Monday, May 28, 2012



RetroQuotes

RECENT ADDITIONS / AUGUST 1 2014

"The thing I find strangest and most unsettling about getting older is the sheer weight of memory - unwanted, everyday, melancholic, heavy, strange, like limescale on a filament" - Nina Power, 2014.


"The most powerful influence on the arts in the West is the cinema. Novels, plays and films are filled with references to, quotations from, parodies of -- old movies. They dominate the cultural subconscious because we absorb them in our formative years (as we don't absorb books, for instance); and we see them again on TV when we grow up. The first two generations predominantly nourished on movies are now of an age when they rule the media: and it's already frightening to see how deeply in their behavior -- as well as their work -- the cinema has imprinted itself on them.Nobody took into account the tremendous impact that would be made by the fact that films are permanent and easily accessible from childhood onwards. As the sheer number of films piles up, their influence will increase, until we have a civilization entirely moulded by cinematic values and behavior patterns" - Kenneth Tynan, The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan
 


"Any kind of popular  trend is infinitely more wholesome than listening to old records. It's more important that people know that some kind of pleasure can be derived from things
that are around them - rather than to catalogue more stuff - you can do that
forever; and if people aren't going to have a reason to change, they're never
going to change" – Harry Smith

 “A sense of nostalgia for what never was,‘the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else’ – Pessoa.


 “Real Love” is the latest pseudo Beatles single–constructed, like last year’s “Free as a Bird,” out of a late-’70s John Lennon tape and present-day Paul, George and Ringoisms–and it breaks me in half....  Once, listening to the tune on a bad day, I felt waves of nostalgia sweeping over me like nausea: The feeling was that physical, that irresistible. It was too much. I dug something the poet Robert Hass once said out of the back of my mind, trying to make sense of the moment. Hass was describing himself as a child, discovering a poem by Wallace Stevens: “It made me swoon, and made me understand what the word ‘swoon’ meant. It was the first phys­ical sensation of the truthfulness of a thing that I had ever felt.” “Real Love” felt like that–just like that–just like Hass saying he read the Stevens poem again and again, “exactly the way I lined up for a roller-coaster ride with a dime tight in my fist.” But nostalgia is something like a yearning for that first time, isn’t it? A yearning for something that you probably never experienced, a sentimentalized false memory. Hass was talking about discovery–isn’t nostalgia the opposite? Isn’t it worse: a taste for discovery in ruins, an emotional decadence, the refuge of a crippled soul or an impoverished heart? Hass spoke proudly; isn’t nostalgia embarrassing?”....  But no feeling as strong as the feeling loaded into “Real Love” can be trifled with. Embarrass­ment in the face of a song is the reaction of some­one afraid to say what he or she loves, which changes easily into the willingness to like what you’re supposed to like, to do what you’re told– Greil Marcus, on The Beatles “Real Love”, 1996

“You can’t repeat the past.” I say, “You can’t? What do you mean, you can’t? Of course you can.” --  F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby 

 ‘He is obliged to repeat the repressed material as a contemporary experience, instead of… remembering it as something belonging to the past’-- Freud

“Cultural moments are best defined by how they confront death. Ours seems bent on avoidance altogether. We’re all guilty. We hide from death by nurturing our identities, by curating a near-pointless museum of the self. We cynically, shamelessly, and compulsively consume: images, hopes, shit. We spend our lives filling tombs with mementos that remind us about who we want to be and what we want to be about, hoping all the while that others, equally consumed, might take notice. Perhaps more than any other time in history, to be is to be perceived. But all of that being misses the point: biology remains the singular democratizing fact. It tells us all “no” Max Power

"[Postmodernism]’s progressive endorsement of anti-essentialist multiplicity and perspectivism also replicates the very rhetoric of the late-capitalist marketplace as such" -- Fredric Jameson


Q: What is rock and roll?

A:  "A young man's view of the future...accompanied by an incredible energy."

Q: How do you mean, the future?

A: "The next twenty minutes... the next twenty million years. Just the future."

--- Alex Harvey, interviewed by Charles Shaar Murray, NME, 3 May 1975


"The music you do, some of it is you, but 80 percent of it is a fantasy of other people you liked, or you're sort of expressing your love for what they did....  The whole record collection melts into what you are, hopefully. And that's probably a good idea, to not be too derivative. Everyone has the danger of being really derivative. You can't help it. But if you have enough colors that it just comes out that yucky brown, that's you" – Steve Malkmus




RECENT ADDITIONS / APRIL 8 2014
"I would rather be a bad innovator than a good copyist" - Keith Tippett, 1972

 “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear” - Antonio Gramsci, The Prison Notebooks

"Modernity is often characterized in terms of consciousness of the discontinuity of time: a break with tradition, a feeling of novelty, of vertigo in the face of the passing moment. And this is indeed what Baudelaire seems to be saying [in "The Painter of Modern Life"] when he defines modernity as 'the ephemeral, the fleeting, the contingent.'  But, for him, being modern does not lie in recognizing and accepting this perpetual movement; on the contrary, it lies in adopting a certain attitude with respect to this movement; and this deliberate, difficult attitude consists in recapturing something eternal that is not beyond the present instant, nor behind it, but within it. Modernity is distinct from fashion, which does no more than call into question the course of time; modernity is the attitude that makes it possible to grasp the 'heroic' aspect of the present moment. Modernity is not a phenomenon of sensitivity to the fleeting present; it is the will to 'heroize' the present" -- Michel Foucault, "What Is Enlightenment?", 1978.
  

"Bosch and Brueghel were ahead of their time. They were fighting against enormous odds to make statements that might be seen as sinful. Looking at their pictures, I see these brown and red tones that seem to evoke history and madness at the same time, and I want to commend them for taking this plunge into madness...." -- Ed Ruscha, on his Vienna show 'The Ancients Stole All Our Great Ideas', New Yorker interview, 2013
 "The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather, force them to express themselves. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying"Gilles Deleuze, “Mediators”

"The Dead Past"
The civilizations of the past have been used as the foundation of the civilization of today. Because of this, the world keeps looking toward the past for guidance. Too many people are following the past. In this new space age, this is dangerous. The past is DEAD and those, who are following the past are doomed to die and be like the past. It is no accident that those who die are said to have passed since those who have PASSED are PAST.
liner notes to Sun Ra and his Astro-Infinity Arkestra's Atlantis (1969) by , written by Michael "Dub" Shore
 "... and everybody knows the ‘web’ as it used, quaintly, to be called, exists to contain obscenities or excesses of feeling we don’t know what else to do with.  An accumulation of problems that cannot be solved, of things from the past and undead things with which we live, in these times, perhaps more intimately than any age has ever lived with what is no longer contemporary, what is no longer merely alive, and with what has finally become, more than ever, truly timeless"--Ariana Reines


“Again, while it is a great blessing that a man no longer has to be rich in order to enjoy the masterpieces of the past, for paperbacks, first-rate color reproductions, and stereo-phonograph records have made them available to all but the very poor, this ease of access, if misused — and we do misuse it — can become a curse. We are all of us tempted to read more books, look at more pictures, listen to more music than we can possibly absorb, and the result of such gluttony is not a cultured mind but a consuming one; what it reads, looks at, listens to is immediately forgotten, leaving no more traces behind than yesterday’s newspaper,” – W.H. Auden Secondary Worlds (1967) 

"Modernity" in the perspective of the metaphor of nourishment and digestion.-
"Sensibility immensely more irritable (-dressed up moralistically: the increase in pity-); the abundance of disparate impressions greater than ever: cosmopolitanism in foods, literatures, newspapers, forms, tastes, even landscapes. The tempo of this influx prestissimo; the impressions erase each other; one instinctively resists taking in anything, taking anything deeply, to "digest" anything; a weakening of the power to digest results from this. A kind of adaptation to this flood of impressions takes place: men unlearn spontaneous action, they merely react to stimuli from outside. They spend their strength partly in assimilating things, partly in defense, partly in opposition. Profound weakening of spontaneity: the historian, critic, analyst, the interpreter, the observer, the collector, the reader-all of them reactive talents -all science!
"Artificial change of one's nature into a "mirror"; interested but, as it were, merely epidermically interested; a coolness on principle, a balance, a fixed low temperature closely underneath the thin surface on which warmth, movement, "tempest," and the play of waves are encountered.
"Opposition of external mobility and a certain deep heaviness and weariness." --Friedrich Nietzche, The Will To Power, (Spring-Fall 1887; rev. Spring-Fall 1888)
"CD reissues of unknown gems, and the internet-driven mass availability of everything instantly, mean pop culture's past is growing more rapidly than its present. Our sassiest sons and daughters are beyond our command, foraging far from whatever is drip-fed to them by broadcast media, and digging all manner of cross-generational guff. Your 12-year-old niece thinks that Searching for Sugar Man bloke, who had been working as a builder since 1971 until some hipster doofus put him in an arthouse documentary, is exactly the same as Bob Dylan because she discovered them both, for better or worse, on the same illegal download site, free of any illuminating cultural context or critical commentary.

