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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15 Dec '04 09:37:00 AM

At first I didn't know what the first song on Ted Leo's new album was about at all, except that at one point he says 'bourgeois' (as snidely pointed out below), and that it more or less, to put it concisely, said yes when life says no. As I listened more and followed a few more of the words I got more comfortable in that way of hearing it, filling it out with some sort of sense of its being politically topical. Zeitgeist stuff. One line threw me and I explained its awkwardness to myself by supposing that it was referring to actual people, thus the near-repetition: 'and me and Mia, Ann and Ana'. But today I bought a real copy of the record, and upon reading the lyrics, I'm utterly shaken. I would have spelled it 'Anna' without looking at the liner notes; maybe if I had been thinking 'Ana' I might have had eating disorders in mind. Or maybe if I remembered that 'Mia' is to 'bulimia' as 'Ana' is to 'anorexia' I might have attached some significance to the 'Mia' of the song's title and started noticing all of the food-related lyrics instead of letting them float by as political figuratives. Now, though, I'm at a standstill, I hope only temporary. If it seemed just like an anti-pro-eating disorder song, that would be one thing, but I think it astutely weaves the political and the pathological together - check 'But don't forget what it really means to hunger strike / when you don't really need to / Some are dying for a cause, but that don't make it yours' - precisely because the pro-anorexia, pro-bulimia underground derives what makes it most horrifying (to me, at least - I've surely seen plenty of potentially disturbing things on the net in the past twelve years or so, but none of them have felt as disturbing as the ana/mia stuff that I tripped over belatedly just because I happened to sign up for a livejournal last year) from its conflation of the personal, in the personal-is-political identity politics sense, with the personal, in the individual sense. I'm not sure what that makes 'Me and Mia'. At the very least, as exemplary an anti-ana song as I could imagine. Given that it's addressed to 'you', and includes Leo (forget that not identifying the artist with the narrator shit here, I think) in the 'we' that is 'you' and your friends (those friends), I don't know if I feel right probing the song for more.

14 Dec '04 09:41:04 AM

Note the error, too.

This sense of being lost is an intellectual one, but it does have its real consequences.

14 Dec '04 09:35:38 AM

I'm getting to the point again where I start to feel trapped and lost. Both at the same time, which I'm not sure makes sense. To say I feel lost would be right but not enough. I keep thinking, as I inevitably do, that if I could only absorb this book or write that thing or thoroughly have this or that idea, I would then know my way, as if those things would end up having been the maps, once I find myself no longer lost. Note the subtletly: I recognize that these things themselves will not have been what does it, but I demand that they be the things that basically serve that purpose anyway. But none of them fits, none of them suits, and it's not even because I try them and they don't work but because no single one of them pulls me in long enough; which is to say: I cannot make myself give myself over to them enough for the real work to begin, and so I demand that they pull me in, that Hegel or Gadamer or Fiedler or Adorno or Melville or Pound or Zukofsky be so interesting and engaging, that they speak to me so much, that it doesn't feel like work but like breathing in my own air. The map is not a strong enough metaphor for this, because I can always imagine that I'll eventually get there somehow, map or no; so I am not just lost but trapped, because the thing I imagine will help me will not just get me there but get me out, and now.

14 Dec '04 08:58:38 AM

A note from Jessie: 'the most provocative statements are the ones whose grammar leaves no clear point of entry'.

12 Dec '04 09:22:25 AM

Doing something, anything, enough, that it can go on for thirty or forty minutes or an hour and captivate or distract or lull me enough that the foremost preoccupations that press down on me are temporarily lifted - that's what the records that have filled my time lately have done. I don't really hear them, as such, but I do put them on and hope they don't wear off too soon. Or that their effect is not soon dissipated. It's been harder to do this with pop albums, but less commercially successful genre-limited records seem better suited to hourlong statements of consistency, to mining the same territory. I'm not quite sure how it shakes out: Petey Pablo and Keren Ann come out as pop albums, Nico and Muddy Waters and maybe Ted Leo as genre albums, even though Petey and Keren Ann are well ensconced in identifiable places.

It's so hard to shake the impulse that things have to mean something (which impulse gets in the way of letting them mean something when they damn well feel like it).

12 Dec '04 08:39:15 AM

I value more than is revealed in my actions; this is a constant source of frustration, isolation, and disappointment for me.

12 Dec '04 12:09:39 AM

'got a water hose and the thing you wind it up on'

!

10 Dec '04 05:32:21 AM

Did Ted Leo just say 'bourgeois'?

Sigh.

10 Dec '04 04:30:29 AM

Low provoke more lazy reviewing than most any of the music I like. Slow! Oh! My! God! It is slow! They are slow! Hey! Slow!