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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1 Oct '04 07:28:32 AM

I felt so, so excited at the 'Housequake' bit at the beginning of Circus Music. And like Mia says, it does seem to have a sneaky deft lightness (while at the same time being sort of neck-snappy, like they say on the track). Though when they let the beat ride out for a long time just playing the carnival-slash-big-top-whatever melodic bit, the tension goes out of it in a way that feels dissapointing.

1 Oct '04 07:22:20 AM

I'm still unsure whether Jim O'Rourke's bass parts are the source of the very slight reservations I have about Sonic Nurse - and by 'reservations' I don't mean principled ones, at base, but whatever lies behind the fact that I haven't given myself over to the record as much as I might have yet. It feels like I'm guarding myself. Typical primal reactionary cool-anxiety, perhaps - regardless of whether or not it's enjoyable, rewarding, the idea of liking, or more, formally approving of, a Sonic Youth album that sounds so ordinary - it gives me pause. And when I say that it's not that my reservations are principled, it's because I think what distracts me occasionally about O'Rourke's playing is not only that he plays bass like a fucking guitar player (not always a liability), he plays 'musicianly' bass - and thinking of it that way is surely sliding close, on my part, to a lame sort of identification of Sonic Youth's earlier beauty with their anti-musicality, their deliberate rejection of lots of conventional norms. Stupid. And that's not what I think, anyway. If anything I think they're probably all the more musiciany for it. But.

1 Oct '04 07:04:04 AM

This is the most intriguing record review I've read in months. There's something very noble about it, somehow. Maybe because it actually seems thoughtful to me, where I might expect a thematically-attuned review of a record in a special interest forum to be at best parochial, at worst laughable.

(The review also answers a question I was too apathetic to find the answer for of my own initiative, about the origin of the phrase 'dude ranch nurse'. Well, not definitively. But to my satisfaction, being apathetic and all.)

1 Oct '04 06:40:44 AM

I still have yet to officially sit my exam, a defense of three papers roughly equivalent to comps in some other programs. I sat an abortive one last fall that ended up not being counted, out of my department's regard for my ongoing depression. Now, after a useless and possibly slightly harmful spring semester off, and another fruitless summer, here I am again, with my exam date fast approaching and me not ready, not even working. I mean, yes, I am working, and I'm on my way; but I'm not working enough, and most times when I do sit down determined to write one of two things happens: either I fiddle aimlessly with my notes and scribble down another handful of attempts at extending my existing work beyond its current state, trying to figure out how I can possibly finish it; or I just sit and stare, with this gravity-heavy fear that nothing is going to come and it's going to be too late too soon. In the latter moments it's hard to see how to even move from not working to working - and that's how I inevitably think of it, in terms of a transition between those states, that could only be effected by some mysterious exertion of my will that I have yet to learn the trick to - not just because of my history of fecklessness or my judgment of the magnitude (too big by far, by my own doing) of the task I have to complete, but because I feel I would be overwhelmed by melancholy were I to try, and thus come face to face with the real difficulty, real frustration, that are involved in actually doing the writing (and thinking) I have in mind.

Not that I need special reason lately to think about this, but I was put in this mood just now upon receiving news that two more people in the year behind me just passed their exams today.

1 Oct '04 02:13:38 AM

Bill Moyers on the way presidential debates are set up (hint: for set up read 'rigged').

28 Sep '04 09:59:56 AM

For some reason I just remembered part of a dream I had recently; more importantly, I realized that I have had it before, a number of times. In the dream I have returned to Ames, where I went to school, and I want to go to the record store. But I don't remember until I get there and find it closed - for good - that the owner of the store died in an accident a couple of years after I moved away from Ames. I don't know why I have the dream.

28 Sep '04 09:04:19 AM

When I hear Snoop on 'Holidae In' I am convinced that the early part of his career was merely preparation for the current, much greater role as pop imprimatur. I no longer care about the state of his flow or his approaching ever further the state of a pure construct.

(Best part from the AMG review of Jackpot: 'the beats most often are thurr and so are the songs themselves, but Chingy lacks substance'.)

28 Sep '04 08:51:10 AM

Stereolab's cover of Eno's 'St. Elmo's Fire' makes me feel slightly needy for a cover of the entire album (Another Green World, that is), but I'm not sure what I think about my intuition that there's supposed to be something wrong with the prospect of them covering a whole album like that. I wouldn't be bothered by it at all, so I wonder what the deal is. Maybe Eno's got to be dead first?

28 Sep '04 08:39:18 AM

If I were better read I might be able to quote Rilke with authority, but the handful of times I've read 'Archaic Torso of Apollo' it hasn't yet hit me; hit me hit me, in just the way that the line I'd like to quote suggests: 'you must change your life'. I can't help but have it in mind lately because everyone and their mother, including Gadamer and my advisor in her last book, quotes it to lend - something, I'm not sure what, since what is meant by it invariably varies - to whatever they're saying about the nature of art. The line has been in mind because I believe it so much, or want to, and I didn't need Gadamer or Rilke to convince me to - I was already ready to. Or already did. Which of those two, I'm not sure, since the way I've been approaching art of all sorts recently makes me confused about whether I'm forcing it or not, and if I am, whether that lets me deceive myself about what artworks are actually capable of. Every book I pick up, literature or not, I seem to approach more like: you must change my life. Even if I were to confine my threats and appeals to really really classy strangers, I'm sure my luck there, with the books, will continue to be no better than if I were to ask the same of every person I met on the street.

One major failing of this attitude is the lack of commitment on my part; but in the pursuit of that change, in the physical act of reading, it always feels like the reason I can't slow myself down, sink into things, is the very thing I'm after. I can't take the time because I don't have enough time - I have to change my life!