Dez & Marnie are sitting on their marital bed. She has headphones in, sitting cross-legged staring intently into her Macbook; he’s got puka shells around his neck and strums an acoustic guitar, bobbing his head at her, raising his brow, trying to get a look. It’s harmless but needy, like a puppy who deep down you don’t really love giving you eyes from across the room. Marnie takes her headphones off. “What are you staring at me about?” “What do you mean?” “You’re staring at me.” “I’m staring at you?” “You’re playing aggressive guitar at me.” “There’s nothing aggressive about that. It’s a ballad. I think it’s weird you haven’t said anything since noon.” This is the way a well-designed en media res goes; it’s what makes it so exciting. You see a situation, you get an interpretation, take it at face, infer a world (Marnie: cold and distant; modern technology: not helping.) Then there’s an update, a rebuttal—reality either rearing up and answering, contradicting the hubris of human inference, or else another subjectivity speaking for itself. Here we get the latter.Continue reading “Panic in Central Park: Predictive Hermeneutics in Girls S5E6”
Spilled Reality, “One more on The 1975?”:
The 1975 bloomed late in pop critics’ multi-decade questioning of masculine-rockist values like authenticity and edginess. In the new pop(ul)ist paradigm, entertainment value and its near heuristic, melodic propulsion, are strong arguments for aesthetic quality in themselves. Authenticity is redefined, less a matter of sheer aesthetic originality (anxiety of influence) or economic identity (working class fetish) but of emotional confession or appearance thereof. The boolean fact of politicization, and the polarity of sympathy, matter more than the sophistication of approach. Continue reading “Flowers in a Pop(ul)ist Paradigm”
Taken from Ghosts of My Life by Mark Fisher, esp. “No Longer the Pleasures: Joy Division,” and “K-Punk, or the Glampunk Art Pop Discontinuum.”
On Teenage Ontology:
Romanticism is the dressing-up of Teenage Ontology as an aesthetic cosmology. Teenage Ontology is governed by the conviction that what really matters is interiority: how you feel inside, and what your experiences and opinions are. In this sense, sloppy drunkard Ladette Tracy Emin is one of the most Romantic artists ever. Like Lads—the real inheritors of the hippie legacy—Emin’s bleary, blurry, beery, leery, lairy anti-sensualist sensibility is an advert for the vacuity of her own preferences.
In his introduction to The Ubuweb Anthology of Conceptual Writing, Craig Dworkin positions conceptual writing in opposition to romantic expression, to writing that conveys “the emotional truth of the self.” But he replaces it with a vision of writing that’s true to its linguistic self, writing that can’t be conceived of as taking any other form. Continue reading “Against Expression”
When the shitty stream is gone, it will be remembered and missed. Continue reading “Someplace, Somewhere, Someone”
Idea: Young animals of countless species have been observed engaging in play, exploring their environment, testing boundaries, and entering low-stakes simulations of behavior that will in adulthood become high-stakes (e.g. wrestling, hunting, dollhouses). In humans, playful exploration in this sense is associated with the sincere enthusiasm of discovery—young children can still be surprised or highly excited in the face of imminent newness. These patterns of behavior inevitably leave a trace in group epistemics; that is, there is a strong association in the culture, conscious or not, between affects like enthusiasm or playfulness and the status of an organism with much to learn. Continue reading “Enthusiasm, Play, and “Cool””
The title of Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” is misleading, and regularly confuses readers who believe her “erotics of art” precludes interpretive dot-connecting and inference. This is not the case: the piece is more accurately titled “Against Allegorization,” or “Against Ideological Readings” — those hermeneutic approaches that set out to find “encoded” and symbolic meanings in a work of literature according to the reader’s personal schema. Continue reading “Sontag v. Top-down Frames”
Cognitive poetics is one of the most exciting literary-theoretic subfields I’ve stumbled upon. So far as I can tell, Peter Stockwell, whose paper on resonance I’ve cited previously, is one of cognitive poetics’ primary authorities, and has written an introduction to the discipline (Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction, 2002).
Stockwell summarizes “schema theory,” a composite of different theorists’ attempts to better grasp how readers bring interpretive contexts and frameworks to texts during a literary encounter. We can understand “schemas” loosely in the way Piaget, Kant, and Schmidhuber have all used it:¹ a mental framework and interpretive system into which new ideas are tested and assimilated. Synonyms for schema include framework, worldview, way of seeing, interpretive filter, and mental model. Continue reading “Schematic Disruption”
Fashion trends are marked by continuity, changing incrementally but continuously year to year. Continue reading “Notes to “Oscillation / Fashion,” pt. 2”
Sianne Ngai and Haley Thurston have done much, I think, for aesthetics by formalizing certain descriptive terms previously used informally: the zany, cute, and merely interesting (Ngai); the baroque, whimsy, and cheesy (Thurston). I want to continue that project here. Continue reading “Vibe Vectors”