Posts from 30th July 2004

Jul 04

Beware the floating eye

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 372 views

Beware the floating eyethis book about the symbolism found in the various elements of the US dollar bill is sorta good, sorta not. There’s a lot of basic history about the design of the bill which is very interesting, along with details about the evolution of the Great Seal of the United States over the years, good easy reading stuff that leaves you a little more informed than before. But everything about the pyramid design of the letter A and the word America and the lines through the eyes and noses and slanting alongside letters and all that? It’s great if you love Freemasonry conspiracy, I guess — and trust me, they’re in here too. Still, on balance I’d rather read this than The Da Vinci Code.

NEW ORDER — Technique

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NEW ORDER — Technique

I actually posted this all over on ILM but I couldn’t decide whether here or there was the best place to put it. So I split the difference.


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“Kerry obviously will never be a natural orator of Bill Clinton and Barak Obama caliber,” argues PolBlogger Billmon, “but there are some things he could do that would help a lot, one of them being to cut the hand gestures – those short, jerky motions that make him look like an automaton – about in half. Fortunately, his gestures became more fluid as he warmed up, but for the first ten minutes or so he looked like he was dancing to a Devo tune.” Self Disorganising Androidal Observers disagree: “He shd have moonwalked,” chirred NYLPM spokesbots Tik and Tok. “Spastically.”

Appliance Anniversary

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 329 views

Appliance Anniversary OK the list of wedding anniversaries is well known to be a bit lame – paper/cotton/fruit etc etc. – but Wedding Guide UK’s updated SPEND-MORE-MONEY-PLEASE list of ‘modern anniversaries’ is simply mental. “Oh darling, we’ve been married seven blissful years, here is the gift I have bought you for our Desk Sets Anniversary“.

Fans of Canadian publicly-funded TV might recognise

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 257 views

Fans of Canadian publicly-funded TV might recognise Cosmic Odyssey, the Bill Shatner-narrated science series on the BC Open University’s Knowledge Network. The most recent installment was “Extreme Astronomy”, about “high-energy cataclysms in space and the people who track them down”. The visuals were good, the cosmic rays looked like Aquafresh. The writers had a bit of fun with Captain Jim by making him attempt to make gamma-ray bursts interesting despite the fact that “luckily, they’re not dangerous”.  However if you watched all the way to the VERY end the value of these things were revealed in that they caused mutations and thus might make us eventually evolve into another species! I was watching this very stoned on BC bud with some old people so I immediately flashed on that 2001 scene where he sees himself aged 103, and as if that wasn’t enough for the paranoia to kick in the next show was about these Canadian immigration cops grabbing people (“we like to get ’em when they’re going about their business completely unawares!”), then interrogating them with demoralizing questions (lots of closeups of squirming suspects) before inevitably sending them back to Jamaica. The pigs were really evil (“our enemy is the public”) and the filmmakers cleverly left you in the dark as to what the suspects actually did, making it even more claustrophobic! One of the names in the credits was “Michelle Hozer”. If you’re in BC and you want to check out some science programs or just get weird you could do worse than channel 7, as Bill says, “It’s so paradoxical, it’s almost alien. Whether it scrambles our chromosomes, or gives us…something!”

Sausages 4Ever

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 237 views

Sausages 4Ever: this is going to be the best blog in the world.

FT Top 100 Films 52: EASTER PARADE

Do You SeePost a comment • 1,232 views

FT Top 100 Films

I love the synchronicity in this list. Yesterday we had Breakin’. Today Easter Parade. Both pretty much the same film for very different generations. Now I am not suggest Judy Garland breakdances in Easter Parade, nor does Fred Astaire spin on his head (mores the pity). But it is a backstage musical, which sources all of its song and dance numbers in the fact that its performers are singers and dancers. And it has some of the best Irving Berling numbers in it. Its perhaps not the best MGM musical, but with Ann Miller’s dancing, and Judy’s husky voice its a sure fire winner for your midweek matinee.

Except it is a film about Easter. Christmas films are ten a penny. Easter is much rarer. Its pretty much just Easter Parade, and maybe now the laugh-along riot fest that was The Passion of Ver Christ. What emotions should be in the heart of an Easter film? What is Easter the season of. Eggs? Rebirth? Renewal? There is a vague idea of rebirth in Easter Parade, though not of a supernatural kind. Rather Fred Astaire tries, Pygmalion fashion, to turn Judy Garland into his new Ann Miller in his dance act. He fails, realising that he cannot make someone into someone they are not. Odd considering Judy Garland played this unplyable role – something less true about her life.

