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"The pleasure is to play / Makes no difference what you say..."

{{Talking of which [see below], I just remembered: Friday night, BBC2, documentary about Motorhead; and the late Tommy Vance rounds up proceedings by declaiming that "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead and "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath are "ICON tracks" ... which, you know, I'm not gonna pretend I don't know what he means, but that still doesn't make it anything but gibberish ...

Or, as The Ghost of Walter Benjamin whispers in my ear: what strange paradoxical register has therefore replaced the notion of the irretrievable irreplaceable "aura"? If the mechanically > now virtually engineered and repeated and re-presented "copy" is called believed worshiped (as) "icon/iconic", then ...? There is no longer any lag, any meditative differance, any temporal hierarchy whatsoever: a 70s porn star's moustache or the newly minted Chantelle from Celebrity Big Brother are both "icons"...
...CLICK on anything, say it is so, and it is ... the whole world now a Kapitalist arcade stuffed full of artfully arranged "icons". {Anything can be retrieved - as 'spectre' - anything re-installed; altho off the top of my lazy head, it strikes me that it is in the main still Woman who - qua Derrida in Spurs/Eperons - is installed as veiling-unveiling paragon or parergon of (subtle - i.e. lying ! - unstable) "Truth": she who dresses up as Princess Leia or a1940s-50s go-go dancer (the word "burlesque" here merits further attention over a second martini, I think....), she who pitches or parodies her suspended status as "inimitable" loved One/lover as an endless series of ICONIC others. ICONIC here seems to be a taking off (both senses? three senses if you include criminal sense of taking off after taking down e.g. a big score... ) and putting back on again of fancy under-duds. Not that I'm objecting, mind you - not all the way, all the time; like any other Pynchon fan, I have my fetishes: but the point here (saturation?, vanishing?) would be the same as with ICON: what happens when what was formerly private and sacred and secret and a recess of twisted idomatic worship - icon/fetish - becomes the GIVEN for a lot of public discourse?
{Let me go graze thru my warped and scratched upon copy of GLAS ...}

So what is this other lack we are haunted by? There's proably a pithy Lacanian formula somewhere: 'once Everything becomes available, then Nothing regains its allure'... ?

The nothing/no-where/nostalgia we are haunted by = a time when we couldn't crook and click our fore finger and get anything we wanted any time we wanted (and then throw it away)? A time when there were rules, restraints, when there was ... religion? When icons were icons?
And we would never see their un-double face? But could therefore believe all the more in its potency? In something that would never become trash, never be re issued in a new form, never stop being a world without time and uncannily ever after ... ?}}

posted by Ian 1/31/2006 06:53:00 PM

I thought the highlight of that Ace of Spades doc was the unattributed quote from a live review that the live Motorhead experience was "like having your brains pushed through your nose".

Surely the greatest piece of music criticism ever.
i would really advise turning AWAY from the explain-it-all know-it-all prejudge-it-all THEORISTS however (since they are clearly PART OF THE SAME PROBLEM, from ballard-as-critic to ba{udri}llard-as-ultrahack to [insert modish new yakker here]), and turn back to storytellers themselves -- and what's going on in a story

in beauty and the beast, when the beast turns into an AVAILABLE HANDSOME MAN, no one has EVER not felt disappointment -- this is where the story ends, but the ending is a melancholy, i think, like all closure? Anyway a lot of current cultural life seems to revolve round predicting the closure before the journey starts, as if the ENDPOINT contains the whole and all, but who the fuck wants a story which BEGINS "They lived happily ever after" --

in all treasurehunt quests ever, the treasure itself is dust-and-ashes, however lovely the description (in fact it's usually formula): stories have endings so the kid will close eyes and zzz sweetly, but endings -- which lift us out of the fabulous tale back into tiresome life -- are tricky. (The Hobbit is good on this, interestingly: when the treasureseekers defeat the dragon, and get their hands on the treaure, the fellowship instantly splits into factions and everyone else who ever helped them turns up at the doorstep wanting their piece of the pie)

(Tolkien was consciously and explicitly a scholar-theorist of the Craft of Storytelling -- and actually HAD a Theory of Endings, and a posh greekly-soundin term for "They lived happily ever after" = Eucatastrophe..)

