Posts filed under ‘art’

Qoutes: Sontag, Eno, others

Sorry about the fact this blog is basically just a bunch of my links these days, anyway reading Sontag’s In America (it’s quite good, but the intellectual conversation she’s responding to is so familar to make many of the ideas trite).

“I can’t help thinking a person who sneezes in an absurd way is also lacking in self-respect. Why else consent to something so unattractive? It ought to be a matter of concertration and resolve to sneeze gracefully, candidly. Like a handshake.”

“And God is abetting all this. This longing for newness, emptiness, pastlessness. This dream of turning life into pure future. Perhaps He has no choice-though, in so doing, God the Star is signing His own death warrant as an actor, as the star of stars. No longer will He be guaranteed the major role in any drama of consequence attended by the most coveted, educated audiences. At best, minor roles from now on-except in picturaseque backwaters, where people have never seen a play without Him. All this moving the audience about will amount to the end of His career.

Does God know this? Probably he does. But that won’t stop Him: He’s a trouper.

God Spits. ”

It’s fucking hilarious, and a rather good summary of the movement away from religion dating around this time historically in the novel to Darwin and a harbinger of Neitsche.

“She wished she were in love, for being helplessly in love awakens one’s better self. But when marriage puts an end to that, it is deliverance. Love makes men strong, self-confident. It makes women weak. Friendship, though… that was another matter. Friends make you strong.”

“You are whatever you think you are… Whatever you dare think you are. And to be free to think yourself something you’re not, something better than what you are-isn’t that the true freedom promised by the country to which he was journeying?”

“The first morning he masturbated to the mental image of a fat brown walrus slowly turning from side to side.”

Clearly she had a deep understanding of male desire.

All qoutes from In America by Susan Sontag

And one from Eno via an old copy of Frieze:

“Saying that cultural objects have value is like saying that telephones have conversations.”

Dan Fox qoutes it from Brian Eno,A year with Swollen Appendices, Faber and Faber, London, 1996

And finally Pynchon, ” ‘Explosion with out an objective’, delcared Miles Blundell, ‘is politics in its purest form.’ ” from against the day

p.s. added amazon referrals to make the blog more long-tail-ish.

September 14, 2008 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Where disememberment is going

the olde school? (note: wordpress still doesn’t allow youtube videos apparetly despite using code)

Yeah, violence is cool in games, but as games reach out to a new audience through either Nintendo’s innovations i.e. Animal Crossing, the Brain Trainers, or even PS3’s Pixel Junk the audience of games is growing into the spectrum of the population that probably won’t want to play violent games all the time or at all. The people buying games are having a greater say in how games look and feel:

My point being, the era of the shooter as the main avenue of games has pretty much already come (cellphone games outsell the latest pc games these days), but the debate over violence in games could in reality be one of marketplace. The action and horror games that comprise video games major genres don’t appeal to all the people buying Brain Trainers and please note this isn’t entirely a question of gender many women do play FPSes and the survival horror games, it’s that avenues are opening up. How long are we from non-violent games that are bestsellers and will they actually have good stories?

Action games will always sell as much as that science fiction flicks rule the charts, but how will the abundance of different genres and the demands of those viewers effect a previously untouched genre?

July 8, 2008 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

Review: Mystery Train by Greil Marcus

One of the bigger problems of criticism, is that it’s quite easy to decipher the symptoms of a music that will cause its decimation, but it’s harder to write a piece of criticism that can actually make the listener listen anew. Marcus, and for that matter myself, fall into the first category. Mr. Marcus is adept at finding the limits of various American music genres nailing them down to specific mind sets he situates with the experience of American culture, but he’s unable to elaborate where music should go and by extension Americans. Some asides are made to Randy Newman, who breaks with the confessional style of the sixties and seventies, and Sly Stone, but for the most part Marcus sets out to explore a body of music he’s a master at murdering. However, regardless of how Marcus kills his subjects, he does so humanely and with a fondness that merely shows that thinking often leads to music falling flat. Mystery Train is still an essential piece of criticism, because it’s heart lies in a mind-set that bands today don’t just situate themselves around, but actively worship with nostalgia.

