Friday, December 9, 2016

Brand New World

If Trump is not the most mendacious presidential nominee in modern American history, he has certainly distinguished himself with his unique brand of mendacity. When other politicians lie, they usually do it in the hopes of generating a certain result: they want to pick up more votes from a particular demographic, or lay the political groundwork for a policy goal, or escape public opprobrium. Trump tells lies that seem wholly unmotivated; lies that just float there and produce nothing but confusion. 
Trump is building on the foundation laid by Karl Rove and other great American fabulists, but he’s doing something fundamentally different from what they did. He’s not not building new realities; his lies are too convoluted and self-contradictory for that. Instead of following the Rove playbook, he’s adopted the style of a political operative most Americans have never encountered: former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov, also known as Putin’s Karl Rove.
...They have no interest in creating a new reality; instead, they’re calling into question the existence of any reality. By telling so many confounding and mutually exclusive falsehoods, the Trump campaign has created a pervasive sense of unreality in which truth is little more than an arbitrary personal decision. 
This, I think, is why so many people support Trump even when they recognize his obvious mendacity. They’ve been successfully persuaded that everything is a lie, so the only political choice you have is to select the fiction that most fits your self-conception. This partially explains how Trump is able to command support from both anti-Semites and some Jews. Pro-Trump Jews have decided that Trump is lying to white supremacists, and vice versa; they tolerate those lies because everyone lies, and because they’ve decided that he’s more honest when speaking directly to them. The only semblance of anything real can be found in personal identification with a charismatic, orange-tinted hero figure.  
...Thus politics becomes devoured entirely by personal aesthetics. It’s the final triumph of what Carl Schmitt called political romanticism, or what Christopher Lasch might call political narcissism: politics as self-expression and nothing else.
...In a 2011 piece for Open Democracy, Richard Sakwa, a professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent, described Surkov’s managed democracy as “the administrative management of party and electoral politics.” Sakwa goes on: 
Surkov’s philosophy is that there is no real freedom in the world, and that all democracies are managed democracies, so the key to success is to influence people, to give them the illusion that they are free, whereas in fact they are managed. In his view, the only freedom is “artistic freedom”

- Ned Reskinoff, Phantasmagoria, Medium (written before the election but well worth a read)

Surkov's "Managed Democracy", it should be noted, fits well into the schema of social media, which may be way wayward memes and fake news stories are so prevalent within individual's personal feeds.  This is reality as just one offshoot of your own personal brand, a conception of the world that indicates who you are and what can be expected from you.  Ontology becomes a marketplaces, any traceable truth only having value insomuch as the market allows for it.

Whereas once we were "labor", meat for the processing of industrial mechanics, and then we were mere "consumers",  stockpiling the gratuitous output of goods needed to fortify the barriers to the top rungs of power, now we are posters/marketers/branders, diluting ourselves further from the physical body into the mere channel of communicating the continued efficacy of centralized monetized authority.  Soon, we won't be anything at all.

It also strikes me that in addition to mass confusion/making all players question the nature of reality, this tactic of spreading lies with no tactical purpose behind them can serve as a strategy to re-authenticate a shifting center.  If the far right believes the election was rigged because Trump lies and says it was, and the left believes the election could be rigged because of real irregularities that should at least be investigated, any center legitimizing the election results as prima facie valid begins to look like the only "sensible" group, unpersuaded as they are by political actors.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Magick of Male Retraction

" It is a shame and also a disservice to treat one of the rare and invaluable women in Extreme Music (of any genre) like this.  I urge readers of this article to forward it on to Wikipedia and/or supplement the site with information either found here or on other sites to rectify this situation.  Share and Repost! Surely, if this can happen to me, it can happen to you or one of your friends.  Do not let the system of #fakenews and sexist music journalists decide what you are worth."

-Rachel Kozak, Nymphomatriarch: A Study of Censorship and Sexism in Electronic Music

An interesting and depressing tale of a woman making dynamic and interesting music for 20 years in experimental electronic music, being undermined every step of the way, culminating in having her Wikipedia page torn down and replaced by an off-hand reference to once being Aaron Funk's girlfriend on a project she had an equal hand in writing/producing. 

Wild Incorrectives

"These skirmishes over syllabuses were part of a broader political programme – and they became instrumental to forging a new alliance for conservative politics in America, between white working-class voters and small business owners, and politicians with corporate agendas that held very little benefit for those people. 
"By making fun of professors who spoke in language that most people considered incomprehensible (“The Lesbian Phallus”), wealthy Ivy League graduates could pose as anti-elite. By mocking courses on writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, they made a racial appeal to white people who felt as if they were losing their country. As the 1990s wore on, because multiculturalism was associated with globalisation – the force that was taking away so many jobs traditionally held by white working-class people – attacking it allowed conservatives to displace responsibility for the hardship that many of their constituents were facing. It was not the slashing of social services, lowered taxes, union busting or outsourcing that was the cause of their problems. It was those foreign “others”. 
"PC was a useful invention for the Republican right because it helped the movement to drive a wedge between working-class people and the Democrats who claimed to speak for them. “Political correctness” became a term used to drum into the public imagination the idea that there was a deep divide between the “ordinary people” and the “liberal elite”, who sought to control the speech and thoughts of regular folk. Opposition to political correctness also became a way to rebrand racism in ways that were politically acceptable in the post-civil-rights era. 
"Soon, Republican politicians were echoing on the national stage the message that had been product-tested in the academy. In May 1991, President George HW Bush gave a commencement speech at the University of Michigan. In it, he identified political correctness as a major danger to America. “Ironically, on the 200th anniversary of our Bill of Rights, we find free speech under assault throughout the United States,” Bush said. “The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land,” but, he warned, “In their own Orwellian way, crusades that demand correct behaviour crush diversity in the name of diversity.” 
"...But in the final years of the Obama presidency, political correctness made a comeback. Or rather, anti-political-correctness did 
"...These pieces committed many of the same fallacies that their predecessors from the 1990s had. They cherry-picked anecdotes and caricatured the subjects of their criticism. They complained that other people were creating and enforcing speech codes, while at the same time attempting to enforce their own speech codes. Their writers designated themselves the arbiters of what conversations or political demands deserved to be taken seriously, and which did not. They contradicted themselves in the same way: their authors continually complained, in highly visible publications, that they were being silenced." 
- Moira Weigel, Political Correctness, How the Right Invented a Phantom Enemy, The Guardian