"I've spent this week listening to a new, commercially available, download of a previously unreleased 1975 album by a lost Chicago metal band called Medusa, rescued from mouldy master-tapes of the group's only session, found abandoned in the drummer's basement, where perhaps they should have stayed. I don't know if I really like First Step Beyond, but it's fascinating to my saturated palate because it shouldn't be here. First Step Beyond's decontextualised Neanderthal heaviness confuses itself and everyone who comes into contact with it, like a caveman in a Disney film who gets transported to 60s suburbia, takes a dump in Mom's Tupperware and wears her diaphragm as a hat. The fact remains, the instant availability of everything ever means I am consuming something that was never aimed at me, from a time and a place I have no connection with, and yet I am nearly enjoying it"-- Stewart Lee, The Guardian, Sunday 3 February 2013


"The fact is, when the period in which a man of talent is condemned to live is dull and stupid, the artist is haunted, perhaps unknown to himself, by a nostalgic yearning for another age.

"He bursts out of the prison of his century and roams about at liberty in another period, with which, as a crowning illusion, he imagines he would have been more in accord.

"In some cases there is a return to past ages, to vanished civilisations, to dead centuries; in others there is a pursuit of dream and fantasy, a more or less vivid vision of a future whose image reproduces, unconsciously and as a result of atavism, that of past epochs"-- J.K. Huysmans,  Against Nature

“I consider it to be post-creation. We're all now just pulling and pulling and pulling.  Someone like Prince was thinking of people in the past, but it didn't feel as funneled and as specific.  We're a bit derivative, unfortunately, and it's not to our detriment always-- but we are direct descendants and there are all these lineages. It's an interesting time for music because people aren't trying to create anything brand new...  Originality is not a thing anymore" -- Amanda Brown on the state of the art in music", May 2011 (interview with me for The Wire cover story on Not Not Fun)

versus

“I think the Simon Reynolds perspective is the least modern attitude one could have toward art. And it’s a little unfortunate that it’s infected so many people’s way of thinking. There’s been almost no era when art hasn’t been hugely about the past – whether reacting to it, recreating it, destroying it. Once in a while, a new piece of actual music technology is invented and for the small window of time after that there is a fresh, truly “new” style. But that’s not the norm, that’s the fluke.... Rockabilly was retromania, Morrissey was retromania” --Amanda Brown, November 2011

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"It's like, 'I've just stumbled across a thing that nobody else has referenced yet'....   Everyone's more inspired by a style, and the desire to be creative. It doesn't mean there isn't emotion in the process.... But it does feel a little divorced. That's why a lot of contemporary styles can have a sheen of irony, because there's not a ton of people really fervently standing behind what they do.  There's no Fugazis anymore"-- Britt Brown, May 2011, (interview with me for The Wire cover story on Not Not Fun)

versus 

 “I think reinterpreting old tropes (whether primitively, abstractly, offensively, surreally) has always been a strategy of artists for moving forward.... Everything's always been referential, we just have more hyperlinks now"--- Britt Brown, date unknown.

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SPECIAL ADAM CURTIS MINI-SECTION!

"All culture always goes back and feeds off the past... but there are two ways of doing it. Either you can go back and get inspiration from the past and create something genuinely new... What bothers me at the moment is that you get a very different sense out of pop culture, which is that it is literally like a form of archaeology. It's going back and rebuilding it almost as a sort of work of art in itself. .. It’s not just in pop music, you get it in a lot of avant-garde art at the moment. There are people going back and making plays based on Fassbinder films of the 1970s, and they're just literally replicating it, and it's very odd. And that's why I was being a bit rude about Savages because, whilst Savages are technically extremely good, and live are extremely powerful, they are a bit like archaeologists from the 1920s, going back and digging up the tomb of Tutankhamen, and laying it all out for you to see, but they’re digging up The Slits, or New Order, or Siouxsie Sioux, and presenting it to us, and that's it.... What I'm really complaining about is a lack of progressive ideas in music. Everything seems to be about just going back and reworking it and it becomes static – sort of like a zombie culture. As I listen to Savages, I have a terrible vision of Siouxsie Sioux coming towards me like a zombie. And nothing will kill that kind of music, because, and this is rude, but what is now called post-punk – that slightly angular stuff that borrowed off punk but took stuff from funk and all sorts of other devices – had its time and had its place. At the moment it’s just being reworked and it doesn't have any meaning to it.

 "Why do you think we’ve got so many zombie movies? It's quite obvious – it's so obvious when you know it – it's because the dead won't go away. We are surrounded by the dead. Okay, The Stone Roses are touring live, but it’s a dead album. There’s a lot of music – like Kurt Cobain and all these people – they’re dead. The Rolling Stones; the music is dead, but it won’t go away. It's constantly replayed to us, and it is like zombie culture. So many things just go back and dig up the bloody grave. I'm sorry, but that's what Savages do."

"All the so-called radical art that was around in the last two Manchester festivals I've been at could have been done in 1919 by Marcel Duchamp. That’s not to say it’s bad, but to pretend that it is somehow a new radical vision of the world is wrong and it's reinforcing what's been around since the early days of modernism.... This idea that somehow art can point the way to the future is not what seems to be happening to me at the moment. Art is stuck in the past, just like music is stuck in the past, and journalism is stuck in the past."

"All these radicals – including myself – we think we are somewhere radical but actually we are deeply, deeply, deeply conservative at the moment. And what has a veneer of radicalism is actually possibly the most conservative force at the moment. By that I mean radical culture, art, music and a lot of radical journalism and radical politics – whilst none of it is bad – its mechanisms, and ways of seeing the world are borrowed from the past and its stuck in the past. It’s stuck with a nostalgia for a radicalism of the past and that’s not the radicalism that’s necessary"
 "It’s quite exciting because you know it can't go on like this. Something is going to come along"

In making this most recent show I’ve begun to actually think about music politically. The thing that fascinates me most is just how stuck music has become. And I love music, I know a lot about pop music, but it is now completely reworking the past, almost archaeologically”--Adam Curtis, talking to FACT  about his collaboration with Massive Attack

I know everyone loves Savages but if you listen to Savages, they are archeologists! They are like those people in pith helmets who used to dig up the bones of Tutankhamun. Savages have gone back to the early 1980s and unearthed a concert of Siouxsie Sioux or The Slits and literally replicated it note for note, tone for tone, emotion for emotion. It’s like some strange curatorial adventure. They’re not new. It’s good to go back into the past and take something and reinterpret it and use it to push into the future but they’re not doing that – they’re like robots.”

Pop music might not be the radical thing we think it is. It might be very good and very exciting and I can dance to it and mope to it, but actually it just keeps on reworking the past. If you continually go back into the past then by definition you can never ever imagine a world that has not existed before. I think true radicalism…comes from the idea of saying this is a world that has never existed before, come with me to it....   Music may actually be dying at the very moment it is everywhere. There comes a moment in any culture where something becomes so ubiquitous and part of everything that it loses its identity. It will remain here to be useful but it won’t take us anywhere or tell us any stories. It won’t die in the sense of not being here but in the sense of not having a meaning beyond itself. It will just be entertainment."


