August 08, 2004
Constant Craving (a supplement to Anti-Capital)
"'Most people will tell you that they aren't fooled by advertising and that they don't believe all that they read in the newspapers or see on television. We should not cynically dismiss these claims - even when we see them continue to uncritically consume the advertised products and read the newspapers and watch television - to do would be to totally misunderstand the nature of propaganda in spectacular society.' (Larry Law, CITIES OF ILLUSION)
The Videodrome has its roots in the stimulus-addictive spectacular commodity-culture and it is realised and reified through the commodity in fashion, style, newness. The spectacular videodrome generates subliminal overstimulation and this hype leads to a craving for more stimulus for its own sake. The Videodrome through the television screen, in words, sound, vision, visual imagery; releases spores, pheromones which make us gorge ourselves on it, always wanting more, whether it's tactile, sexual, phenomenal, social, material or emotional - seeking what we can never find, the realization of our deirese. The video-spectacular pulse inserts a permanent feeling of dissatisfaction of the senses, identity, personality, it collapses each new construct it proffers, it collapses new people. This is an ever-accelerating law of diminishing returns - craving, production, consumption, simulation, excitation, stimulation, craving - the videodrome spectacular hype is never over.
The videodrome is the deepest fix you'll ever crave and it's a craving stimulus junkies never kick.'
Mark Downham, 'Videodrome: The Thing in Room 101' in Vague 18/19, Control Data Manual, 1987
Posted by mark at August 8, 2004 02:36 AM
There's certainly something to the video fix thoughts. Addiction to TV theta waves or something. I just added you to my photoblog links, want to drop you a line. And also say I kind of dig the glitches in yr photos recently.
"This is an ever-accelerating law of diminishing returns - craving, production, consumption, simulation, excitation, stimulation, craving - the videodrome spectacular hype is never over."
erm but this doesn't make sense: unless the returns were infinite in the first place, an "ever-accelerating law of diminishing returns" will HAVE to reach zero return one day; and if finite, the only thing delaying this day has to be the initial titanic scale of the returns. ie This species of argument risks turning into a secret slackjawed WORSHIP of the artistic effectiveness of the thing it claims to critique!! The ideal model for "ppl in thrall to advertising" = uncritical relationship that (some?) Junior Theorists of the Spectacle have to their Gurus!! (OK not just Junior Theorists of Spectacle: junior theorists of all kinds of [pseudo]political memebanks). I know the Anti-Spectacle crowd are artshock rhetoricians rather more than they're Social Scientists (= contribute to the buttressing of their beloved Spectacle more than they at all undermine it haha), but the law of diminishing returns on rhetorical tropes is this: clichés - by defn copied off someone else - are low-energy dull noise.
A better line might be that ppl - ordinary punters AND academic theorists - are attracted to the mesmeric low-energy boredom of a clichéscape bcz it doesn't make demands of them, stressed as they are in the everyday panic of job/kids/health/love etc. Familiarity is soothing; the shouty argument that ppl shd NOT chase after everyday soothement seems a bit blinkered
(i'm not going to make a clichécrack abt the quiet reaches of the academic ivory tower cz my friends and relatives in the AIT seem WAY more stressed than i ever am, but what abt the quiet secluded reaches of the funded indie/avant-garde cottage industry?)
mark, i havent read this yet (looking fwd to it) but i'll level with you. i HATE these "continue reading" things. i want my k-punk and i want it IMMEDIATLEY.
erm but this doesn't make sense: unless the returns were infinite in the first place, an "ever-accelerating law of diminishing returns" will HAVE to reach zero return one day; and if finite, the only thing delaying this day has to be the initial titanic scale of the returns
Not really very Zenonian or Sarkonian, Mark! Continually deferring zero by infinitesimals is very much Capital's thing...
As for in ppl in thrall to advertising: well, either advertising works, in which case it operates as part of an effective system of libidinal triggering OR it doesn't, which means that capitalism is wasting billions of £$ a year on it -- doesn't seem too plausible. Downham's point - via the quote from Law - is actually the opposite of the one that you attribute to him, i.e. that even though ppl are NOT in thrall to advertising, it still works on them -- course this entails violating the NYPLM orthodoxy that ppl are Cartesian subjects, whose motivations are transparently available for introspection...
Who is the academic theorist here btw? Not Downham presumably, who - for all I know - didn't even go to university; not the Situationists who inspired him, who worked dog-jobs to support the production of their books and pamphlets.
As for AIT --- my God! Maybe it still exists at Oxbridge, but not at Warwick -- at least not when we were there - pernicious viper den wd be closer to the mark than ivory tower --- not any of the new universities I worked at, bursting at the seams under the weight of crushing economic pressure. Ask Steve Hyperdub what it's like at UEL... Certainly FE - where I now work - seems relatively sedate compared to the emiserating pressure of HE...
A better line might be that ppl - ordinary punters AND academic theorists - are attracted to the mesmeric low-energy boredom of a clichéscape bcz it doesn't make demands of them, stressed as they are in the everyday panic of job/kids/health/love etc. Familiarity is soothing; the shouty argument that ppl shd NOT chase after everyday soothement seems a bit blinkered
No, ppl shdn't have jobs/kids etc lol...
Think I've answered this one below in response to Catherine... i.e. being soothed CAN be positive if part of a general pragmatics of intensification, but is not if part of convalescence from capital wage-slavery...
Again this involves flouting NYPLM orthodoxy of course. Actually the whole NYPLM/K-p differend summed up well - if deliberately schematically - by Luke here. (altho obv I don't think that pop music is the agent of the devil, as Luke well knows! And it's not a matter of certain INDIVIDUALS being superior to others, but of certain STRATEGIES being superior to others, that's the wisdom in every other culture apart from decadent western liberalism with its laissez-fairism!!!)
I can't see how what yr saying isn't straightforwardly English empiricist liberalism ---- i.e. it's up to individuals what they do, no choice is better than any other etc. Maybe I'm caricaturing, if so, I'd like to be put right, because from a Marxist or Spinozist POV this ontology of the individual (which I hardly need remind anyone was Mrs T's) requires critiquing, i.e. you can't start from the individual you have to start from the collective. Indeed the problem with capitalism is that it systematically inhibits collectivity, packaging up HR into orgasm-addicted consumer-reproducer units. For Spinoza and Marx, human interests can only be optimized at the level of the collective. Again, this flouts the liberal/ consumerist point that all human interests are relative.
