Saturday, June 30, 2007

terrific contribution from the terrifyingly erudite Owen at Sit down Man You're A Bloody Tragedy to the emerging intellectual archaeology of POPism

i suppose that on a rather different and far humbler level you could trace a sort of anti-intellectual archaeology to Popism, taking in The Modern Review (what was its slogan? something like "talking smart about stupid stuff"? "taking dumb trash seriously"? it was much snappier than that), and John Carey’s
The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939
... both of these not real-deal anti-intellectualism so much as faux-anti-intellectualism, a kind of pretend-philistinism/siding with the Common Man impulse that anticipated the more recent attempt to de-guilt our guilty pleasures ("come offit you don't really enjoy films with subtitles and reading alain robbe grillet do you? be honest you'd rather watch Batman etc)... a sort of English cut-the-crap/puncture-the-humbug homegrown version of Bourdieu's ideas that aesthetics is all about snobbery and shoring up cultural capital and feeling superior

coming from a different place but vaguely connected is the level-all-distinctions-all-hierarchies impulse underpinning Richard Meltzer’s Gulcher : Post-Rock Cultural Pluralism in America (1649-1993), taking seriously the lowly and trivial detritus (pro wrestling, bottle caps) of mass/trash culture in an almost sort of Americanized Barthes (Mythologies mode, anyway) style, except i don't mean style cos the actual writing style couldn't be further from Barthes, being this sort of quasi-colloquial bleary rambling "unwritten" anti-style that's way-way-WAT more contrived and posed than trying to write elegant and proper-like (and itself constitutes a forced/false rhetoric of down-with-ordinary-joe-schmoe-ness)(noting here en passant that Meltzer is hero/anxiety-of-influence-perpetual-agonist #1 vis-a-vis Poptimist godfather Frank Kogan)

Back to Owen, who points out that, “the important point, for a rationalist theory of Pop, is the maintenance of the critical”--pointedly distinguishing itself from my own decidedly irrationalist pop aesthetic, currently at the development stage, but which would probably replace the word "critical" in that sentence with "convulsive"....

more, later...

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