Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Laura Marling - Night after Night

From new album, "A Creature I Don't Know."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Ecstasy of Influence

I cannot express enough joy about Lethem's "ecstatic" inversion of Harold Bloom's tired reassertion of genius through the psychodrama of the "anxiety" of influence. To create is to remix.

For teachers of writing, threading the needle between learning to be influenced and plagiarism is the key. For teachers of literature, knocking down the notion of originality is absolutely essential to freeing students' interpretive creativity.

"Any text is woven entirely with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages, which cut across it through and through in a vast stereophony. The citations that go to make up a text are anonymous, untraceable, and yet already read; they are quotations without inverted commas. The kernel, the soul—let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances—is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are secondhand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral caliber and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. Neurological study has lately shown that memory, imagination, and consciousness itself is stitched, quilted, pastiched. If we cut-and-paste our selves, might we not forgive it of our artworks? 
"Artists and writers—and our advocates, our guilds and agents—too often subscribe to implicit claims of originality that do injury to these truths. And we too often, as hucksters and bean counters in the tiny enterprises of our selves, act to spite the gift portion of our privileged roles. People live differently who treat a portion of their wealth as a gift. If we devalue and obscure the gift-economy function of our art practices, we turn our works into nothing more than advertisements for themselves. We may console ourselves that our lust for subsidiary rights in virtual perpetuity is some heroic counter to rapacious corporate interests. But the truth is that with artists pulling on one side and corporations pulling on the other, the loser is the collective public imagination from which we were nourished in the first place, and whose existence as the ultimate repository of our offerings makes the work worth doing in the first place."
From Lethem's original essay for Harper's, "The Ecstacy of Influence: A Plagiarism" (Feb. 2007)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band

A spirited vibe for the holiday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Love" from Colour Haze

In the spirit of the season, I give you a jam from one of Germany's oldest hardcore stoner bands, now melodically mellowing some with age.  In the name of love.  Peace to all.

My ambivalence toward Christopher Hitchens (RIP)

I'm cribbing from Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic, but a few quotes pretty much sum up my own impressions.

 Katha Pollitt (The Nation):
What I saw was that drinking made him angry and combative and bullying, often toward people who were way out of his league--elderly guests on the Nation cruise, interns (especially female interns). Drinking didn't make him a better writer either--that's another myth. Christopher was such a practiced hand, with a style that was so patented, so integrally an expression of his personality, he was so sure he was right about whatever the subject, he could meet his deadlines even when he was totally sozzled. But those passages of pointless linguistic pirouetting? The arguments that don't track if you look beneath the bravura phrasing? Forgive the cliché: that was the booze talking. And so, I'm betting, were the cruder manifestations of his famously pugilistic nature.

James Fallows (The Atlantic):
I wouldn't have expected Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld to ask themselves hard questions, in public, about their cocksureness in making what proved to be erroneous and very consequential claims. I would expect leading intellectuals to do so.
Dan Fox (
He should know better than to write a half-assed column about why women aren't funny. I think somewhere deep down he probably did know when he was wrong about many issues, but was so committed to winning a debate that it didn't matter. And this is serious business, you know? You can't just go around smearing an entire gender or defending a haphazard war based on a philosophy that isn't even popular in the GOP anymore because you're drunk and you want to challenge yourself intellectually.  
I'd long admired Hitchens for taking unpopular positions and for his rhetorical power, but, really, he became little more than bluster toward the end.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Black Mountain - Roller Coaster

Black Mountain - Set Us Free

Is there a pattern: Most active neo-psych scene right now is Canadian; Nu-folk in the UK? This clip from Vancouver's Black Mountain.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas "Stefon" style (SNL)

“If you’re looking to get festive with your family, I’ve got the perfect place for you. New York’s hottest club is “Hey!” Built from the bucket list of a dying pervert, this Battery Park bitch parade is now managed by overweight game show host, Fat Sayjak,” Stefon gushed. “And this place has everything: tweakers, skeevies, Spud Webb, a child… and a Russian guy who runs on a treadmill in a Cosby sweater…The bouncer is a bulldog who looks like Wilford Brimley and the password is dia-beetus!”

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kinks - I'm Not Like Everybody Else

Theme song for job search season. It's a perilous maxim.