April 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Notebook (outtakes)

April 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Both the music press & the academy are stuck in their own overdriven spin-cycles of production: any writing that attempts a longer-term view or a more oblique approach has to be compressed into the structures of academic specialisation, relegated to the dadrock mags or written for free in an increasingly precarious spare time. (Unless it can be pinned to a hot event, the online mags aren’t interested.)

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For those of us on the sharp end of the contemporary regime of time – those in unemployment, precarious employment, interning & workfare, those locked out of the press & the academy, those nestling in or excluded from what Paul Mason describes as “the cracks” in the economy, those subject to what Mark Fisher has called the “electro-libidinal parasite” of communicative technology as instrumentalised by late capitalism – the question is less easy.

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In this sense, the denizen of Kasbah or the stadium concert-goer who sees Rihanna, two hours late, at the O2, forms the present vanguard of capital, rather than [contra Robin James] the hipster, with whom in any case they continue to converge.

April 23, 2013 § 2 Comments

April 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

‘the live’ (again)

April 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

A genealogy of “the live” (which is not quite the same as ‘live art’) could, perhaps usefully, be conducted through the history of urbanism, particularly that of urban loneliness & hysteria over the effect of cities. Urban sociality implies mediation, even beyond the all-encompassing mediating apparatus of commodity production. The organicist critiques that entwine ‘mass’ (as in standardised) & ‘industrial’ (as in ‘sterile’, brutal etc) culture – Jaspers, Heidegger, Lawrence, Eliot etc – can perhaps be seen at the root of this, although shadowed, of course, by critiques of mediation going back to Plato’s Pharmakon. The valorisation of the rooted, self-contained peasant community can be seen in the examples of folk art & ritual (often bowdelerised or, less often, invented outright) studied & revived during the Edwardian era (including the camping & skinny-dipping of Rupert Brooke’s ‘neo-pagans’) & among the German mystic-nationalist groups that, after the First World War, formed the intellectual basis of Nazism. (Nazism’s emphasis on theatre, pageantry & communal outdoor exercise – conditions that created “a golden age for the joiner-in, for the sycophant & the sneak” – rather resembles the priorities of many of the big London galleries’ curators.)

April 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Social media parodies the blazoned slogan of late Ruskin: “THE ONLY WEALTH IS LIFE”. Nathan Jurgenson’s rather overegged piece on the notion of ‘IRL’ last year, in overstating the case, at least knuckles it down: ‘real life’, as a tranquil idyll away outside of the affective-communicative stimuli of the internet, is a field that exists only relative to the internet itself, not autonomously from it; it is a zone whose purpose is to be strip-mined & colonised for raw material for cognitive production. This doesn’t quite construe the distorted complexity. The content of social relations-become-data is only valuable insofar as it comes from IRL, as it reflects the richness of a lived life that the data itself posits. The richness of life is only legible as richness insofar as it can enter social mediation, the process of valorisation. The good life, the object of a rich & prominent philosophical tradition, experienced by the subject-in-itself, can only be understood as good insofar as it is externalised; there is no subject-in-itself without this mediation (except for those states, activities & persons designated ‘pathetic’ by sociality). The fullness of Real Life does not simply result in social media silence (as is amply evidenced by Laurie Penny’s Twitter feed, a jolly-hockey-sticks serial novel about austerity), because the quantitative saturation of lived life is not the main determinant, but the stylistics of its inscription in media. (A certain stylistics of the swollen ego must be adhered to: updates brisk, lots of @tags, the simple presentation of objects in their aura, as if the “metaphysical subtleties” of its interior were shining out upon the Instagrammer.)

Notebook (Greenwich park)

April 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Nature, in being presented by society’s control mechanism as the healing antithesis of society, is itself absorbed into that incurable society and sold off. The solemn pictorial affirmation that the trees are green, the sky is blue, and the clouds are sailing overhead already makes them cryptograms for factory chimneys and gasoline stations.”

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