Adam curtis on Mumford and Sons:They are like 18th century squires who ride out on the estate and go on the hovels where their fans live and tell them everything must stay the same. Mumford and Sons are the modern version of “you should know your place”. They’ve gone back to an old cultural folk music – some of which was very radical and a way of challenging power in the world – stripped it of any meaning, and reworked it into this nostalgic thing and put it together with stadium amplification. I can’t bear it, it makes me cry. 
adam curtis on Skrillex: “It’s extreme music which is kind of entertaining but it doesn’t tell you a story. It’s a mood, and to be rude it’s a zombie mood. Things like Skrillex are the remnants of the old music carrying on in a kind of zombie-like exaggerated way. It’s stuck, it’s not going anywhere.”
“The thing about music today is a lot of it is about reorganising the past: going back, plundering – which this technology allows you to do – it, reworking it… It’s a bit like those people who spend their evenings on Flickr naming photographs; there’s a sort of managerialism to the culture of our time, from people who want to preserve it to people who then want to rework it… and there is a sense that culture is like a terminus at a railway station now. Endlessly, railway trains from the past keep on coming in with stuff from the past, which is then reworked, and we’re stuck with that and we’re not moving forward. It could be a reflection, not of the technology, but of the fact that we’ve run out of ideas”


bonus beat: Tendezroman on Savages - 

*Subject to terms and conditions. Savages do not accept responsibility for listeners feeling that they are trapped in a nightmare reality where they are doomed to listen to music that sounds like a carbon copy of music their parents listened to, and that they live on an exhausted husk of a planet which has nothing new or surprising to offer any more. If symptoms persist consult a doctor. Side effects of medication may include but are not limited to: Nausea, loss of appetite, feelings of hopelessness, lack of awareness, dizziness, shallowness of breath, compliance, apathy. 

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"I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones" -  John Cage

“Any kind of popular trend is infinitely more wholesome than listening to old records. It’s more important that people know that some kind of pleasure can be derived from things that are around them—rather than to catalogue more stuff—you can do that forever; and if people aren’t going to have a reason to change, they’re never going to change.”--Harry Smith

“It is a natural enough malaise, this idealized remembering, but should not be encouraged too much. There is no future in the past.”--Noel Coward, from the diaries

"The more memory we store on data banks, the more the past is sucked into the orbit of the present, ready to be called up on the screen.  A sense of historical continuity or, for that matter, discontinuity, both of which depend on a before and an after, gives way to the simultaneity of all times and spaces readily accessible in the present” --Andreas Huyssen

“Well I'm not blown away by much to be honest, although I crave that fix, and that's what drives me to discover music that I haven't heard before, new and old. Most people that make music or DJ have experienced at least one musical movement that embodied an energy that was singular and that inevitably things get measured against, even if you don't listen to that music anymore or make it. Until, that kind of singularity comes that reshapes everything, it all just seems like a fun, but an ultimately transitory mess to get lost in. The point is to create something fresh in the process of getting lost.” - Kode9, aka Steve Goodman

"Eclectic is another word for shit" -V/VM, date unknown 

"The introduction of a new kind of music should be shunned as imperiling the whole state, since styles of music are never disturbed without affecting the most important political institutions"--Plato
 

"New mutations and combinations emerge and are destroyed; seen from the outside, the movement possesses a nervous vitality… intense, almost feverish… It resembles, it seems to me, a snakeskin full of ants. The snake itself is long since dead, eaten out from within, deprived of its poison; but the skin moves, filled with busy life"--Ingmar Bergman,anticipating "hyperstasis" and "the zones of alteration", 1965

"The problem of Web 2.0 music culture, which often gets overlooked in the hype concerning DIY music culture and digital empowerment, as I see it anyway, is how the internet overexposes music culture, breeding and intensifying a kind of fiendish hunger in everyone -- corporate marketing experts, brand consultants, journalists, bloggers and musicians -- to attempt to pre-empt sonic innovation, to get ahead of the curve, so that anything new that happens can be viewed retrospectively, and therefore its shock absorbed. What happens as a consequence is that the time gap between real invention and mass marketing approaches zero, or even inverts. That's why older notions of futurism are so highly problematic in the age of Web 2.0."--Kode9, aka Steve Goodman

"Junkspace is often described as a space of flows, but that is a misnomer; flows depend on disciplined movement, bodies that cohere. Junkspace is a web without spider; although it is an architecture of the masses, each trajectory is strictly unique. Its anarchy is one of the last tangible ways in which we experience freedom. It is a space of collision, a container of atoms, busy, not dense... There is a special way of moving in junkspace, at the same time aimless and purposeful."--Rem Koolhaas


"One thing destroys another, things emerge, develop, and are destroyed,
everywhere is like this... We should always be bringing forth new things.
Otherwise what are we here for? What do we want descendants for?"---Mao

"Everything speeds up, to the point where it slows down"--Kode9, aka Steve Goodman
 
"The end of history will be a very sad time. The struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one's life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism, will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands. In the post-historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history. I can feel in myself, and see in others around me, a powerful nostalgia for the time when history existed. Such nostalgia, in fact, will continue to fuel competition and conflict even in the post-historical world for some time to come. Even though I recognize its inevitability, I have the most ambivalent feelings for the civilization that has been created in Europe since 1945, with its north Atlantic and Asian offshoots. Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again." --Francis Fukuyama, The End of History?  The National Interest. Summer 1989

"These days, in any given seven-day period, you can find plenty of examples of something that historians will one day describe as the key moment when rock, or pop, or whatever in the end you decide to call it, came to an end. The moment will be marked when the vinyl and CD era is truly finished, when there was an anxious retreat into the past, even as the future was taking over, and what I've taken to calling The Aftermath began, when the history of rock and a certain sort of pop culture stretching between Elvis and Lady Gaga had all but dissolved into the internet and turned into something else"-- Paul Morley 

"It could have been mixed 12 years ago and not sounded any different. In fact, if it were mixed 12 years ago, it would be very likely to sound exactly like it does. I've been thinking about this for some time, and I've decided that it really matters. Making a mix from 2000 in 2012... it matters. Well, it may not matter to you. But it matters to me... For me there is something unbearably complacent at work in the decision to make this mix in 2012, and I find it affronting... It's a kind of complacency makes me want to set fire to my records... as if to prove some pyrrhic point about evanescence, memory, or forgetting. This weird over-reverence that makes you want to desecrate things you love and care about... is this how punks felt?" ... The worst thing about the previous decade has been our inability to bury it... The 10 year fucker is undead, monstrous, and keeps on rising, repetitively, to attack us - with a crate full of deep house records"-- PC from mnml ssggs blog

"My purpose was simple: to catch the feel, the pulse of rock, as I had lived through it. Nobody, to my knowledge, had ever written a serious book on the subject, so I had no exemplars to inhibit me. Nor did I have any reference books or research to hand. I simply wrote off the top of my head, whatever and however the spirit moved me. Accuracy didn't seem of prime importance (and the book, as a result, is rife with factual errors). What I was after was guts, and flash, and energy, and speed. Those were the things I'd treasured in the rock I'd loved"--Nik Cohn, 2004 (introduction to reissue of Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom


"What if there really were a new modernity emerging beyond Postmodernism?"-- Nicolas Bourriaud, Frieze magazine

"Why would you want to catalogue everything that exists? The idea of conservation, as the word suggests, has a conservative side to it. And there does come a point where that can step over to conservatism which is very anti the future, anti technology, anti this and anti that. This happens all because the past was supposed to be better. That comes out of desperately trying to preserve phenomenon, that in their nature, slip away, they have no permanence. In a way it’s a desperate quest. I’m not anti-conservation; I’m quite the opposite. I am just wary of some of the attitudes it can generate, which can be very oppressive, and very restrictive. If you are constantly thinking, this has to be documented, this mustn’t disappear, your not actually living in the present, you’re thinking about what you can keep from the past, to save in the future. You’re not actually where you really are"--David Toop (Leftlion interview, 2007)  

“The thing about music today is a lot of it is about reorganising the past: going back, plundering – which this technology allows you to do – it, reworking it… It’s a bit like those people who spend their evenings on Flickr naming photographs; there’s a sort of managerialism to the culture of our time, from people who want to preserve it to people who then want to rework it… and there is a sense that culture is like a terminus at a railway station now. Endlessly, railway trains from the past keep on coming in with stuff from the past, which is then reworked, and we’re stuck with that and we’re not moving forward. It could be a reflection, not of the technology, but of the fact that we’ve run out of ideas”-- Adam Curtis, interview on 6 Music