(i know everyone reading is hyper-allergic to tolk but all i can say is, the gap between JRRT and W.Benjamin is NOTHING LIKE AS BIG AS YOU HAVE CONVINCED YRSELF ppl) (e.g. philology as a quest through ruins -- the ruins of yr culture AND the ruins of yr childhood) (this comparison is intended to cut both ways: i like benjamin lots but NOT how everyone goes slackjawed and humble when invokin him)

word of power: "yvbqcz"
A lot to mull over here: ... and I agree lots with lots of it. We should especialy be asking (as I think we both have in the recent past - me a bit glibly at times, sure, but that slangy tone may be part - I hope - of the wager) why there are SO many theorists and people who write about theorists and people who comb thru footnotes of other people who write about theorists - but SO FEW people prepared to take on the risk of producing new texts of the sort that sparked all this theorising in the first place.
In that direction.
And I think this is where Derrida and Benjamin are/were better: the attempt to find/grasp/shape new types of text, outside genre, mixed up, poetic, piratical, uncategorisable, unpredictable (precisely), fused, pitted, marked by sexual difference or other unsafe longings ... fictive philosophy? Confessional philology? Many splintered idiomatics?
And wasn't this the pivotal suspicion Derrida harboured re: Lacan? - Lacan's thoery as "explain-it-all know-it-all prejudge-it-all" - pre-destined before it started? (I realise I'm brutally simplifying.) And I sometimes fear the habit even the best of us get into of analysing our OWN 'icons as if THIS movie or THIS still from this movie can - with surety - be indexed to THIS whisper-his-name theorist, linking them up like a zizzily eco-gnomical speed date dialogue... 'Doesn't this tendency of G in his films/songs surely ILLUSTRATE Lacan's/Zizeck's insistence that X always = B squared...' Like that. I'm more swayed by less certain / more idiomatic writers, not frightened to lead with their airy, astonished, fallible, loving, falling, scrabbling "I"... and let that SHOW a bit more in the text/tale/trail...

Derrida: "How does desire become labor?"
(And well, sure, there's nothing more depressing to read than, say, an American collegiate Xerox-Derrida 'deconstruction' of the sort: here is the text and HERE is Derrida's theory and i will plug one into the other...)

But I still can't read Tolkein tho, Mark. (And I HAVE tried...) Ursula K Le Guin could do with a revival you ask me tho'... {to name just one) I.P.
And i DO like it when the footnote COMMENTary becomes longer than the 'original' text... ha!

hasn't Mark ha! deconstructed his anti-theory line by immediately invoking Oxford don Tolkien as scholar-THEORIST


is there a more Lacanian sentence/ sentiment than: 'the treasure itself is dust-and-ashes'


to play Lacan's advocate for a mo, isn't the endlessly worrying about theory (rather than actually DOING or SAYING anything) the very form of deconstructive theory ... i.e. as a certain unmentionable Slovene has put it, with Lacanianism, there is no metalanguage, but with deconstruction there is no natural language, so nothing BUT metalanguage...


strikes me that the question of the use of theory is a classic case of damned if you do/n't in that if it doesn't connect immediately, intimately, ubiquitously then what IS the point in it?

theory-bashing aside tho... :-)

the uncanny ever after thing really resonates for me... actually made me realise something obvious, to wit, that recorded music predicted the way TV would go, in that, in the pre-VCR 70s, TV was evanescent, repeatable only at the whim of the broadcasters - whereas now it is much more like a record. DVDs turn TV series into replayable CDs, and this has an immediate effect on the experience/value of watching anything, in that seeing progs for the very first time loses any frission; any ep can be delayed, watched later, etc. Multi-channel also plays a part... The very intense RITUAL experience of watching Dr Who at that precise time on a Saturday, not knowing when if it all it would be repeated is dissolved when you know the show will be on BBC3 the next day. Difficult to have any sense of EVENT in a multi-channel, DVD with 2 hours of extras world. Things emerge already freighted with the weight of their own archiving; so, ironically, never acquire the butterfly-svelte precious impermanence that haunts and makes you hunger for them again, and would make that archival material transform from sawdust padding into treasure...