The bigger problem with Marcus is that the albums he charts his America through had an entirely different impact when he was writing about them, then as they do now. The Band’s Big Pink coming after their electric period with Dylan was another amoebic growth of the post-sixties generation, a time when the children out numbered the adults and their new found trends didn’t just signal next seasons fashion, but a potential swurve in the hippie majority’s concerns. For someone born in the post-sixties generation the Band is just another way for AT&T’s creative staff to pitch next year’s cellphones with a catchy toon (and no I don’t think that degrades the song).

One of Mystery Train’s greater reasons for infamy is simply that Marcus was living through a time when music critics were important and publications like Rolling Stone really did break with literary conventions, but the groups he’s picked often line up with the shocks that radio gave at the time and the pressing mysteries of who invented rock and roll. Greil is great at finding flaws, but it’s really the critics who invert history, who destroy listening, who can re-imagine the music of their times that are most memorable, many of the sixties generation of critics were engaged in the game of second guessing the history of their music as it happened as if music criticism was a game of deciding who would ultimately become important. In the late nineties music criticism differed, and such questions of epic quality didn’t touch upon us, perhaps someone would argue the merits of the most experimental band at the moment or something, but few seemed to be convinced anyone today was making history. The creative process has been taken apart taught in design courses and dispersed on web-logs to the point that we have exhaustion at the means through which a band is attempting to achieve the new. Mystery Train at the very least caught a creativity of a different sort, one of place and alienation with the only connector being the am radio dial. It is, a testimony to the individual and a totem of them.

June 9, 2008 at 6:49 am Leave a comment

Be Kind Rewind

Quickly, Gondry has an obvious love of creation and Be Kind Rewind’s humor might come from the reinactions of our own private fantasies in hollywood films (aren’t most movies addictive because we imagine ourselves in them?), but it’s also a meditation on the creator and the modern world, it has a mild copy-left message, and it’s about production or the way that creating things has been subsumed by entertainment, in the end people might be better off developing these pursuits instead of just engorging themselves on them.

April 6, 2008 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

What is the most played space in Video Game history?

Architecture is reliant in the familar, the experienced, the experiences we build up behind it. Video games are mass Architecture, we might all know the Gehry Guggenheim, but how many people have walked in it compared with Super Mario Brothers? Rebuild a scale room model of a level from a video game.

January 15, 2008 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

You Don’t Love my Yet by Lethen, On Kafka, Hermneutics and Homosexuality

Kafka isn’t about human beaurarcy, but the beauracy of ideas. How they come to operate
and how they defy logic in their own way. He was essentially providing metaphors
for agency before Latour and others were giving birth to them, his novels are about
reaching ideas through the convulotion of institutions and barriers that keeps thinking
for ever really acheiving it’s goals. It’s about arriving.

You Don’t Love Me Yet by Johnathan Lethem
I have a tendency to skimp on novels, but go in on movies.
While I feel a strange guilt (perhaps do to my Dad’s own reluctance
to splurge on my reading habit years ago) when it comes to buying books
and never finishing them, I am literally still swimming in piles of DVDs I’ve never
finished, to sit through a movie I don’t like for 2 hours is nothing compared to
barely even breaching a book I might enjoy. But Lethem’s latest managed to make
it past my inherint biases and into my bookcase, and it was well worth the read.
It’s a romance story set in Los Angeles which takes place between neurotic complainers,
indie rock singers, and conceptual artists.Lethem’s prose strides down the halls of
enjoyment like an arch-conceptualist brisking down his galleries hallways, never caring
for aesthetics, but merely for ideas. Hermenuetics and erotics fuck as one in Lethem’s prose.

His characters are often only softened by their humor their personalities aren’t just flawed, but are written with an almost uncanny exagerration of their features. At that, I get the feeling Lethem understands his complainer and his artist more than his indie rock bands, I can think of few people who remind me of Bedwin, Lucinda, or the vegetarian lead singer Matthew. Their counter-cultural bohemia is almost parody while the complainer is a concept rapped into a very sexy and satisfying enigma (I found myself thinking of myself as Lucinda in the sex scenes). Perhaps it’s merely my own immersion in such rock scenes that blinds me, when I think about it a kangaroo in the bathroom isn’t out of bounds for many I know, but atypical. Regardless, Mr.Lethem (picked up 3 books by him today on sale ay my bookstore) has written not just an enjoyable book, but possibly the summation of a generations’ ennui. Read it, please. it’s good.

