The 1975’s Brief Inquiry

1. The 1975 “One and the same civilization produces simultaneously two such different things as a poem by T.S. Eliot and a Tin Pan Alley song, or a painting by Braque and a Saturday Evening Post cover… [W]hat  perspective of culture is large enough to enable us to situate them in an enlightening relation to… Continue reading The 1975’s Brief Inquiry

Flowers in a Pop(ul)ist Paradigm

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… Continue reading Flowers in a Pop(ul)ist Paradigm

Teenage v. Depressive Ontology

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… Continue reading Teenage v. Depressive Ontology

Against Expression

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. What… Continue reading Against Expression

Someplace, Somewhere, Someone

When the shitty stream is gone, it will be remembered and missed. We will miss the warm filter of fuzz from digital compression, the aesthetics of illegality. The vignetting of television shows as means of escaping the algorithms of copyright detection; the avant framing of filmic action in still photoframes, sometimes bland and decoratively abstract,… Continue reading Someplace, Somewhere, Someone

Enthusiasm, Play, and “Cool”

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… Continue reading Enthusiasm, Play, and “Cool”

Sontag v. Top-down Frames

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… Continue reading Sontag v. Top-down Frames

Schematic Disruption

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'… Continue reading Schematic Disruption

Notes to “Oscillation / Fashion,” pt. 2

Second set of notes to “Oscillation / Fashion.” First set here. 1. Fashion trends are marked by continuity, changing incrementally but continuously year to year. 2. They can be cyclical, with trends come back into fashion or establishing themselves as perennially in (i.e. “classic”). 3. Bandwagon effects occur when a pile-on of adherence or support follows… Continue reading Notes to “Oscillation / Fashion,” pt. 2

Vibe Vectors

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. In a separate project from this blog, I've sketched out what a “vibe” might look like if factored in terms more amenable to… Continue reading Vibe Vectors