Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I used to cluck 'em, fuck 'em, and duck 'em, but now I'm more mature, I fuck 'em, fuck 'em, and fuck 'em.

- Explicit Content ONLY: Remember that Too Short cut on his album where he bleeped out every single bad word in the song and basically you couldn’t understand any of it? Well this is the exact opposite of that with NWA’s classic “Straight Outta Compton.” NOTHING but curse words with all the non-curse words bleeped out. Pretty funny. I’ve always admired Dr. Dre for being so clearly a studio-gangsta and yet he is just so dope at what he does, he still gets hood respect. That’s real.

- Apache: This article about the bboy anthem we all know and love is quite good: "a record written by a white Englishman imitating Native Americans as portrayed by white Americans and made famous by a Dane with a vaguely Hawaiian sound, arranged by a Canadian, became the biggest record in black New York."

- I admire you, Ms. Marla Ruzicka: Some fucko is still trying to convince me to admire the Weather Underground because they were passionate or something. Fuck those dudes. You want somebody to admire, how about Marla Ruzicka. R.I.P., homie.

- Organ Donor: I suppose this is relevant given the whole Terry Schiavo thingermerbobber that popped-off over the last few months. Apparently on some hospital TV show (“Grey’s Anatomy”?), there was some portrayal of the organ donation process which was fairly inaccurate. I’m a firm believer in organ donation, and this article articulately articulates why organ donation is a good thing and that stupid TV show didn’t fairly represent the process

- Got Interviews?: The Paris Review’s DNA of Literature Project is underway and they are posting all their interviews with authors by decade. There’s some hot stuff up in thurr, up in thurr. Shit should keep me “busy” at work for the next few hours.

- Thank God I found you!: I’m so happy I found out Steven Shaviro has a blog. Dude is fucking brilliant. I applied to grad school at the University of Washington on the strength of him alone teaching there—which I later found to be supremely stupid because Shaviro didn’t even teach grad classes (doh!). But, anyway, this is only really relevant to a handful of grad school dorks who are familiar with Theodor Adorno’s critique of popular music and the culture industry, but it’s articulated in such a breath-takingly clear and effective manner that I’ve got to quote it here:

“The real problem with Adorno's and Attali's denunciations is that they content themselves with essentially lazy and obvious criticisms of commodity culture, while failing to plumb the commodity experience to its depths, refusing to push it to its most extreme consequences. The only way out is through. The way to defend popular music against the Frankfurt School critique -- not that I think it even needs to be defended -- is not by taking refuge in notions of ‘authenticity’ in order to deny its commodity status, but rather to work out how the power of this music comes out of -- rather than existing in spite of -- its commodity status, how it works through the logic of repetition and commodification, and pushes this further than any capitalist apologetics would find comfortable.” Man, oh fucking man. So fucking beautiful.

Now, I agree with Shaviro’s sentiment that popular music finds its power precisely because of its commodity status (instead of inspite of that status) but I wonder if he’s being a bit too harsh on Adorno (as mentioned I haven’t read Attali). Perhaps I’m giving Adorno too much credit when I want to say that Shaviro’s reading of him seems a bit harsh. To be sure, Adorno doesn’t seem to like popular commodity culture that much (understatement) and there’s been a great deal of work written about Adorno that basically passes him off as a snob who doesn’t like anything except atonal White classical music and other challenging (i.e. pretty unlikable), authentic high-culture texts. But, frankly, I think a fair close reading of Adorno reveals that Adorno-the-text ends up admitting a similar notion of “the only way out is through” even though Adorno-the-modernist-crumudgeon seems to be longing for high-culture authenticity.

To be sure, Adorno never really downright says “yo, the only way out is through,” but a close reading the chiasmic/negative-dialectical logic he presents in “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” to me suggests that there really is no fucking way out—after all, to quote perhaps the most memorable sentence in the essay, “Something is provided for all so that none may escape.” Of course, Adorno-the-modernist-crumudgeon wants to fall back into notions of authenticity, but I think that if you read him closely, you’ll find that buried within the form as well as the actual content (a la Jeffrey Nealon’s provocative reading of Adorno) that the text is indeed admitting that there is no exit, there is no authenticity, and that the only way out is through. I should probably re-read the essay though. I haven’t read it in months.

Anyway, my point is, I think essentially that Shaviro is articulating an important point about popular music when he disagrees with Adorno’s critique, but I don’t think he’s really reading Adorno closely enough (I love claiming that people who are clearly way smarter than me aren’t reading someone closely enough). Or perhaps I’m just sticking up too much for my buddy Teddy Adorno because I think he’s brilliant and really fucking funny (albeit admittedly at times a closet racist and just all around elitist who wouldn’t be your ideal drinking partner at Oktoberfest).

I dunno. If you’re not convinced, I suggest you read Nealon’s essay. It bumps and is really funny.

- If you made it all the way down here…: Busta, Peedi, and Q-Tip joints are still up on the shrimp along with some new shit. Always worth checking out.



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