Mark's remarks make me think - is there such a thing as a story with a good ending? Something like Don't Look Now springs to mind, not because of the shock, but because it turns the whole film into a moebian band of correspondences and echoes, a closure that opens up everything that has preceded it.

But Tolkien... couldn't even read it as a kid...
"I'm more swayed by less certain / more idiomatic writers, not frightened to lead with their airy, astonished, fallible, loving, falling, scrabbling "I"... and let that SHOW a bit more in the text/tale/trail..."

I can't recoomend the Richard Meltzer collection A Whore Just Like the Rest enough in this respect...
meltzer has of course discussed -- tho in his usual ultrabitter last-undeluded-man-standing way -- how if he had NOT BEEN CHUCKED OUT OF YALE for just another six months, he'd have been bein taught philosophy by JD himself!! not that i think he quite needed it: he had already exploded himself thru its body in "aesthetics of rock"

(god i must turn my kogan-review into an actual lving proposal: life is totally conspiring against this part of my plan)

what i must ALSO do soon is post of rfn the unexpurgated million-word version of THIS: if only to make mark k's head ACTUALLY explode haha

(we actually did the interview in a fantastic hotel on marseilles seafront populated ENTIRELY by sinister and shabby graham greene or eric ambler characters --- in the corridor outside our room, in an unlit and shadowed part of th corridor at that, was wired to the wal a STUFFED DUCK COVERED IN DUST, with a bad painting of countryside behind it, to "look as if" it was still flying) (we couldn't get a line back to the UK from the hotel -- we decided this wz because the telephone system was trying and failing to make a connection between the 1930s and 2005)

word of power: "emaqx"
Isn't the Internet grate:

MEANWHILE, an actual war was going on, y'know? No matter what I said about enriching the palette of philosophy, my real mission at Yale, the reason I became a grad school schmuck in the first place, was to delay getting drafted as long as possible. So dig the picture: I've been pummeled and poleaxed--rejected, daddy!--I don't have a job, a girlfriend, fucking 'Nam is in full swing, but records'll redeem the day! Ah! the 60s: the blithering optimism of it all.

And six mints, make that six months later, Jacques Derrida came to Yale as a visiting professor. MISTER deconstruction or whatever--shit, he mighta been my thesis adviser (at least an ally). Good thing I missed him or I'd still be rotting in academia.

Christ am I glad to be DONE with academia.


(anonymous we thirst to know yr name or wield a nice cognomen at very least!!)

(word of power: "ojuqolso")

'elvish' AND 'cgi'

excuse me while I have a scanners moment

but would be interested in reading it... I'd like to hear a positive case made for JRR
Wow, I'm officially an enigma!

My name is a decidedly non-enigmatic Steve. And just for the record, I haven't posted anything about Herzog! That's *another* Mr Anonymous altogether. I do think Kinski Uncut is a berserk masterpiece though.

PS Have you seen this recent Meltzer classic?!

I think the tendency of multi-channel TV and DVDs and all that to make a particular screening less of an event has been counterbalanced to some degree by other technology. Several episodes of Dr Who, for instance, were framed for me - never much of a fan - by breathless anticipation on a messageboard before ("OMG five minutes to go...") and excited discussion immediately after. I wouldn't trade that for a Sunday night repeat. I shared he final Big Brother last year with a friend (Ailsa, which I mention since Mark S knows her) over AIM, which added to my enjoyment hugely.

Seems to me this makes the real MAJOR events even bigger at the time - but anything short of that, maybe it's true that the effect is dissipated. Of course this weakening of the rest while strengthening the strongest increases their dominance and indeed makes the biggest entirely iconic...
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