longer even the possibility of 'outside'.
'Multiculturalism' is a tough discussion, but firmly here (I'd recommend
the new issue of West Coast Line with terrific papers from Jeff Derkson,
Fred Wah and Roy Miki updated slightly from the 'Cross-Cultural Poetics'
conference in Minneapolis last fall and from which I quote the following by
Marie Annharte Baker):
'See slither me on approach to poet. See speak special cult jargon. See
grateful how when opportunity I hang out. POet writes people about who
writes alike. I like this wait. Appropriate spoken word must come out. His
speech first then it is time to ask. Now is there another way to ever think
Native American are the ones you must know the ones I mean I ask as no
Indian Attack scheduled today. Cartoon image looks appropriate. Ugh,
Rain-in-the-face ask why whiteboy not raindance in event cultural
appropriation takes over secret ritual chores with performance on demand.'
(from 'One Appropriate First')
My sense keston, is that the flow of dialogistic consciousness is of
interest: not just the flying philosophical gritty formulation but the
making of the cup of tea that breaks into that flow - not just the clear
blue skies but those clouds which articulate the gaps in the clouds. So the
dynamic of 'cultures' with which interactions navigate direction. A
slow-release archeology of those worlds of which we are a part, and in some
cases apart - but not separate.
We cannot close out ears and eyes, our bodies, to influence (from
billboards, headlines, manufactured news, m,ediated opinions, mediatized
constructions of the 'real' and so on. We swim in such currents and our
writings are 'informed' by those buoyancies. From what should we 'close'
ourselves off as writers, to what purpose, unless we deliberately shoose to
write only for a chosen few. I don't wish to prescribe my readership so
Likewise we write within a jigsaw of cultures, of dialects, of 'standards'
for communication using 'english', of measures (samples), of musics, of
socialities. That too is part of the flow writing inhabits and with which
all writings converse?
So, when Jimmy Nail does his version of 'Song of Joy' with Simon Rattle
I'll stick to my Stock Hausen and Walkman remixes of Pulp's 'This Is
Hardcore', now that's electroc-acoustic composition.
love and love
ps - going to miss you and all at CCCP, will be playing by the Cutty sark
for the London Marathon, with feminist 'ghazal' urdu / welsh / english
poetry and music band Garamasla. Sure the symbolist bones of that resonate
here. Fastest tea clipper, empire, patriarchal forms, 'sport for all',
trainers stitched in Pakistan (at 20 pence per day) for Nike, ideologies of
the 'perfect' body - the olympian spirit and all.