Thursday, August 31, 2006

Soon my pretties...

The Event
will be making their first song available to download. Watch this space.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The music that I listen to is cold. Its reverse side is melancholy, the sharpness of desire. I start to wonder: is warmth possible in music? Can it be anything other than the flipside to yearning?

Is there any music that is truly hot or human?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

So, I read Lukács saying this:
"Marx has often demonstrated convincingly how inadequate the 'laws' of bourgeois economics are to the task of explaining the true movement of economic activity in toto."

And now I have Toto's "Hold The Line" in my head. Sigh.

Catching a plane in 4 hours and 18 minutes. I feel increasingly like spirit without body... I am losing my material substratum, people...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Strip-show Continuum

Of late I've been interested in the idea of musical continuums. It started with this ILM Haircut House thread: haircut house being a classification of music based not so much on songs' aesthetic / sonic qualities as on the venues and scenes with which they might be associated. In the case of haircut house, the sort of venue would be The Prince, and the scene would be populated with people who look like this:

People protested in the ILM thread that there was no connection at all between the sorts of songs that were being nominated - Inaya Day, Rogue Traders, Tiga, "Four to the Floor", "Drop the Pressure", etc. And of course they were right. These songs form a category, a system of meaning, as much a bunch of random of people standing at a bus stop would. Nonetheless, they are there in series, and despite the fact that the label 'haircut house' is a chain of significance that does not originate strictly in observance of songs' common aesthetic features, it is useful and meaningful as a term of classification.

Likewise, one could well define a 21st birthday/uni ball continuum, which would consist of "Put Ya Hands Up", "Love Shack", Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "The Grease Megamix", "Footloose", "Dirrty" ... and so on. The recognition when these are played is that they are 'classic' songs: they are indicators that you and your fellow party-goers share a great deal of common cultural history, watched the same early morning video shows, had the same songs on the stereo in the common room at school, etc. They draw their meaning not only from the fact that they are predictably, relentlessly played at balls and 21sts, but also from an assumption that they bear, for the crowd, an exemplary danceability that is inextricable from the nostalgic memories that they evoke. All the same: aesthetically, "Groove Is In The Heart" and "Put Ya Hands Up" are a million miles apart. But they squarely fit within this continuum.

Sometimes, one is presented with a criteria for a new continuum that makes fundamental sense, retrospectively puts together so many connections that work so well, even though you had never tried to link these songs to the one trend. 'Yacht Rock' is a good example of this. Everyone has felt it: laughing as you realise that this new category works so perfectly, describes something you always knew existed, but just didn't have a name for.

At other times, however, new continuums manifest themselves which just will not square themselves with your pre-existing notions of the proper order of the world. And for me, tonight was such a night.

Yesterday evening, my sister and some of her classmates went to see a strip-show at Spearmint Rhino, as part of research for a play they're doing later in the semester. Apparently, by and large, most of the dances/dancers were quite boring - though some were terrifyingly athletic. She described the crowd as either 'corporate' or 'after-work'.

But apart from her description of the dancers, the dancing and the patrons of this 'gentlemen's club', what truly surprised me about the night was her description of the playlist.

Some made perfect sense - The Pussycat Dolls' "Buttons", for instance: burlesque-y stripper popstars singing about loosening their clothing - all seems to be well. Ginuwine's "Pony" was also untroubling: slinky, sexual, suggestive of writhing - check, makes sense.

Others were unexpected, but reconcilable nonetheless. Goldfrapp's "Ride a White Horse", for instance: while I am a little surprised that it could find resonance with people who actually do drugs and pursue the hedonistic life that the song proclaims, much like with Little Britain jokes, I concede that I suppose it could be enjoyed without the four layers of irony and reflexivity that makes my consumption and appreciation of the cultural artifact infinitely superior to that of those who would, like the bogans I work with, take things literally, at face value.

Some selections, however, made no sense, and will trouble me as I try to sleep.

Specifically: one dancer performed a strip act, accompanied by Rage Against The Machine's "Renegades of Funk".




Personally, I was flabbergasted. The song name-checks "Chief Sitting Bull, Tom Paine / Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcom X". It bears the refrain "Destroy our nations". It is performed by a band that is inescapably linked, in my mind, with Seattle and the anti-globalisation movement. They shit on about exploitation all the time. And yet, there it was: just loud, guitar-based rock for the boys that shouts cool phrases about funk and stuff. Hip.

