19 July 2005

No(Stalin)gia and the WHATIFS

There is no significance to the title of this post at the moment. Maybe there won't be any by the end of this either. It could go either way.

Oddly vexed by a throwaway comment made by a well-respected, much-loved fellow blogger that went along the (exact) lines of:

"...it helps the cause of validating the blog as a genuine and 'serious' form of publishing."

I was mysteriously thrown into an intellectual anvil. For a Tuesday, that was a pretty tough break.

I realised I'd moved far beyond the initial neurotic, paranoid stage of blogging, as documented back in the cold, hard September of 2004 and entered instead an altogether odder ontology; one perhaps even more neurotic and less easy to abdandon.

The paranoid period lasted what seemed like an eternity - a twitchy, obsessional byway into self-awareness and elasticity - but the calm that followed seemed worth it. I don't even think about looking at my hit counter now; never even crosses my mind to 'google' my blog name or worry about Tofu Hut interviews. The post paranoid period was one of relative calm and contentment while I squirrelled around, nut-gathering for Winter, linking and counter-linking, making clear blogger allies and clear blogger enemies, consolidating my readers and feeling somehow that the 7 or 8 people who regularly contribute/comment are a very easy justification for it's existence: thanks guys n girls. You know who you are...

But then, the above quote came into my left hemisphere - I know it was the left because my left eye was tightly closed and exuding ( Tuesday Night is Chilli-eye Night in our household) - and a new neuroticism started to raise it's head...

I'm calling it the WHATIF? As far as I can see it's a virus and could be heading your way...

WHATIF, now that I'm a blogging STAR (it's delusional from the offset, turning into thought showers later on), someone notices how clever and funny and downright hip I am? WHATIF that someone was powerful and offered me a job?

WHATIF I flipped from neon-nerd to music journalist overnight... got into gigs free (still have to find babysitters), got sent free music (I do get sent quite a lot but most of it is just awful: you see it dotted around the web: chancers sending out the same crap to everyone and hoping for the best), got to hang around on tour buses with, er, Animal Collective or Lau Nau or Razorlight or something?

WHATIF, with a little more care and consideration, a little more research and commitment on my part, a little more focus I could really start to generate something, start a ball rolling that would collect praise like a snowball collects Beano characters in Xmas Annuals?

WHATIF I could reign in these slewed similes and start actually saying somehting without winking? WHATIF I could manage that?

Just a little more effort...

Just a scratch...

A little editing here and there, a tweak in the register, a painted frown. Fuck, WHATIF I'm just around the corner from unbridled riches and fame?

The virus is eating away but I'm going to kill it tonight. This is part of the solution; a Stalinist purge, a purification ritual worthy of Torquemada.

X-((X))-Y-)/0-I X(9+0) <{I-0} 0-I/(-Y-((X))-X

Because blogging isn't a 'serious' medium, it's hardly even 'genuine' - I'm not me in here and I hope like hell that you're not you.

The beauty of the MP3/Music Blog is that it echoes the fanzine nonsense of the 70s and 80s - it glorifies the inept and the cack-handed, the subjective and the sublimated; it is the opposite of seriousness and all the better for it. It helps you realise that information is not sacred; that you are no better or worse off taking a review from one of the bloggers than the Observer Music Magazine or The NME or The Wire (which doesn't really review at all now - just aims a word horde and unleashes).

Music is fascinating not because of how it folds up information but in how it generates multi-level reactions which are felt/thought more or less instantaneously and seldom deviated from. Books take time to digest, art needs to be appreciated, music can be understood on gut and intellectual levels in lightning speeds and thus the debate can be OUT THERE (i.e. wrapped around the gills of DISSENSUS etc) in moments.

A debate can be registed and updated with one listen.

MP3 Blogging then has allowed a re-emergence of the fanzine/C90 tape fun n frolics of my youth - swapping compilation CDRs with blog friends generates a tremendous (slightly pathetic, I'll admit) sense of excitement which must relate to layers of submerged nostalgia... and the obsessive reading of what other (normal) people have to say about music must surely relate to that feeling of sadness I feel in the pit of my stomach when i realise my life is made up of other things than hanging around friends' bedrooms swapping New Beat records and Foetus 12"s.

Discussing the Whitehouse Tit Pulp / Right to Kill 7" would make me happy and I'm only now beginning to understand why.

Music Blogging will never get properly 'recognised' (at least in the media sense) because it simply fills in the gaps where friends ought to be; rightly it should be regarded as a form of social interaction not of journalism. It's not a new media at all, it's a new form of social discourse.

Fanzine writing was the same: a loners call to arms, a plea for a speck of humanity outside the bubble of everyday... a mating call not an analytical discourse of depth and genre...

Blogging will never be taken seriously because it allows tired Sad Dads (they are mostly men) whose daily lives are not generally punctuated by discussions on Post-Rock or "your second favourite Prog year" access to others, almost all of which really out to be sent out to the glue factory by now and, besides, ought to know better ... (i.e. ought to have ditched this childish fixation for noise and pop and replaced it with childish fixations on cars that make noise and pop)

But, but...

WHATIF someone from The Wire of The Face or ID came along and said: "Gee, I just love that subjectivity essence thing you got going..."

I think I'm beginning to understand how this Blog got it's name...


GTTRBRKZ said...

In retrospect I think my comment was inaccurate. It was more a feeling that it validated blogging as A Worthwhile Thing To Do. Sometimes I wonder why the hell I spend so much time blogging (or thinking about blogging) when my time could be used more productively. The fact that artists I admire have been drawn to it helps reinforce my resolve to continue (and you'd be surprised how often I fantasize about giving it all up - I've composed the big 'good-bye' post on several occasions)!). I get sent links to loads of useless MP3s too, by people who obviously haven't read the blog, cos otherwise they'd know I wouldn't be interested in their drivel. But...just today the postman handed me a surprise package containing two beautiful slabs of vinyl - Collapse Of The Wave Function Vols. 4 & 5, release date 1st Aug. - personally sent to me by their creator Ed DMX. This would have been unthinkable a year ago - who says blogging can't be serious?

GTTRBRKZ said...

Poor turn of phrase again there. I meant "Who says blogging can't be taken seriously".

Simon said...

>it should be regarded as a form >of social interaction not of >journalism. It's not a new media >at all, it's a new form of >social discourse

i feel what you're saying but the fact is you're not "saying" it, you're writing it -- and as byproduct of whatever it is that blogging is in essence, it can generate fantastic prose. like your post today. so it's like some weird inbetween thing between speech and writing, chitchat and criticism.

it is funny how there's so many bloggers who are dads, i think blogging must function--as you say--as a kind of cordoned-off zone of adolescence. a retardo-space you can just drop into and then return to your parental/professional duties. for me it's that, but also a kind of conservation-zone of old-style music-writing of the kind i could get away with in Melody Maker but is almost impossible to squeeze into current media formats


hector2332@hotmail.com said...

Nice post. I always thought that was what music blogs were. Updated fanzines for a slightly older set. The endless gossiping and explosive thrill of a new discovery are what bring me back to my favorite writers.

I have given up on most music magazines as overly self important, while the blogs keep me coming back day after day. Geeta's blog the original soundtrack is probably my current fave simply because she expresses herself so simply there. Instant identification with the writer without the tired tropes of magazine writing is definitely where its at.

Chris Bohn said...

Gee, I just love that subjectivity essence thing you got going...

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