Archive | November, 2010

J.S.M. FTW

25 Nov

Was reading Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill and came across this passage:

 

Few human creatures would consent to be changed into any of the lower animals, for a promise of the fullest allowance of a beast’s pleasures; no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool, no instructed person would be an ignoramus, no person of feeling and conscience would be selfish and base, even though they should be persuaded that the fool, the dunce, or the rascal is better satisfied with his lot than they are with theirs. They would not resign what they possess more than he for the most complete satisfaction of all the desires which they have in common with him. If they ever fancy they would, it is only in cases of unhappiness so extreme, that to escape from it they would exchange their lot for almost any other, however undesirable in their own eyes. A being of higher faculties requires more to make him happy, is capable probably of more acute suffering, and certainly accessible to it at more points, than one of an inferior type; but in spite of these liabilities, he can never really wish to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence. We may give what explanation we please of this unwillingness; we may attribute it to pride, a name which is given indiscriminately to some of the most and to some of the least estimable feelings of which mankind are capable: we may refer it to the love of liberty and personal independence, an appeal to which was with the Stoics one of the most effective means for the inculcation of it; to the love of power, or to the love of excitement, both of which do really enter into and contribute to it: but its most appropriate appellation is a sense of dignity, which all human beings possess in one form or other, and in some, though by no means in exact, proportion to their higher faculties, and which is so essential a part of the happiness of those in whom it is strong, that nothing which conflicts with it could be, otherwise than momentarily, an object of desire to them.

Whoever supposes that this preference takes place at a sacrifice of happiness- that the superior being, in anything like equal circumstances, is not happier than the inferior- confounds the two very different ideas, of happiness, and content. It is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low, has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied; and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect. But he can learn to bear its imperfections, if they are at all bearable; and they will not make him envy the being who is indeed unconscious of the imperfections, but only because he feels not at all the good which those imperfections qualify. It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.”


Context for my music

15 Nov

From here.

“and what i studied in college was economics and when i am not reading about music i am mostly reading about the economy, except sometimes i can’t bear to read about it anymore because there is this pervasive sense of hopelessness about it and we are living through a rare occasion in economic history when mainstream economists and wackjob economists are in agreement about America’s economic present and short-term future. Kim Jong-Il’s speeches about North Korea’s wildly prosperous economy sound preposterous and the rest of the world laughs at him because his people are starving, but it’s harder to laugh when are own leaders are making the same speeches and people here are starving (“new york city’s 1.7 million recipients of food stamps”). and so i guess it is intuitive to think that american independent music, made and received in the context of a collapsing economy, is a product of a similar escapism

and there’s a general understanding among economists, and this might be true among scholars in other fields too (about their respective disciplines) but i didn’t study other fields so i don’t know, that history can be accurately understood through an economic lens and almost any mass idea or action can be tied to a parallel circumstance in the economy and there are superficial circumstances that are put forth as explanations for these ideas or actions but if you dig deep enough, or sometimes you don’t even have to dig that deep, there’s an economic motivation to explain anything. wars, art movements, political movements, trends in mass psychology, etc etc etc. there are aesthetic changes that shroud economic changes, you know, “cash rules everything around me”

and sometimes i read Pitchfork reviews for chillwave records or witch house records and think of how often they review a record and use words like “amniotic”, “womblike”, or “womb” to describe it — it’s like pretty much all the time right? five or ten years ago every other twentysomething wasn’t making hazy, woozy, droney, “womblike music”. there was no band called Baths and no crop of hundreds of projects that sound like washed out. but suddenly there are multiple micro-movements that sound like nosedives back into the uterus, “amniotic”, because the world has gotten too hopeless and terrifying to handle. two years ago bands like toro y moi (age 23) and baths (age 21) and the hundreds of other projects that sound like that might have been (or were) on the beach, because two years ago it seemed like the economy might recover soon and the beach was a fun place to wait it out or escape it temporarily. now they’re crawling back into bed or getting into the bath

and missing the idea that chillwave and its siblings are the product of a collapsing economy and the instinct to escape it, and the effect the economy is having on the first generation of kids to have it worse than their parents, kids who graduate prestigious schools and wind up working at the supermarket, kids who have no hope of making a decent living as a musician for very long if at all, is like thinking that citizen kane is a movie about a sled and animal farm is a book about some talking animals. every music writer that has written about chillwave and neglected to understand this just failed the kids who make it. chillwave is an economic phenomenon, and it’s the sound of kids who are long past anger and frustration and defiance

