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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29 Dec '01 05:28:01 AM

I think the most interesting point made in this "group" review of Kid A is made by Andy Battaglia, when he notes that any debate about the album is asymmetrical because the detractors get to take advantage of the dominant, well-established vocabulary and arsenel of critical tools, whereas the proponents have recourse mostly to less definite and less-established language.

Relation to debates between objectivists and subjectivists, realists and anti-realists. Ramifications for any experimental or hybridized music.

28 Dec '01 10:44:58 AM

I didn't expect to like Vanilla Sky very much at all, but I ended up thinking that it has a lot good about it. It obviously wasn't perfect, but reading some reviews that conflict about which parts were good and which were bad makes me think that that imperfection isn't such a bad thing.

The film used lots of music. The opening scene has Cruise's character going about his morning ablutions while listening to "Everything in Its Right Place". Later in a bar "I Might Be Wrong" plays. I found it very odd hearing Radiohead as incidental music in a big-budget film like this. "Everything" just sounds far too personal, or private, something like that, to accompany the part of the film it does. Ideally I think it's fair to say that any music could go with any visuals, as long as it fit. But typically I think that outside popular music used in films isn't meant to carry too many associations with it = it's meant to be sort of surface appreciated, which is why it helps to use music that the audience may have actually seen before. Music as something more like a slap in the face, I guess, to accentuate the movie. Which is why "I Might Be Wrong" sounds out of place - its dirty beat works well as bar-background music, but Thom Yorke's moaning doesn't, it's too implausible. (Though it would be easy to argue that the moaning fits in somehow given what Cruise's character learns while at the bar.)

But on the other hand, maybe this is still exactly what Crowe was going for. Maybe it's just that my own reactions to some of the other music weren't as strong as they could have been. I say this not just speculatively, but because "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" is playing at the party after the death of Cruise's character, and though I found it affecting, I don't think it was due to the specific content. Instead, I was just very off-kilter at that point from having seen more of the movie (I found, for example, the nightclub scene and what followed very successfully uncomfortable, and worse things - plus there was plenty more to knock me around); so then hearing the Spiritualized was a very effective slap in the face, like above.

27 Dec '01 06:10:56 AM

This project is now entering its third year.

The longer I go on the more difficult it is to come up with some perspective on the thing. For much of 2001 I was unhappy with what I was writing, and thought that I did much better in 2000. Now I'm not so sure - when I look back there's plenty I'm happy with in both years.

Last year at this time I attempted to go back over what I'd written, and over the mail I received from readers, in order to take a stab at writing about what my point is here. I think plenty of readers are aware of what it is, but I just wanted to do it anyway (it's the philosopher in me).

I didn't get very far. I've thought even less about it this year, but that's OK, because that kind of thinking is a long-term part of my project here. I do have this to offer, though; I've thought of it before but this way of putting it is due to a conversation I had recently with Kelly. I'll put it in the form of a slogan, although as a slogan it's too clumsy.

josh blog: making the natural complexity of subjectivity perspicuous.

Thanks for being with me for another year.

26 Dec '01 07:05:33 AM

A tiny bit late, but here's a Christmas present: a fulltext search of Josh Blog, with some caveats. I'll be working in the coming month and extended future at indexing some more stuff (including, hopefully, pre-August 2001 entries) and developing more frills.

Please let me know what you think, or if it breaks or something like that.

24 Dec '01 07:06:21 AM

I am "home" in Iowa for the week. In between nu-metal videos on MTV2 I saw the "video" for Rush's "Limelight." It was bad. Very bad.

21 Dec '01 06:41:05 AM

The songs on the best-of from Outkast's first album (the one I don't have) are really thick-sounding for mid-90s p-funk-inspired rap; some of them, like "Ain't No Thang," is just unbelievably thick. The guitars have this great way of just filling up the soundstage and reverberating between the channels.

21 Dec '01 12:05:56 AM

Two songs from Oui have started now with me being confused as to whether they were Sea and Cake songs or Stereolab songs. (Things become clearer once the bass comes in.)

21 Dec '01 12:00:59 AM

Hmmm, it's been a while since I listened to this S-K record. Its kinship with its predecessor, The Hot Rock, is a lot more obvious now.

21 Dec '01 12:00:13 AM

Listening to the Outkast best-of, I have the reverse of my more common experience of learning songs by hearing a band's best-of or some other kind of comp, then finding myself disoriented upon hearing the same songs on their 'proper' albums and not hearing the songs I expect afterward. With Outkast, I know most of the songs on the comp already, so I have that weird experience after, well, most of them.

Why didn't anyone ever tell me "Ain't No Thang" was so great?

I think there's something very valuable and under-appreciated about this experience, of having a song's successor float into your hear just as the one song is ending. More connections are made - it's probably part of why songs on albums we love seem like they have to go together, even if really there's not much musical connection in some technical sense. This doesn't make it less important.