All of which goes to demonstrate: there is nothing inherently political about aesthetic entities. There are no subversive essences. There are only continuums and meanings that come from the current situations of songs, from constellations that will shift and re-shift no end.


This will be the last post from me for a few days - I'm off to Sydney for the weekend to give a paper at this on Lukacs' History and Class Consciousness, possibly subtitled "Reification, people!" I'm in the program and everything - I must exist. It should be an interesting few days.
'Tonight The World Does Not Exist'

Part 1

So sure, we've established that I have a penchant for pop songs at the abyss. It is no secret that brushing bittersweet sharpness against the grain is something that draws me in. But all the same, there are some songs I am just not sure if it it, or if it is me. Are these sad songs? Is there really a melancholy in this? Or am I just putting it there?

The songs that I have in mind, that prompted this post, are Jessica Simpson's "Public Affair" on the one hand, and Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie", on the other. These are songs that speak of pleasure as tied to a moment in time - that is, they address 'tonight'. Before speaking about them, however, I want to write about two related, but nonetheless quite different, treatments of time in pop. I will return to Shakira and Jessica Simpson in a later post.

Tonight Is Forever

When pop songs speak of 'tonight', an answer is proclaimed: tonight! I have been waiting, and now this hallowed place in time - evening, that reserved place in what is otherwise the flow of humdrum days - has brought me the answer to my woes! Witness: Jennifer Lopez' "Waiting for Tonight"; Amber's "This Is Your Night".* Both proclaim that the moment is the answer! And moments last forever, according to this calculus. They are a sort of revolution that resolves all previous disquiet and inner turmoil. They are answers. Life, humanity, the singer's heart - these were problems, but tonight the answer, the solution has arrived. It's almost dream-like, really - desire is presented here as already having been fulfilled.

To take the above examples, J. Lo (does this name apply retrospectively?) sounds as though she has just emerged from a war zone. All she can do speak of is how bad it's been: "tossing and turning", "holding on". Amber, meanwhile, can't even believe that this blissful moment has occurred, "it's too good to be true". The paradigm shift has been so immense that she can hardly wrap her mind around this new qualitative state in which she feels "so brand new".

The key thing here is that the moment is linked with 'eternity'. For Amber, between now and the "morning light", there will be "forever and ever". A paradox wilfully affirmed, but nonetheless - in this limited space of time, there is freedom and something eternal. Meanwhile, what a gamble J. Lo has made! Literally waiting all her life for this one moment, the pay-off for years of anguish received all at once in the arms of another. She has staked everything, but tonight - thank god - it has all been gained again. (The knight of faith or what!) No mention of tomorrow, natürlich.

Because, as we all know boys and girls, the moment is not an answer. As ever, what is proclaimed in song flies in the face of that which is 'healthy' and 'sensible'. Time is fleeting, as we all know - here today, gone tomorrow.

All the same, what constitutes the jouissance, the guilty pleasure felt in listening to and believing these songs' professions, is that they fly in the face of everything sensible, of everything that reasons. We all know that tonight is but one night, temporally limited, nur eine Augenblick.

Furthermore, every sensible person knows that it is folly to hinge one's whole life on the possibility that love might instill meaning to everything else, might be the missing piece in some already-present puzzle. After all - life is not a question, love is not an answer. To believe otherwise would necessarily involve essentialism, the belief that there is some inherent meaning in life, and thus something truly unique, a qualitative core of significance, in the lover. By this reading, you have as much choice as to whether or not you will sacrifice yourself for love as Jesus did about his crucifixion. It was destiny there, and just as Jennifer Lopez knew that she "had to hold on", so Jesus went ahead with things in the Garden of Gethsemane. If we believe in a 'one', then there is fate, mystical meaning, and God is probably not dead. But alas, he is. Likewise, we are lumped with this existence before essence business, which must apply to relationships as much as it applies to anything else.

But here, with Jennifer and Amber and their emancipating lovers, we pay no heed to such good sense, to rationalized ideals. No, these are instances in which we proclaim the fantasy of meaning arriving - deus ex machina - as we meet our true love. Love should - I hear my superego tell me - be looked at practically. But aha! These songs do not speak to that function. No, they address my disavowed desires instead, and give them justification, the impossible assurance: it could be passion that sets you free.

