Notes to “Oscillation / Fashion”

Supplementary notes to twin essay "Oscillation / Fashion." 1. Fashion is important because it is in almost everything. Alfred H. Daniels (1951) 2. If by "fashion" I mean the sociocultural landscape at a given moment — the full topography of associations, connotations, endorsements, baggages, and significations attached to cultural objects and aesthetic decisions — then… Continue reading Notes to “Oscillation / Fashion”

Oscillation / Fashion

1. Oscillation You can never really tell when James Murphy’s being sincere, whether he’s making fun of others or making fun of himself. “Pow Pow”’s his statement of philosophy—“from this position / I can totally see how the decision was reached”—which is a sort of pragmatist-PoMo enlightenment: acknowledge perspective’s providence on truth and then turn… Continue reading Oscillation / Fashion

Poets are Intelligence Assets

As I understand it, the idea in Benjamin Hoffman's "Poets are intelligence assets" is that there's all this ambient information about specific cultural moments which is packed into a text unintentionally. My impression is past theorists have called this, loosely, "ideology," though the word carries deep-politic connotations. "Worldview" may be a better term, but I'm not… Continue reading Poets are Intelligence Assets

Abstraction & Processing

The art historian Jack Flam (2014) refers to this aspect of abstraction as “a new claim on truth.” By dismantling perspective, abstract art requires our brain to come up with a new logic of bottom-up processing. The work of Mondrian relies heavily on the brain’s early steps in processing objects, steps that depend on line… Continue reading Abstraction & Processing

Metric Prose in Austen’s Emma

Rhetorician Fred Scott divides writing into what he dubs the “motative” and “nutative” styles. Nutative writing, as its name implies, has a rhythm which nods; it was, contemporaneous with Austen, synonymous with verse and poetry. Motative writing, meanwhile, moves: Scott describes it as having the rhythm of the tides, moving shore-ward with each successive rising and falling wave, then receding back again in a similar fashion. It is writing which has climaxes and troughs but which bases its dynamicism on  content. (Pound's distinction between the "musical" and the "metronomic" comes to mind.) Motative writing is primarily communicative; it encompasses the essay, the argument, the novel — essentially, prose writing.