"The people who are hung up on the Beatles' and the Sixties' dream missed the whole point when the Beatles' and the Sixties' dream became the point. Carrying the Beatles' or the Sixties' dream around all your life is like carrying the Second World War and Glenn Miller around. That's not to say you can't enjoy Glenn Miller or the Beatles, but to live in that dream is the twilight zone. It's not living now. It's an illusion" --John Lennon, Playboy interview January 1981

"The really big news of the Eighties is the stampede to regurgitate mildly camouflaged musical styles of previous decades, in ever shrinking cycles of nostalgia. (It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice--there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork , and the other is nostalgia. When you compute the length of time between The Event and The Nostalgia for the Event, the span seems to be about a year less in each cycle. Eventually within the next quarter of a century, the nostalgia cycles will be so close together that people will not be able to take a step without being nostalgic for the one they just took. At that point, everything stops. Death by Nostalgia."----Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book, 1990



"In the world of glut + bloat, the withheld work of art becomes the only meaningful object"--
--Don DeLlillo, spiral notebook aphorism, Box 38, Folder 1, date unknown



"Time anxiety induces a perverse reaction to recommendations. Links to "must-read" articles or rave reviews of "must-see" box sets make me sigh. Must I? Conversely, if I hate, say, the first episode of a new TV drama I feel a thrill of elation: "Thank God for the Newsroom's smug, self-parodic hokum! I've just saved myself hours." Recently I was a few chapters into Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer (which belongs alongside On the Road and The Magus in a subcategory of Books You Should Read Before You're 18 or Not at All) when I realised I loathed it and could exile it to the charity shop with a clean conscience. It felt great. When I hate something these days I find it liberating rather than disappointing because I like too much"--Dorian Lynskey
 
"As the present can't be transcended, or the future predicted, the past is the only place available to anticipate the 'not yet'. Retro doesn't repeat the past, it redeems it. And, in so doing, it provides a fleeting revelation of tomorrow's possibilities, of things to come…" --Steven Brown (channeling Walter Benjamin) in Marketing: The Retro Revolution, 2001

"The fact is, when the period in which a man of talent is condemend to live is dull and stupid, the artist is haunted, perhaps unknown to himself, by a nostalgic yearning for another age. 

"He bursts out of the prison of his century and roams about at liberty in another period, with which, as a crowning illusion, he imagines he would have been more in accord. 

"In some cases there is a return to past ages, to vanished civilisations, to dead centuries; in others there is a pursuit of dream and fantasy, a more or less vivid vision of a future whose image reproduces, unconsciously and as a result of atavism, that of past epochs"-- J.K. Huysmans,  Against Nature.  


"With my music I try to steal from the future"--Squarepusher, Electronic Beats Magazine, 2012


 “Genius is an African who dreams up snow” -- Vladimir Nabokov
  

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RetroQuotes Special Section: the thoughts of Brian Eno on Innovation, the Future, Time etc

"The more time you spend on an old idea, the more energy you invest in it, the more solid it becomes, and the more it will exclude new ideas."



"The way children learn is by pretending, imagining what it would be like to be in another situation, which is the essence of culture."

"Oblique Strategy of the Day: Whatever worked last time, never do it again"

"Oblique strategy: Discard an axiom"


"All music that interests me is a way of suggesting an alternative present and therefore an alternative future”

(to Axel Gross for East Village Eye)




[on Devo] "What I saw in them always happens when you encounter something new in art - you get a feeling of being slightly dislocated, and with that are emotional overtones that are slightly menacing as well as alluring".


"I consider that what art does for you is that it constantlyrehearses you for uncertainty. Something happened you didn't expect. The codes you brought to understand this were inadequate. Something happened that defied your expectations,even. I chose to hang around for a while and endure this moment of uncertainty. Applied to music, I feel I can get involved with any situation that includes a novel configuration. Like new wave.

Don’t be ashamed of your own ideas. Most musicians get applauded for sounding like someone else." 

“What I am interested in is watching a group of people work and then noticing some things they might not even know they are doing. When people are working they are involved in their own concept, their system is generating. But they are generating a lot more than that. There is a lot of other information coming out as well.
“What a producer can say is, ‘I realize you are doing this and that, but do you also realize you are doing this? Make use of it. There is this interaction going on between these two instruments, which you haven’t considered properly.’ The other thing is,as a producer I regard my role as trying to construct a situation where people are forced to work creatively, not repetitively. It’s trying to set up a situation where people feel positively encouraged to experiment, where they will want to try things out to see how they will work, even if it turns out absurd." (1978 interview by Roman Kozak, from an unknown publication) 



"Our mental model is that we look into the future; the past is behind us. I was told that the Chinese see things quite differently: they look at the past, and the future washes over them, which seems to me to be much more sensible. There's a kind of peacefulness in that attitude that I appreciate. You're standing in one place, or treading water in one place, and meanwhile the drift of things is coming past you from behind." (quoted in John Hutchinson, "From Music To Landscape: A Personal Reaction to Brian Eno's Video Installation",  in Brian Eno,  Place #13, 1986 color brochure (Dublin: Douglas Hyde Gallery, 1986)

"I have a theory that, as a maker you tend to put in twice as much as you need as a listener. It's the symptom of contemporary production. That's why old records are interesting, because they don't have that problem a lot of the time. With the facilities that you have today, you tend to plug every hole... you're always looking for that charge, so you put more and more in to get it. But as a listener you're much less demanding... you can take things that are much simpler, much more open, and much slower. It's often happened that I've made a piece and ended up slowing it down by as much as half. Discreet Music is an example: that's half the speed at which it was recorded.


"One of my theories about why new-wave music gets so fast is that you get the charge from it at that speed. But the thing about rock music is that it gives the illusion of being incredibly urgent and fast-changing, so your overall time-scale tends to get more and more compressed... to the point at which you're thinking, 'Fuck me, a week? I can't afford to take a week off... I've got to have a record out within two months or everyone will have forgotten me.' I don't like living at that speed very much." (1979)



"I don’t listen to that much music, you see, because if you’re making it you can’t really listen to it. It gets in the way."



"Jon Hassell put it well: he said that the tendency of rock music in the past few years has been towards irony, in the sense that it's either pastiche or parody... deliberate poking fun at rock itself. The Tubes are a paradigm of that. He also said, and I agree with him, 'What I'm really interested in is its sincerity'... which is the opposite pole from that. "I really want to believe that the music has resonances below being a kind of thrilling game."  (1979)



"It turns out that anything that is called free anything isn’t really. It’s just constraints that you don’t recognise."



"Free jazz isn’t actually free at all. It’s just constrained by what your muscles can do"


The music in which this lack of understanding reached its apex was free jazz, as far as I am concerned one of the great failed experiments of contemporary music.... My interest is more in rules and constraints than in the notion of absolute freedom” (to Axel Gross, East Village Eye)




"Synthesizers were around for years before pop musicians got hold of them. And look what they did: absolutely nothing, all that awful Fifties and Sixties electronic music that no-one could listen to. But it wasn't until someone took all that technology and fed in a strong tradition, so they had something strong and emotional going into this stuff, that it developed in an interesting way. I think it's nearly always the popular arts that are the innovators. It's hardly ever the serious or fine arts. The same was true of photography." (interview with Dave Rimmer, The Face, 1984)



"If you don’t call it art, you’re likely to get a better result"



"Rock music is such a liberated form, and will remain that way as long as the middle-class critics stay off it. It doesn't have any snobbishness about its development. People aren't afraid of just playing old Chuck Berry riffs still, twenty years later. There aren't all those petty restrictions about how you've got to innovate, it's got to be new."

"The truth of it is that I'm in a dilemma. In what the Buddhists call the Mire of Options, where it seems that every possibility is open to me." (1979)


"I recently spent three days working with what is possibly the most advanced recording console in the world, and I have to report that it was a horribly unmusical experience. The console, which has more than 10,000 controls on its surface and a computer inside, was designed in such a way that music-making tasks once requiring a single physical switch now require a several-step mental negotiation. My engineer kept saying "Wait a minute" and then had to duck out of the musical conversation we were having so he could go into secretarial mode to execute complex computer-like operations. It's as though a new layer of bureaucracy has interposed itself between me and the music we want to make. After days of tooth-gnashing frustration, I had to admit that something has gone wrong with the design of technology - and I was paying $2,000 a day in studio fees to discover it.