"This Is Your Night" / "Waiting For Tonight": the shimmering, exhilerating, perfect expressions of all that could not be.

To be continued...


* Incidentally, one of my FAVOURITE SONGS EVER, if one was ever allowed to compose such lists. And something interesting that I turned up on Wikipedia's "Waiting For Tonight" article, after writing this post: "Another camp feels that parts of the song sound suspiciously similar to the 1996 hit "This Is Your Night" by Dutch singer Amber." I really did think I'd made two quite-random selections.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More substantial post to follow soon on, among other things, 'pop songs and the denial of time'. But in the meantime, you can do two things:

1) Some background research (for the coming post - there is further viewing if you feel so inclined);

2) Pray for me as I am inevitably coerced into dancing to "Love Shack" ... Yes against my age and wisdom I am attending one more uni ball in the nether regions of Carlton. Can I handle a dancefloor in which, four years on, "Dirrty" and Fatman Scoop's "Put Ya Hands Up" are still considered to be novel? Only time will tell.


(PS. The 'index' is quite low if you discount veiled references. True, it is higher than I would have thought if they are included.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Goldfrapp - Ride A White Horse

"I like dancing, at the disco, I want blisters, you're my leader."

("Lend me a whole new world
All night
Feel life
oh ooh!
When is there ever sense
To love
This world?
oh ooh!")

Saturday, August 19, 2006

For Those With No Philosophical Imagination

or, ‘We Are All Hezbollah’ = ‘There Is Only Us

A commenter, Mo, on my post about Hezbollah (and the lack of wisdom in declaring that we are all, somehow, Hezbollah) has diagnosed my arguments as exemplary cases of Western narcissism. This is my response.

In smug Hegelian fashion, I am of course in agreement with this commenter on a number of points. Mo’s right: ‘leadership’ won’t come from the left in matters of finding the “the solution to humanity”.

But nor will it come from Hezbollah. And why? Because we are, quite simply, fighting different battles – none of which are that for some sort of inert ‘solution’ to humanity.

Perhaps our respective fights are sympathetic to one another. I am quite convinced that they have a relationship, in the last instance. But the Western left short-circuits and stunts itself if it cannot wrench its eyes away from the other side of the world for long enough to realise that there are things to do here, right now. (And by that I don’t mean rallies and petitions.)

Now, while I am happy, I suppose, that Hezbollah ‘won’ against Israel – they were ‘the side I was going for’ – I must admit that this is not the prime determinant of the way in which I choose to engage myself politically.

The “real struggle” is not out there somewhere. It lies, rather, with that which my commenter has already declared the death of: the “philosophical imagination in the west”. Mo neglects to make the connection, however, that it is precisely the act of pinning our identity and political agenda to the actions of Hezbollah that kills it. We cannot look to others to lead our fight.

This is even more sharply the case given that we have such a poor bag of conceptual tools when it comes to matters of sketching what our fight actually is – as seen when Mo states that it is that of finding “the solution to humanity”.

Mo accuses Daniel and I of “looking at ourselves and ourselves only”. But when the left looks at Hezbollah and states that they are one and the same thing, they are not really looking at others at all. No, all they see reflected back at themselves are their own hopes for a new saviour. I suppose this betrays the true meaning of stating that ‘we are all Hezbollah’ – it is the ultimate moment of projection. If we are all Hezbollah, it is only because we can no longer see anything that is not our own desperate desire for a path, for a way forward.

I make no apologies for stating that it is better to have some self-knowledge and reflection upon what our position is than to go running after anything and everything that looks like revolution. It is not narcissism but unacknowledged narcissism that is the danger.

I don’t think declaring symbolic solidarity with Hezbollah while declaring that we are useless, we are the inward-looking, useless West cuts much chop. There is no point in fetishising those who are ‘taking action’ in tantalisingly direct ways. Hezbollah has asserted its agency against those who would dominate, but they have done so in a way that is useful for their situation. We would be wise to learn this lesson from them, at least: that one must first begin by creating the problem at hand.

Israel is not at my door, however. No, I am located at a very different place within this global, historical structure. And I will act accordingly, with no need for the reflected light of others’ radicalism.

To be fair, of course, Mo wasn’t really responding to my post at all. He was responding to that phantom, ‘the Western left’, which no one likes. The problem is that this Western left doesn’t really exist: it’s a made-up straw man punching-bag for those people who believe that it is the dithering of intellectuals that holds back the real resistance, the real revolution. (The right uses this definition as much as the left, of course – they invented it, after all.)