Question of the day:
Why are homosexuality and heremeneutics so often interlinked? What gay artists
didn’t employ interpretation as a means of creating aesthetics? and how have they defied
the either or stance of Sontag in relations to hermeneutics and erotics in art? Mapplethorpe interpreted the body as sculptural, but in effect he made erotics out of it, and in one case thoroughly defused the eroticism of homosexuality for the sake of aesthetics. Other examples:
Todd Haynes, Matmos, Wolgang Tillman, Nan Goldin, etc. Counter examples exist but let’s just say for arguement etc.
Perhaps it’s merely timing, but I get the feeling something in
homosexuality is leading artists these ways. The experience of it, is teaching them something about the malleability of identity and the potential for intentionality in places where typically we accept the pre-existing to be standard and acceptable.

November 27, 2007 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

A Toaster

I’m one of those weird guys who always rearrnages his room in some order
previously unknow to me. Ya know combining exoticism and some
strategy I probably couldn’t verablize. Such orders seem to be the
obession of Sarah Sze, who’s work drops down on categories and eschews
them. Above  (sorry wordpress’ embed code from youtube doesn’t seem to be working here) we find Lee Perry with interviewer walking around burning
things and then we come to a toaster. Perry has placed a toaster atop
his fence and then proceeds to possibly improvise it as a pun on
rastafaranism, like most surrealism it seeks to quiet thought, similar
to a koan, the absurdity of it, the way Perry doesn’t quite make it
certian that he intended this, or that it has a definite meaning
merely means we’re left pondering it, but with out anything to ponder
we have a brief momentary pause in thought. Obviously such a moment
would be relief for Perry, whose compulsions run through his brain in
creative tangles, moments of knowing and thinking, a mess of dialetics
more inspired than unkempt dreds, but his ordering has a very different meaning.
Perry is asking us to
consider the absurd, to simply give up on reason for a second and
accept a secondary ordering of the world, Sze on the other hand has
turned such structures into meaning, while Perry was working with an
ordering that doesn’t have words, working with strategies he didn’t
necessarily understand consciously, but merely meant to evoke, Sze has
taken this a step further, she has found in the accidental, the
intention, and made apparent that while the experience of such
momemts can interrupt our verbalizing they still contain an order,
just not one intended linguistically.

November 10, 2007 at 5:53 am Leave a comment

Spook Country by Gibson, Scrublands by Joe Daly, Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan

Spook Country

It’s good but surprising. Gibson’s previous books work up to a clever use of technology that often subverts or changes society or yeah know it’s a kinda how do all these techno-cultural parts come together type of thing, Spook Country is more about simply a good story that’s climax is surprising simply because it’s underwhelming. Gibson’s riffs on the future of the U.S. Latin American population (he for-sees hyper-hip locative art and Cuban infused techno… both which already exist when I think about it) are interesting and his imagining of the artistic possibilities of GPS are pretty cool too. Gibson continues to take on the ghosts of post-9/11 politics with a peculair gusto, but then again it’s William Gibson and what else is he going to write about. Book probably ain’t worth it if you aren’t a fan (pattern recognition is about a 100x better), but it’s enjoyable.


Joe Daly is a South African cartoonist whose work centers on hipsters and their remarkably bohemian lives. Daly’s work reminds of the better parts of sixties acid drenched comics, but it’s commentary on South Africa and it’s consistent play on modern day traumas (Aqua Boy is briskly divorced from his father and  Daly has a heavy obsession with vaginas) definitely make it seem more modern day. Daly, seems to feel his generation of Africans and the olde counter-culture of old have a lot in common. He’s probably correct and Kobosh is probably the best cartoon character in quite a while.

Exit Wounds

Rutu Modan is one of the founders of an Israeli comics foundation similar to  L’Association in France or Fantagraphics in the US. Her work though differs from almost any other illustrator I can think of, her stories are full of pathos and while much of indie comics is male and often sexual, Modan writes charming short stories that deal more with the slight imperfections of the pysche that bother us day to day. Exit Wounds centers around a cab driver (Koby) whose father spends his day seducing women of all ages and one of his ex-lovers (Numi) a well off Israeli who’s a tad ruff around the edges and finishing up her time in the military. Numi is convinced Koby’s father is dead and Koby, who seems to have been extremely estranged from his father, doesn’t care. The two end up trecking around Israel where in they end up finding out Koby’s dad is alive and well it’s a good story. What makes Modan so different is that the story really does center on the minor travesties and heart break of her characters, while many comics dismantle the emotions of the protoganist unless they’re A. performing a superhuman feat or B. having sex with a woman Modan’s palette of emotion is diverse and the dimension she draws out of her characters has depth that even most novelists could use. Exit Wounds doesn’t hinge on a quest for identity or any such higher goal, it merely focuses on a short moment in a couple of young Israeli lives, the influence of politics on them, and finally with the way resolve their own problems. It’s wonderful and well worth reading.

