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Thread: What is good about Pop Music?

  1. #286

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    Quote Originally Posted by mms
    drunken blokiness at gigs isn't the worst thing, the worst thing is both sexes alcohol fueled need to talk loudly over a performance about fuck all and then act like it's your problem for standing near them when you ask them firmly but politey to shut up and stop ruining it. This is what puts me off london gigs. ban people like that.
    My mate told me this great story, he went to see Lou Reed live in Sheffield, ages ago, Lou came on and told the audience he wanted total quiet during the first half of the set and no applause between tracks while he showcased some new stuff. Instantly some bloke started yelling "Rock and Roll!" Lou went apeshit, screaming for security to remove him. Funnily enough, after he got ejected, Lou opened up the second half with "Rock n Roll"

    I've never understood people who chuck half-full cans of drink at punk bands. The average can of piss lager costs about 3.20 in most London venues these days. It's an incredibly expensive way to prove you love your favourite band so much you're willing to drench them in beer. Either that or they're genuinely lightweight drinkers.

  2. #287
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    not sure that i'd advocate drunken blokiness

    but certainly i'm no advocate of sobriety at night spots

    indeed what always puts me off at rock shows (or indeed most dj bars) is how nobody dances or moves

    if it requires several drinks to make people lose their inhibitions, then so be it

    in fact i consider myself a master of dancing with scotch rocks in hand

    though one must be leery of unrhythmic europeans barging on through, i.e., i've dropped several drinks over the years for this reason

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    My resistance to a positive interpretation of what we might call the "Pascal Effect" is that, in my reading of The Sublime Object..., it is primarily a mechanism of control. What Pascal is describing positively is the process by which religion becomes the opiate of the masses (like opium, it has an "immediate positive effect" in the sense that you feel like you've found "God" (be it the god of Christianity or the God of epistomological/ontological consistency).

    Smoking is a telling example in this situation, because the people who take the position of Pascal with regard to smoker-initiates are other smokers - "come on, it may taste bad now but persevere with it, it's worth it and it'll make you look cool and soon you'll wonder how you ever lived without it etc. etc." ie. Peer Pressure! (actually that De La Soul song about inciting friends to smoke weed against their better judgment is like a dead-on dramatisation of Pascal!). It is the weight of society demanding that subjects go along with and consequently internalise and rationalise its practices (commodity fetishism is an example of the Pascal Effect par excellence). The reason it is successful is that it appears to answer the question "What does the (big) Other) want of me?"

    I think you're spot on Mark when you note how the smoking analogy demonstrates that the motivating belief-before-belief is external to enjoyment and conditions it. But the belief-before-belief is nonetheless a product of desire, and specifically a desire to "plug the hole" or override the inadequacy of subjectivity. The question that one needs to ask Pascal is: "if I really don't believe in God, why should I go through this process in the first place?" And the answer is, "well, you don't". Pascal's wager is useful for agnostics, people beset by doubts as to the identity and purpose of the Big Other, because it allays their fears and uncertainty, but it is always an ideological security blanket.

    I think we need to be properly cautious about embracing the Pascal Effect because it is the prime example of what I've been calling the "short circuit" in this argument. The mechanism by which it works means that we cannot meaningfully distinguish between "cults" and worthwhile political movements, as the rational arguments that might be used in order to make such a distinction are only made from the "other side" of the moment of interpellation. The moment of commitment is always a leap of faith, and it is not a rationally motivated one; it is a flight from the trauma of the inadequacy of the subject.

    Mind you my position is highly influenced by the fact that I probably interpret ideology from a Marx-based epistomological/critical perspective more than a Lucaks/Lenin-style positive/descriptive perspective. But I think it's noteworthy here that in Zizek's rereading of Lukacs, the "universal class" who have the "truth" of the situation is not the group with the "correct" ideology (eg. authentic proletariat class consciousness) but rather the group or groups who are so abject that they are actually excluded from the moment of ideological interpellation eg. the jews in Nazi Germany, who are effectively not recognised as subjects (and likewise the proletariat to the extent that they are not recognised as subjects; so the modern day analogy is not left-leaning unionised western construction workers but third world sweatshop workers).

    In yr smoking analogy, the group with the "truth" of the situation are the kids who aren't offered a cigarette, the kids who are considered "beneath" smoking.

    And what is notable about these groups is that their status is not one which they have negotiated by way of a wager, because they are never offered any kind of wager. And this kind of proves the classic Althusserian point that each member of a social totality is interpellated in the manner and to the extent that is necessary: the "wager" in any of these situations is simply one of society's several fancy looking methods of accomodating you to your social position - and those at the bottom rung don't receive even this luxury. But a simple rule of thumb should apply here: if the wager you've been offered seems too good to be true, that's because it is.