Mo and I may agree on a lot of things, but the fact that s/he confused me with this mass of positions that I have not stated or supported cannot go uncommented upon. After all, what is at issue here is precisely the question of knowing what is in front of us.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The New Men in My Life

It's true girls, there are some special new men that I've been spending my time with.



(I really must cease with this drag act of mine. Even I find the tone that I strike confusing.)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

'Pop at the Abyss' - Music that takes a compelling, thrilling joy in the embrace of the loss of control. But what is this joy?

The first part of it is lyrical. "Sugar pie honey pie... You know that I love you... I can't help myself". The sound of one shouting their weakness to the sky! No shame but rather the embrace of self-effacement. "I was defeated, you won the war." The joy and ecstacy in this, recalling the old Nietzschean saw - "He who despises himself nonetheless respects himself as one who despises."

These lyrics embrace and affirm everything that I pit myself against, intellectually and personally. Weakness, placing oneself in slavery. Willingly opening one's arms to mauvaise foi, the capitulation to "the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us ... to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us." (Foucault) What joyful seduction! Going about the absolutely ideological in the most reflexive, reflexive fashion. Knowing self-delusion. "... love at first sight? It's an illusion, I don't care." The invitation to others - here I am, I am weak with you, I am open with you, and against myself I accept all that you will do to me. "Baby, I feel like I'm falling in love." "Tell me lies."

Finally, to dance to this. What else is dancing but the attempt to embody the song, to literally be a part of the rhythm?

What else is this music but a challenge - 'I fear not objectification, for I have already objectified myself'? (Except I am too enraptured in my own lack of agency to even bother making any sort of challenge explicitly - challenge is the realm of those who jostle, who still fight, whereas I - oh, I having given up - I am slipping away too deliciously to even think about you...)

Of course, at base this is all old business. The masochist as final architect of their own pain, the one who watches the one who watches...

But what joy, what joy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It is possible, then, to suffer from a hangover of the heart. The same grey nausea persists, and 'hair of the dog' is just as much a temptation for those fools who would choose to defer the pain, and confront it at double the strength later on.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Reasons for Believing that Being Content Is Justified Behaviour

aka The Logics of Rationalised Contentment

Part one in a (semi-regular) series of examples

1. Sam in the City: Guess who's having less sex than you?

So, you're having problems? So is everyone. You are part of a phenomenon! You are not alone. Don't hide from your problems. Problems are good and natural - and ultimately, what we all have in common!

Someone I know had a problem, and this is what she said about it. Lots of people feel like this!

There are averages. You can compare yourself to the average. Some people are way above average! But you'd expect that they would be, wouldn't you?

Here is what a celebrity said! I know you'd usually think of celebrities of being really different to you, but actually, they also have problems too.

It's funny, isn't it - we both think about this problem a lot, right? Go on, we all do it.
Tonight only!


The Scissor Sisters' "I Don't Feel Like Dancing"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hiss boo, adjusting to normal life after a particularly large weekend. Like walking indoors after being outside in very bright sunshine.

I must learn to make better friends with that uneasy acquaintance of mine, time. We don't get along very well. Oh well.

And now, to compose my definitive statement on the Australian media and political apathy. Hmm. Perhaps it would help if I began by pulling out some of my hair first... Yes, that should do the trick. Less hair. And then I begin work.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

On the question: Why Be Hezbollah?

If and when protestors and those on the left claim that 'we are all Hezbollah' - what do they mean? In what sense do they claim this identity between Hezbollah - a local resistance group, literally the 'Party of God' - and themselves?

Obviously, the phrase 'we are all' identifies some element in Hezbollah that is able to be made universal. I suggest that this element is the figure of resistance. The argument might run something like this: America seeks, via Israel, to set up a whole chain of military bases and sympathetic regimes throughout the Middle East. They are doing this because they wish to gain greater control over the oil reserves in the region, which is of particular importance to America at this moment, because China and India are economically ascendant. America must therefore employ its current military superiority in order to ensure its future economic dominance. In doing so, it pays no heed to the sovereignty of other countries. Against this, then, Hezbollah are enacting the right to defend one's homeland. They are, one could say, resisting the imperialist aggression of America-Israel.

