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"THE MALADY OF WRITING. Modernism You Can Dance To" podcast


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"THE MALADY OF WRITING. Modernism You Can Dance To", a podcast by Kenneth Goldsmith


Link: http://bit.ly/evpby0

Related info: http://bit.ly/aW3935

MP3: http://bit.ly/bYieIX

Transcript: http://bit.ly/feGu9k



Mark Klienberg's proposition: "Could there be someone capable of writing a science-fiction thriller based on the intention of presenting an alternative interpretation of modernist art that is readable and appreciated by the wider public?" has actually been answered affirmatively in a certain undercurrent of artist's audio production over the past century; let's call it an unofficial unofficial history of modernism (doubly unofficial since artist's audio production has been viewed as secondary to the their plastic / marketable production). Who knew, for example, that Jean Dubuffet released several albums of musique concrete? Or that Alfred Jarry wrote and performed bawdy drinking songs? Or that Salvador Dalí recorded an homage to money that was used as an advertisement for a commercial bank? Or that Joseph Beuys fronted a New Wave band and belted out pop songs against nuclear power? All of these artifacts are remarkably easy to love: the problem is that the general public never knew about them.


I'd like to propose an audio companion to http://The Malady of Writing that actualizes Klienberg's proposition in sound; one that presents a pleasurable, humorous and fun version of modernism: call it "modernism you can dance to." But this is serious business. If we can seize upon the notion of guilty pleasures in midst of modernism – a place which disdained such gestures – we may be able to unfurl a secret thread which may help to shed a new light on contemporary gestures. Somehow, if we understand how The Beatles detourned Stockhausen's tape music into "Revolution No. 9," we might be get a glimpse into what Sue Tompkins was thinking when she sings the chorus of The Beach Boys "God Only Knows" again and again for ten minutes straight; or why Seth Price would string together hours of New Jack Swing – a genre of music so unloved that it's practically been written out of the history books. Guilty pleasures, reclamation, resurrection and recontextualization are key to understanding these phenomena. But why now? One of the first things that struck me about Napster was how impure (read: eclectic) people's tastes were. Whilst browsing another user's files, I was stunned to find John Cage MP3s snuggled up next to, say, Mariah Carey files in the same directory. Everyone has guilty pleasures, however, never before have they been so exposed – and celebrated.


Impurity and guilty pleasures, as viewed through the lens of the historic avant-garde: If there's one thing that recent revisionist history has done, it's been to bring historically marginalized figures into front and center. One of the best examples of this might be the resurrected reputation of filmmaker Jack Smith, who, upon his death in 1989, was deemed "eccentric," "queer," and "frivolous." Today, of course, Smith occupies a central position in the cultural discourse on so many levels. It's this sort of transmigration I'm interested in: work that challenges its received histories and genres, and by doing so, speaks directly to our sense of the present, ruled by the constructive chaos of decentralized horizontal media, as well as the celebration of notions like "incorrectness" and "uncreativity," the rise of the "outsider", the canonization of the underdog.


And humor. And narrative. Remember that Gertrude Stein, for all her kudos went – and continues to go – pretty much unread. Her high modernist writing is great to talk about but nearly impossible to read. What made Gertrude Stein a household name? It wasn't her poetry. It was her wildly readable memoir of her fascinating life, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklass. Had Stein not written pleasurably, today most of us would never know who she is. There may be something to this after all...




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