  4. #289
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    tim you've stumbled unawares onto a subject that interests me

    allow me to quote at length from one of my all-time fav pieces of cultural criticism

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Klein, "Cigarettes Are Sublime"
    Few people would smoke if cigarettes were actually good for you; the corallary affirms that if cigarettes were good for you, they would not be sublime
    Quote Originally Posted by Klein
    Praising cigarettes is like composing a bouquet of Fleurs du mal, where the beauty one celebrates gives rise not to the usual aesthetic feelings of satisfaction and repose but to troubled, menacing pleasures . . . . The perverse enchantment of what is risky, ugly, shameful
    Quote Originally Posted by Klein
    Cigarettes are not positively beautiful, but they are sublime by virtue of their charming power to propose "a negative pleasure": a darkly beautiful, inevitably painful pleasure that arises from some intimation of eternity; the taste of infinity in a cigarette resides precisely in the "bad" taste the smoker quickly learns to love. Being sublime, cigarettes, in principle, resist all arguments directed against them from the perspective of health and utility . . . . Cigarettes are bad. That is why they are good--not good, not beautiful, but sublime
    Quote Originally Posted by Klein on Pierre Louys on Cigarettes
    The paradoxical experience of smoking tobacco, with its contradictory physical effects, its poisonous taste and unpleasant pleasure, was enthusiastically taken up in modernity . . . . It is tempting to think that Aristotle could not have known tobacco even if he knew it. Tobacco defines modernity; its use an index of whatever revolution in consciousness may have occurred to transform the culture and the mores, the ethics and principles, of antiquity . . . . Cigarettes are the only new pleasure that modern man has invented [as of 1896], and perhaps his sole originality with respect not only to the pleasures but to the wisdom of antiquity
    Quote Originally Posted by more Klein
    Cigarettes are poison and they taste bad; they are not exactly beautiful, they are exactly sublime. The difference means that smoking cigarettes gives rise to forms of aesthetic pleasure painfully at odds with the affect arising from the contemplation in tranquility, say, of a well-wrought urn. In Kant's terms, what we ordinarily consider beautiful, the object of what he calls a "pure judgment of taste," is a finite entity; indeed, it is precisely its exquisite boundaries--the finitude of its means and ends, its margins and measure--that excite the feelings of calm enjoyment and reposeful exaltation that we normally associate w/ aesthetic satisfaction. By contrast, the aesthetic pleasure we take in the experience of boundlessness is not positive but negative . . . . The first moment of the encounter with what we call the sublimely beautiful, the feeling of awe or respect involving fear, is an experience of blockage: We discover in that fearful moment the limits of our capacity to imagine an infinite abyss . . . . The feeling of the sublime is a pleasure which arises only indirectly, produced by the feeling of a blocking of vital forces for a brief instant, followed immediately by an even stronger release of them; and thus as an emotion it does not seem like play but like a serious thing in the work of the imagination
    Quote Originally Posted by more Klein
    One's first experience of smoking does not seem like play but a serious act, accompanied by more dis-taste and dis-ease than the good tastes of innocent sweetness. In fact, tobacco makes one a little sick every time the poison is ingested. It announces its venomous character from the first, especially at the first puff, and subsequently as each successive puff distributes repeated jolts to the body . . . . It is not in spite of their harmfulness but because of it that people profusely and hungrily smoke. The noxious character of cigarettes--their great addictiveness, and their poisonous effects--not only underlies their various social benefits but constitutes the absolute precondition of their troubling, somber beauty
    in short, i don't think that the truth of cigarettes is to be found in the experience of those kids excluded from making the wager on smoking




    Quote Originally Posted by More Klein
    Nothing is simple where cigarettes are concerned; they are in multiple respects contradictorily double. They both raise the pulse and lower it, they calm as well as excite, they are the occasion for reverie and a tool for concentration, they are superficial and profound, soldier and Gypsy, hateful and delicious. Cigarettes are a cruel, beautiful mistress; they also provide a loyal companion. The conflicting nature of the pleasure they provide, both sensual and aesthetic, and the duplicity of their social, cultural value are consequences of their physiological effects, which are surprisingly contrary.

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    Dominic those quotes are great, and I think there's a lot of truth in them, but I'm trying to play by Mark K-Punk's rules whereby experience is not really a valid category for determining truth and "taste" should be considered not as a cordoned off aesthetic category but as a political (or apolitical, which is still political) act. My statements re the "truth" of cigarette smoking is more what i imagine Zizek would say than necessarily my own position (which I'm not sure I've worked out).

    The sublimity of cigarettes is of course deeply relevant to this! There is always a sublime quality to interpellation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F
    My resistance to a positive interpretation of what we might call the "Pascal Effect" is that, in my reading of The Sublime Object..., it is primarily a mechanism of control. What Pascal is describing positively is the process by which religion becomes the opiate of the masses (like opium, it has an "immediate positive effect" in the sense that you feel like you've found "God" (be it the god of Christianity or the God of epistomological/ontological consistency).
    But surely the whole point of Zizek's use of it is to demonstrate that it need not solely be about control?

