Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pity the poor iMpostume, for his nose is cold etc…

Actually, do pity the poor iMpostume for his confusion re:Hauntology groweth daily, especially now he feels himself to be trapped between those mighty opposites, “Blissblog” and “Sit down man…”. I think Blissblog basically did me the favour of assuming that I couldn’t be THAT thick and felt I must be taking the piss. Thank’s Blissblog, but unfortunately….

I think that the crux of my misunderstanding or at least my confusion around the whole HNTLGY thing stems from the fact that as far as I can tell it’s used differently by different people. Blissblog uses it generically, it designates a certain type of music, set of referents/signifiers which when used in conjunction roughly produce a Hauntological work whereas (and here I may go hopelessly wrong, again) I think Owen, and others, view it as a technique, a practice, a set of tools, an approach. Clearly I can’t quibble with the logic of HNTLGY’s descriptive use and concede it would indeed make as much sense as asking why reggae can’t be more like heavy metal, they’re just different things, different categories etc. However my understanding of Hauntology (and in fact what seems exciting about it as an idea) is that it needn’t have any particular form or content at all. That HNTLGY in its descriptive sense would be analogous to say, oh I don’t know, “landscape painting” whereas in its err… “prescriptive” sense it would be more like “oil painting”, what goes inside the frame is open, but there is a frame, a set of tools, which for HNTLGY would be a deliberate attempt to use the “nostalgia mode” against itself in some way. In this sense I suppose I tend to think about HNTLGY as a broad-based movement, that it could be cross-genre, that the ethic, rather than a particular aesthetic is what’s dominant. Again I have quibbles with precisely what form such HNTLGCL works can take but the mere fact of declaring oneself a HNTLGST for example would be an implicitly utopian act, a declaration against prevailing PO-MO, end of history, consumptive drift, expressive of a desire to engage with whatever has been “banished” and to claim that the past is, rather than a series of ciphers to be recycled and passively consumed a significant, contested space, as is the seemigly foreclosed future.

Am I just drifting off ever deeper into my own, somewhat febrile, fantasy-world? Or is there some grounding in the discussion that’s gone on for my confusion?


owen hatherley said...

No, I do think you're on to something here. Not that you're not a vitalist mind you, which is what I was trying to bring out perhaps unsuccessfully...And a deliberate attempt to use the “nostalgia mode” against itself in some way sounds about right to me.

The oddest thing about it I thought was the 'why can't reggae be more like heavy metal' line, as plenty of reggae is like heavy metal! As Woebot pointed out once something like Blackboard Jungle Dub is v like early metal, and the turn to riffs and heaviosity that happens when rocksteady turns into roots reggae might owe something to metal as much as it would to funk. So there...And isn't the growling, scream-down-babylon vocalising of say, Capleton, extremely heavy metal? Lots of reggae of course isn't like heavy metal, but they are really not polar opposites. Not being facetious here either (quite)

Dejan said...

But isn't all leftist avant-garde deliberately GLUM? Consider the slogan for that Haunto-Marxist film GHOST WORLD (with Scarlett O'Johansson):
''ACCENTUATE THE NEGATIVE''. And then you see the bespectcled heroine with a sullen expression, etc.

Should tell you volumes that the director later made BAD SANTA, a movie which ostensibly critisizes consumerism while wallowing in it shamelessly.

My HAUNTOLOGY (TM) LABEL partner Impostume and I are just trying to bring into view that hauntology twists all these binaries into a Moebius loop, and I'm afraid Marxism is just too easy an answer !

owen hatherley said...

Totally disagree in the case of Ghost World: it's actually a film about finding your mundane everyday environment fascinating- spying on satanists in the supermarket, obsessing over cafes and bus stops and other such quotidian things.

Having said that I do think 'haunto-marxist' describes it quite nicely (as dismissals go i'm very pleased with that, very snappy). It isn't a glum film at all, but is certainly fairly negative, which is not the same as being miserable and/or nihilistic. The gen-x boredom thing is more to do with the automatic reception of a 'teen' film more than anything in the film itself.

Marxism is never an easy answer, anyhow. Try and read Capital or the Contribution to a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, then tell me it's easy ;-)