Monday, June 27, 2011

The Best of Times

Guest blogger Virginia Heffernan pens hilarious satire of herself on the "open web":

A few months ago, tired of coming across creepy, commodified content where I expected ordinary language, I resolved to turn to mobile apps for e-books, social media, ecommerce and news, and use the open Web only sparingly....

Imagine a sci-fi universe in which every letter, word and sentence is a commodity....

The insultingly vacuous and frankly bizarre prose of the content....

As a verbal artifact...exhibits neither style nor substance....

These prose-widgets are not hammered out by robots, surprisingly. But they are written by writers who work like robots....

[under] exhausting and sometimes exploitative writing conditions....

Oliver Miller, a journalist with an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence [LOL] who once believed he’d write the Great American Novel [ROFL], told me AOL paid him about $28,000 for writing 300,000 words about television, all based on fragments of shows he’d never seen, filed in half-hour intervals, on a graveyard shift that ran from 11 p.m. to 7 or 8 in the morning.....

“Do you guys even CARE what I write? Does it make any difference if it’s good or bad?” Mr. Miller asked his boss, one night, by instant message. [emphasis added]

Mr. Miller says the reply was brief: “Not really.”

cf. Pierre Bourdieu

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gaga on Persecution and the Art of Writing

Gaga's first contribution to V Magazine is a complicated text, complete with footnotes, which at once explores philosophy's rootedness in the history of thought, while simultaneously pointing towards a potential rebirth through an authentic confrontation with its origins.  This rebirth seems intricately intertwined with the conflict of "battle," and only invoked through the provocations of (political) persecution.  It is for this reason that one dons "the mask."

However, in the central paragraphs, Gaga questions the very possibility of an authentic confrontation with origins, suggesting that any such confrontation must inevitably be masked, or inauthentic, arising only out of the apparent theft of appropriation art.  Gaga appears to yearn for a cosmic childhood, while keenly aware that childhood is characterized by images borrowed from the past, specifically Sharon Stone's star turn as Ginger in the 1995 film Casino.  "To put it more bluntly, the Hussein Chalayan vessel I wore at the Grammys wasn’t inspired by a chicken. It was stolen from an egg."

Furthermore, as the subject matter of the essay under discussion may be said to fall within the province of the sociology of knowledge, it does not seem wholly improper to note that, for Gaga, the precarious status of philosophy in popular culture is not in every respect a misfortune for philosophy.  The official recognition of philosophy in the academic world made philosophy subject to departmental supervision.  The precarious position of philosophy in popular culture guaranteed its private character and therewith its inner freedom from supervision.  The status of philosophy in popular culture resembled in this respect its status in classical Greece.  It is often said that the Greek city was a totalitarian society.  It embraced and regulated morals, divine worship, tragedy and comedy.  There was however one activity which was essentially private and trans-political: philosophy.  Even the philosphic schools were founded by men without authority, by private men.  Gaga recognizes the similarity between this state of things and the one prevailing her own time.  Elaborating on some remarks of Nan Kempner, she compares the philosophic life to that of a librarian.

Those with Ears to Hear....

Once again, life imitates Glenn Beck's Socratic Discourse.

Page Six of the NY Post chronicles the hyperreal friendship of Zizek and Lady Gaga...

"Zizek" on Gaga....

Glenn Beck's Guide to Modernism:

Filtered through the distorted lens of evil-genius US talkshow host Glenn Beck, this event will start with a snapshot talk on early 20th century modernisms and their relation to capital, stopover briefly at socialist realism, Zhadanovschina and Brecht and continue as an open discussion on how we represent communist politics today, from the tedious classturbatory kitsch of the British left to uber-hipster Tiqqun, the Greek insurrection and onwards.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The New Nausea and Beck in Jerusalem

Guest Post by Talib Aporion:

Larry Derner comments on Beck's upcoming rally in Jerusalem (August 24):

Who are Israel’s friends? Right-wing meshuggenehs. What is Israel? A right-wingmeshugge country.

Sheldon Adelson, Morton Klein, Eric Cantor, the Emergency Committee for Israel, the Brooklyner Jews and the rest of the hardasses over there will be buoyant. But what about all those middle-ofthe- roaders, all those Democrats – the great majority ofAmerican Jews who feel a basic connection to this country, but at the same time are repelled by the likes of Beck, Palin and the Christian Right?

How comfortable are they going to be with that connection when they see, so dramatically, who else this country is connected to – and not tangentially, but at the hip?

Israel is a tragic story. It used to inspire idealists, now it appalls them. The moderates, the silent majority, are left sort of perplexed – they’re not going to speak against Israel, but they’re not really moved to speak for it, either, when it seems to have become so aggressive, so forbidding.

This is about the end of the idealist's "Israel." It is obviously more about America than Israel, a semiotic exercise whose purpose is to symbolize the courage that would hypothetically inhere from defending a border or proper political frontier such as the Israeli frontier, a symbolization and appropriation of Israeli courage for the American people whose lives do not require political courage.

This is about the end of the idealist's "Israel." It is obviously more about America than Israel, a semiotic exercise whose purpose is to symbolize the courage that would hypothetically inhere from defending a border or proper political frontier such as the Israeli frontier, a symbolization and appropriation of Israeli courage for the American people whose lives do not require political courage.

