josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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24 Sep '01 06:50:22 AM

I listened to the first Soul Coughing album on the bus today and though I knew they were all there, hearing a lot of the lyrical elements in sequence took on new eerieness: the plane flying into the Chrysler building, "schools he bombs he bombs", the NOI references, "you get the ankles/and I'll get the wrists", and others.

24 Sep '01 06:46:30 AM

The Charm of the Highway Strip feels reassuringly quaint at first.

24 Sep '01 06:44:50 AM

John Coltrane with Johnny Hartman: is there actually anyone in the world who is currently truly elegant enough - not just putting up a front of elegance, surrounding themselves with it, because that's what their social station sets them to do - to play this and not have it or the world it reflects (projects?) seem optimistically imaginary?

22 Sep '01 10:17:53 PM

Whenever I listen to drum-n-bass I seem to be disappointed by how unarchitectonic it is. Why does Bitches Brew always sound a million times better in that respect?

21 Sep '01 05:26:28 PM

In my philosophy of music class we're reading Hanslick on representations of emotion in music. (Sorry, but those notes aren't that interesting at the moment.) Major mistake I find in his approach: he argues against emotional content but doesn't ever consider the basic cases. That is, there are plenty of songs that people seem to agree are happy or sad - meaning that there's some kind of intersubjective consensus where he claims there cannot be one.

But what about happy songs that make you sad, and vice versa? I don't think this is truly in conflict with the fact that the songs are still supposed to be 'happy' or 'sad'. Not sure how to explain it yet though.

21 Sep '01 07:48:02 AM

At times, rather than being delightfully uncomplicated, Mozart's piano sonatas are irritatingly simple. The left-hand lightness that inspires Keith Jarrett - chords dropped in, lightly underscoring, supporting quick, airy right-hand melodies - is here not bolstered by his rhythmic sense and more free-ranging melodic sensibility. Mozart begins to sound like an endless stream of massless high-key tinkling. There is no sense of embodiment - the music does not occupy the sound-space allowed it.

I will change my mind tomorrow. Or perhaps if K545 starts again before I go to bed.

19 Sep '01 05:56:57 PM

More notes from my principles of aesthetics course, this time on some unsatisfying (especially unsatisfying because they were low on content and also on things to write about despite the being low on content) papers about the "aesthetic attitude".

17 Sep '01 11:51:43 PM

I listened to the Mekons' Edge of the World again this afternoon and again liked the spoken-word thing and the sea shanty the most, which makes me think that I should look for an album of all sea shanties. But I would want them to be cool Mekons-style sea shanties, not dumb ones. Well, dumb is OK. Corny is not.

Yarrrr.

17 Sep '01 11:48:01 PM

One way to approach Talk Talk's Laughing Stock is to think about what a peculiar fusion of 'rock' music and 'beautiful' music it is: it's made of stuff that isn't typically thought of as beautiful in the traditional sense of the word, yet it is apparently very much so. It's also a lot more rhythmic than most 'beautiful' music - the rhythms are more vital, more sensual, more embodied. Compare the loping beat of "After the Flood" or the strummed guitar on "Taphead" to one of the most popular examples of 'beautiful' pop music - Pet Sounds. There the rhythms sound like stilted, retarded gamboling. No below-the-waist to them at all.

Cf. also the bass to "After the Flood" - I'm sure that there are some people somewhere who would think that big fat pulses of low-end like that disrupt the beauty of the song. (They're wrong.)