Wordless soundscape for a Samuel Beckett libretto to Morton Feldman’s Neither: a long track of extreme silences (with intermittent white noise, pops, clickings, and whirrings) punctuated after eighteen minutes by a sounds of a door unbarred, opened, shut, and refortified (three times). The idea of home for the self, or spatial origin and presence (spatial belonging), is a tempting phantasm, but unattainable. Home’s door closes upon approach. No one home, ever, but something (still) stirs: infrasonic refugees.
While others develop, seek out, or endure for a future salvation, what posture should be assumed? The other kinds of engagement build living “nightmares,” ranging from colonization to self-monitoring to sexual quietism. In these “times of terror and pain,” this trax advocates giving in to “temptations” as long (as they last) and stepping on the necks of the “meek.” With so much focus on experience(s), it’s not too much of a stretch to think this will all end badly—with a libertarian bent and superior sneer. There are no border police here, though, and you can “send in” anyone you want to protect hegemony. Being with “fools” and “whores” an antidote to the “torture and fame” of sinning, fueling a life on provisional but indefinitely renewable “dreams.”
An attempt to reclaim “simple” status in response to institutions that produce logical, intellectual, and clinical subjectivities. Desperately seeking a content as last wish: “please tell me who I am.” Acutely aware of state coercion (“watch what you say”), but this is just a cover; reclamation and self-making inherently disciplinary. Thinking the birds are “playfully watching me” is wishful: sun logic.
The “hippie cowboy” strikes where it hurts. While the Kenny Rogers & The First Edition’s later version is more well known, the original’s commitment to both sitar at the beginning and tape manipulation at the end signal that the stakes are a bit different. Any altered state here is premised on a warped negligence; your “mind” should be elsewhere and soaring. Just make sure to check in once in a while: lubricate social relations, follow “sign[s],” and “unwind” as others are wont to do. Testify to the intensity of experience. Make sure that your mind is “broke[n]. And always be packing a spare “you,” since it’s the best you can do on a daily basis (given the legal limits). Be here now and then.
Bobby Fuller Four update, “grinning” this time as the law wins yet again. The “I” self-satisfied and better than ever due to the effort of rebelling, which staves off “growing old.” “I” and “Authority” locked into repetitive game structure. Without a critique of the subject, mere happiness in slavery.
Watching the Foundation for a Better Life’s commercial featuring this trax—a stitched-together series of royalty-free videos, it seems—one probably wouldn’t assume that it’s related to Philip Anshustz, notorious contributor to and advocate for causes aimed at defeating Kyoto Protocol compliance, overturning LGBT rights in Colorado, and an intelligent design think tank (the Discovery Institute). “Focused on our commonalities, not the beliefs that divide us,” the Foundation aims to “share [positive] values.” But it also tiptoes ever so gently onto the ground of Antonio Gramsci’s “good sense,” claiming that even though “people are basically good,” they need a “simple reminder.” Clarkson’s video, comes at this same point from the opposite direction, positing one’s younger self as the avatar of complete faith in the realization of emancipation. The difficulty is figuring out who the oppressors are. Willingly deaf parents ignoring the pleas of a youngster? Exurban/Suburban isolation and a temperate climate? Record company execs and rejection ad infinitum? Don’t be misled, because it’s not about being a victim. Saying “goodbye” to “make a change”—considering business propositions—is the “risk” to be taken in a world that rewards entrepreneurial moxie. Libertarian domination.
Suicide, along with the “ston[ey]” countenance of abusiveness, is an enclosure, locking out all others who “might get in.” In opposition, the “perfect world” wouldn’t demand an accounting of the self or a moral pedagogy of personal responsibility—even “say[ing] goodbye” wouldn’t be necessary. Being “found,” then, involves a self-dispersal.
Sanger’s got nothing on this. Sandwiched between the releases of “Uptown” and “He’s a Rebel“— the transition from lionizing the common, alienated working stiff to affirming the sensitive rebel—Spector’s most unsuccessful single takes dead aim at the foundational violence of the betrothal’s gift: the landed man. Spiraling strings, especially at the song’s center, explain this problematic logic by centering on the “care” which induces the “glad” somnambulance of the “tender” self.
The tour-guide of empire lashes out at those “too high” to “get the job done.” Philosophy becomes moment of violence in the name of a ground/”mortar” and possessive individualism. Self-effacement a ruse and assimilation demanded via shiny, happy piano.
Given the “major malfunction” which was NASA’s Challenger, the breakdown of the subject-object dyad is more like a gross disabler, circulating in finite varieties. The evidence: distorted power chord bass gives voice to dubbish bass roots; “subject-object” repeated in different registers and at different speeds; panning (and sustained) shrieks circle the listener’s head; and precision scratching terminates at the same tonal origin regardless of direction. All mark the tonality of our common “adopt[ion]” which, ultimately, never reaches escape velocity. (Even guns meet this conceptual wall.) A mental atom bomb (depicted on cover) still won’t break the dualism; denying exploration as discovery, the more just breakdown—eluding just more of the same—materializes in the actionable, continual appraisal (and subsequent dissolution) of what’s “here.”