Saturday, February 01, 2003

boulez pour vous
From the "taste of his own medicine" department, mail artist Josh Ronsen has an apt proposal for treating the work of Pierre Boulez, who once famously declared that "all art of the past must be destroyed."

In fairness to Boulez, I believe him that the comment was probably a tongue-in-cheek way of ridiculing over-attachment to tradition in the arts. The sentiment is fully understandable coming from someone who has worked in "classical" music. As a side note, it's intriguing that "continental" artists and philosophers have such a consistent habit of framing basically simple, commonsensical arguments in the kind of grand, sweeping language they must know will antagonize much of the West's Anglophone cultural milieu. (Another good one, mentioned in this interview: the "orderly anarchist.") Perhaps the antagonism is part of the sport -- can't say I'd blame them if it was. Regardless, it usually comes clear pretty quickly that the argument isn't quite so reckless as the slogan.

Though I don't buy Ronsen's contention that Boulez is "a true sympton of the paranoia and abuse of power that defines our modern era," his project is fascinating -- and consistent, as he notes, with the spirit of irreverence Boulez himself advocates.

I also like Ronsen's poetry, to be enjoyed in much the same way that snappy one-liners are to be enjoyed.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

gawking the fullness (or, "fuck the bullshit it's time to throw up")
A surprisingly wide assortment of people have recently been proclaiming the full-bodied wheaty goodness of Gawker, basically a Manhattan gossip column on 'roids (and electrons). Well, I can't blame them; it seems a damned sight wittier than People or Us, and who doesn't have a secret gossip-monger lurking inside just dying to learn about the latest in "radical Manhattanism"?

On the other hand, though, I have limited patience with launching platforms for the latest staggering genius. It's not that I mind over-the-top arrogance and bluster in a writer -- I mean, if you're a writer and you're in New York, I'd be disappointed if you weren't arrogant -- but it would be nice if the people involved actually showed some signs of being as smart, sexy or in-your-face (or whatever) as they obviously think they are. Sorry, James Frey filleth not this bill from what I can see here. I mean, for Chrissakes, you're in Manhattan and you haven't figured out yet that the "irony is dead" line was buried by the "irony's death is dead and therefore irony lives only to be killed again" line like, at least ten minutes ago?

Who knows, though? Maybe he'll produce the Ultimate Novel and I'll revise my opinion. In the meantime, I have a far, far hipper tattoo planned. In your face.

#1 on my list of things that seem already dated, but still cling tenaciously to some semblance of life: porno chic. For a mild manifestation, check out the "Celebrity Nudies" item on the Gawker page. My prediction: a year from now things like this will be turning up on tongue-in-cheek lists of What Not to Do on your Website. Any 15-year-old punk can surf for celebrity nudie pictures, for crying out loud.