after the japanese economy collapsed in 1991, the country went through what is referred to as “the lost decade” (1991-2000) and the kids who graduated college during that time are known as “the lost generation” because they lived with their parents for an unusually long time before being independent and went through a bunch of other social turmoil associated with chronic unemployment and turned out as semi-functional adults a lot. american economists have been talking about avoiding “the lost decade” since 2008. one of the symptoms of that is “hikikomori” which is a term that refers to “the phenomenon of reclusive people who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation… from various personal and social factors in their lives.” how many chillwave artists are one-man bedroom projects? like almost all of them right? (dave hawke, ernest greene, chaz bundick, will weisenfeld, alan palomo, tom krell, etc etc etc)

and it’s frustrating that the music press considers the sonic choices of bands like Toro Y Moi and Baths in isolation, because that cheapens their ideas and turns chillwave into an aesthetic fad or a trend or a bandwagon instead of a more psychosocially-rooted movement or a communal reaction, a bunch of kids going through the same thing and reacting the same way. and chillwave (and whatever microgenre How To Dress Well is) is resonant because listeners want to get into baths too, you know?”

Re:God

3 Nov

A creationist textbook that reminds us why science shouldn’t be taught in schools:

 

http://i.imgur.com/IWfOC.jpg

AnCo isn’t the Joker

2 Nov
 

 

 

because everyone is constructing an identity at all times, whether or not they even realize it. Mostly because you can sweat almost anything down to this basic biological truth: Culture is a mating ritual. We are looking for ways to differentiate ourselves so as to attract one another. That is the deep dark secret of everything we do. It might be that black and white.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the nuances of these rituals–the etiquettes of modern dating, the long ten-minute build before the drums ever come in, the hundreds of pages of exposition before the plot moves forward. These things are great. I love these things. I live for these things. Mark Richardson lives for these things. Animal Collective live for these things. So many people who like this band clearly live for these things. So many people believe that music still has some ability to be “more than music.“‘

and

‘Recall the Joker from the Dark Knight. There was something so seductive about this man whose only m.o. was “shake things up.” Whose position in any situation was “how I can show that everyone else secretly doesn’t know what their positions are.” Whose goal is to say “Everyone is a phony. No one really likes anything. Everyone is a little too secure and righteous—but I know they’re all really insecure.”

I don’t mean to paint things in binary but there are two basic poles here, with all of us probably falling in between them. You can be open, and vulnerable, and ignorant, and admit to your ignorance, and try to understand your own wiring and ignorance, and come to terms with the fact that you are one complex motherfucker with complex and not exactly logical or objective reasons for liking and loving what you do, but nevertheless still liking and loving the things that you do, or you can be the person who points out that everyone is pretty fucking ignorant, nobody ever has a clue what they’re really doing on this earth, everybody’s reasons are all so screwy, and do so on a daily basis, as a way of masking your own ignorance and insignificance and vulnerability. You can try to know, and own the fact that there are things you do not know, or you can be knowing, and hide your own ignorance with sideways shots of been-there done-that familiarity. You can understand that shit happens and try your best to keep things together and accomplish something against all odds–YOU CAN DANCE, as [Merriweather Post Pavilion] album begins–or you can blow up the hospital just to show everyone that at any moment anywhere, a hospital can blow up for no fucking reason whatsoever.

Hipster Runoff [j]ust like Gawker, HRO won’t stop until we’re all too afraid to do anything, to step on the rug and take a fucking chance, to give a shit. Until we’re all crippled by self-consciousness, and the worry of making a mistake. The targets will get younger and softer until we’re laughing at thirteen year olds and ten year olds and five year olds, how stupid they are, how they embarrass themselves, how they believe they can do things it’s so obvious to the rest of us they just can’t do–so fucking obvious because we know so fucking much.

Don’t you know how important it is to be able to make mistakes? To fuck up with impunity? Why won’t you let my kids be kids? They will be the better for it. And you were too–and I’m so sad you don’t see that. I’m so sad you don’t remember how fucking hard it is, being that age, not knowing fuck-all how anything or anybody works, let alone yourself.

You can’t justify nihilism. There is no justification. Personal opinion. But go ahead hater, bring it. I know you won’t though. Because the second you wash off all the face paint, we’ll all know who you really are: a “failed creative type” just like the rest of us, who gets off pointing out how we’re all failed creative types just so you don’t have to confront your own lack of vision.’

from http://www.riffmarket.com/2009/01/re-hipster-runoffs-animal-collective.html