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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28 Oct '04 05:50:04 AM

Bothered me in a guilty way, I mean, so that I would always be more aware of who could hear me listening to the song.

(A common worry of mine that has never fully disappeared.)

28 Oct '04 05:45:50 AM

I'm not sure I ever adequately understood what 'My Michelle' was about, in detail, but I think it always bothered me that it was somehow 'bad' and featured my mom's name prominently.

28 Oct '04 05:44:15 AM

It would be interesting to speculate, I suppose, as to whether that casual remark equating 'realistic' overproduction with quote-marks holds up to the attractive response to the advocate of realism in sound recording, that all recording and accompanying production are in some way unrealistic - contrivances that do not simply provide a transparent (audio) window onto 'what actually happened'. Holds up, I mean, in the sense of being able to maintain the insinuation of campiness (which I hadn't really thought through beforehand).

28 Oct '04 05:37:42 AM

Often when I go back to a rock record that I once liked, say in college, or more likely, as an adolescent, the thing I now dislike the most is the drumming (considered separately from the drum production, which I almost invariably feel irritated by, whether it's a record with 80s-throwback airplane hangar drums or 90s 'real drums! see! real!' overproduction - cf. the remark of Sontag's, below, about camp seeing everything in quotes).

This was occasioned by my buying a copy of Appetite for Destruction on CD. (The first time around I owned it on tape.) It always feels so strange, being reminded of how committed to memory the records I used to listen to are. The present tense is appropriate, because they never really go away.

27 Oct '04 05:44:07 AM

I don't understand, at all, how one could always skip 'Mo Money, Mo Problems'. That song makes me happy to be alive. Sometimes I stop listening to the record just so I can hear that song over and over again.

26 Oct '04 06:48:50 AM

'Sincerity has no place in popular music, any more so than it does in cooking.'

Susan Sontag on camp:

10. Camp sees everything in quotation marks. It's not a lamp, but a "lamp"; not a woman, but a "woman." To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-as-Playing-a-Role. It is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater.

42. One is drawn to Camp when one realizes that "sincerity" is not enough. Sincerity can be simple philistinism, intellectual narrowness.

43. The traditional means for going beyond straight seriousness - irony, satire - seem feeble today, inadequate to the culturally oversaturated medium in which contemporary sensibility is schooled. Camp introduces a new standard: artifice as an ideal, theatricality.

25 Oct '04 02:37:11 AM

'In modern times a great deal of nonsense is talked about masters and disciples, and about the inheritance of a master's teaching by favorite pupils, entitling them to pass the truth on to their adherents. Of course Zen should be imparted in this way, from heart to heart, and in the past it was really accomplished. Silence and humility reigned rather than profession and assertion. The one who received such a teaching kept the matter hidden even after twenty years. Not until another discovered through his own need that a real master was at hand was it learned that the teaching had been imparted, and even then the occasion arose quite naturally and the teaching made its way in its own right. Under no circumstance did the teacher even claim "I am the successor of So-and-so." Such a claim would prove quite the contrary.

The Zen master Mu-nan had only one successor. His name was Shoju. After Shoju had completed his study of Zen, Mu-nan called him into his room. "I am getting old," he said, "and as far as I know, Shoju, you are the only one who will carry on this teaching. Here is a book. It has been passed down from master to master for seven generations. I also have added many points according to my understanding. The book is very valuable, and I am giving it to you to represent your successorship."

"If the book is such an important thing, you had better keep it," Shoju replied. "I received your Zen without writing and am satisfied with it as it is."

"I know that," said Mu-nan. "Even so, this work has been carried from master to master for seven generations, so you may keep it as a symbol of having received the teaching. Here."

The two happened to be talking before a brazier. The instant Shoju felt the book in his hands he thrust it into the flaming coals. He had no lust for possessions.

Mu-nan, who had never been angry before, yelled: "What are you doing!"

Shoju shouted back: "What are you saying!"'

24 Oct '04 08:45:39 AM

Stereolab records never sound like they might even have a chance of being overwhelmed by technology now.

24 Oct '04 08:38:39 AM

Denn Bleiben ist nirgends.