Saturday, January 12, 2008

the beauty of speed

judith butler argues that gender is a performance. there are all these attitudes, acts, gestures and behaviors that a body adopts to appear normal. there is a broad set of acts that culturally constitute normal maleness and another set for normal femaleness. what counts is our ability to perform these roles correctly. these acts, however, are only "expressions of the political structures of a certain culture at a certain phase in its history" even though they are represented (culturally, religiously and/or scientifically) as normal and inevitable. failure to correctly perform gender roles can lead to isolation, harassment, violence, rape and even death. yet we all fail, at times, in our gender(ed) performances. could this be a kind of natural resistance to the artificiality of gender?

if our notions of gender are artificial productions of institutions that need individual subjects to perform these roles correctly as a strategy of (self)regulation and institutional power retention, what are we to do? expose gender as a fake through subversion.

i've been thinking a lot about love songs lately. or rather, i've been thinking about love songs that challenge the conventions of the love song. and since this blog appears to now temporarily function as a music/dating (or a dating-music) blog, i'll use it to ramble on about some unfocused thoughts on love songs.

but first i want to undermine (in my own way) good taste. ask any of my friends or family and they'll tell you that i don't believe (1) in any kind of transcendent aesthetics (meaning that i don't think any piece of art, and i include nearly everything in my definition of art, is objectively good or bad) and (2) we don't choose what we like but rather like the music we like for a million reasons we're usually not even conscious of from status-markers to identification with certain sub-cultures to nostalgic triggers.

back to love songs.

i have an idea to make a modern, serious dating is dead mix-tape. (i actually mean a mix cd or ipod playlist but i think we all understand that mix-tapes rarely are tapes now-a-days.) it would be full of the kind of love songs i respond to: odd, disjointed, full of strange metaphors for love and sex, sarcastic, hopeless while hopeful and noisy. i'm work-shopping it now and will be happy to distribute this future mix-tape to any readers and/or contributors of this blog. but i am sure that most of you will hate it.

two songs that i know will make the cut: "collide" by beat happening and "some candy talking" by the jesus and mary chain.

above is beat happening probably playing a show in someone's house. but don't let their home-made, minimal, nerdy and naive appearance fool you; they're dead serious. their music might be low-fi, fey and child-like (in the best possible way) but their lyrics are dark and complex dripping with sex and violence. "collide," for instance, is about sex and nothing else. collide becomes a euphemism for sex that's repeated over and over and over throughout the song broken up by snippets of even sexier lyrics like "you're lying there," or "take off your shirt" or "you earthquake all over me." but you never realize just how much sex is the song because the music is so simple and sweet.

and that's the jesus and mary chain. as you can see, they're all about haircuts. a lot of people think "some candy talking" is about heroin, but if it is, it's probably the second best love song about heroin (the first being the velvet underground's "heroin"). but love and drugs seem related anyway. i like it because it's all feedback and white noise with this pretty melody talking about liking the way she's walking and talking.


natali said...

i love the idea of a mixed tape for the blog! good idea brian. i am sure whatever you come up with will be perfect. maybe if anyone wants a copy they can email at the blog's email address.

emily said...

love and drugs set off all the same chemical reactions in the brain.

there are studies where people from vastly different cultures all rate famous works of art in the same way; i.e. there might be some (perhaps biological?) objective aesthetic standards.

brian said...

so does running. and probably it's the same for religious experiences. so it's all the same: love, drugs, church and running.

emily said...

and pooping

brian said...

about biological aesthetic standards, do you mean like people naturally prefer savanna type sceneries because for most of our evolutionary history, that where we lived? i can agree with something like that. but i doubt if it's possible to prove that whether the mona lisa is intrinsically or even universally good.