"Years ago I realized that the recording studio was becoming a musical instrument. I even lectured about it, proclaiming that "by turning sound into malleable material, studios invite you to construct new worlds of sounds as painters construct worlds of form and color." I was thrilled at how people were using studios to make music that otherwise simply could not exist. Studios opened up possibilities. But now I'm struck by the insidious, computer-driven tendency to take things out of the domain of muscular activity and put them into the domain of mental activity. This transfer is not paying off. Sure, muscles are unreliable, but they represent several million years of accumulated finesse. Musicians enjoy drawing on that finesse (and audiences respond to its exercise), so when muscular activity is rendered useless, the creative process is frustrated. No wonder artists who can afford the best of anything keep buying "retro" electronics and instruments, and revert to retro media.
 
"The trouble begins with a design philosophy that equates "more options" with "greater freedom." Designers struggle endlessly with a problem that is almost nonexistent for users: "How do we pack the maximum number of options into the minimum space and price?" In my experience, the instruments and tools that endure (because they are loved by their users) have limited options...

"Software options proliferate extremely easily, too easily in fact, because too many options create tools that can't ever be used intuitively. Intuitive actions confine the detail work to a dedicated part of the brain, leaving the rest of one's mind free to respond with attention and sensitivity to the changing texture of the moment. With tools, we crave intimacy. This appetite for emotional resonance explains why users - when given a choice - prefer deep rapport over endless options. You can't have a relationship with a device whose limits are unknown to you, because without limits it keeps becoming something else"

"--Brian Eno, The Revenge of the Intuitive, Wired magazine, January 1999



"There’s a reason that guitar players invariably produce more interesting music than synthesizer players: you can go through the options on a guitar in about a minute, after that you have to start making aesthetic and stylistic decisions. This computer can contain a thousand synths, each with a thousand sounds. I try to provide constraints for people."
 

"Rationality is what we do to organize the world, to make it possible to predict. Art is the rehearsal for the inapplicability and failure of that process"



 "Craft is what enables you to be successful when you’re not inspired."



"The only value of ideology is to stop things becoming showbiz".




"All great pop music is created by small groups of people misunderstanding other small groups far away"


"Interior decorators are the death of rock ‘n’ roll"


Lester Bangs on Eno - "As for Brian Eno himself, he is one of those of whom it might truly be said that his real estate is the future."  


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Friedrich Nietzche Railing Against Civilisational Senescence and Decadence - Special Section




The supersaturation of an age in history seems to me hostile and dangerous….. through this excess the always dangerous belief in the old age of humanity takes root, the belief that we are late arrivals and epigones….  an age attains the dangerous mood of irony about itself and, from that, an even more dangerous cynicism.-- Nietzche, On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, 1873


Constantly losing more of this feeling of surprise and dislike, becoming excessively astonished no longer, or finally allowing oneself to enjoy everything—people really call that the historical sense, historical education"--Friedrich Nietzche contra "generalism", On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, 1873
  
"This is a parable for every individual among us. He must organize the chaos in himself by recalling in himself his own real needs…. He begins then to grasp that culture can still be something other than a decoration of life" -- Nietzche, On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, 1873

"Antiquarian history itself degenerates in that moment when it no longer inspires and fills with enthusiasm the fresh life of the present. Then reverence withers away…. Then we get a glimpse of the wretched drama of a blind mania for collecting, a restless compiling together of everything that ever existed. The man envelops himself in a mouldy smell….. Often he sinks so deep that he is finally satisfied with that nourishment and takes pleasure in gobbling up for himself the dust of biographical rubbish"-- Nietzche, On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, 1873  

"Now, what purpose is served for contemporary man by the monumental consideration of the past, by busying himself with the classics and rarities of earlier times? He derives from that the fact that the greatness which was once there at all events once was possible and therefore will really be possible once again.--Nietzche, On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, 1873

"Great men, like great epochs, are explosive material in whom tremendous energy has been accumulated; their prerequisite has always been, historically and physiologically, that a protracted assembling, accumulating, economizing and preserving has preceded them – that there has been no explosion for a long time."--Nietzche, Twilight of Idols  

"Modernity" in the perspective of the metaphor of nourishment and digestion.-

"Sensibility immensely more irritable (-dressed up moralistically: the increase in pity-); the abundance of disparate impressions greater than ever: cosmopolitanism in foods, literatures, newspapers, forms, tastes, even landscapes. The tempo of this influx prestissimo; the impressions erase each other; one instinctively resists taking in anything, taking anything deeply, to "digest" anything; a weakening of the power to digest results from this. A kind of adaptation to this flood of impressions takes place: men unlearn spontaneous action, they merely react to stimuli from outside. They spend their strength partly in assimilating things, partly in defense, partly in opposition. Profound weakening of spontaneity: the historian, critic, analyst, the interpreter, the observer, the collector, the reader-all of them reactive talents -all science!

"Artificial change of one's nature into a "mirror"; interested but, as it were, merely epidermically interested; a coolness on principle, a balance, a fixed low temperature closely underneath the thin surface on which warmth, movement, "tempest," and the play of waves are encountered.

"Opposition of external mobility and a certain deep heaviness and weariness." --Friedrich Nietzche, The Will To Power, (Spring-Fall 1887; rev. Spring-Fall 1888)

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"Perhaps if the future existed, concretely and individually, as something that could be discerned by a better brain, the past would not be so seductive: its demands would be balanced with those of the future. Persons might then straddle the middle stretch of the seesaw when considering this or that object. ...But the future has no such reality (as the pictured past and perceived present possess); the future is but a figure of speech, a specter of thought.

...When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntary sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!

Man-made objects, or natural ones, inert in themselves but much used by careless life...are particularly difficult to keep in surface focus: novices fall through the surface, humming happily to themselves, and are soon reveling with childish abandon in the story of this stone, or that hearth. I shall explain. A thin veneer of immediate reality is spread over natural and artificial matter, and whoever wishes to remain in the now, on the now, should please not break its tension film. Otherwise the inexperienced miracle-worker will find himself no longer walking on water but descending upright among staring fish."
Vladimir Nabokov, Transparent Things
 
  
"Something that has obsessed me personally for a long time, is the idea of eternalism and non-existence of time. It’s the notion that everything that has happened and will happen and all parallel world outcomes are superimposed in one block time…. We’ve always imagined that the Ghost Box world is a kind of an ‘all at once’ place where all of the popular culture from 1958 to 1978 is somehow happening all at the same time…. This is one of the reasons why each release we put out looks like it comes from a particular moment in this period and yet can reference much earlier and later events at the same time.”
Jim Jupp of Belbury Poly / Ghost Box , talking to FACT magazine, 2009


"[Spectrality is that which] makes the present waver: like the vibrations of a heat wave through which the massiveness of the object world--indeed of matter itself--now shimmers like a mirage.”--Fredric Jameson
 
"To do two things at once is to do neither"--Pubilius Syrus, 1st Century AD

"One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything…. We are continuously challenged to discover new works of culture—and, in the process, we don’t allow any one of them to assume a weight in our minds…The need to diet, which we know so well in relation to food, and which runs so contrary to our natural impulses, should be brought to bear on what we now have to relearn in relation to knowledge, people, and ideas. Our minds, no less than our bodies, require periods of fasting."
-- Alain de Botton, City spring 2010

"Somehow, the past has become more remote and less useful the more closely it is cited" --- John Haber, "The Reusable Past", riffing off Rosalind E. Krauss's The Originality of the Avant Garde

"Concepts like "derivative" and "parasitic" belong to a linear, unidirectional concept of time; just as ideas of appropriation and tourism relate to a pre-Internet concept of the world where the faraway stays far away and stuff is actually owned by specific artists and populations" - Mison Erdonsley, Kaleidophrenia: The Phenomenology of Digiculture and the Gaseous Subject 

"To be everywhere is to be nowhere"--Seneca

 "I picture him in his study, as though in the watchtower of a great city, surrounded by telephones, telegraphs, phonographs, the latest in radio-telephone and motion-picture and magic-lantern equipment, and glossaries and calendars and timetables and bulletins… This twentieth century of ours had upended the fable of Muhammad and the mountain--mountains nowadays did in fact come to the modern Muhammad." Carlos Argentino, character in Jorge Luis Borges's 1949 short story The Aleph.