What you describe is of course territorialization in person (cf D/G's analysis of the familiar in 'Of the Refrain' in ATP)
BUT: don't agree that TV etc are 'soothing' any way--- I doubt anyone on the blogosphere - apart from maybe Penman - has watched more TV than me. That's why I KNOW it's not soothing, it's stupefying; maybe others can make a different use of it, in which case I'd like to know WHAT? Yr just left with that IMHO pitiful Cult Studs nonsense about micropolitical resistance through watching Neighbours, 'negotiated readings', all of which have Kapital rubbing its tentacles in glee, i.e. univerisities producing consumerist propaganda, 'go on, watch TV, you're being subversive....' All of which ignores the point that McLuhan, the Sits and Cronenberg understood all too well: the medium is the message. That shd have killed Media Studies before it started, but, as Robin Undercurrent has argued very cogently many times, MS is ntegral to Capital's current divertissements (Simpsons/Shrek/BB) which feed on reflexive processing of media's own techniques (i.e. the notion of producing a narrative through editing is now so commonplace that even BB's Michelle takes it for granted).
But as Baudrillard says: forget the content, TV is social control in itself.
(course, it's not that clear cut: TV that in some way connected up with different life strategies and installed new perceptual parameters, that could do something...)
n.b. the point is very opposite of shouting --- it is Kapital Videodrome that is incessantly shouting at us ---- BUY ME, WATCH ME, --- installing neuronic discontent (i.e. not soothing). Actually, reading Sontag 'Against Interpretation' this afternoon, she makes the same point, contemp culture is characterized by overstim --- the radical step is to withdraw ---
going for a walk, looking at animals, listening to the right type of music --- they are soothing but soothing AND energizing, unlike Kapital videodrome which is a black hole of negative energy, agitating and enervating...
I've been lurking at k-punk for over a year now, and I feel that now is as good a time as any to, well, emerge (for lack of a better term).
RE: TV connected to different life strategies, etc. I am of course reminded of Deleuze's 1976 interview on the subject of Godard's 'Six fois deux'. (Deleuze: "At least Godard has revived hate. But he has also shown that TV could be 'populated' another way.)
Unfortunately, I'm unable to locate an online version of the interview, but I'll be happy to email you a .doc file of it, if you're interested.
Carter, you're very welcome! Glad you've emerged...
Nice quote from GD, yeh that's what I meant I think... obv it wd be inconsistent of me to make a blanket condemnation of TV given that, as all the posts on Sapphire and Steel/ Potter/ Kneale attest, TV has often been life-changing for me...
wd love a doc file of that piece, yeh!
" Continually deferring zero by infinitesimals" = it is not accelerating obviously (i wd imagine it is decelerating)
like i said, rhetoric (promo copy basically, like the science in a hair products ad except more shouty)
"it's up to individuals what they do, no choice is better than any other" - where did this come from? misreading "a better wd line be"?: i'm not ADVOCATING a general retreat into couchpotato soothment and nothing more! i'm suggesting that if you want to understand why something YOU don't like has attractions, you shd treat them as GENUINE attractions/soothments not FAKE ones, even if they don't happen to attract/soothe YOU - plus also the sits' line on the masses mesmerised by washing machines etc was always elitist bohemian bullshit ("we're artists, we don't believe in doing the washing up anyway, our girlfriends do that for us")
i don't and have never bought the massive overselling of certain media's power evilly to englamour, esp.when announced right beside some other media's oversold power to instantly liberate (and oh! hey! the media which evilly engamours is stuff the overseller happens NOT TO LIKE MUCH!! and the stuff which liberates is STUFF HE DOES!!): like i say, it's a secret capitulation not a critique - once you cut yrself loose from the OH NO BIG GIANT UNBEATABLE BAD-MAGIC TRAP ad-copy scare stories, there's a good materialist reason why ppl like TV etc; and this is that it is undemanding low-intensity diversion when they are stressed and exhausted; as it happens i think the lures of "theory" (and lots of other things) are not very different, they just lure a crowd with different tastes; the distance between baudrillard as zombiefied chill-out fun and big brother as zombiefied chill-out fun (and beethoven as zombiefied chill-out fun and... and ...) is nothing at all... they're all zombified chill-out fun, if that's what you choose to look for:
what i meant abt AITs wz also exactly the opposite: AIT is IT no longer, but a scary overpressured place - my best high-powered academic friend had a nervous breakdown last year - however it *was* a lot less so when many of these very abstract (pseudo)critiques were being developed, 70s-mid-80s, and there wz a lot of artshock tourism going on i think, ppl who wished they themselves had been more punky overcompensating by diagnosing a lack of punkiness as the primary cultural fault in the popn at large
'go on, watch TV, you're being subversive....': haha penman once proposed as a radical action that we all stay at home and ONLY watch tv (ie never go to work)
"...the point that McLuhan, the Sits and Cronenberg understood all too well: the medium is the message": erm ok let's actually take this idea seriously --- how are the media used by McLuhan, the Sits and Cronenberg difft? how is sitting slackjawed in front of crash on TV an improvement on sitting slackjawed in front of ready steady cook? (and haha which wd ballard say we ought to be doing?)
collectivity-wise, reading books comes off worst of all! except of course that other ppl have read the same book and then you have something to talk abt; only this applies to TV also ---> = it's the willing slackjawedness is the issue, not the shared object of discussion; but if the slackjawedness is a product of exhausting working conditions, then why not aim to change working conditions
i think that quote is no difft to my mum complaining that there's nothing on she wants to watch cz it's all gardening programmes and golf (ie which my dad likes and watches the whole time)
probably i shd'nt speak for any of the rest of the NYPLM collective (!) but my version of our "orthodoxy" = treat anyone making art or theory or movies or WHATEVER as someone just like you, that you can have and are having a conversation with; who you can tease and flirt with and gossip abt and treat as one of yr own (pubmates or family or blogcircle or...): harold pinter, the makers of footballers wives, merzbow, the designers of the phineas fogg packets - they know things you don't know; you know things they don't know, their ten-part avant-garde theatrical epic = art, but no more than the thoughts in yr head on reading this post (and no less)
i keep trying that luke link but it won't take me anywhere :(
hmmm "one of yr own" makes it sound all chummy! of course in a pubmates gang or a blog circle or a family there is actually also all sorts of currents of resentment and malice and that's good too
First off, the important bit:
("we're artists, we don't believe in doing the washing up anyway, our girlfriends do that for us")
Mark I'm shocked! I thought it was YOU who was saying that it was unacceptable to weaken someone else's position in order to make your own seem stronger --- this is both ad hominem AND straw man ----
don't and have never bought the massive overselling of certain media's power evilly to englamour, esp.when announced right beside some other media's oversold power to instantly liberate
Neither have I --- but which media have power to instantly liberate and who has said that they do? Certainly I wd make a special case for TV being part of a particularly effective control circuit - control in the cybernetic sense (i.e. in that it requires ppl's complicity)
i think the lures of "theory" (and lots of other things) are not very different
really, I imagine this wd be shot out of the water by the most elementary neurology abt what happens to your brain when reading say Foucault versus when you're watching BB.... I admire your intellect Mark, but saying that reading theory is zombie chill out is bizarre .... OK, for the sake of argument, let's say it's another form of zombiefication, but leaving aside the LATE Baudrillard to whom I assume you're referring, theory is far from chill out in that it requires you to DO something... Point is, reading increases your mental capacities whereas TV makes your concentration etc worse, this can't be argued relativistically, it's a neurological matter ... you might want to argue that hey I'm imposing a value judgement that it's better to use your brain than to slow cook it in cathode rays, and yeh, I plead quilty to that!