    Smoking is a telling example in this situation, because the people who take the position of Pascal with regard to smoker-initiates are other smokers - "come on, it may taste bad now but persevere with it, it's worth it and it'll make you look cool and soon you'll wonder how you ever lived without it etc. etc." ie. Peer Pressure! (actually that De La Soul song about inciting friends to smoke weed against their better judgment is like a dead-on dramatisation of Pascal!). It is the weight of society demanding that subjects go along with and consequently internalise and rationalise its practices (commodity fetishism is an example of the Pascal Effect par excellence). The reason it is successful is that it appears to answer the question "What does the (big) Other) want of me?"
    It might not only be other smokers though; aren't you equivocating here between 'actual social individuals' and the big Other, the superegoic injunction to enjoy?

    I think you're spot on Mark when you note how the smoking analogy demonstrates that the motivating belief-before-belief is external to enjoyment and conditions it. But the belief-before-belief is nonetheless a product of desire, and specifically a desire to "plug the hole" or override the inadequacy of subjectivity. The question that one needs to ask Pascal is: "if I really don't believe in God, why should I go through this process in the first place?" And the answer is, "well, you don't". Pascal's wager is useful for agnostics, people beset by doubts as to the identity and purpose of the Big Other, because it allays their fears and uncertainty, but it is always an ideological security blanket.
    Yes, it is aimed at agnostics, but the whole point of Zizek's discussion of Pascal is to address P's ANSWER to precisely the question, 'If I really don't believe in God,why should I do this?' Pascal argues that it is your passions that are preventing you believing, or wanting to believe. In a sense, AS SOON AS SOMEONE HAS ASKED THAT QUESTION, they are already ensnared: who is the question addressed to (if not the big Other), and how can the question not be heard as an entreaty (help me to believe)?

    I think we need to be properly cautious about embracing the Pascal Effect because it is the prime example of what I've been calling the "short circuit" in this argument. The mechanism by which it works means that we cannot meaningfully distinguish between "cults" and worthwhile political movements, as the rational arguments that might be used in order to make such a distinction are only made from the "other side" of the moment of interpellation. The moment of commitment is always a leap of faith, and it is not a rationally motivated one; it is a flight from the trauma of the inadequacy of the subject.
    This highlights a number of issue for me, but none of them have straightforward answers. To stay faithful to the trauma of the subject (and only faithful to it) would be to pursue the time-honoured deconstructive strategy. But in a sense, nothing avoids trauma more than this attempt to 'keep faith with it'. Trauma is the letter that will always arrive at its destination; it is what curves and bends that which seeks to avoid it. So in a sense the avoidance of the trauma is more true to the trauma than the idea that you can just directly confront the trauma. Isn't the trauma only perceptible via anamorphosis?


    Mind you my position is highly influenced by the fact that I probably interpret ideology from a Marx-based epistomological/critical perspective more than a Lucaks/Lenin-style positive/descriptive perspective. But I think it's noteworthy here that in Zizek's rereading of Lukacs, the "universal class" who have the "truth" of the situation is not the group with the "correct" ideology (eg. authentic proletariat class consciousness) but rather the group or groups who are so abject that they are actually excluded from the moment of ideological interpellation eg. the jews in Nazi Germany, who are effectively not recognised as subjects (and likewise the proletariat to the extent that they are not recognised as subjects; so the modern day analogy is not left-leaning unionised western construction workers but third world sweatshop workers).

    In yr smoking analogy, the group with the "truth" of the situation are the kids who aren't offered a cigarette, the kids who are considered "beneath" smoking.
    Sure, but this presupposes that the Pascal thing is about interpellation, which I'm not sure it is, or entirely is. It is also about the role of commitment and faith in stepping outside of what 'already-exists', what you are (required to be) now, in other words, the set of interpellations that make you a subject in the existing order. The wager was supposed to propel people out of individual carnal-hedonic 'constant craving' and into a commitment that gave them immediate existential payback.

    And what is notable about these groups is that their status is not one which they have negotiated by way of a wager, because they are never offered any kind of wager. And this kind of proves the classic Althusserian point that each member of a social totality is interpellated in the manner and to the extent that is necessary: the "wager" in any of these situations is simply one of society's several fancy looking methods of accomodating you to your social position - and those at the bottom rung don't receive even this luxury. But a simple rule of thumb should apply here: if the wager you've been offered seems too good to be true, that's because it is.
    Sure, but Zizek doesn't emphasise the eschatological promise of the wager - one day judgement day/ the revolution will come - but the immediate effectivity of achieving freedom from passions.

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    All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.

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    I agree, it should be deleted. Where's the mods?

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  11. #295
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    matthew was more marxist (or at least adornite, in 2004!) now look at him with his devious ken clarke ways!
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    I respect islamists

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    Fourteen years ago, martin considered 3.20 a lot of money for a can of "piss lager".

    Meditate on that, my droogs.
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

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    You could pay 6 for red stripe in 1996 in clubs across London so not sure where he was coming from with that.

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    Dunno what kind of fancy-pants clubs you were going to back then. Tiger Tiger and China Whites was never really my scene.
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

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