 
"All secrets, spaces and scenes abolished in a single dimension of information. That's obscenity. The hot, sexual obscenity of former times is succeeded by the cold and communicational, contactual and motivational obscenity of today... He is now only a pure screen, a switching center for all the networks of influence"--Jean Baudrillard,

“… Philosophies of sexual liberation appeal mostly to people who don’t have anything too destructive or weird that that they wish to do once they have been liberated. However, anyone who has experienced the power of sex in general and internet pornography in particular to reroute our priorities is unlikely to be so sanguine about liberty. Pornography, like alcohol and drugs, weakens our ability to endure the kinds of suffering that are necessary for us to direct our lives properly. In particular, it reduces our capacity to tolerate those two ambiguous goods, anxiety and boredom. Our anxious moods are genuine but confused signals that something is amiss, and so they need to be listened to and patiently interpreted – which is unlikely to happen when we have to hand one of the most powerful tools of distraction ever invented. The entire internet is in a sense pornographic, it is a deliverer of constant excitement which we have no innate capacity to resist, a system which leads us down paths many of which have nothing to do with our real needs. Furthermore, pornography weakens our tolerance for the kind of boredom which is vital to give our minds the space in which good ideas can emerge, the sort of creative boredom we experience in a bath or on a long train journey. It is at moments when we feel an irresistible desire to escape from ourselves that we can be sure that there is something important we need to bring to consciousness – and yet it is precisely at such pregnant moments that internet pornography has a habit of exerting its maddening pull, thereby helping us to destroy our future"--Alain de Botton


"Here we are in the age of communications, and never have we been more
 alienated, more lonely.  We've become a society of screens, of layers
 that keep us from knowing the truth, as if the truth were unbearable,
 too much for us to deal with - like our feelings.  So we deal with
 things through replications, through copying, through screens,
 through facsimiles, through fiction and faction." - Lynn Hershman

"A lot of the new acts I saw [at SXSW] did seem to think in references. Their art, and the work they put into it, was more like quilting than weaving-- they'd take bits and pieces of recognizable things and recombine them in new ways. This isn't necessarily bad or hollow; sometimes it's strange and illuminating. But one night, watching one of Fiona Apple's terrific gigs, it worried me. The motor behind Apple's shows seemed to be inside her-- some kind of emotion with no cultural reference point. The idea was to take those feelings and fill a room with them. It stood out. Why weren't more of the acts I was seeing doing that? Why did so many of them feel mediated, as if the bands could only communicate with me emotionally by pointing to items on some menu laid out between us, containing all the sounds and ideas they understood and I understood, too?"--  Nitsuh Abebe  

"The rebel angel, Lucifer, abandoned the century.  I am neither pessimistic nor nostalgic. The period we are living through is not sterile, even though serious damage has been done to artistic production by the scourges of commercialism, profiteering, and publicity. Painting and the novel, for example, have been turned into products subject to fashion—painting by means of the fetishism of the unique object, the novel by mass production. Nonetheless, since 1950 noteworthy works and personalities have appeared in poetry, music, the novel, and the plastic arts. But no great aesthetic or poetic movement has appeared. The last was Surrealism. We have had resurrections, some brilliant and some merely ingenious. Or, rather, we have had, to use the precise word in English, revivals. But a revival is not a resurrection: it is a sudden blaze that soon burns itself out. The eighteenth century had neo-classicism; we have had “neo-Expressionism,” a “trans-avant-garde,” and even “neo-Romanticism.” And what were Pop Art and Beat poetry if not derivations, the former from Dada, the latter from Surrealism? The New York school of Abstract Expressionism was also derivative: it gave us a number of excellent artists but, again, it was a revival, a sudden blaze. As much can be said for a postwar philosophical-literary movement which first appeared in Paris and spread throughout the world: existentialism. By its method it was a continuation of Husserl; by its subject, of Heidegger. One more example: from 1960 on, essays and books on Sade, Fourier, Rousesel, and others began to be published. Some of these studies are clever, perceptive, at times profound. But they are not original: those authors were discovered forty years before by Apollinaire and the Surrealists. Another revival. There is no point in going on. I repeat: the works of the second half of the twentieth century are different form and even contrary to those of the first half. They are not illuminated by the ambiguous, violent light of Lucifer: they are twilight works. Is the melancholy Saturn our numen? Perhaps, although Saturn is fond of nuance. Mythology paints him as the sovereign of a spiritual golden age whose strength is sapped by black bile, melancholy, a mood partial to chiaroscuro. Our time, by contrast, is simplistic, superficial, and merciless. Having fallen into the idolatry of ideological systems, our century has ended by worshiping Things. What place does love have in such a world?" -Octavio Paz from The Morning Star in The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism


"Faceless masters continue to inflect the economic strategies which constrain our existences, but they no longer need to impose their speech (or are henceforth unable to); and the post-literacy of the late capitalist world reflects not only the absence of any great collective project but also the unavailability of the older national language itself. In this situation parody finds itself without a vocation; it has lived, and that strange new thing pastiche slowly comes to take its place. Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language. But it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody's ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of laughter and of any conviction that alongside the abnormal tongue you have momentarily borrowed, some healthy linguistic normality still exists. Pastiche is thus blank parody, a statue with blind eyeballs: it is to parody what that other interesting and historically original modern thing, the practice of a kind of blank irony, is to what Wayne Booth calls the "stable ironies" of the eighteenth century....This situation evidently determines what the architecture historians call "historicism," namely, the random cannibalization of all the styles of the past, the play of random stylistic allusion, and in general what Henri Lefebvre has called the increasing primacy of the "neo." This omnipresence of pastiche is not incompatible with a certain humor, however, nor is it innocent of all passion: it is at the least compatible with addiction - with a whole historically original consumers' appetite for a world transformed into sheer images of itself and for pseudoevents and "spectacles" (the term of the situationists). It is for such objects that we may reserve Plato's conception of the "simulacrum," the identical copy for which no original has ever existed."
Frederic Jameson Postmodernism: Or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
 

 
"Even the "weaknesses" or the limits of these tools become part of the vocabulary of culture. I'm thinking of such stuff as Marshall guitar amps and black-and-white film - what was once thought most undesirable about these tools became their cherished trademark.The Marshall guitar amplifier doesn't just get louder when you turn it up. It distorts the sound to produce a whole range of new harmonics, effectively turning a plucked string instrument into a bowed one. A responsible designer might try to overcome this limitation - probably the engineers at Marshall tried, too. But that sound became the sound of, among others, Jimi Hendrix. That sound is called "electric guitar." Or think of grainy black-and-white film, or jittery Super 8, or scratches on vinyl. These limitations tell you something about the context of the work, where it sits in time, and by invoking that world they deepen the resonances of the work itself. Since so much of our experience is mediated in some way or another, we have deep sensitivities to the signatures of different media. Artists play with these sensitivities, digesting the new and shifting the old. In the end, the characteristic forms of a tool's or medium's distortion, of its weakness and limitations, become sources of emotional meaning and intimacy"--Brian Eno, The Revenge of the Intuitive, Wired, 1999 January

 I can’t pretend that I don’t subscribe to Internet music culture in that I discover new music and old music simultaneously. In order to generate something that’s indicative of the future, we’re trudging around this cultural wasteland of the past and finding these little pieces to play around with and recontextualize. It can all feel like one big collage piece. But it was important for me to not use any pre-existing material and completely self-generate this album on both the audio and visual sides. You can’t always just put color filters in 80s aerobic videos or take stuff from public-access and look at it in this very ironic, self-conscious way. That only takes you so far. . . .”-- Alan Palomo  of Neon Indian
 
“The historical logic of modernism itself is that] the newly liberated circulation of the token-sign always carries as its potential reverse an utterly devalued and empty currency.”  Rosalind E. Krauss, “Picasso / Pastiche,” The Picasso Papers
  
 "The object and characteristic of 'traditions', including invented ones, is invariance." --Eric Hobsbawm

"Garage and rockabilly purists resembled the Amish (for whom history had stopped at a certain moment)"
Ian Svenonius, “Rock ‘N’ Rolligion,” in The Psychic Soviet (Chicago: Drag City, 2006), p. 66

