8 January 2011

A few short notes on a failing revolution.

What our governments are doing is wrong. But what our protestors, our supposed freedom fighters are doing is stupid. 
New products are sold to millions through advertising; and new ideas are sold to millions through advertising. The advanced capitalist system we live is not the same system that Marx wrote about in Capital. Socialists must begin to divert their brainpower to working out how their ideals exist within a context of this new world. The European working classes are not physically repressed; they will not rise up in glorious revolution against their oppressors. The working classes (if that term can even be used any more) are placated by this system; they are made content at the expense of ideology or belief. These people accept things that look nice and resist things that look ugly.  Our freedom fighters look ugly. They are resisted; not by police officers in body armour, but the minds of their countrymen. This fight is not against oppressors but against depressors.
You can only alter advanced capitalist systems where most people are happy through one of two ways:
a.     Civil War
b.     Advertising
Resistance, and unarmed protest cannot work in any meaningful way. The associations of such actions to the eyes of the multitude are inherently negative; irrespective of cause or intention. Systems must be gradually and intelligently manipulated or obliterated. This is the history of our nation; this is the binary state of existence in the modern age.
The danger with the first option, that of civil war, is of simple psychology; those capable of overcoming governments and nations, of destroying systems, have been proven repeatedly through out history to be both incapable of ruling in times of peace and incapable of giving up power. The force of will it takes to kill your way through your country, to separate families, kill men women and children seem to always leave scars that make it impossible to stop killing. This journey towards freedom seems only to end in tyranny.
The danger with the second option is no one has really tried to do it. That’s not to say that no one has ever thought to use advertising to sell political ideology; it is of course the benchmark tactic in any election. Normally however it used to sell benign differences to an apathetic public than skip to the back page of the newspaper or turn the channel over when newsnight comes on the tele. What if the carcophony of talented creatives and thinkers were to put their attentions to using new media to sell the idea of free education and of a return to habeus corpus to the public and politicians with a glossy smile and vast wit? What’s there to loose? Its got to be better than wasting your time “sitting in” and being either ignored or hated by the multitude of ineffectual half wits?

Some slightly incoherent thoughts on Witch House.

Notes on Witch House and a new cultural relativism.

Cosmotropia de Xam
After Hickery proclaimed the demise of postmodernism in 2007 a new relativism has taken centre stage in the West’s culture industries; its roots simultaneous stretching back through history and forward into technological possibility.  This new hauntalogical relativism; a less destructive and infinitely more exciting version of its predecessor; has utilised familiar notions of representation and reimagination to explore and develop conceptually worthy trans-disciplinary trends. Indeed cultural producers’ turn to trans-disciplinary enquiry and modes of production has in itself become both prevailing trend and defining character of this new philosophy.
Nothing better exemplifies this new paradigm than the geographical disparate musical genre that some are calling “Witch House” (also known as “Drag”, “Haunted House” and presumably a few more). This creature has spilled out of a more recent trend of Hypnagogic Pop, that is to say music that:
“[is] primarily a process, a set of tools for interrorgating memory and liberating desire, one that allowed the often hermetic world of underground music to enter into a fantasy dialogue with with consensual memory modes, exploring and often exaggerating the subconscious aspects of late 20th century cultural dreamtime.”
- D Keenan, “Wake Up Call”, pp 43, in The Wire, issue 323, January 2011
However what marks Witch House out from other members of the hypnagogic phenomenon is its more than just a sonic construction; just like punk in the early 1970s was. Witch House is a complete package of cultural production. Its sounds are echoed by its visuals which are echoed by its writings and use of symbols. 
Mater Suspiria Vision working with Cosmotropia de Xam’s video “Holy beast of Bethlehem” exhibits these trans-disciplinary traits perfectly. Notice the use of inverted triangles throughout the piece; a symbol that repeatedly appears throughout Witch House. 

What makes Witch House particularly interesting is that successful way in which it engages with issues and trends from outside of music. In art magazine the past six months has seen a rise in articles exploring the use of spirituality in art and the role of religiosity. The problem with these explorations is they on the whole failed to acknoledge the “play” with these issues in other mediums of cultural production. Witch House as a movement both visually and sonically engage with cultures religiosity and spirituality by both engaging with the ethereal as a visual metaphor for our interaction with our cultural past and through the use of corrupted Christian semiotics. When engaging with witch house material you are both conscious and unconsciously exploring a definition of culture and question your individual as well as society as a whole’s interaction with it.  
“...I don't know if it can be called a 'scene' in the traditional sense of the word, but it seems like there's definitely a growing group of people making aesthetically similar music that people they've never met are calling 'drag'.”
Christopher Dexter Greenspan, who records as oOoOO, speaking to Pitchfork
The interesting thing to note in Greenspan’s quote is his use of the word “aesthetics”, deliberately picked over the usual choice of music related terminology. What he insinuates quite plainly is that Drag artists (as he refers to it) acknowledge that what they do is more than make music; they engage with culture and particularly our memory of it, through multiple disciplines both simultaneously and separately.
Perhaps what we are engaging with is not another musical genre but something more, one of the first cultural genre; something truly hauntalogical; an example of how practitioners (for the term artist along with musician seems obsolete in a new world of trans-disciplinary thought) are beginning to work in new ways; a methodology liberated by technological advancement and free and limitless connectivity via the internet. Perhaps this really is the cusp of the new.  

2 January 2011

Sychotropic Sambo

Some friends have started a Tape Label. Not much there now; it is just the bud before a beautiful flower comes in to bloom.