Text, Telos, and Ritual

I’ve been set free and I’ve been bound To the memories of yesterday’s clouds I’ve been set free and I’ve been bound And now I’m set free I’m set free to find a new illusion — “I’m Set Free,” The Velvet Underground “As time goes on… the universe becomes more and more what experience has revealed,…… Continue reading Text, Telos, and Ritual

Memory of Lovers

One of my favorite pieces of Mark Richardson’s writing is his 2012 essay “I Wanna Live: Two Songs About Freedom” for the now-dead column Resonant Frequency. In it, he waxes eloquent on the two-chord song, especially Bowie’s “Heroes,” Cat Power’s “Nothin But Time,” and LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends”: [There] is something especially powerful about music with this harmonic…… Continue reading Memory of Lovers

A Few Types of Literary Compression

“And I said to Mabel, I said, ‘computational aesthetics, super-short. Jürgen Schmidhuber’s Theory Jürgen Schmidhuber, an AI theorist and theoretical computer scientist, has proposed a computational account of aesthetic judgments. In his view, a stimulus is judged to be beautiful or attractive by a subject T to the extent that the stimulus is compressible for…… Continue reading A Few Types of Literary Compression

Generic Fit

This makes the pop song an indispensable mirror: The way in which a listener imposes himself upon the text, or transforms the text from generic to specific, shows that listener something about himself. He learns his yearnings, his sadnesses, his loves; he recognizes an emotional life which is otherwise elusive, and solidifies in time an…… Continue reading Generic Fit

“If It Sounds Bad It Is Bad”

One of the critical ideas I’ve found most interesting of late is a seeming contradiction: Just because it sounds like bad music doesn’t mean it is bad music. “Just because it reads like a bad novel doesn’t mean it’s a bad novel” is also sort of true, but a bit more complicated. The tenability of…… Continue reading “If It Sounds Bad It Is Bad”

Every Little Star

  I. I filled in a long-standing gap in my cultural knowledge recently and watched Lynch’s 2001 noir masterpiece Mulholland Drive. That’s the sensation, right? Where listening to records or watching films in an era of unprecedented access begins to feel a bit like doing homework. Except Mulholland Drive is, itself, an almost unprecedently interesting film, one capable of…… Continue reading Every Little Star

A D Jameson & the Avant-Garde

I. I’ve been writing exclusively in long-form the past twelve months and become exhausted. Simultaneously, my writing has become more self-conscious, self-reflexive, and unwieldy, constant over-qualifications and anxious tangentials interrupting its focus. The list format used here, inspired partly by HTMLGiant’s trademark bullet-point style, is both a way to relieve this long-form burnout and to…… Continue reading A D Jameson & the Avant-Garde

Art As Engineering

A Conversation with Gabriel Duquette and The Sublemon Gabriel Duquette is a co-founder of Liposuction (tagline “aesthetics without all the fat”). He started the site with The Sublemon, who studied art at Yale before contributing to Carcinistion and Ribbonfarm. Both are interested primarily in “retro-engineering” and applying “epistemic hygiene” to matters of taste and aesthetics.…… Continue reading Art As Engineering

Genre, Values Hierarchies, & Intentionality in Pop

I. Does intentionality matter? Critical consequentialism put to the ultimate test: David Cooper Moore’s “The Scary, Misunderstood Power of a ‘Teen Mom’ Star’s Album”  discusses Farrah Abraham’s infamous pop record My Teenage Dream Ended: It’s tempting to consider My Teenage Dream Ended alongside other reality TV star vanity albums, like Paris Hilton’s excellent (and unfairly…… Continue reading Genre, Values Hierarchies, & Intentionality in Pop

Chekhov’s Gun and Red Herrings: Meaning, Rules, and Transgression in Storytelling

I. “If I think of somebody telling a story, I see a group of people huddled together, and around them a vast space, quite frightening.”  — John Berger It’s probably important to start off by quickly distinguishing  between a “story” and “literature,” at least in a way that is, if not universally true, at least…… Continue reading Chekhov’s Gun and Red Herrings: Meaning, Rules, and Transgression in Storytelling

Camera Obscura’s Let’s Get Out of This Country

Camera Obscura’s breakthrough Let’s Get Out of This Country was released ten years ago this June. Had I known of the record at the time, it would likely have been relegated to the category of guilty pleasure: something to be listened to but not shared; something enjoyable but not worthy. Rock music, especially after a nineties-alt makeover, was still…… Continue reading Camera Obscura’s Let’s Get Out of This Country