Taking A Break From Self-Pity

I'm more bored of it than you are, believe.

1) I've been thinking about Houllebecq again lately. Sadly, while most of the reviews I've read of him seem to mention his notoriety amongst the intelligentsia and the controversy he causes, well, nobody I've talked to in person in the last few years has actually read him, so. Yeah. I've been meaning to get my copy of Ben Jeffery's Zero book on him, but haven't yet (maybe I'll order along with Ghosts Of My Life when I have the cash). Until then, here's the best article I've come across so far. Mostly written for those who are familiar with the books, yet still comprehensible otherwise.

2) The article on Houllebecq mentions the quite-pertinent idea that no individual can live outside the historical circumstances in which he or she lives. It's important to keep this in mind when reading Richard Thomas on his idea of "No Concept Programming", which derides the post-ideological, catch-all nature of festival lineups. Perhaps the most important idea is that these varied lineups do reify capitalism's abstract concept of freedom-through-(consumer)-choice. So, in a sense, what seems to be post-idology is actually quite definable. It only seems different when the "products" are better.

I do think artists should be held responsible for their silence, especially in the avant-garde community, a world of people who know better but whose ties to the outdated narrative of Western art trap them into old models of subversion that, handily, are ripe for sponsorship (can anything actually be subversive if it doesn't subvert? I think the only way to actually be subversive is to find a way out of the supermarket completely, not to be a more "gourmet" product within it). There is no escaping history, true, but a better assessment of what has actually happened is in order. As long as we keep telling ourselves the same myths about the past, we'll never have the ability to change the future.

(Let's try this: what if Bohemia won and what we have now is the "victory" inherent in the last fifty or sixty years of development in popular music, broadly conceived? The article on Houllebecq makes it clear that a more "inclusive" version of the same world would not be better. Likewise, can we really argue that any art failed because it wasn't popular enough?)

I can't help but feel that corporate and state sponsorship is somewhat inevitable, even if it still should be resisted. In the same way that the state must both support "free enterprise" through subsidies (public works that facilitate commerce, bailouts, etc.) AND mitigate some of the damage done by these subsidies and their recipients through other subsidies (welfare, food stamps, health insurance, etc.), corporations dependent on aesthetic production, who exploit aesthetic production, must re-invest just enough of that money back into the production process in order to ensure that it can continue. It's not only because artists simply wouldn't make enough money otherwise: the demands of capitalism on the leisure time of the average punter must also make these festivals more alluring for those short on time and money but long on curiosity. Festivals are capital's solution to capital's problem.

(I can't help but think that, pathetically, Red Bull has done more good for electronic music than any other institution that has existed in the last fifteen years. But why?)

3) Oh do I have more to say? The last decent idea I've had recently: let's make a movie set in Nazi Germany in which nothing happens. Has it already been made? What's the point? I don't know, but it sounds intriguing.


Bobby's Dream said...

Really liked the Houllebecq article you linked. Read quite a lot by him in a short burst a few years back and was very struck by them as being unusually serious and moral in ways that were, and still are, unusual for critically discussed fiction. The books certainly throw a very harsh light on much in contemporary culture.
His little essay/book on Lovecraft is really good too.
I need to go back and have a look at the novels.
Shall be reading more of your World Cup stuff.

:-p said...

Yeah, Houllebecq is definitely harsh. I guess I appreciate most that seriousness you mentioned. I don't always agree with him but I like that his values are less purely literary (in my parlance literary is a greater concern for how something is said than what is being said).

World Cup - keep in mind that I usually watch about 65% of the games of every Euro and World Cup and no other football besides that at all… other than my last post, there'll probably be nothing approaching social critique, just math summaries (unless something truly interesting happens).

Regardless, thanks for the support!