Derfner and other pre-Beck or non-post-Ted Turner thinkers, already consigned to the dust bin of history, howl from their ashen confines that their ideology, their post-Walter Cronkite rebellion, has been superseded by a new rebellion: the rebellion of Beck. The former rebellion sought to defend individual authenticity - to purify the individual temple - by refusing and deconstructing courage and country; and yet, it denied the plethora impurities and sophistications that were the basis for the deconstruction and the search for individual authenticity. Their impure rebellion, their bourgeois rebellion to purify the bourgeois, sought to create a new Israel that embodied the ideals of their new Jerusalem, a Jerusalem that was home to authentic individual experiences of exotic souks and headdresses. Their new Jerusalem was a tamed Jerusalem, a playground at the end of history.

But the new Jerusalem of Derfner and his ilk has been superseded by a newer Jerusalem, and a second rebellion, that either accepts and even celebrates a deconstructed courage and country as authentic qua construction or proudly closes its ears to the siren song of deconstruction, returning to the roots to rebuild what it considers authentic symbols on the basis of honest and firm and true categories. It is a 'purification of the temple' of the quest for authenticity, of the rally for country, and now for courage.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lady Gaga and the last things

What I've discovered . . . is that in art, as in music, there's a lot of truth -- and then there's a lie. The artist is essentially creating his work to make this lie a truth, but he slides it in amongst all the others. The tiny little lie is the moment I live for, my moment. It's the moment that the audience falls in love. (New York Magazine interview)

My philosophy is that if I am open with them about everything and yet I art direct every moment of my life I can maintain a sort of privacy in a way. I maintain a certain soulfulness that I have yet to give. (60 Minutes interview)

What artists do wrong is they lie. And I don't lie. I'm not a liar. I've built goodwill with my fans. They know who I am, and I'm just like them in so many ways. (60 Minutes interview)

A single is a part of a whole glimpsed before the whole: "Born This Way," "Judas," The Edge of Glory," "Hair": the natural, the divine, the final, the noble. Although "The Edge of Glory" was the third single from Lady Gaga's upcoming album, it is the last track of that album. It appears to concern love, but it is ambiguous from the start. Lady Gaga serenades an apparent beloved. She says that the two should not be alone. Yet if they are alone together they are not alone separately, and if they are alone separately they are not alone together. Love proves to be the heart of the indeterminate dyad, and the song unfolds in the attempt to make present the absent and indeed nonexistent space between being alone together and being alone separately. Gaga's apparently ungrammatical nod to Dixie -- "There ain't no reason" -- proves to be the truth. There is not no reason; there is a reason; the reason is the twofoldedness of eros in beholding and being with.

The edge of glory is the place where Lady Gaga and her beloved can both fall in love. But love may very well be not their condition at the edge but their condition after falling. And glory may be the name of the terrain on which they walk and whose edge they approach, or glory may well be the name of the abyss into which they fall. What is that abyss?

We have it on the public statement of Lady Gaga that her work concerns death. That statement may be a part of her art, for she states that she art directs every moment of her life, and yet that statement may itself be merely a line in the play of her life. Lady Gaga leaves it to us to see whether her work concerns death, and to make her work concern death if it does not concern death. For surely death is a concern.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Note on the Plan of Lady Gaga's Judas: The Counter-Revolution Will Be Televised

Upon the release of Gaga's latest music-drama, Judas, the Catholic League issued the following rather curious statement:

In her 'Judas' video, Lady Gaga plays fast and loose with Catholic iconography, and generates several untoward statements, but she typically dances on the line without going over it. The faux-baptismal scene is a curious inclusion, as is her apparent fondness for the Jesus character. But if anyone thinks the Catholic League is going to go ballistic over Lady Gaga's latest contribution, they haven't a clue about what really constitutes anti-Catholicism. The video is a mess, incoherent; it leaves the viewer more perplexed than moved.

The League deserves considerable credit for refusing to be drawn into contretemps with Lady Gaga, and it is right to recognize the fundamentally pro-Catholic character of the piece.  Indeed, it is likely the single most "Catholic" popular artwork in living memory, though it hints at, inter alia, Gaga's lingering discontent with the position of the curia since Vatican II.  It is perhaps in order to paper over these differences that the League sought to blunt some of Gaga's more pointed symbolism. 
For although the single may be quick, it is anything but loose.  And if it arouses controversy, it is because with this work Gaga rejects in total the political ideology of modernity, both of 1789 and of today.

Lest some pedant discount Gaga's imagery as uneducated affectation, it is important to note that Gaga herself has stated that she is "obsessed with religious art," an admission tantatmount to declaring that 'all mistakes have been corrected.'  Norman Reedus, who portrayed the title character in the cinematic accompaniment, described Gaga to Rolling Stone as "super Catholic, and gets everyone together for a prayer before everything she does, she's super religious."

Of course, such commentary is unnecessary, as Gaga literally wears her heart on her sleeve in this video, donning the insignia of the Sacre Coeur, emblem of the Counter-Revolution.  Such a brazen display of fealty to King and Faith would have brought Gaga to the guillotine barely two centuries ago.  But for Gaga, it is only the beginning, and points to a vision even more radical.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gaga promotes agrarian aristocracy, reenchantment

Lady Gaga to Debut New Songs on FarmVille

Lady Gaga is set to release songs from her new album on FarmVille. The singer will let fans listen to tracks from Born This Way, due in stores on May 23rd, on a section of the online game before they can be heard anywhere else.

On May 17th, Lady Gaga and Zynga will unveil GagaVille, a farm within FarmVille, which will showcase Lady Gaga’s themes from the album, such as crystals, unicorns and motorcycles. From May 17th to 19th, players can complete tasks to unlock and stream a new unreleased song per day.

Lady Gaga said: “I want to celebrate and share Born This Way with my little monsters in a special way that’s never been done before... Zynga has created a magical place in FarmVille where my fans can come play and be the first to listen to the album.”