So instead we have the idea of the framing device of the Easter Parade, a display of ostentatious wealth rather than anything particularly religious. This was the apex of the MGM musicals, which were all about ostentatious wealth. Easter Parade contains a superfluous Folliesesque number where the screen is stuffed with so many dancing girls you don’t know where to look. In comparison the standout number is “We’re A couple Of Swells” which is a simple song and shuffle from the two leads. Easter Parade has very little to do with Easter, and everything to do with 1948 musicals.

Pop The Vote

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Pop The Vote

On the I Love Music board I am running a poll to determine ILM’s Top 100 albums and tracks of the decade so far, what with being pretty much halfway through it as we are (unless you’re one of those anti-Carterian date rockists). A lot has happened in the last five years in the world of popular music – some genres ‘dying’, some being ‘reborn’, some continuing to mutate and spawn demonic offspring, but of course this is a poll for individual works (albums and tracks – not JUST singles mind) and not genres, although it will be interesting to see which styles prove the most popular when all the votes are counted. Right now I see no clear winner for either the albums list or the tracks list, but it’s early days yet. Please check out the voting form here and submit your choices based on the list provided, nominations provided by the ILM contributors on a ‘Pick One Only’ basis, leading to some shocking/hilarious omissions I’m sure you’ll agree – and that’s before the final chart has been calculated. The deadline for submissions is Monday 16th August, 12pm BST. Happy voting!

Riffing on a theme borrowed from sinkah’s

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Riffing on a theme borrowed from sinkah’s rise and sprawl (the noise piece), k-punk on glampirism. Without wanting to re-open the engagements of the last couple of weeks, it does strike me a) that “Low” is very much the rockist’s choice of 70s Bowie (cards on table, I’m for Aladdin Sane) and b) that the trouble with this Deleuze stuff is in the way you tell it. If Bowie functioned as “a force of reterritorializion” by “fixating upon the most deterrorialized, most intense elements, and ushering them back into the fold of r and r and melody” this also means, as k-punk acknowledges that there must also be deterritorialization (although he doesn’t use the word): “a movement in the opposite direction : listeners sent off on voyages of discovery, flights from the self, invention of artificial identities”. Now I can’t claim to be an expert on this here D&G stuff, but it says here (Mille Plateaux, Introduction, page 10 in English translation):

How could movements of deterritorialization and processes of reterritorialization not be relative, always connected, caught up in one another? The orchid deterritorializes by forming an image, a tracing of a wasp; but the wasp reterritorializes on that image. The wasp is nevertheless deterritorialized, becoming a piece of the orchid’s reproductive apparatus. But it reterritorializes the orchid by transporting its pollen. Wasp and orchid, as heterogeneous elements, form a rhizome. It could be said that the orchid imitates the wasp, reproducing its image in a signifying fashion (mimesis, mimicry, lure, etc.). But this is true only on the level of the strata – a parallelism between two strata such that a plant organization on one imitates an animal organization on the other. At the same time, something else entirely is going on: not imitation at all but a capture of code, surplus value of code, an increase in valence, a veritable becoming, a becoming-wasp of the orchid and a becoming-orchid of the wasp. Each of these becomings brings about the deterritorialization of one term and the reterritorialization of the other; the two becomings interlink and form relays in a circulation of intensities pushing the deterritorialization ever further.

So my questions are, and perhaps someone who knows about these things could explain to me:

1) [Theoretical question] If the deterritorialization is pushed ever further, doesn’t that mean that the reterritorialization is also pushed ever further? But if so why privilege the first? Doesn’t this confirm that what makes this different from dialectics is the positive value attached to (‘life’) to ‘intensity’, and ultimately to positivity rather than negativity. Is intensity just ‘good’ (surely not, since as D&G say on p. 9: ‘one can never posit a dualism or a dichotomy, even in the rudimentary form of the good and the bad’.

2) [Bowie question] How does the model work for Bowie? Why isn’t the use of the experimental elements in pop the deterritorialization of the avant-garde rather than its re-territorialization? Surely on the D&G account given above, it must be both deterritorialization of one on the other, and vice versa? The avant-garde is deterritorialized, becoming part of the pop market’s commercial reproductive apparatus; and pop reterritorializes on it; but pop is deterritorializing too, and the avant-garde reterritorializing. I can’t find the analogies to explain this since I don’t know the D&G system well enough, but it does seem to me axiomatic that the process goes both ways at once, and that this defines what they’re trying to describe: the becoming pop of the avant-garde, and the becoming avant-garde of pop. a) now if this isn’t dialectics, what is it? and b) why isn’t this what mark s has been arguing?



Do You SeePost a comment • 211 views

Well, I liked it.