Think underlying all this is the idea that I'm condemning TV-watching from an ivory tower but:
as I said, no-one has watched more TV than me
that simply is not my background (mine very much the reverse: 'Mark why are you reading books? Come and watch TV' lol..). Felt a lot of empathy for Penman's stuff on tv, i.e. his struggle to kick it, because it runs SO deep if you come from a certain type of background (I'm inferring that Ian's background and mine are quite similar, perhaps unfairly)...So MUCH of that culture is structured around TV, (TV is equated in one's CNS with hearthliness and homeliness, its sim-company substituting for meeting people) ... In short, I don't look down on TV from an ivory tower --- very much the contrary --- and I'm not critical of it because I don't like it or don't understand its appeal --- again VERY MUCH to the contrary --- I understand the appeal of eating chocolate or doing heroin too, but I just don't think it's particularly positive for me to do them all the time....
What I object to is your THEORY about that appeal --- just don't think 'soothing' captures what happens to your CNS when you do an eight hour TV bender really ----
The AIT thing still missing the point (1) that situationist theory was NOT academic (it only became an object of academic STUDY in the 80s with Sadid Plant's book and Greil Marcus etc) (2) it was developed by ppl working very much in the real world.
how are the media used by McLuhan, the Sits and Cronenberg difft? how is sitting slackjawed in front of crash on TV an improvement on sitting slackjawed in front of ready steady cook? (and haha which wd ballard say we ought to be doing?)
think yr missing the point here, i.e. that different media have different messages
Also, to step back from the formalist point for a moment: TV can't be considered apart from its deployment as part of an (anti)social machine, in 'private space' (OK, I know ppl watch football matches in the pub etc...)
collectivity-wise, reading books comes off worst of all! except of course that other ppl have read the same book and then you have something to talk abt
Robin undercurrent and I saw this laughable presentation ironically at the Punk conference at Wolverhampton University where someone was making this 'tv gives you something to talk about' line ---- ironically what Baudrillard says - THAT Baudrillard, the Baudrillard of the Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, is that what is pernicious about TV is that it guarantess that ppl are not talking to one another.
I reproduced the whole quote here:
Reminds me of something Ian P once said to me, from Jarman I think, that TV usurps the role that the fire used to take up, i.e. flickering light, but whereas with TV sit slack-jawed and then talk afterwards, ppl would share stories AS they looked at the fire....
but if the slackjawedness is a product of exhausting working conditions, then why not aim to change working conditions
But why would you WANT to change working conditions unless you think something is WRONG? That's one of the reasons to object to what yr saying I think .... Unless you accept that there's something miserable and tragically wasteful (of potential) about that work-convalescence treadmill, there's no motivation for change (on the contrary)... How would you get to that from simply defending ppl's worst habits (and ironically what THEY themselves are likely to say are their worst habits)?
No-one's going to change working conditions unless those working band together with other workers and demand that they be changed --- of course this is precisely what they are NOT doing when they are 'chilling out after a hard day' in their own 'privatized' space ----
The serious point here is the tragic decline of things like working class self-education/ working class libraries and centres of learning... obv this has gone alongside the rise of methodological individualism/ thatcherism/ consumerist ideology...
As for your version of the NYPLM orthodoxy, this is fine, I don't object to talking or learning from people, anyone, obv ... why would I have a comments box if I didn't? But this seems to me necessary but not sufficient: i.e. where does humanity as a COLLECTIVE subject feature? what about those aspects of ppl which don't fit into their self-descriptions? in other words, what about all those critiques of liberalism (of which this is surely a version - or if it isn't, explain to me how it isn't) from Marx to Freud to Foucault to etc? Course these critiques are THEORIES, but I'm not an implicit English empiricist (i.e. committed to a theory that I disavow as theory), so that isn't a problem for me...
Just don't get this point that MY views are as valuable as others , whoever they are, a priori -- why would I want to be pretend that I was equal to Spinoza, Dostoyevsky or Bryan Ferry? Their appeal to me is their obvious superiority to me --- with Nietzsche I suspect that the real motive for such egalitarianism is resentment i.e. if everyone's equal then no-one can be thought of as superior to ME. But like I say, I just don't have a problem with accepting that others are superior to me ----
More importantly than that, I accept that certain strategies for human life are BETTER than others --- unequivocally, absolutely --- this just is Spinozism, entailing real humility not the self-satisfied arrogance that some are attributing to me --- in that these strategies are HARD to follow, you can only get fleeting glimpses of how effective they can be ---
secretly I suspect that much of the issue here is decline of God .... Nietzsche realised that the death of God could lead to the worst human situation ever if it led to resentocratic levelling egalitarianism ... what the idea of God gave was a notion of a nonhuman superior, something to strive and struggle towards....
Mark, "Point is, reading increases your mental capacities whereas TV makes your concentration etc worse, this can't be argued relativistically, it's a neurological matter ..." is as empirical as it gets (and almost certainly, speaking as a former brain science lab rat, dubious science -- pix /= wds, what kind of comparative study could provide your conclusion?).
But in any case "No-one's going to change working conditions unless those working band together with other workers and demand that they be changed --- of course this is precisely what they are NOT doing when they are 'chilling out after a hard day' in their own 'privatized' space" --- well natch, but I don't see that reading Foucault does any more to bring about social change than watching, ooh let's see, 'The Office'; indeed, there's a bit in my sits reader that says reading Althusser/Debray/whoever is simply a haute-bourgeois pastime no different from any other, making this comments box my virtual watercooler.