The reasons for which socialists may find an affinity between their own project and Hezbollah's is obvious if one subscribes to this account of events. But Daniel at Different Maps disputes the validity and strategic wisdom of making such a close affiliation with the Party of God. He draws out the dangers:
"Communism cannot offer ideological support to political Islam, without simultaenously effecting to castrate itself in the process. Political Islam ultimately holds to a universalist vision of society fundamentally hostile to Communist ideals."
The question, then, is this. Does Hezbollah's role as a figure of resistance provide sufficient justification for us to stand by it, even though its wider political program is largely antithetical to ours? Even though it is not always wise, but submits to the tit-for-tat imperative and blindly launches rockets into civilian areas?* Can we support Hezbollah simply because it is an agent that resists, and then disregard any other features of this agent?

Or is it the case that the downtrodden left is drawn merely to any example that it can find of resistance, simply because it is so much at a loss for figures of hope? (Discussion in the comments section of another Different Maps post suggests that George Galloway might provide another such compromising figure of "swaggering" anti-US virility.) Do we imagine that against this Goliath, any small boy with a sling and a rock will do?

Ultimately, this is not a question about Hezbollah at all. It is one about ourselves and the places to and reasons for which we look, not only for hope, but in order to conceive of the project that we must take up. It is about not only the methods that we choose, but also the very task that is at hand.

The fast and uncritical embrace of Hezbollah can serve as a trap for our imagination, causing us to be content with a solely reactive role in world politics. After all, to embrace Hezbullah, merely because they are fighting against that which we have determined to be bad, is slave morality par excellence. There is every chance, I feel, that we prejudge the fight and make it always already unwinnable by aligning ourselves with groups, based only on the criteria that they fight against 'a common enemy'.

Socialists must fight, but only after reconceiving the battle.

Daniel closes his post with the following statement:
"Since 9/11 the European left has been lurching confusedly from crisis to crisis, and failing to develop any significant political momentum. The reason for this simple - it has been fighting the wrong war, and in the wrong way. Politically esnared within an analytic scenario of an imaginary force against a fantastic object, it has accordingly found itself incapable of delivering anything more than a hysterical moralistic critique, when what has been needed is a true political critique - subtle, cool and mature enough as to be able locate precisely the various, and very real social points, at which we are ourselves complicit in what we would attack. Only in this way can we seriously hope to stop anything at all."

In other words, the problem may lie precisely in the fact that we are looking to figures of national resistance in the first place.

"... it takes courage to say the truth about oneself, the defeated. Many who are persecuted lose the ability to recognise their flaws. To them persecution seems the greatest injustice. The persecutors are, by definition, the bad guys; they, the persecuted, are persecuted because of their goodness. But this goodness has been beaten, defeated and frustrated, and so it was a weak goodness, a poor, unsustainable, unreliable goodness; for it won't do to grant goodness its weakness, like rain its wetness. To say that the good were defeated, not because they were good, but because they were weak, that takes courage."
- Bertolt Brecht, "Five Difficulties In Writing The Truth"

* (Draw me into no debates about 'proportionality' on this. Obviously Israel has been far-and-above the most amoral, barbaric destroyer of innocent civilian life. This goes without question, but does not, to my mind, make Hezbullah's launching of rockets into civilian areas for its own sake a smart move. One must give the Israeli propaganda machine nothing. There is almost never, if ever, justification, either moral or strategic, for the destruction of civilian targets and life. Lenin's Tomb disputes the claim that Hezbollah's targets were civilian and blindly chosen, I might add.)
Rationalised Contentment

Mark k-punk writes on the reflexive impotence that characterises the attitude of British youth. They are not merely apathetic or cynical about the state of the world, he writes, as
"they know things are bad, but more than that, they know they can't do anything about it. But that 'knowledge', that reflexivity, is not a passive observation of an already existing state of affairs. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. And guess what? They probably know that too."

I have been wondering what sort of worldview would account for the apparent apathy that exists amongst middle-class Australians. To engender any sort of passionate engagement or concern in conversation with these resigned people often feels like a battle not just lost, but taken up rudely, at the wrong time, when really, one shouldn't be so vulgar and naive as to talk about these things, when after all, it is abundantly clear - is it not? - that
  1. everyone is self-interested, caring only about interest rates and the daily grind;
  2. we can't do anything, because this is just a game played by politicians, and they are only interested in power;
  3. it has always been like this, there is no alternative.
If this is the doctrine - and I believe it is - then obviously it is - like reflexive impotence - a self-fulfilling prophecy. It needs a greater sophistication and development of analysis, however. We need to know how it interacts with outer-suburban hedonism, with Sunrise, talkback/breakfast radio, The Biggest Loser and The mX - and other key nodes of Australian culture.

