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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11 Feb '05 10:18:17 PM

Glenn's alignment statistics now include information on singles votes.

10 Feb '05 07:17:02 AM

Bakhtin's list of the basic characteristics of menippean satire as defined in antiquity, slightly edited (greatly edited):

1. more comic than Socratic dialogue
2. fuck historical fidelity
3. 'the adventures of an idea or a truth in the world'
4. philosophical dialogue x lofty symbol-systems x crazy adventures x shitty locales, only, like, organic
5. big questions, no bush-league bullshit
6. triple-pronged action including IN HELL
7. 'experimental fantasticality'
8. fruitful exploitation of psychological abnormality
9. so naughty!
10. felix/oscar
11. utopianism
12. rampant and unprotected genre heterogeneity!!
13. mad styles and crazy flows
14. what the fuck is happening? (right then, that is)

(Bakhtin's interest in menippean satire is totally different from Nothrop Frye's (quoted earlier), so they are fruitfully read in combination.)

9 Feb '05 06:59:02 PM

Glenn McDonald's annual critical alignment ratings (for albums only) for the Pazz & Jop poll. Without his seven like-minded Juvenile fans Ethan gets his zero (but not the only one).

9 Feb '05 03:40:08 AM

I would hope it goes without saying that the difference in agreement has little to do with correctness or quality.

9 Feb '05 03:37:48 AM

The 2004 Pazz & Jop Results are out. For idle amusement I checked the placement of the records on my ballot. They are listed below; the numbers are the ranking on my ballot / the final ranking / the number of other ballots, not including mine, on which the record appeared.

1/41/27: Junior Boys
2/37/39: Sonic Youth
3/11/85: Madvillain
4/55/25: De La Soul
5/261/6: Mouse on Mars
6/291/3: Pan Sonic
7/469/2: Kompakt 100
8/117/9: The Ex
9/50/30: Ted Leo + The Pharmacists
10/32/45: Ghostface

Likewise with my singles:

1/514/0: Xzibit
2/24/31: Fabolous
3/56/11: R. Kelly
4/3/120: Usher feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris
5/135/4: Petey Pablo
6/35/21: Alicia Keys
7/299/1: Memphis Bleek feat. Freeway
8/2/134: Jay-Z
9/514/0: Houston feat. Chingy, I-20 and Nate Dogg
10/64/10: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists

It seems the worst an album could do was tie for 1776th place by scoring 5 points from a single critic. The worst a single could do (there is no minimum point requirement as for albums, but fewer critics submit singles ballots) is tie for 514th from a single mention. This has the interesting (to me, anyway) consequence that records that only a handful of people rate at least well enough to stay on a ballot (with 5 points) will do better than scores of higher-rated records that were voted for by a single person. Of course, this isn't very informative. Most of the places in the hundreds are massive ties.

But, for contrast, look at Ethan's ballot. If it weren't for the eight other people who voted for 'Slow Motion', his cohort of voters in agreement with him about anything at all would have contained exactly zero people. Mine has 603.

5 Feb '05 07:17:15 AM

'River Deep, Mountain High': I keep turning it up, and it's never loud enough.

'Body and Soul': this take, the one that appeared on Monk's Dream in 1962, is Monk playing alone, dissonantly rather than with the jovial slash corny slash lovable stride inflections that he often adopts solo, as on Solo Monk. Imagine the gently disturbed resolutions of 'This Is My Story, This Is My Song' from Straight, No Chaser, only, knotting the entire span of the song - one that at the moment still leaves me inclined to say 'difficult' and mean it.

'Hot Love': until I heard the extended 'la la la' outro of the T. Rex original I guess I just figured Justus Köhncke picked this song to mash into (not up with) 'Frei' because of the provocative lyrics, especially receptive to being camped up.

'Tush': the production is less glossy than I first thought, and the beat less clubby, and the plays on 'ush' more clever, so now it barely sticks out at all on The Pretty Toney Album. I think I might intermingle the time where Ghost says 'push push push' here, talking about fucking, with the time somewhere else where he's talking about childbirth. But I think only good comes of it.

