Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Modern Militarism

This one's for you, Owen!

(All moving images public domain, courtesy of populuxe, the automakers of America, and US military hegemony past & present.)

Amid all the claptrap about xenoeconomics & accelerationism (I'm catching up, but househusbandry takes precedence over blogging), K-Punk blithely tossed off a response to Splintering Bone Ash's indictment of hauntology that was as helpful & illuminating as a do-it-yourself lobotomy:
...a terminus, perhaps temporarily, has been reached - "that there is nothing else, (at this moment in time at least) that nothing else is possible". Much as I with [sic] it weren't the case, it isn't possible to bring back modernism by force of will alone.
Boo to that. What a bunch of lazy bollocks. If someone's idea of cultural progress is "to bring back modernism," that speaks more to their own limited sense of aesthetic possibility than a real dead-end. Yes, I know he doesn't mean "modernism" strictly as the historicised aesthetic philosophy with a midcentury heyday, but the very reliance on the term speaks of a self-satisfied defeatism, or at least a languid incuriosity. Anyway, if I recall my adolescence with any accuracy, isn't having burned back through modernism already what got us onto this nostalgic hamster wheel in the first place? Or are we waiting until a new -ism has been codified before we stop complaining and get off our fat asses to join in the artistic adventure?

I've long been convinced that *ahem* structurally efficient art - minimalism, noise, ambient, hauntology, post-whatever - sponges up such critical adulation because it's a palimpsest upon which the higher-minded members of audience can graffiti their own assumptions. This is why SunnO))) have been readily embraced by the art world: their black-matte fogginess is tastefully obtuse set-dressing, allowing plenty of elbow-room for an individual's imaginative ramblings without betraying the truth that they're actually just two dudes who wanna fuckin' rawk. The problem therein is that, when left such generous margins to fill in with our own fantasies, the art becomes a feedback loop that merely reaffirms what (we think) we already know; it reflects only what we show it, without refraction, transformation, or challenge. And, shit, before you know it, you'll be so far up your own mollycoddled ass you'll be lauding the "milky, watercolour diffuseness" of Coldplay - isn't that right, Mark?

If knowing nothing about art while attempting to create is like the old monkeys-at-a-typewriter axiom, then allowing cultural parameters to be defined by people who aren't artists themselves is like asking a 40-year-old virgin addicted to internet porn about sex.

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