Comments are open. Please see the bottom of this ‘stack for important news and updates. Are your reading skills getting rusty? Listen to the audio version instead: 1. Let us begin, as we often do in this space, with music, as clarion signal of the self-image of its makers. Let us begin with the interpretation of a whole continent’s dreams.
Escape from New Yorkhttps://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/08/escape-from-new-york
Just a heads up: your recording of this one didn’t make it to those of us subscribed to the podcast feed. Maybe because this time they’re both integrated in a single post?
Really clears up lots of confusion in my mind. Great job of articulating what it's like to be an American "border ruffian"!
Hi Justin, love your work but can't afford a subscription, however I can give you something far more valuable - new music and a new subject.
In Friends of the Devil – towards a posthumous aesthetic of rock and roll you lamented the loss of the Satanic influence in music.
In Music for Invertebrates you tried, and failed, to understand the autotune enough to love its modern uses.
In Why is America so Cracked? you're briefly nostalgic for the sound of nü -metal.
I think I’ve found what you've been looking for. Aussie rapper Zheani is someone who uses Satanic imagery in new ways, who understands her voice enough to use autotune as the revolutionary instrument it is, picking out the catchy melodies from rapping or even screaming, and on a track like You Saw from 2022’s I Hate People on the Internet she’s riding a sound that’s recognisably a trap progression of nü -metal. Further, her work is often concerned, as is your work, with the Internet, in songs like Brave New World (“history written in pencil/what a day to get cancelled”), Designer Sadness, or Fuck the Hollywood Cult (“in my phone/they won’t leave me alone”). One reason this music is reinventing and revitalizing all forms it touches is because it’s made by an independent woman; men, and their record industry, have had their time of leadership, and may well lead again, but for now their voices are simply not adapted to the autotune, and their concerns – their views of sex and society - are not novel ones for us to hear. A historic imbalance being reversed by tectonic movements will uncover new lands. One of these lands is a revolutionary feminism that bears little relation to any academic construct of that name, but is instead the expression of a pure female soul, and therefore heartbreaking in a way Limp Bizkit never were; Fuck the Hollywood Cult calls out the monetized abuse of the entertainment industry’s “greatest beauties”, The Question (from 2019’s The Line) is a no-holds-barred #MeToo attack on Die Antwoord, who treated her inexcusably – “consequences” brought home with flaming precision. Zheani comes from lumpenprole roots, was “raised in the wrong” in broken and foster homes, some without electricity, has no tertiary education, owns her own career, and is as sharp as a pin.
That's it -
3000 words on my desk in the morning.
I'm rereading Temps retrouve right now and this comparison is thought-provoking in a way I'd never considered! Thanks! Now it seems to me that the reappraisal of a band like Limp Bizkit is that the band is now being appraised for a ‘reflexively generated’ aesthetic content, which pertains to the crudest, most shallow bodies of work which despite their crudeness and their shallowness have somehow managed to be representative of a particular “sort of person” which people believe no longer exists in society. The retrospective appraisal is moreso of a personality which has become a museum piece, that can be seen arising in sepia hologram from the design, than the interior qualities of motive and ornament. I wonder if Proust — I don’t remember, I will see — delineated an analogous wiring pattern, from person to painting. Perhaps earlier on, it’s something like the way he goes from Names (like the leafy Guermantes legend, or the title of the George Sand volume in his childhood library before he develops aesthetic intelligence that deprecates the value he found before) to a *direct judgment* of something. Here the wiring runs backwards into time and there’s an electrical hologram, as I said, made but it’s not what the original thing was at all. It’s static-electric aesthesis, like found more often in historical monographs than bodies of work entire, particularly musical bodies of work. And indeed the aesthetic object is not music at all at this point. It’s a hulking guy with a redcap stomping in the back galleries of our hearing until the floorboards break and he drops away into the darkness ...
This article is brilliant, so I just bought your book (even though I'm unemployed and running out of money ;) )
My eyes normally glaze over when substackers get into aesthetics, but you see things the way I do.
I tried to become a rock star in the Athens, GA scene in the late 80s, and my nowhere bands only played east coast. In '91 I got married and left all that and started a slow climb up the professional world, but when grunge and then nu-metal came along I was right there with them in spirit even if I was wearing a tie the whole time.