Mark, "Point is, reading increases your mental capacities whereas TV makes your concentration etc worse, this can't be argued relativistically, it's a neurological matter ..." is as empirical as it gets
But it's not _philosophically_ empiri_cist_ in that it precisely does not assume that subjects' own accounts of their experience is the best account ....
Read the Damasio book is all I can say...
But in any case "No-one's going to change working conditions unless those working band together with other workers and demand that they be changed --- of course this is precisely what they are NOT doing when they are 'chilling out after a hard day' in their own 'privatized' space" --- well natch, but I don't see that reading Foucault does any more to bring about social change than watching, ooh let's see, 'The Office'
It doesn't NECESSARILY do it, of course not, no 'objects' have intrinsic mutative force --- though you just can't discount the role that TV has in the current control system ---- and if you really think that _the working class_ (not m/c academics - reading Foucault or (even an idealist misanthrope like) Althusser would be the same as watching The Office, well ...
Suggesting that reading theory is INHERENTLY haute bourgeois pastime really says a lot I think: are you suggesting that the working class don't or have never read theoretical works?
This NO DIFFERENT THAN seems to be the classic move with this postmodern liberalism: condemning the spectacle is NO DIFFERENT THAN being in thrall to the spectacle, listening to Kylie and getting pissed is NO DIFFERENT THAN rigorous shamanic practices of self-disassembly..... so the alleged appeal to 'respect for difference' and other such liberal pieties actually conceals a crushing desire to level everything out into homogeneity ....
What is most amusing about this - especially given sneering about 'academic theory' - is that this just is the DOMINANT THEORETICAL PARADIGM in the arts depts of universities in this country --- the fact that it is also the ideology of consumerism is no accident IMHO ----
The idea that theory doesn't change things - or more disturbingly that things don't need changing (as Luke says: the idea that 'hey, lighten up, I've had a hard day at work, let me listen to Westlife and eat junk food, OK?'), or worse that nothing could ever change - all of these things are THEORETICAL commitments.
Read Israel's Radical Enlightenment if you doubt for one moment the importance that theoretical paradigms have on the most quotidian levels of everyday life.... But surely you already know this?
I don't really recognise your "NYLPM orhtodoxy".
this entails violating the NYPLM orthodoxy that ppl are Cartesian subjects, whose motivations are transparently available for introspection
The fact that I (we? maybe) *don't* feel people's motivations are transparently available is precisely why I get bemused by your apparent capacity airily to pour scorn on people's motivations for their own behaviour, to decide what may possibly act as 'intensifier' and what may not...
For Spinoza and Marx, human interests can only be optimized at the level of the collective. Again, this flouts the liberal/ consumerist point that all human interests are relative.
You know, this would be fine except it's not at all clear to me that invoking 'interests' makes any sense at all if you're talking about what music people choose. I'm not sure what you think is likely to be "optimized" or how collective behaviour might work, except in relation to this murky "intensification" which itself seems to operate at the level of the individual. But maybe I've misunderstand that.
Underlying your points seems to be the assumption that it's clearly in people's interests to make certain aesthetic choices, you seem to be hanging a kind of moral weight on matters of taste. I don't understand this because I can't see any collective benefit (in the Marxian terms you invoke) to people collectively choosing Bryan Ferry over Bryan Adams.
(BTW I thought the situs were dead keen on saying that academic theory was a bourgeois pastime?)
"Suggesting that reading theory is INHERENTLY haute bourgeois pastime really says a lot I think: are you suggesting that the working class don't or have never read theoretical works?" As I say, I wz borrowing from 'Leaving the 20th Century' and I'm not sure if I agree... but it's useful to hold this in tension with your critique of tired people watching television so that reading theory doesn't become a kind of well-done-me activity. Reading Foucault is not the same as watching the office but... OH, HANG ON I'VE BEEN CALLED TO A POINTLESS OFFICE-STYLE MEETING K THX BYE
Your all-or-nothing either/or of advertising effectiveness is flawed: some advertising 'works' on some people but most advertising doesn't work, this is why targeted ads are an industry grail. Most ad effectiveness does work at a kind-of subliminal level in that it's a chase for familiarity. As an insider it's not that I think marketing is totally ineffective but that its opponents very rarely realise how utterly inexact and inefficient it is.
(Not getting involved in the 'NYLPM orthodoxy' thing except to say that I don't necessarily agree with Mark (S) about it!)
Okay that was one HELLUVA meeting and I actually don't think either Foucault OR Gervase are really up to expressing all aspects of it.
1) Meeting was to 'celebrate' acquisition of part of another company, a matter we'd a) kept secret and b) done overtime for.
2) We were given sparkling white wine (erm, at 11am Monday) to facilitate said celebration
3) We don't 'have an official line' on whether the company we are asset-stripping will have to make people redundant.
4) Closing comments related to the violence people will go to w.r.t. a) animal rights b) feminists firebombing a sex shop c) an arson attack on a brothel which may have been the work of i. feminists or ii. a rival prostitute ring.
5) Other subject included my impending move to London, my replacement, pregnancy, wasps, prozac in the water, and the trillion pouind credit card debt w.r.t. the national prozac addiction.
Focault may well have been able to tease out the many and complex relations of power there, but not all of them, and without the power to move people -- via humour, dramatic shaping, and filmmaking skill -- that Gervase has; theoretical rigour leaves out much which is key, which may be found within less pure, but no less intelligent precincts of culture.
But what I meant to say is that you HAVE to look at economics as a serious subject with its own autonomy before arguing about what tactics of reading will best effect social change. Instead of Bataille's concept of energy as being at the heart of economics -- why not place *actual* energy at the heart of it? Instead of talking about the s/m dynamics of power, talk about their institution in practices: like the wine, and the many social and sexual practices inscribed in it (eg pregnant person could not partake in celebration...).
i don't think mark is talking about choices which only have aesthetic implications. you might like the taste of smoking but it still gives you cancer. i don't think anyone has tried to engage with mark's argument, but it seems to be making people all huffy (not to mention incoherent) so there must be something good about it.
i don't think morality comes into it either, its a question of pragmatism, eg, i don't fancy lung cancer
Too much here for me to reply to at the moment --- but I think the nub is this (which I don't see the point in endlessly rehearsing - I mean, be fair, I don't go over to NYPLM and endlessly say 'fine, but it's not intensifying enough' after EVERY POST --- lol! in other words, I think after a certain point we're going have to accept our differences and agree to ignore them --- when the discussion is solely composed of bad affect I think we should abandon it. But we're not there yet.