"It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. No, honestly — it’s practically impossible, especially in an age of cyclical nostalgia and Internet-assisted memories. Old musical acts have always gone on comeback tours, but these days the disappearances are getting shorter and nostalgia is fully taking its place alongside discovery as a valid aesthetic-appreciation strategy. Why listen to the new bands that sound like the old bands when the old bands will be back before you know it?" - Jon Caramanica, the New York Times

It’s 2013: I think we’ve come to grips with the fact that it’s damn near impossible to come up with anything new. I’ll be unabashedly clear that a lot of what I do is reconfigurations of older ideas put together into a more modern framework, but beyond all that, it’s really just about pleasing myself”--25-year-old producer Phil Canty, aka Morri$ - interviewed at FACT

 "We live in an age in which a lack of destruction is itself the cause of destruction. As data pile up to unmanageable quantities, pop has no choice but to eat itself, Ouroboros-like, and grow fat in the process. Music lives (so the lament goes), but only as a monstrous revenant, capable of mimesis and mitosis, but not reproduction...." - Rowan Savage, Tiny Mix Tapes

The modern landscape is mugged with all these rock schools. There’s a film called School of Rock and there are rock camps and rock schools—so many tutorials for children. The book itself is a response to all this practical knowledge that the children are getting, which seems like something that could have enormous ramifications on the art form, or whatever it is. You know, rock'n'roll. I felt like it was time somebody countered all this practical knowledge with this ideological and impractical how-to guide. Because everybody is just learning how to play the right way, and it just threatens to make things really boring. The book is definitely a manual. There are many pointers and a lot of warnings, and there are other things to consider besides the formal aspects of playing. It just seems like a major aspect of the book is talking about the ideological implications of rock'n'roll groups."
--- Ian Svenonius,  interviewed for the Paper Trail series at Pitchfork, about his new book Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock'n'Roll Group


 "The return to history everywhere remarked today… is not a return exactly, seeming rather to mean incorporating the 'raw material' of history and leaving its function out, a kind of flattening and appropriation"-- Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, 1991

 "The West moistens everything with meaning, like an authoritarian religion which imposes baptism on entire peoples…. The haiku functions with at least a view to obtaining a flat language which nothing grounds (as is infallible in our poetry) on superimposed layers of meaning…. The haiku has the purity, the sphericality, and the very emptiness of a note of music."--Roland Barthes, Empire of Signs, 1970

"... That's an anxiety it’s hard to not have if you're making art, or writing or making music. It seems more of an acknowledgement that everything is a reference to something else – that everything is an amalgam of references to a certain extent. Everything that you present is either a continuation of something that already exists, or it's a refusal. The problem - or the opportunity - is how you negotiate those choices"--Sam Riviere, poet, interviewed at the Quietus

 "It is customary to counterpose futurism and resurrectionism…. Yet… they might be seen as… two sides of the same coin, each testifying to a felt absence in the present. Each, typically, arises as an expression of cultural dissidence, and involves a radical rejection of the present in favour of an idealized (or fantasized) other ". Raphael Samuel, Theatres of Memory: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture, 1995

 "If nostalgia as a political motivation is most frequently associated with fascism, there is no reason why a nostalgia conscious of itself, a lucid and remorseless dissatisfaction with the present on the grounds of some remembered plenitude, cannot furnish as adequate a revolutionary stimulus as any other. "--Fredric Jameson, 1970 essay


"A Klee painting named 'Angelus Novus' shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angle would like stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing form Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress"-- Walter Benjamin

"Something that has obsessed me personally for a long time, is the idea of eternalism and non-existence of time. It’s the notion that everything that has happened and will happen and all parallel world outcomes are superimposed in one block time…. We’ve always imagined that the Ghost Box world is a kind of an ‘all at once’ place where all of the popular culture from 1958 to 1978 is somehow happening all at the same time…. This is one of the reasons why each release we put out looks like it comes from a particular moment in this period and yet can reference much earlier and later events at the same time.” Jim Jupp of Belbury Poly / Ghost Box , talking to FACT magazine, 2009


 
"Rock is basically adolescent music, reflecting the rhythms, concerns and aspirations of a very specialized age group. It can't grow up--when it does, it turns into something else which may be just as valid but it still very different from the original. Personally I believe that real rock'n'roll may be on the way out."---Lester Bangs, Of Pop and Pies and Fun, Creem, December 1970

 "When the past sounds more like the future than the present does, revival becomes progressive"--20jazzfunkgreats blog.

‘I utterly spurn and reject so-called “science fiction”. I have looked into it, and found it as boring as the mystery-story magazines – the same sort of dismally pedestrian writing with oodles of dialogue and loads of commutational humour.’ ...  The futureis but the obsolete in reverse."-- Vladimir Nabokov, in the short story  "Lance" 1952

‘The present is only the top of the past, and the future does not exist.’--Nabokov, Ada
 "We turn to the past when the future seems unattainable or 'utopian' in the wholly negative sense of the word--something that cannot be extrapolated from the present"--Patrick Wright, On Living in an Old Country, 1986

"The Internet is a remarkable innovation, but all we are talking about is a super-fast and globally accessible combination of library, post office, and mail-order catalogue. Had the Internet been described to a science fiction aficionado in the fifties and sixties and touted as the most dramatic technological achievement since his time, his reaction would have been disappointment. Fifty years and this is the best our scientists managed to come up with? We expected computers that would think!.... In this final, stultifying stage of capitalism, we are moving from poetic technologies to bureaucratic technologies. By poetic technologies I refer to the use of rational and technical means to bring wild fantasies to reality....  The greatest and most powerful nation that has ever existed has spent the last decades telling its citizens they can no longer contemplate fantastic collective enterprises, even if—as the environmental crisis demands— the fate of the earth depends on it."  -- David Graeber


"CD reissues of unknown gems, and the internet-driven mass availability of everything instantly, mean pop culture's past is growing more rapidly than its present. Our sassiest sons and daughters are beyond our command, foraging far from whatever is drip-fed to them by broadcast media, and digging all manner of cross-generational guff. Your 12-year-old niece thinks that Searching for Sugar Man bloke, who had been working as a builder since 1971 until some hipster doofus put him in an arthouse documentary, is exactly the same as Bob Dylan because she discovered them both, for better or worse, on the same illegal download site, free of any illuminating cultural context or critical commentary.

"I've spent this week listening to a new, commercially available, download of a previously unreleased 1975 album by a lost Chicago metal band called Medusa, rescued from mouldy master-tapes of the group's only session, found abandoned in the drummer's basement, where perhaps they should have stayed. I don't know if I really like First Step Beyond, but it's fascinating to my saturated palate because it shouldn't be here. First Step Beyond's decontextualised Neanderthal heaviness confuses itself and everyone who comes into contact with it, like a caveman in a Disney film who gets transported to 60s suburbia, takes a dump in Mom's Tupperware and wears her diaphragm as a hat. The fact remains, the instant availability of everything ever means I am consuming something that was never aimed at me, from a time and a place I have no connection with, and yet I am nearly enjoying it"-- Stewart Lee, The Guardian, Sunday 3 February 2013


"We continue… to live in a perpetual time-warp. All the cycles are foreshortened. This kind of weirdness is peculiarly Seventies. We have to live with instant replay. Movies on TV mean a wraparound past. But there is something odd in the way the media doppelganger presses on our heels, moving from the twenties (early sixties) to the forties (early seventies) to the fifities (74/75) to the early sixties (76/77). It's getting close."-- Peter York, Style Wars.