And a name for this ideology? 'Rationalised contentment'. For if we were naturally happy, then we would not need to remark so much on why it is that we are content. The Australian middle-class does not merely justify being content. It seeks to justify the very assertion, that it is content. Desperately. Again and again. Because I'm in a good place right now, you know? I am happy being single / in a non-monogamous relationship / working casually / being a mother / being a working mother / being a stay-at-home mum / with a new career / playing the dating game / renting / with my body / just being me / ...

More to come...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Here is an interview with British Respect MP George Galloway, as shown on Rupert Murdoch's Skye News. It's quite remarkable - Galloway doesn't hold back at all in pointing out the biases of the questions given to him. This guy has a steely nerve. If only Lateline was more like this! Or Sunrise or 60 Minutes, as would be the more appropriate comparisons.

I saw this film yesterday as part of the Film Festival. It exceeded my expectations by far.

Valuable lessons - Žižek's statement on what philosophy provides, that it is not playing with discussion of absolutes that we know we can never reach, some search for 'Truth'. Rather, to his mind, it is a re-staging of questions. (So - to pose a question pertinent to my own present situation: 'what does it mean to be politically engaged?')

Žižek stated himself that he considers his most interesting or important work to be the first few 'big books' that he put out - I forget the exact list, but they included The Ticklish Subject, The Parallax View - whereas all the rest is just 'little bits'. This statement gives some perspective to the perception that I have often heard in web discussions about Žižek's work, that he 'increasingly disappoints' by putting out fluff and re-workings / cut-and-pastings of his own jokes. But just as telling is his statement that he wishes to perform some sort of academic suicide in the public eye. I wonder to what extent his in-your-face rehash tendencies could be considered in this light.

Žižek stated that he sees his role as that of a sort of analyst, thwarting the expectations of those who would approach him as a political sage with all the answers. He seeks to prompt his audiences to re-examine the assumptions and desires with which they went to him.

I must admit that a personal highlight of the film for me was the analysis/interpretation that Zizek performed upon the toy-town that his son had left set up in his apartment. Specifically, Žižek pointing to the feminine power that had been established: there was female Lego sentinel set up on a tower, watching over the other toys. His son had given this female sentinel a companion to keep her company, as he didn't want her to be lonely. There was a "natural lesbian progression" at work in this, Žižek observed.

This produced the best sort of laughter in me - one in which the tone of the joke is not merely personal, merely intellectual, but both at once - laughter at the joyful recognition of truth. I wanted to hug Žižek! But of course, I would never dream of doing this really. At one of the conferences, a fan really did give Žižek a hug, and it was this - more than Žižek's monstrous, sweaty appearance, more than any reference to shit - that was the most abject part of the film, and the only part in which I cringed.

The other most valuable lesson of the film was, of course, the violence of love. A favourite topic of mine.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Holy Shit

From The Age:

"Two satellite images show the same area of Beirut before and after Israeli bombardment. The image on the left was taken July 12, and the image on the right was taken July 31."
All I really want to do is listen to The Blue Nile's "The Downtown Lights" over and over again. The song is so sad, yet so beautiful - its pain is made into joy. Of late my penchant for 'pop songs at the abyss' (thanks Tim) has been hindered by my finding many songs too genuinely affecting. Girls Aloud's "Whole Lotta History", Gwen Stefani's "Cool"... The sentiments are sometimes just too accurate. So I listened to dubstep for awhile. Gentle, welcoming, emotionless dubstep. But I may be coming back to pop.

Sometimes I consider commencing my Honours year instantly, just to give myself something more interesting to make chit-chat about in boring conversations with strangers. For similar reasons, I decided against doing a subject on Ecofeminism when I was in third year. It seemed too much to explain. People might think that I wear biodegradable sanitary pads or something.

Aah. The downtown lights...