It all turns on the question of relative autonomy ----
I think that surely surely surely if there is anything to hold onto from Marx it is that this notion is nonsense (ironically, it is precisely what is insisted on in university arts depts at the moment) --- everything is political, everything is economic, everything (in Spinozist terms) either increases or decreases ppl's power to act...
It is precisely the insistence upon the relative autonomy of economics and of aesthetics (logic of capital requires that these two things be thought of as opposed even if they are actually indistinguishable) that makes me call this position 'consumerist aestheticism'.
Where does one draw the line between politics and taste I wonder? Is - to take an extreme example - buying Hitler memorabilia merely an expression of taste? What about buying a Skrewdriver LP?
But this isn't the important point, I think.
The important thing is what are your ultimate criteria: are they intensification - or practice of some kind - or something else?
Now Tim attributes to me the view that some 'aesthetic objects' contain inherently more intensificatory potential than others. And I agree that some of what I've said can invite that interpretation.
But let me now definitively repudiate that view. I take it for granted that there is no such thing as an 'aesthetic object' which has transhistorical value or even existence really. The great virtue of the D/G Spinoza-influenced analysis is to talk not of objects but of machines --- which has to be understood in the most abstract way: i.e. as sets of potentials that can be plugged into other machines and which will have different effects when used by different populations etc.
That said, it is important to hold onto the concept of potentials here. Now it is conceivable that listening to Westlife records could, in some contexts, act as an intensifier, rather than as part of a control economy of emiserated labour plus emollient convalescence. I'm open to that, really.
But it is an open and interesting question about how much 'intensifying' potentials certain sonic machines possess -- could there have been a widespread social upheaval analogous to punk if it was centred around the Bay City Rollers rather than the Sex Pistols? If not, what was it about the Sex Pistols machine that was potentiating? Can we abstract those features and redeploy them in other machines?
The blog is called k-Punk for a reason, which I hope to elaborate upon in some big posts soon. But obv part of the issue is that punk - in the narrow sense, i.e. the seventies counter-culture - broke with the notion that music was just music. From Throbbing Gristle to the Pop Group to the Slits to .... , this was an overriding preoccupation.
My problem with what I am calling Popism - and let's not get hung up on terms, I've been clear about how I'm using it, doesn't especially matter if that defintion doesn't accord with everyone else's so long as ppl know what I mean - is that, as I understand it, it is defined by a repudiation of that preoccupation - an insistence, again, on the relative autonomy of music and the aesthetic. 'Like punk never happened.'
I've got to go out soon, so I'm just going to make one final point for the moment. The Sit objection to Academic theory, like Marx's, was not based on the theory part - theory could be related to praxis, indeed is essential for praxis - but the academic part. i.e. theory construed of as pure reflection, unrelated to practice.
Tom I hear you --- will come back to you on this --- just got interested in neuromarketing, what's yr feeling on that?
HKM --- lol -- what do you do btw?
btw I think yr energy point is important but I'm not sure I understand it....
argh, well it relates to another post about the declining wage rates of workers in the early 19th century. you cited someone who mentioned the cultural fact that factory workers in the early industrial revolution would work until they had enough wedge and no more--which led the factory barons to pay them less. my point is, this 'standard of living' argument was a huge debate in the '50s, and the cultural argument can't suffice to explain why the early industrial revolution, which began, in sheer material terms, enriching the (as a proportion of the population) small factory workforce, ended up gravely impoverishing it...
What do I think about neuromarketing? I don't know all that much about it. It's not actual marketing though (i.e. it's not a communication between seller and potential customer), it's a kind of market research. As such it strikes me as pretty crude in what it can find out - just replacing a simple preference scale with different grades of prefrontal lobe flares - but of course it ITSELF has been very well marketed, it's a great gimmick and perfectly pitched for a very very fad-driven business. The idea of 'pure information' on consumer responses is seductive but you'd then have to prove that consumers actually act on those pure responses rather than on the overlay of conscious thought processes that neuromarketing is designed to screen out (heh we're back to rational vs irrational again!)
HKM, yes this point is fascinating -- but is it really true that the industrial revolution even started off as enriching the industrial proletariat? I mean, I genuinely don't know, but it would be difficult to imagine conditions much worse than those undergone by factory workers in the 19C -- this is precisely why the Lyotard of Libidinal Economy and Duchamp's Transformers hails them as heroic --- i.e. they extended the range of what was possible for the human (interesting that noise - and tolerance for noise - plays a massive part in this process)
Also: the industrial proletariat does not precede capital. On the contrary, with the Baudrillard of For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, we could say that the proletariat is bred by capital: i.e. you are only alive because the system needs you to be (comes back to the Matrix analogy!)
Do you have an answer to your own question btw?
on neuromarketing ---- well, I've been looking into it with a branding consultant friend of mine and it actually seems -at least potentially - a bit less gimmicky than you suggest. The marketing of neuromarketing issue is interesting tho - covers of both New Scientist and Newsweek in the last couple of weeks. But the more theoretical aside seems rigorous --- interestingly draws upon Damasio (author of that Spinoza and neurology book I was recommending) ---
Guess what interested me about it was that it makes the point that Downham was driving at (albeit somewhat poetically) from the other side. You're right to pull me re:advertising, but that's partly because it was wrong to limit what Downham meant by 'spectacular videodrome' to advertising --- really, it's the total environment of capital. And while capital is highly efficient in locking onto mammal and reptile brain to institute the generalized discontent Downham talks about, you're obviously right that it (or its technicians) haven't yet fine-tuned the stim triggers for particular products. Capital is an evolving artificial intelligent unlife that uses (un)natural selection, it can afford for some of its variants to fall on stony ground.
No answer to my own Q, but: "Also: the industrial proletariat does not precede capital. On the contrary, with the Baudrillard of For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, we could say that the proletariat is bred by capital: i.e. you are only alive because the system needs you to be (comes back to the Matrix analogy!)" -- the thing about EP Thompson's 'Making of the English Working Class' is just this: that the proletariat made itself, that its culture and institutions were not 'given' by the capitalist order but were produced *by* its victims. The initial period of the industrial revolution from c. 1780 to the end of the Napoleonic wars did see fairly good pay for cloth workers. but at this pioneer stage the numbers are small. Working class culture developed not in this stage (in which rural folk customs had to make the best of it) but in the much harsher period later into the 1840s -- but it was not bred by capital exactly -- it's this complex process which Marx wasn't great at explaining (the factory 'gives you' the industrial order of society) that Thompson has a crack at.
i second hkm on ept's demolition avant la lettre of baudrillard: baudrillard - along with a weirdly large and variegated contingent of 60s leftists* - completely turns inside out marx's intention in developing the concept of Commodity Fetishism: instead of working for the return of the act of valuing FROM market traders TO everyone, they announce that Kapital's Magical Transformation is a PITILESS SUCCESS EVERYWHERE FOREVER. And that everything - by which they invariably mean anything cultural they had no time for, but not the things they like or work with or use - has been "emptied". Thus casually slamming the door in the faces of anyone not professionally involved in the interpretation racket. Declaring anything cultural emptied merely bcz it has passed through (a particular reach of) the market IS commodity fetishism; an unusually pure form of it. Running away from it great panic lest you be emptied too is just superstition. It's not that powerful. It can't harm you if you keep yr wits about you. Intensify wits everywhere.