"As pop music has spiralled back and forwards across its own time and space over the past 20 years, while simultaneously fragmenting into thousands of genres and sub-genres, and as sampling, MP3 culture and a fundamental collaging mentality has got carried away with modifying the past, some music, which seemed doomed to stay stuck in the past, has resurfaced in the present and sounds just about as fresh and pertinent as ever. We now live in The Aftermath, where all pop music is either actually from the past, freed from its imprisoned context by the internet, where everything recorded can happen at once, or is a mutant, intoxicating transformation of the past, randomly, attentively mixing up genres, eras, instruments, styles, beats, fashions. The Aftermath is where the past gets gossiped about; it's a series of colliding echoes about the past; it's a gathering of rumours about what happened to pop music up to and including and beyond the vinyl era." --Paul Morley 

 "A gleaming science-fictional stasis in which appearances (simulacra) arise and decay ceaselessly….  The supreme value of the New and of innovation, as both modernism and modernization grasped it, fades away against a steady stream of momentum and variation that at some outer limit seems stable and motionless…  Where everything now submits to the perpetual change of fashion and media image, nothing can change any longer…. If absolute change in our society is best represented by the rapid turnover in storefronts…. it  is crucial to distinguish between rhythms of change inherent to the system and programmed by it, and a change that replaces one entire system by another one altogether"-- Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, 1991

 "There is nothing to prevent a thought, a type of morality or an art form from being the psychological equivalent of a costuming of the ego.”-- fashion theorist Edward Sapir

"When we talk about the Internet, we talk about feeds and flows and rivers and currents -- things determined by their dynamism and their lack of obvious containers....  The only problem, however, is that constant flux-and-flow is not actually how we humans are programmed to move through the world. We live in fits and starts, in cycles and phases, and we divide our time not just socially, in shared minutes and hours, but physically. We wake. We sleep. We have beginnings. We have endings.... When we disparage the digital environment as "overwhelming," what we're also faulting it for is its lack of a narrative. The Internet moves, but it doesn't necessarily move forward. It expands, but it doesn't necessarily follow any particular trajectory. It lacks, in that sense, a purpose. It lacks a plot. "--Megan Garber 

"As a concept in mass media, “future” is associated with whatever upcoming movement or far-reaching cultural shift will inalterably change what things sound, look, and feel like. But mass media don’t necessarily work that way anymore. We are no longer moving together as a single culture in a straight line; we are individuals zigzagging between different worlds with their own self-contained ecosystems....  It has completely unmoored us from our former sense of time. When people have the freedom to travel rapidly between different eras in the space of a single iTunes playlist, time as a descriptor of a musical aesthetic becomes irrelevant. Certain guitar or drum sounds that might normally be described as “’60s-sounding” are as common today as they were then. And they’re free to be combined with other sounds that older listeners associate with bygone eras, while musicians see them simply as colors on a generously expansive sonic palate that can be dipped into and slathered together.... "-- AV Club's Steven Hyden, riffing off White Fence 

"When did time stop moving forward... begin to spool in every direction, like a tape spinning out of control? ... Change has been divorced from the idea of improvement. There is no progress; like a crab on LSD, culture wobbles endlessly sideways"--Rem Koolhaas, Junkspace 

"Nor does retro necessarily signify a mass flight into nostalgia. Indeed, the evidence indicates that most fashion trendsetters have very little sense of history. The actual historical past is essentially irrelevant; it exists only to be cannibalized. Designers, stylists, photographers, and club kids all ransack the past for usable images, which are then ripped out of context and ruthlessly stripped of most of their original meaning"--Valerie Steele

"Does passion end in fashion? Or does fashion end in passion?"--Malcolm McLaren, slogan daubed on the wall of his King's Road boutique Sex
  

 "Fashion is never having to decide who you are. Style is deciding who you are and being able to perpetuate it"-- Quentin Crisp
 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
 
Recreativity Crew:

"Never trust originality."--Umberto Eco


Interviewer: “Andy, the Canadian government spokesman said that your art could not be described as original sculpture. Would you agree with that?”
Warhol: “Yes.”
Interviewer: “Why do you agree?”
Warhol: “Well, because it’s not original.”
Interviewer: “You have just then copied a common item?”
Warhol: “Yes.”
Interviewer: “Why have you bothered to do that? Why not create something new?”
Warhol: “Because it’s easier to do.”

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.” –Jim Jarmusch

“I consider it to be post-creation. We're all now just pulling and pulling and pulling.  Someone like Prince was thinking of people in the past, but it didn't feel as funneled and as specific.  We're a bit derivative, unfortunately, and it's not to our detriment always-- but we are direct descendants and there are all these lineages. It's an interesting time for music because people aren't trying to create anything brand new...  Originality is not a thing anymore" -- Amanda Brown, on the state of the art in music", May 2011 (interview with me for The Wire cover story on Not Not Fun)

“I think the Simon Reynolds perspective is the least modern attitude one could have toward art. And it’s a little unfortunate that it’s infected so many people’s way of thinking. There’s been almost no era when art hasn’t been hugely about the past – whether reacting to it, recreating it, destroying it. Once in a while, a new piece of actual music technology is invented and for the small window of time after that there is a fresh, truly “new” style. But that’s not the norm, that’s the fluke.... Rockabilly was retromania, Morrissey was retromania”--Amanda Brown, November 2011
      
 

  "Each and every sample is fragmented and bereft of prior meaning, kind of like a future without a past.  They're given meaning only when represented in the assemblage of the mix. In this way, the DJ acts as the cybernetic  inheritor of the improvisational tradition of jazz."DJ Skoopy


"I think a picture is more like the real world when it's made out of the real world." - Robert Rauschenberg

 "Collage is the essential psychological identity of this century." - Charles Amirkhanian

"Information stolen is information improved."Jon Van Oast


"Plagiarism is neccesary, progress implies it."Lautreamont

"Quotation is no longer an operative value. Quotation only submits one's work to the authority of History and its "masters." A DJ doesn't "quote," per se. He or she wanders into History and uses previous works according to his or her own needs. This method might be similar to past ones, but the set of values that organizes it has changed: Nobody cares anymore about signatures as authority markers, we now live in a cultural space of increasingly fluid circulations of signs"-- Nicolas Bourriaud, interviewed in ArtForum, April, 2001

"The waste of the world becomes my art."
                        -Kurt Schwitters

 

"Everything was already smashed to pieces, and it was neccesary to build something new from the shards."
         -Kurt Schwitters

"Giving people credit for pioneering things, though, is something of a life's mission with critics of all
persuasions. The reality is that everything is stolen from somebody else, even the first rocks that we banged together.
And if you think of the American pioneers, weren't they also people who travelled great distances, at great risk, to
steal land from someone else?"--Eugene Chadbourne


"Musical precedent is just a memory."--Don Joyce

"We are all curators, in the post-modern world,whether we want to be or not."         - William Gibson

"If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants"-- Isaac Newton

"Art is a synthesis of everything that came before it. Garry Trudeau told me that in 1982, just before he
asked me to stop making my characters look like his, goddammit."--- Berkeley Breathed

"Poetry can only be made out of other poems, novels out of other novels."--Northrop Frye


"Words, thought, ideas, are never precisely my own; they are
always borrowed rather than posessed."--Mark C. Taylor, "The Moment of Complexity"

"Never original, fashion is always retro; creation is a recombinant process in which the old is resurrected and
recycled to appear as new and the new is always haunted by the old."--Mark C. Taylor, "The Moment of Complexity"


"Pick up the pieces and make them into something new, is what we do!"-- The Wombles


"The role of the forger, of the unknown maker of unauthenticated goods, is emblematic of electronic culture. And when the forger is done honor for
his craft and no longer reviled for his acquisitiveness, the arts will have become a truly integral part of our civilization."-- Glenn Gould


"Every text builds itself as a mosaic of quotations, every text is an absorption and transformation of another text".
        - Julia Kristeva

"Appropriation art is informed by the decadence syndrome: the sense of the decline and impending death of art. This is expressed as a feeling of deja vu and a sense of art's loss of significant human purpose - its inability to afford an important perspective on the lifeworld - as well as on the wish for rejuvenation. This wish is expressed by envious exploitation and subordination - veritable colonization -- of avant-garde art that had been vitally alive and had startled the world with its revolutionary ambition, as though to suck the dregs of that faded vitality and ambition from it. But whatever the morbid nostalgia of appropriation art touches turns to stone."--Donald Kuspit, The Cult of the Avant-Garde Artist, 1993

"A craftsman knows what he's going to make and an artist doesn't know what he's going to make, or what the finished product is going to look like"  -- Ken Price

 "Ours is a time of non-history that is super-charged by the spectacular flame-out of the detritus of the bounded energy of local histories" --Arthur Kroker and Michael A.  Weinstein 

"And there is no new thing under the sun"--Ecclesiastes chapter 1

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