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Showing posts from October 16, 2016

Engels and song culture: you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows .

The recent incomprehension event - the puzzlement of some commenters that the Nobel prize could go to a songwriter, and the equally flatheaded defense of Dylan as a poet - made me want to dig up old posts I wrote about song culture. A culture that has been significantly underrated or ignored in the cultural history of modernism. In particular, there is this bit from Engels that I liked... but here's the post I wrote in 2008. From the perspective of the nineteenth century worker, there is something mocking, something a little satanic about freedom, as it was presented in the establishment discourse. Freedom, of course, comes with contracts – but what contracts! On the one side, the employer was in the position of seemingly having no limit to the things he could require of the laborer. On the other side, the laborer was blamed for not adhering to every tittle and jot of the employer’s dictate. From the perspective of the intellectual, society was making a Faustian pact with technol

That paper based ideology. On the thesis: Songs aren't poems or music.

It is interesting to me that so many writers who hate Dylan winning are talking about paper. The whole dispute about songs and poetry comes down, really, to the material substrate. But the idea that a song lyric written down doesn't work as poetry surely works two ways. I've heard a fair number of writers read their works, and rarely - in my experience, never - do the words work coming out of their mouths. Joyce who wanted in some ways to be a singer is great partly because the words work outside the paper. A song isn't a poem. The difference of the substrate is a real difference. You can sing certain poems, but in the singing, they become songs. That is only confusing if you ... well, if you have never read Grammatology, I'm tempted to say. Or if you have an idea that literature is defined by its material substrate. Now of course those writers who are so ardent about the paper test will protest that no, reading is somehow deeper, by which is meant that the paper substr