*(weirdly large contingent of 60s leftists: inc.althusserians obv; but also SocSpec-obsessed wannabe-debordians; plus also US libertarian and/or chomskoid anarchists, whose use of the word "hegemony" generally translates as "EVIL 12-FOOT-LIZARD HYPNOSIS SPELL") (i kinda take this pervasive error to be a product of globalisation and cultural imperialism: ie to be dissidents we have to be american-style dissidents) (but there may be some other reason for its sectarian-boundary crossing-skeez, i'm just not a fan of anarchists on the whole)
HKM --- very interesting, I haven't read Thompson but I will now...
Actually more interested in how these two stories - Baudrillard's and Thompson's - can fit together -- in a sense Lyotard in Libidinal Economy has already synthesized them --- i.e. the proletariat is produced as servomechanical machine part by capital but then takes replicant revenge.
The great virtue of what Nick Land, Iain Hamilton Grant and Kodwo did in the 90s - and Mark, surely your black sf piece is part of this - was to see cyberpunk as the most realist account of Kapital and its terminators...
Agree that there's a tendency in Baudrillard as you describe but once again, I would ask you to stick to your own avowed principles and not produce an attenuated version of a theory in order to make your own seem stronger. What you're describing sounds to be more true of Althusser than JB (tho since I know next to nothing about Althusser I might be guilty of straw manning him too). The Baudrillard of For a Critique in a sense says that - in a sense - stepping outside the logic of the system is easy (even if the logic of the system IS totalizing) -- a smile, people talking to each other, these are not contained within the law of equivalence - or need not be. The problem with later JB is not that he says there's no escape, it's that the escape he envisages is always into primitivism (the primitives, they really knew how to live!) lol
haha i wd have bridled as lot less at those first two quotes if i had read them as science fiction, it's true!!
i think what bugs me so limitlessly - ie that i come out kicking not thinking cf my spat w.SimonR - is always the setting up of some zone which is simultaneously claimed to be by definition or construction or practice beyond the reach of the storms and stresses of the world the rest of us are in; AND able clearly and effectively to pronounce judgment on matters in
cz i don't believe anything can be both: to know the world you have to be in and of the world, to be able to turn yr crit-weapons on yrself and better for it. if "theory" presented eg as science fiction, then it wd be acknowledging two things Black SF knows, which is that value is in the discovery and the gift of the user (the stuff being used by BSF-ers - ie pulp sf - had value for them as source and material and technique and potential and and and ) and that delivery is as at least a much the energy as intention (like JB's shtick is so played guy!!)
(i'm doing a part two of BSF for wasafiri: it's a review of kodwo's movie short from last year - i won't be able to post it on mine fr a bit tho)
Re: couch potatos vs theory addicts. If you go with the idea that cultural experiences are a sort of self-medication, then the image of television as something fundamentally cosy and soothing - as opposed to theory being intellectually stimulating - would suggest television is an opiated medium, whereas theory is more like cultural speed, given that to be into theory per se means to enjoy having thoughts set racing without too much concern as to what the thoughts are about. This would put it into the same area as PKD sci-fi, detective novels, cross-word puzzles, etc.
I saw a quote from Bruce Sterling (or some such) about Erik Davis' books "shattered more paradigms per page" than anything else. Barthes said something along similar lines about Julia Kristeva. Obviously this is intended as praise, but it isn't so obvious that it should be taken as such. Where some may like the dizzying theory-rush, but it's not going to be to everyone's taste.
Quite apart from the relative popularity of different sorts of cultural kick, a problem with the incessantly thought-provoking is the higher costs involved in its production. Whereas the comfortable and familiar does not lose much through repetition, it is more problematic to recycle something that depends on your not knowing what to make of it. Consider the intro to Thousand Plateus, where it is suggested that the measure of a book is the number of new thoughts it makes possible. OK, but what if you keep returning to the same spot, hoping for the same kicks, but with time the new thoughts stop coming, and what looked like an infinite sea of possibility is more like a dried-up creek. At this point will the theory-head bed down in their personal cocoon of familiarities, or will they move on (maybe denouncing the tiredness of what they're leaving) and keep searching for some more of the hard stuff?
But Mark I think this position is something that you bizarrely systematically attribute to others with very little evidence. In particular, I just don't get your animus towards Simon's writing.
Who: Downham, Law, Spinoza, Simon or me is saying that they aren't enslaved by sad passions/ fed upon by Videodrome? On the contrary: it is precisely because we know all too well what is to be chewed up by the Tungsten Carbide Stomach of Kapital and to be opiated by its mugwump jissom that we want to escape it.
I don't know how you fit your last complaint - that theorists posit Kapital as a seamless totality - with this latest claim - there is no outside. I would want to say that both are true: capital is a total environment AND there is an outside. It's a total environment because anything can be sold - body parts, Das Kapital, A Thousand Plateaus. This is the supreme irony of Kapital, why as Lyotard said there is 'no subversive region': in principle anything can be metabolized into its Tungsten-Carbide stomach. We all know this:commodification of punk, cash out of chaos all the rest of it.
But what is outside is anything that escapes capital's law of equivalence; autonomous activity that is pursued to increase the power of its participants to act rather than for profit. Now the fact that these activities can be 'capitalized' and turned back into capital, the fact, that is to say, that nothing is intrinsically and forever destratifying --- this is what I take Lyotard to mean by saying that there is no subversive region, i.e. no privileged space --- the outside is always produced, continually, by practices.
As for turning your theory weapons on yourself --- fine if it leads to greater intensification/ freedom/ ability to act --- but to always, in some obsessive reflexive deconstructive tic, turn your theory weapons on yourself just for the sake of it JUST IS the dominant academic ideology --- postmodern liberalism. Go into any Cult or Media Studs dept: that's all they're doing, all the time. This is the enfeebled slave PoMorality metasceptical counterpart to Islamofascist dogmatism. In Ccru we call it the Fuzz:a disabling autopolicing (p'lice yourself) investment in theoretical quibbling as a substitute for practice.