On High Rotation

Pet Shop Boys - Flamboyant (Michael Mayer Kompakt Mix)
Kym Mazelle - Young Hearts Run Free (now, let's not start reading this biographically)
Cassie - Me & U
Pinch - Qawwali
Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah (yes, the Finnish entry from Eurovision '06: Middle Earth trolls sing Spinal Tap-esque glam rock)
Beyonce - Deja Vu (almost 'too funky' - but it's grown on me. Good thing someone let the fire hyrdrant loose on Beyonce before she went kaboom at the end)
Luomo - The Present Lover
The Event - Boys (I'm going to make this stupid thing work if it kills me)
The Smiths - Bigmouth Strikes Again
Skream - 0800 Dub
Roisin Murphy - If We're In Love

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Don't worry - I fixed the glaring typo on the poster below before printing. Leaving out the 'w' in 'Brunswick', so that it became 'Brun - sick': a Freudian slip that reveals my repressed inner-eastern suburban disdain for actual, you know, workers, and people of ethnic origin, naturally. As my sister said when I told her this: "Oh, you have got to try this! Goat's cheese and pear [darling]."*

Putting together flyers in the old-fashioned way is quite good fun. 'Satisfying' would be the better word, actually. Ending up with a tangible block of bold, well-designed slips.** Not to mention the process of putting things through the guillotine. That's what the distribution of information on the internet misses out on: putting your hands on things, seeing them in a delimited way. And then devoting hours to travelling time... Printing requiring leg work, for better or worse.

It's a pity the ISO - and indeed most Socialist groups around these parts - aren't more, well, cyber. Selling print newspapers and giving out photocopied flyers: I mean, sure it's valuable to get out of one's 'comfort zone' (ugh what a phrase, its horror could never be constrained, no matter how many quotation marks I use) and be present in the city or, er, Carlton, lest someone wants to know more. But by and large, the truth should be told, that I think we look both silly and implausible when standing around like this. Petitions and rallies and shouting and ... It seems so freaking old-fashioned and inefficient. And 19th century. And reactionary. Best to treat it like compulsory school dancing classes, I think: learning to dance was never the actual aim, merely something the school pretended we were doing while they knew all along that it was the bonds that came from the exercise that were important.

My ideal revolutionary army, were I to found one, would of course look something like this:

* The 'darling' was silent, but present all the same.

** The credit for the design does not lie only with me, I might add - I had the help of a certain Melbourne University Art History student, who shall remain nameless.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I think my post of last night could best be summarised with the phrase: I need to read more. You know how the stomach will eventually begin digesting the body's own organs if it isn't fed? My brain works in a similar way. When I neglect to give my mind new and difficult things to process, it soon turns upon itself, tearing into every facet that I can perceive of my personality. Its critical faculties must munch on something, even if the only thing on the menu is itself. It is not long before it effectively starts eating its own excrement: that is, it begins criticising the very fact of my being self-critical. So. Some Jelinek reading is in order. Mmm, Jelinek.

Stupid super-ego. Silly aggressive death-instincts, freed by the dissolution of my Oedipus complex. If I had one at all, that is. You know the drill - women never developing a conscience because they were never threatened with the removal of their phallus. Ho-hum.

(I challenge The Age's his-and-hers blogs to cover that!)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Of late I have often been assuring my friends, "don't worry, I'm not that sort of socialist."

But now I'm starting to worry. Perhaps I am that sort! I am hard-pressed to recall why I joined the ISO earlier in the year. Or to give an account of why being part of a socialist group is my answer to my internal imperative to "get political, political, I wanna get political, let's get political..." Those times that I have attempted to sell Socialist Workers, for instance, I have wanted to wear a big badge saying 'I'm Skeptical'. But then what good would my skepticism do? Certainly none for my image, if this is what I am worried about.

Was I really so swept away by the thought of the glamour of reading and discussing Lukács with people who want to draw practical lessons from these texts? And apply them? Was it all about the card and the gesture of taking a stand?

None of which stops me, of course, from giving a talk / hosting a forum thingo with 'these people' (she says, distancing herself from the group of which she is part) in a few weeks, entitled "'You can't change anything except the channel!' The Australian media and the production of political apathy." Unfortunately, at this stage that title is just about all that I have. Hmm. Maybe I have become (or 'am'?) one of those people that I used to lambast - those that speak about things that they know nothing about. Well. There's only one thing to do about that, isn't there? I need to read!

Which is, of course, why I am posting on my blog. Er...