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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9 Jan '02 06:51:39 AM

If you live in Ames (and I know there are some people who live there and read this), consider attenting the following event (passed on to my by Kelly).

Tuesday, January 29, 2002
8:00 p.m., Institute on National Affairs Lecture, "Talking about Music," Ian McKaye, a member of the Fugazi band and cofounder of Discord Records, free , Sun Room, Memorial Union, 515-294-9934.

9 Jan '02 06:39:44 AM

There are a number of new articles and interesting archived material up at Freaky Trigger.

8 Jan '02 07:14:46 PM

I am thinking about something. If you can decide, tell me who your favorite band is. Tell me anything else you want too, but at least tell me that.

Allowances made for pedants who will choose to say "but I have a favorite artist, not a band," or "it's actually a composer, even though you said band, so...".

P.S. Stevie Wonder is great. Do not consider this an injunction to answer "Stevie Wonder".

7 Jan '02 07:57:20 PM

And at the end when the other parts stop and the phone conversation comes in, the drones lose direction - they're louder, not telling us where the song's going, because it's not now.

7 Jan '02 07:51:20 PM

Hearing "Tracy" today I took notice of how important the shimmering drone that runs behind most of the song is. It changes, it's on different notes. That contributes to the dynamics of the song just as significantly as the more prominent guitar parts in the foreground. The drone acts like a cue: "the song goes like this". Or maybe a distillation.

7 Jan '02 04:21:35 AM

B-b-but "Laser Beam" is my favorite song on there! It's perfect! Oh well.

6 Jan '02 09:47:51 AM

My CDs are even harder to get to now than they were in my last apartment. I think this has had an effect on the diversity of what I listen to.

That doesn't explain everything, though. I also just haven't felt as inclined to hear a diverse range of things. For months.

6 Jan '02 08:30:32 AM

I listened to Things We Lost in the Fire for the first time in months. It still comes off about the same to me. It feels like the work of a completely different band, most of the time, which means, a band different from the one I love - not, a fascinating new side of a Low that I loved which I now love in a new and richer way.

If I wanted to put it succinctly (sacrificing accuracy) I might say that they sound like more or less the same band, only with the drone taken out.

Sacrificing a lot of accuracy.

I feel like I can already tell intuitively, but it would be nice to have a more careful comparison between this record and Secret Name so that I see exactly how I can like that record and not this one, despite how similar they seem relative to Low's previous records. (Secret Name is a lot more "songy" too, with Albini production.)

6 Jan '02 07:55:14 AM

"Have social conditions made punk obsolete?"

It seems to me that there are a few popular ways of thinking about this. I'm not sure if they are the only ways, but they seem good enough to start with.

At the very least maybe we can agree that punk was ("is" too but I'm going to talk in the past tense for some reason) against something. Lots of people seem to think so, anyway. I get the impression that some people will even try to defuse talk about punk's mattering at this point, by saying that if punk was "against" anything, it was only against it in some shallow way, say stylistically, like as a fashion statement. Oh well. Maybe. Let's just ignore that for now.

So, punk was against something. Just that by itself presents possibilities for our question, for saying whether social conditions made punk obsolete. Think of it like two people. One is "against" the other. So one can disagree with the other. One can just plain dislike the other. One can carry on in a way that's contrary to the other, even inimical. These things could be done implicitly or explicitly. They could be done (forgive the unnatural division) on a purely musical level, or on some other social level.

How could it become obsolete, then? Talking about the way "social conditions" could change to make this happen is just a shorthand for saying that people could change, or institutions could change, or whatever.

1. Whatever punk was against could have changed so that it just looked stupid or silly to be against it.

2. It could have changed so that there was no legitimate reason to be against it.

3. The way in which punk was against whatever could have been dethorned. The main candidate I'm thinking of here is something like the way nihilism or irony is said to have been co-opted or commodified. Or even just the punk sound or style (including fashion!). The obsolecence here would derive from the fact that no one would bother to take punk seriously because of this co-option, though I want to leave things open. This make it sound like punk has a separate message to convey besides the style in which it conveys it; maybe it does, maybe not. I said "against" above to try avoiding talking about punk "critiquing" or anything like that, which might be seen as making it a little bigger or more developed in its antagonism than it was.

4. Related to 1, sort of - social conditions could have changed so that people didn't even know about the whole antagonistic relationship.

When the musical landscape changes, that counts as a social change too. I think all these things could be cached out either in terms of the "purely" (meaning non-musical, what we usually will call the real world stuff) social things punk was against, or in terms of the music punk was against (implicitly, sometimes). This split is an important one deserving of its own careful thought, because it matters a lot where the music hooks up with the rest of the world. So of course I'm not going to say anything else right now.

I don't know why I feel the need to apologize lately for being more careful and making my reasoning perspicuous, but I do. If you don't think this question is interesting, then at the moment I don't have anything to say to you. If you do but don't like the way I'm answering it (it sure ain't punk to do it this way I bet), then I wonder how you could answer it without being just as careful. Maybe seeing all the work, as it were, takes all the fun out of it, but this is sort of my lab notebook after all. If I were you I wouldn't trust an answer handed out without some thinking behind it anyway.