Being consistent - i.e. applying your own theoretical grid first of all to yourself and your own actions - that is of course a prerequisite.
But as Luke says, let's not confuse this with moralism.
To introduce what might be an inappropriately biographical note: people like Luke and Radar Anamalous used to chide me for watching TV all the time when I was catatonically clinically depressed last year --- and I'm grateful to them for it. As Luke says, 'I don't watch TV and I don't eat junk food because it makes me feel bad.' That's it: Spinoza in a sentence.
The most useful way to get at Spinoza is to contrast him with Kant. As you know, Kant's chilly Germanic deontological morality was based on obedience and duty. There are categorical imperatives - exceptionless, unconditional commands that are applicable to all sentient beings. There are also hypothetical imperatives - goals that are dependent upon particular goals, i.e. If I want to lose weight, I'll have to eat less cake.
For Spinoza there were only what Kant would later call hypothetical imperatives --- i.e. if you want to become free, you must do x, y and z . Spinoza's further claim would nevertheless be that it is better to be free, and that there are certain strategies - delimitable strategies beyond PoMo Fuzz - that function to intensify. The Ethics is better compared to a cook book than to the 10 commandments.
Of course one consequence of this is that the human being is understood to be explicable using the same causal framework that can be applied to the so-called natural world. This is Spinoza's anti-humanism, and it would scandalise Kant, who made 'respect for persons' central to his thinking and who, in a complex and nuanced way, wanted to think of human beings as specially free in the way that the rest of nature was not.
So here it is, already: cybernetics, Burroughs, black sf, Spinoza has already got to the grid. Not, of course, that Spinoza 'influenced' any of these things, except indirectly. (Though reading Jonathan Israel's magnifcent Radical Enlightenment, it is clear that Spinoza's impact upon European intellectual and theological culture in the 17th and 18th century was vast; Israel's thesis is that the whole routed European theocratic establishment was organized around the problem of Spinozism.)
All of this is a preamble to what I think is my greatest problem with what I previously erroneously called NYPLM orthodoxy but which I would now say is the position that you and (I think) Tim Hopkins are advancing. (I almost never have any problem with anything Tom says). That is: an equivocation between two levels of relativism.
Level 1: there are no intrinsically intense or intensifying objects. Yes, it is just about as imaginable that there could be a situation in which the Venga Boys could be as destratifying as the Pop Group. (I'm genuinely interested in how far this is the case though...I think it's a real question).
Level 2: any goals that ppl could have are equally valid. It's just as worthwhile to sit on your arse and eat junk food as it is to pursue strategies of intensification.
Obv I accept Level 1 but I unreservedly reject Level 2.
If you want to know why I get so enraged about Level 2 relativism ('No different thanism'), I have to bring in the great unmentionable: social class.
For the life of me I can't but see this 'egalitarianism' as bourgeois ideology in itself. To wit: politesse. It's OK to exploit the proletariat, to boss them around all day, but you mustn't say that they've made the wrong consumer choices because that's rude.
Of course, if you don't come from a middle class background, you're a bit perplexed by this. You know from a very young age that you are inferior, this is the hidden message that the culture is giving you from a thousand different directions. But while this involves feelings of shame and embarrassment (for instance, in my own case, a lecturer saying that 'I had been projected out of my class' and 'had speech and accent problems' lol), I've never really envied people who had that robust confidence bred into them. It seems to me an intolerable pressure.
GET OUT THE WET LIB FILE
NEW PROLE ART THE SUBJECT
See, this is what I suspect about this ideology: it's based on resentment, on projecting middle class neuroses onto the proletariat. It's the middle class who can't admit that they are inferior to anything, so they universalize the impulse.
One consequence of this is the destruction of education, one of the ways in which the working class could traditionally escape its servitude. I can tell you this, standing up in front of a group of working class kids who work all the hours god sends in McDonald's to pay their fees so they can participate in Tonee's grotesquely overexpanded Higher Education system and telling them that hey Shakespeare is NO DIFFERENT THAN watching Big Brother is heartbreaking for all concerned. (Question: what are we paying for then?)
You see, the NO DIFFERENT THAN move leaps to the end, too quickly. It ignores the fact that people ARE marked and coded at a systemic level, not primarily as individuals, but as groups. You can't pretend that it doesn't MATTER what someone's background is, background is something that has to be rigorously decoded. The model of a conversation presumes too much ----
Finally, the television thing. One of the many things that mark out a middle class home from a proletarian one is the role of television. I'm being slightly broad brush, of course, but the generalization isn't too crass I think. The weirdness of going into a middle class home where television isn't on all the time, the coldness and emptiness of the sitting room without the emollient cathode ray flicker. The revelation that o my god they watch programmes, they don't watch television. The genuine surprise that, as soon as the credits roll, they switch it off.
The reason why I think The Royle Family was actually more potentially destratificatory than The Office (IMHO The Office is more likely to lead to that quiescent story that work's shit, managers are stupid, but hey that's life) is its immanence: people watching (and our house was just like that: the slumped postures, the grunting communication, the fact that there's obviously no question of doing anything else, it's the closest thing to a realistic portrait of how we lived, really) could not but think - we're doing that... And the second question inevitably follows: is this a good way to live? Now that question could be dismissed immediately, sinking back into that fug of exhaustion and resignation that we learn to think of as 'realism'. But, but it could inspire people to break out.
Same thing with Potter, that corruscatingly painful scene in Nigel Barton in which Nigel is watching the documentary about his own ambivalent accession to the inner sanctum of the m/c in Oxford, in his front room with his mum and dad. The abject embarrassment, the squirming shame, 'I feel like I'm walking a tight-rope', the fact that saying this is a betrayal even if it is true.
Who could watch that without thinking about what representation meant, what television was? By breaking the frame of the medium, it starts to say something other than its message, it opens out...
And what does Nigel's mum say when she hears the televised Nigel talking about feelings of shame and embarrasment and class - Pottter is so acute - 'but the house is clean, it's spotless.'
Because cleanliness, hygiene is as much a marker of the proletariat as is cathode ray addiction. Is it really an accident that TV's content is increasingly merging these two impulses: watch TV/ be more neurotic about your domestic hygiene. Message behind both: STAY AT HOME.
'It's her factory...' The fact that there is an inducement to spend more and more time on domestic labour ... the image of my grandmother 'blacking the step'... course if you're into Level 2 relativism, that's fine, hey you can't criticize, it was no less worthwhile than reading books and educating yourself. But if you find Level 2 relativism dangerous, quietist, then, really, you feel the heartbreaking agony of lives that were lived below potential.