October 3, 2007 at 8:23 am Leave a comment

Some thoughts FPSes and Identity

Battlefield, like counter-strike, operates w/o giving us a firm narrative or identity. Identity is surpressed, the only differences between oman and america or GSG9 and Terrorists is simply the weapons used.  Competition begets competition free of ideology as if all the world’s conflicts arrive from frivolous needs for juxtaposition instead of belief, many FPSes do this, they submerge our identities and then occupy us with puzzles and challenges, goals and other operatives that keep us focused on one goal at a time instead of asking questions about who we are. Similarly, societies choose to ignore certian aspects of the mind or self, Americans are occupied by ideas of GDP, technological progress, and rarely the narrative of nationhood that sorrounds us. Counter-Strike and Battlefield advertise the enjoyment of military jobs by subtracting the ideiology behind them, as it stands they become forms easily open to subversion whether it’s Hezbollah’s Special Forces or America’s Army both of which are competing to put a narrative of their own politics in the form of tactical FPSes and in that are ads for the positions they inhabit. It’s interesting though the trick both games use, by chucking out story they create an environment in which doing is simply the main enjoyment of the game. We play for our teams sure, but really we also play for the simple pleasure of denial, keeping the other team away etc. Do we really care if we’re Chinese, America, or from Oman? Is that a political statement, or do such games ignore politics entirely?

To read someone like J.G. Ballard is to see the world in a more disturbing light. Mr. Ballard discusses the psychological effects of our society whether in consumerism or restaging world war III, but few products are designed from such an angle except perhaps advertising. Battlefield and Counter-Strike’s magic formula (which has made them more popular than Special Force or America’s Army) is to ignore giving the player a narrative, in that their effects on us are limited to the repetition of violence, the reaching of simple goals, such games are amoral to the psychologist simply becuase they ignore the field entirely. How would games intended to teach us how to feel work? Instead of them blindly influencing us with out an intended provocation?

September 19, 2007 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

The Simpsons Movie as a Christian vechile


Every movie is a little world that creates it’s own little precepts. The Simpsons movie though might very well be the largest critique of 90s American liberalism I can think of though. God exists in Springfield and Homer Simpson, whose Jebus joke once represented a growing national apathy towards religion, is now an outsider lacking the warm family values and influence on morality that Ned Flanders has. Homer’s “jebus” comment not only seems used, but he makes it in church where the humor changes from being freeing oneself from religious dictate to being oblivious to the insentitivty of the joke. Once upon a time Flanders was a shinning example of the confining strictures of traditional values, while Lisa expelled neo-liberalism, and Homer was a good hearted man whose pleasure seeking seemed a healthy, but self-obsessed past time. The Simpsons have now become something of the outcastes of their block versus the way they almost perfectly caught the dysfunctional, but loving aspects of the American family in the mid-90s. Flanders has become a foil who knocks Homer and his family off the block. While Lisa’s idealism has become more sharpened and she still commands a certian amount of respect, you can’t help but feel as the show changed from Bart to Homer it is now becoming little more than a vechile for Flander’s philosophy. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Ned isn’t a bad guy, but part of what made The Simpsons fun was its acceptance of our imperfections, the way not only god had died, but the way we’d lost our fathers and families had exploded from homogenous cultures like the Flanders to the plurality of views of The Simpsons’ address. Flanders was funny becuase next to memories of Tammy Fay Baker, the boredome of childhood church pews, and the utter exasperation of the religious right to deal with the yuppie ideals of the 80s as they became the engine of the country’s progress and enshrined in the form of tolerance, such an image of a Christian seemed not only ridicilous and out of whack with the country as a whole, but down right unwholesome. One gets the feeling that Murdoch and company have reshaped the show for a new demographic, but it’s telling that in order for the christian values of right-wing american to entertain, they have to borrow a story and a people from those that opposed them.

August 17, 2007 at 6:08 am Leave a comment

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