June 18, 2011 § 2 Comments


That critics, who attempt to practice attention & sympathy as acutely as possible, find sparks in work that articulates the raging numbness that seizes them of a sudden, & that they, by their work, attempt to banish. The tenor of every Instagram feed, photo-&-quote Tumblr, willow-bodied fashion-shoot, fulfils Jameson’s pronouncement that postmodernism is distinguished by its affectlessness, its flatness. Ocean’s tunes are probably the strongest indication of Odd Future’s status as the product of bedrooms closed to everything but the internet, for whom the critics’ paradox is essentially superfluous: that interpersonality & feeling themselves are historically-conditioned phenomena, & the old forms have had their day.


§ 2 Responses to Unnerved

  • Sam Lewis says:

    But what about other new, better hip hop like Lil B and Main Attraktionz which are full of sincerity and feeling? Those guys’ music is way more current and exciting than Odd Future which to me anyway sounds strangely dated and dull.

    Proof of humans having actually feelings aka. young people aren’t all trapped in Jameson’s postmodern matrix like all muso critics think they are:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j94qyYhMkvo (comparable to this maybe?!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbDDrZbdItQ)

    • dboon147 says:

      I really don’t think it’s a valid opposition, that ‘cerebral critics’ v ‘engaged fans/musicians’. Simon Reynolds has pointed out that listeners & musicians are listening more & more like critics/curators (although not necessarily without the critical tools a university education affords, fnar fnar), & critics are pretty close to the condition of most non-critic listeners, in terms of the data-swamp nature of consumption (hence the fact that most new critics are just the usual obsessive listeners who happen to pick up a blog address – yrs truly included, of course.)

      I also don’t think Lil B’s a very good example if you want to prove me wrong – his stuff has always struck me as a performance of sincerity rather than sincerity itself; there’s nothing about the eccentricity of his stuff that strikes me as genuinely wild – which isn’t necessarily a criticism, because he works the tropes of his performance very well (I’m an especial fan of the ‘bitches suck my dick because I look like X’ tic). Even his voice on the track you posted is level, doing nothing in particular. (Let’s not forget, who’s his no. 1 audience? WHITE HIPSTERS, i.e. the guys w/ the Instagram feeds.)

      I’m 22 & most of my friends are younger, so I count as a ‘young person’, & most of the time when they (or I, for that matter) make expressions of an emotional sort there’s nothing raw about them, they’re always softened, numbed, cautious, or enthusiastic in a hyperbolic fashion that places quote-marks around it. It really isn’t even a question of being a critic – during the year I spent out, I’d cycle to work real early, sometimes when it was still dark, & work for hours feeling nothing except this numbness & sharpness of thought. From reading & talking to people & looking at photos & indeed everything else in the fucking culture I keep coming across that tenor. In fact, it’s the dominant contemporary tenor, or at least what we wrestle w/ (cf. DFW’s project to champion ‘plain old untrendy troubles & emotions’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/20/fiction)

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