Thursday, August 05, 2010

thinking out loud (again)

I’m on a break between lessons here so this will be incoherent but mercifully brief. I’ll return to these ideas and elaborate on them at some point but for the moment suffice to say that some of the things in Reynold’s current essay on the Nuum overlap with some of the stuff I’ve been puzzling over myself recently.

I should also make it clear first up that I’m a non Nuum lover, never participated and still don’t have any real interest in the music as a listening experience. Jungle is boring, two step and garage largely horrible etc. That doesn’t however mean that Energy Flash isn’t a tremendous read or that discussions around the music aren’t stimulating. I get why it’s so important, it just doesn’t move me. Well, I liked Grime. And early Chicago house.

The part that particularly piques my interest here is the first couple of point in the historisizing of the debate, especially the third part, the sense in which historical thinking has become “foreign to the way they relate to music”.

I’m not necessarily quibbling with Simon’s point here but I am wondering whether this could be fruitfully unpacked a little further. A while ago as a joke I slagged of Woebot for being so old that he literally wasn’t able to hear what was great about Ikonika ( neither can I frankly). Further reflection lead me to consider that perhaps this actually was the case.

If we're getting generational about it, let's consider the split between anyone under and over thirty. As Reynolds obliquely suggests, those over thirty are wedded to a teleological view of history: the excitement of new forms emerging through a Nuum dialectic is the excitement of a progressive history, a yearning for the future, the process pushed forward by esoteric groups and underground collectives: a Nuum millienarianism of a kind ( hence the love for the Lumpen in nuumology, the diggers and ranters of the Ardkore scene). Here the sublime is the arrival of the next stage in the unfolding of the journey. This is why largely there was felt to be an interrelation between politics and musical advances.

The question then must be, how accessible is this affect to anyone under thirty who has lived through a period in which progressive political notions have withered away, temporality has been flattened, as have hierarchies of “taste”, and access to culture become borderless? A few months ago Reynolds coined the term Hyperstasis and questioned how Ikonika could move people to tears, assuming that it was by releasing pent-up emotion, to which Zone Styx Sam countered that the tears flowed as a result of an access to the sublime.

But what kind of sublime? Here I think we can put a positive spin on Reynolds hyperstasis and posit a “recombinant sublime” derived not from linearity, hybridisation and the new but instead on a kind of infinite play without any realization, a laterally extended work that is sublime precisely because it never settles into genre but marshals an enormous range of influences: this is not the oceanic or immersive in the sense of the gaseous billows of MBV etc but more akin to a shifting and mutating plasma in which many forms are visible simultaneously with no one ever taking precedence, a culturally flat ontology: in other words an affect, a sublime developed out of a new situation, that of the boundless ocean of information, the World Wide Web, from lives that have been mediated in a way incomprehensible to any prior generation: this is not purely an intellectual matter (suspicion of grand narratives/eclecticism/po-mo) but something related deeply to the structure of experience. In this generational split immanence is the key to the sublime, the great artists are those precisely who never settle into genre but whose expertise is demonstrated in a marshalling of the enormous range and reach of musical culture. Probably, before, I’ve termed this the hipster sublime, but trying to think about generational issues more generously, can’t it be the case that there really are two split sensibilities here. Between a generation that had nothing available to it and spent all its time looking to the future and waiting for something to happen and a generation for whom everything had already happened, to whom everything was present and who had to look around in all directions at once?
Yes, yes, I know. But I’ll try to refine these points shortly when I write something about Onehotrix Point Never

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This hipster sublime just sounds like postmodernism