'99 Luftballons': tell me when you can ever hear something so massive and gutsy now. That synth, not even the sole virtue of the song, is obnoxious and perfect.

'Heart Problems': if the songs on Tyrrany of Distance were obviously in some ways of the past, it at least felt like a past that Ted Leo had breathed in, lived in, even if only by listening to records, which anyone who listens to records knows is enough to make it real; on Shake the Sheets the tense rigidity of the song structures, the relative austerity of the musical materials, and the uneasily punchy, single-surface production also come across as historical, but I'm more tempted to call it atavism this time, even if there are some records somewhere that Leo has lived just as much with: it sounds too defensive. I lose the thread somewhere in the middle of this, after the striking opening line, and then wake up most at the catalogue of prescription drugs at the close; this little detail strikes me as one of Leo's favorite touches, the important-sounding detail that doesn't fit with a surface non-reading of his lyrics (so it at least feels meaningful) but comes back massively once you use it as a handhold with which to climb back through the song. This came on the new indie-styled NPR rock outlet this weekend and I momentarily forgot about my griping about the station's playlist.

'20th Century Boy': you want it to come back as huge as that first roar of guitar, but I suppose if it did you wouldn't want so much through the rest of the song.

'Sorry for Laughing': 'there's too much happening'.

'Donna Lee': I keep feeling obliged to throw at least one jazz song on the playlists I cobble together, and then am disappointed by how they never seem to fit. The Parker less so than the others. I think that's because I'm still leading with the mental story I have, that I've picked up from elsewhere, about his radicality. But it takes concentration and familiarity both to always be able to hear that, in every track. Apart from the frequent lack of the former on my part, this is one of the many cuts from the Dial and Savoy sessions that I've only had since the fall and hardly absorbed yet.

'Sixty Minute Man': the second time through they should've doubled up the hits after 'blowin' my top', and held them back that extra-exciting syncopated half a count. Oh well. It's still loping and warm-bodied.

'Where Were You?': I don't know what it means, but by the sound of the guitar I expect it to.

'West Coast Mentality': what does it say if I don't want to represent my town? I mean, I do, some, but sometimes, er.

'Mote': I think it's never loud enough, and keep turning it up, but I always forget that soon Lee's singing ends and the part comes where the guitars genuinely impair my ability to do more than one thing at once. (Though the galumphing bass is sort of comforting - should it be?)

4 Feb '05 05:49:15 AM


3 Feb '05 05:44:01 AM

(Some of the talk about mimesis that I had in mind - BAD TALK - shows up in this okay - I guess - survey.)

3 Feb '05 01:42:06 AM

The introduction (I'm not sure if it's all of it) to the Cambridge Companion to Adorno seems astute, more than I have come to expect from that series. This could just be because all that is required to appear astute in this case is to have actually read a substantial enough portion of Adorno's three big books and thought about them carefully. Nevertheless. Astute.

(I came across this when looking for people commenting on Adorno and mimesis, because I'm at least well enough acquainted with Aesthetic Theory to know that mimesis is given an important role in it, and I was excited to find myself yet one more step closer to Adorno, closer to being invested enough in similar concerns to be able to make the struggle with him worth it, when the other day I suddenly found myself writing down notes about things that I wrote 'mimesis' under, things that bore a probably not totally coincidental similarity to various ways of talking about the nonconceptual, or nonidentical. There was no reason that sentence needed to be that long. But: so I sez, wait, mimesis, that doesn't sound like mimesis, referring it in my head to dumb representing- or copying-nature concepts I must have picked up in a dirty bathroom in a department of analytic philosophers somewhere - but, I sez, it does sound like Adorno - I wonder if that has something to do with where he's like mimesis mimesis all the time? Well.)

(A respected and trusted teacher of mine, also the only one I've ever been taught any Adorno by, not that I understood it at the time, asked a couple of years ago whether I had checked out Aesthetic Theory yet, when I tried to explain my long-term projects to him. Every time I get led back to Adorno by something else I'm doing, that question weighs heavier and heavier.)