Maybe I lost my thread a bit too, lost the distinction between what I'd written and what I'd just thought. Who reads this shit anyway?
My point is regarding the political implications of the archive#, of conserving history, of protecting against entropy*. More importantly I'm really suggesting that the world presented by History doesn't exist at all. The self initiated cultural link from Elvis to London Calling is so conservative as to be bizarre in the context of The Clash. But then rock music is inherently conservative, no less so than in constructing its supposed alternative lines. As if there could be any move more mainstream and Statist than Dylan styling himself on Guthrie. This is related to the point I've made time and time again about the absurdity of "re-visiting" modernism. The thing we call "Modernism", that's not the actual thing that happened at all, that just the carcass stood up in someone's suit with someone's flag stuck in its hand. What actually was going on in those brightest sparks in those European countries at that rough time is just the same free-but-situated creativity that occurs in pockets all over the world throughout history. Doing something useful and beautiful and the things that are at hand.Which I guess is just what you're saying.
|There is an infinity of chaotic material in the space between these two photographs.|
I get your point, pickings are getting thin in the culture barrel, the same shapes are being thrown, whilst the net is apparently being cast wider till it seems like an infinite tangle of wool is being pulled into maybe half a dozen fat strands, all smaller offshoots being eaten by the most nearest dominant narrative.
What I'm trying to say, coming from the Steppling post is this. That's just talk in the wind. It's only theory and ideas and language that make the world seem like that. Sure, there is the institutional re-enforcement to a point where for all intents and purposes it might as well be stones-in-the-earth truth that the world was converging like that, but reality is far more messy. For all the arguments of Progress on one side and Irony on the other we feel like these are the only options available but these options are really just the only options the systems of evaluation are capable of dealing with. Like I said, institutional re-enforcement might have the ability to alter a lot of what happens in reality. Lots of artists are of the belief that you either try and risk failure and calls of naivety pushing the envelope or you rest in a world of knowing acquisition and risk being nothing like art at all feeling like you never gave it a real shot. However, what about all those people who are doing something else? I'm not just talking about cranks and attic-geniuses I'm just talking about people who are simply off the radar in all senses. People outside of those narratives because they simply don't exists to the methods of recording. It's one thing to record silence but it's another entirely to never engage with the systems of recording, of organised performance, of conventions of "professional" (the way you have to be to be paid, if only in theory and if only in some far far distant future when we.. make...it).
But that's not what we're talking about. Because be can't talk about that. We can only talk about rarefied generalities or we can talk about artists. But the only artists we can talk about are those on the grid. The ones off the grid, we can't talk about, and as soon as we tried we'd just be replacing them with the closest representation we have to hand. But there is stuff out there that in some cases doesn't even know about the grid, so can neither be swayed by it, or more importantly perceived in context of it. Also, there is all the places where the grid has become so local and warped that what's being produced isn't just "Willie Nelson with the addition of X" because even what the locals think of as Willie Nelson is something we'd find utterly alien. Their perception, their aesthetics were so radically different that the world around was incomparable.
There isn't any progress, but there also isn't just a mobeus strip either. The is just the continuation of the big bang, culture is just part of that long drawn out explosion. Variations on the theme of eruption. When we talk about progress of lack of, we're just talk about our own talking. When we talk about progress or lack of, we are just talking the things that can fit through the doors of the courthouse.
What does psychoanalysis have to say about all of this? Oedipus, nothing but Oedipus, because it hears nothing and listens to nobody.
# I am on a war against the archive right now. I try to just be non-archive but I can't help being sucked into opposition. Artists who use the archive, who simply curate, you are collaborators and you lose the right to ever speak in your own voice by your own lack of conviction and reliance of borrowed authority. You are incapable of difference. Even critique of the system is nullified by that action, even non-state archives are corrupted by the action of use. The archive is just a doppelgänger, the best it can do (which can be exceptional), Adam Curtis style, is serve as raw material for a new form, for a new proposition. However, without an editorial voice, without a statement of their own the only argument put forward by the artist is an echo of the status quo: This is how is and the past is the past which built today.
* There is no such thing as cultural entropy. The rules of thermodynamics do not apply to culture and there is no more reason to think that they do than the watchmaker fallacy. Individuals are complex and unreliable and patterns across individuals are only discernible at the cost of those individuals. We cross out the extremes and take an average which is effectively meaningless abstraction because that "average person" composite does not exist. One freak and the whole soup is spoiled. And they are all freaks.
Entropy can't occur because it can only occur in a system of finite energy. Culture is not restricted by finite energy, every second new energy is being created and this energy is capable of genesis. I would suggest that on average, when a general gist tilts toward equilibrium, toward entropy, that's when a violent act of poiesis is most likely to occur. New individuals are deciding to make art with every second that passes. The only thing that keeps them in line, that keeps them trying to imitate previous shapes (even those shapes that say "I'm not like those other shapes") is the state power of history and the state device of how we look at, hear and experience culture. Really, when you think about it it's remarkable that the institution is able to exert such a hold over so many people who's only aim is to "create something new". So loads of them slip by it, in all manner of ways but mostly by accident.
I've been trying to dissect the state control of looking but I'm no where near it yet and that's for another post all of its own and possibly a PhD at some point in the future. What I do want to say is looking/listening/experiencing means something to us under Capitalism. Any of those activities is contextualised by Capitalism and by authority, regardless of the context. Even when authority is not actually present, it is present as a context. Looking is contextualised by the cinema, listening by records. And so on.