Sorry for all the biog stuff.
No need to apologise, a very eloquent post.
I'll leave it to Tim and Mark to reply if they want to - from what I know of them they are not guilty of 'type 2 relativism' in the way you constitute it.
I like your philosophy as self-help riff: do you approve of the recent rash of popular philosophy books on this theme (Alain De Botton etc.)?
Hey thanks Tom....
I find this personal stuff painful and difficult, but it's worthwhile, because only then can you get to the impersonal, to the structures and pressures that make identity (and then it can be unmade)...
be good to resolve this Type 1/ type 2 relativism thing because I think that's where much of the misunderstandings and rage has come from
I was only thinking yesterday that a lot of this lifestyle stuff could be turned around into something very positive and Spinozistic -- if incorporated into this general economics of energy thing... haven't read much de Botton but his stuff on Schopenhauer was a real comfort when I was badly depressed...
I've been bad-tempered on here over the past couple of days, for which I'm sorry.
Level 2: any goals that ppl could have are equally valid. It's just as worthwhile to sit on your arse and eat junk food as it is to pursue strategies of intensification.
I don't believe this, although sometimes (in Level 1 mode) I use junk food as a part of what you might call a strategy of intensification. I often do this while sitting down.
Mostly I would rather listen to what people have to say (conversing with them) than tell them what they ‘truly’ feel, think and need. That doesn't mean I think everything is of equal value, it means I have never felt myself in a position to *tell* people what is worthwhile for them and what’s not. I have, on occasion, tried to get people interested in activity I thought they might find more rewarding than relative inactivity. Sometimes it’s worked.
I never hear you talking about fun and when I see people invoking the situs (in particular) without reference to fun I always get a bit suspicious. I'm not sure I really believe that your "strategies of intensification" as anything much different from what everyone I know does at least some of the time. Maybe 'SOI' is where your fun lives but to me you're writing about it like it's some lesson at school.
“I watch TV and I eat junk food because it makes me feel good.” Is that Spinoza too?
I do other things too, things which you might consider more ‘worthwhile’.
I used the word 'moral' upthread. I wasn't getting at any kind of fixed morality but at a tone of moral certainty, of moral weight, I read here which raises my hackles. This is more likely my fault than yours. So, sorry again for my rudeness.
hey tim, no need to apologize, think these discussions are incredibly productive if we can decode stuff rather than batten down into abuse cycles based on misunderstandings...
See where you're coming from absolutely, but it's really important to move beyond that Kantian austerity thing -- the reason I brought up Kant is that I think this abstract machine is very deep in western thinking, i.e. there is duty and reason on one side and emotion and fun on the other ---
the great value of the Spinozist model is to break from this ---- i.e. Spinoza's goal is joy... that's what he said is the best state for human beings --- course you don't have to be joyful ---- it's not a duty! Hence the subtitle of the Damasio book, which I really can't recommend enough Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain.
have some problems with the situs actually --- Debord in particular v much fits Mark S's description of totalizing miserabilism --- but there is that whole side of the sits to do with situations/ poeticizing everyday life/ spontaneity (more Vaneigem than Debord) (actually think the potential danger here is pranksterism )
Think the crucial difference between us may now turn on this 'feeling' issue (remember that aesthetics means 'feeling').
Think Luke OTM above when he uses the smoking e.g. i.e. smoking might feel good but is bad for your health...
So 'I watch TV and watch junk food because it makes me feel good' would not be Spinoza... because even though you 'feel' good you are harming yourself...
course you can go up a level and say: why be healthy? Again, you don't have to be, it's not a duty!
but Spinoza would just say that it is rational (again don't let miserable Kantian alarm bells ring here) for an entity to try and harmonise feeling good with what is good for it --- i.e. create a taste for fresh fruit and salad...
But again, let's not be austere: like Gary Lineker says, crisps are OK as part of a balanced diet! Think this 'balanced diet' thing is Spinozism really...
And yeh, it is about learning --- but learning is fun isn't it?
Think yr OTM when you say SOI's (like the acronym) are what many ppl do most of the time --- all Spinozist-type thinking does is allow you to see that more clearly --- and to make decisions about what is +ve and what is -ve... course because human beings are packaged up differently what will be +ve and -ve will vary from individual to individual --- i.e. some pple are intolerant to lactose ---- but this is type 2 relativism --- i.e. fine from Spinozist POV..
One irony of this debate in that in terms of taste I definitely have much more tolerance for 'fun' pop than the likes of Luke or Robin Undercurrent for instance --- who are much more anti-TV and Pop than me! --- I 've been effusive about Rachel Stevens, Girls Aloud etc -- which is why I said I think that my only problem with Popism is that it isn't enough on its own... OK as part of a balanced diet lol...
btw was a bit bemused by yr David Sylvian comments earlier -- only posted on him about three times --- 'Blemish' is the only solo album I'd make a case for --- but I still prefer the trashy 'fun' Japan .... :-)
Quickly on the Sylvian thing: this was another relativism issue. You used the phrase "change the world", if I remember rightly, as something which art should do, and I picked the name David Sylvian from near the top of your recent list as an example of an artist who you clearly found world-changing but who I found anything but.
This was, I think, at a time when you were denouncing 'relativism' and your argument failed to add up to me. You'd agree that "Blemish" hasn't changed the world more than (most / any) other rock LPs in any sense beyond its own existence? That if it has changed the world it's been in (in your scheme up there) a "type 1 relativist" way?
I think that's cleared up now, anyway, with your types of relativism.
I quite like some Japan stuff. I've never liked any of DS's solo material. I don't much like the Venga Boys. It goes Japan > Venga Boys > DS for me. I find listening to the VBs a far more intensifying experience than either Japan or DS. Does that make them like a nice salad?
I'm very suspicious of the use of physical / nutritional metaphors for aesthetic choices but that's something for another day I think.
A small parallel irony to yours: in terms of valuing art / thoughts which are unsettling or life changing or intensifying, I am probably closer to your position than Tom is. (It's often easy to agree with Tom, and that's partly because he's such a good writer).
just didn't want to be thought of as a Sylvian obsessive!
really want to dispense with the phrase 'world-changing' in this context, just because it's unhelpfully ambigous, wasn't obv ever suggesting that 'Blemish' was fermenting social revolution, just that it could open up its listeners to new ways of being and perceiving in a way that less formally challenging pop might not...
wasn't obv 'accusing' anyone here of liking the VB's --- :-) just chose them as a fairly random eg really...