R.I.P. Greg Lake

Monday, December 5, 2016

Love to Oakland

Heartbreaking, this news out of Oakland.  I think anybody who has ever stepped outside of their computer and into the world of underground music knows that most venues you're playing at, whether they be house & warehouse parties or dive bars, are often playing with limited resources.  Often the only money the artists involved make, if anything, is enough to get them through to the next night.  To say that they're death traps or a "tinderbox" is often part of the charm of these spaces, an act of a creative confrontation of resources, rather than criminal negligence.  It's too early and in poor taste to speculate on culpability, but it's perhaps not a stretch to say we can do better by our artists and music enthusiasts.

The communities that gather around these venues are incredibly tight-knit, especially in something like experimental dance music, a venue where LGBTQ, PoC, the overeducated but still impoverished creative class, the working poor, and others can unite to lift each other up in a world that constantly tears them down.  It's devastating to see any space like this, one which is barely allowed to exist let alone thrive within the austere limitations of late capitalism, fall victim to the preexisting ravages that threatened and continued to threaten it (as news organizations continue to denigrate the owners, participants, and music community at large as we speak).

Music performance and dance spaces have traditionally been safe spaces, escape valves that peer a glimpse of what a brighter future or an alternate present might look like.  With the recent attacks on the Bataclan and Pulse, the purposeful vulnerability of these spaces (as place where we are allowed be vulnerable and not guarded/skeptical) are now being exploited on a somewhat routine basis; the loud noises, low lighting, large crowds, limited exits, underpaid or underpresent security/staff, fire code violations, and frequently intoxicated patrons make disaster a pretty easy proposition- so much so that it's incredible terrible things don't happen more frequently.  Don't expect that to lighten as the culture clash rises, as artists make natural enemies to the forces of fear and hatred.

It's a testament to our support for one another that our creative spaces continue to be seen every year as havens rather than just another place to be exploited or attacked.  But as we head into a changing world, we should make sure we're continuing to think about changes that may need to make to ensure each other's safety and well-being, as well feelings of inclusion (only recently have we even begun to think about how unwelcome women often feel at punk shows, for example).  As a forward-thinking community, we can't rely on the traditions of the way that things have always been done.  We need to demand more, of both ourselves and our culture, and admit to ourselves that we do is important enough to warrant saving.  Maybe that's the best way to find meaning is something like this.

"I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our more stupid melancholy propensities, for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?"

- Johnny Ignaz, aka Nackt, scheduled to perform at the Ghost Ship. Still missing and feared gone, from his description of this gorgeous recent song

Cherushii, aka Chelsea Faith Dolan, also scheduled to perform that night with a beautiful lush track released on 100% silk.  Still among the missing.

RIP Travis Hough of Ghost of Lightning

RIP Cash Askew of Them Are Us Too

Friday, November 25, 2016

23 Envelope Documentary from 1985

RIP Pauline Oliveros

" Oliveros was and continues to be an enigma (she is still active at 76), an openly gay feminist black belt who has developed theories of holistic musical appreciation (“deep listening”) that incorporate mandala-like levels of concentration and subscribe to an improvisational populism that makes every person who can push a button, as well as every leaf rustling through the wind, into an avant-garde musician."- review from PM a few years back

I had the great pleasure of performing a few times at the Deep Listening Space, a supremely undersold nub of refuge in Upstate NY. When the HvEXAS guys started hosting noise shows in the area, I don't think we even knew it existed. We eventually got an intro by way of our sort of scene father figure in Al Margolis (If, Bwana/Sound of Pig/Pogus) who worked there occasionally and also on Oliveros's record label "Deep Listening".

What we really respected about Oliveros, and what we tried, unsuccessfully to a degree, to duplicate in HvEXAS's shows and later with the earliest days of the FDH record label, was that aforementioned populism.  Atonal and avant-garde music under her theoretical tutelage was really not meant to be the restrictive, isolating, and obtuse, as it had been forever classified.  This same spirit was alive in the noise scene, with its borrowing of basements and budgets from hardcore punk, where many of its expats had gathered from. The music didn't have to dumb down, but it also didn't have to sneer its nose up.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Remissive Unraveling


Friday, November 11, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Versificator- "Wait to Die"

Wrote this one for a compilation about dreams 12 years ago