Useless discussion about poetry, pop music, etc. etc.

Started by Oneiroman, May 10, 2021, 14:46:23

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Oneiroman

I will reply in full later but I just wanted to post a couple of links to musical settings of poems by Charles Baudelaire, both from 1969, both by American female experimental electronic musicians, one full of despair and one full of hope.

Despair - Ruth White's translation and recitation of the below poem set to a Moog synthesizer accompaniment, from one of the first all Moog albums out there, Flowers of Evil (she swaps parts 1 and 2 around): https://youtu.be/UghWjI_Ez_s

L'Irrémédiable

I

Une Idée, une Forme, un Etre
Parti de l'azur et tombé
Dans un Styx bourbeux et plombé
Où nul oeil du Ciel ne pénètre;
Un Ange, imprudent voyageur
Qu'a tenté l'amour du difforme,
Au fond d'un cauchemar énorme
Se débattant comme un nageur,
Et luttant, angoisses funèbres!
Contre un gigantesque remous
Qui va chantant comme les fous
Et pirouettant dans les ténèbres;
Un malheureux ensorcelé
Dans ses tâtonnements futiles
Pour fuir d'un lieu plein de reptiles,
Cherchant la lumière et la clé;
Un damné descendant sans lampe
Au bord d'un gouffre dont l'odeur
Trahit l'humide profondeur
D'éternels escaliers sans rampe,
Où veillent des monstres visqueux
Dont les larges yeux de phosphore
Font une nuit plus noire encore
Et ne rendent visibles qu'eux;
Un navire pris dans le pôle
Comme en un piège de cristal,
Cherchant par quel détroit fatal
Il est tombé dans cette geôle;
-- Emblèmes nets, tableau parfait
D'une fortune irrémédiable
Qui donne à penser que le Diable
Fait toujours bien tout ce qu'il fait!

II

Tête-à-tête sombre et limpide
Qu'un coeur devenu son miroir!
Puits de Vérité, clair et noir
Où tremble une étoile livide,
Un phare ironique, infernal
Flambeau des grâces sataniques,
Soulagement et gloire uniques,
-- La conscience dans le Mal!

My French isn't up to much but with a translation to hand I'm okay!

Hope - Suzanne Ciani's setting of the below poem, recited by a French student, to an accompaniment on a Buchla, an alternative synthesizer also used by Morton Subotnick on the historically important Silver Apples of The Moon LP.  This piece wasn't released until much later (2019), however: https://youtu.be/_s-qCZwsfTM

Elevation

Above the lakes, above the vales,
The mountains and the woods, the clouds, the seas,
Beyond the sun, beyond the ether,
Beyond the confines of the starry spheres,
My soul, you move with ease,
And like a strong swimmer in rapture in the wave
You wing your way blithely through boundless space
With virile joy unspeakable.
Fly far, far away from this baneful miasma
And purify yourself in the celestial air,
Drink the ethereal fire of those limpid regions
As you would the purest of heavenly nectars.
Beyond the vast sorrows and all the vexations
That weigh upon our lives and obscure our vision,
Happy is he who can with his vigorous wing
Soar up towards those fields luminous and serene,
He whose thoughts, like skylarks,
Toward the morning sky take flight
-- Who hovers over life and understands with ease
The language of flowers and silent things!

Translation by William Aggeler

Now, if all lyricists were up to Baudelaire's standard!

(Edit: this post & the following few were moved here from an "on topic" thread. Mod.)

SueC

Definitely not a fan of this poet in any way, shape or form, have to say... I personally find a lot of his stuff utterly repulsive... and that particular poem in no way represents my own relationship with nature, or how I think about life - but each to their own!  :yum:

I have about the same reaction to Baudelaire's poetry as I did to seeing William Blake's famous art at the National Gallery in London, and reading Sartre's Nausea:  All of them make me feel queasy, and none of them inspire me in any positive way, for all their fame and lofty reputations amongst academia etc.  Some stuff really doesn't agree with me.  I think we're all different, and it's the same with food:  The thing that agrees very well with me may cause someone else Crohn's disease or major allergic reactions.  Some things are just literal physical incompatibilities.

But I'm happy for others to enjoy what I don't, and likewise to enjoy things that others don't.  :cool

PS:  I wonder if my erstwhile ecofeminism lecturer would agree with me about that lot, actually...
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 00:44:54In general I much prefer the early works of pop musicians. 
I do personally like the more tentative, exploratory, raw and maybe immature material that people in their late teens to early thirties can produce.  Pop music in my opinion isn't like some other art forms, where for example writers can get better as they get older. 

Well I can't help but disagree here. Some musicians are/were better back in the day, some are still good or do get even better.

Coincidentally, I just read the following by Hugo Race on his FB (about an album he made with Italian backing band Fatalists, released 2 years ago):
QuoteTaken By The Dream - Spring 2019: "Fatalists is a space where I can explore my own songwriting with a group of musicians who are truly excellent and very tuned in to my work. I know it sounds strange, but I really don't get to choose what music I'm going to make next. I am fatalistic in this sense, that when inspiration arrives I interpret it as a signal of the next path to follow. Music is a way of reflecting the chaos of our reality in a way that words alone fail to do. Taken By The Dream is definitely not a collection of songs that I could've written earlier in my life, there is a kind of personal truth in there about reality and being alive and what in the hell all of this really means." #hugoracefatalists Now available from our Bandcamp: https://helixed1.bandcamp.com/artists

Gotta say I only got into his music between 2006 and 2011 (or so), thus I can't get all of his old albums (many were released on small "indie labels" and are long deleted), but from what I heard I think he's still good, if not better than ever NOW.

Quite a few years ago I had a conversation with TV Smith (formerly of The Adverts) after one of his gigs and we talked about old songs and new songs, so I told him that I thought his new songs were even better than the old ones with The Adverts (much as I like them). He said: "Actually I like the new ones better as well!" (or something along these lines).
It doesn't touch me at all...

Oneiroman

@SueC I'm sorry you don't share my enthusiasm for Baudelaire.  As you say it's merely a matter of personal preference.  For myself I think one Baudelaire poem is worth fifty of that old Blueshirt fascist Yeats.  All that mystical Celtic nonsense is not to my taste, and I'm half-Welsh!  I would definitely side with the modernists, but I do love "gothic" literature, from Ann Radcliffe and Mary Shelley through Poe and Le Fanu to MR James, Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson and Thomas Ligotti.  Baudelaire for me has elements of both modernism and the gothic, so he's right up my street.  I would guess you don't like another of my favourite writers Patrick White, who also doesn't shirk from exploring the seamier side of life.  You like "butterflies and sunsets" but I like abandoned buildings and wildernesses (both environmental and of the soul ).  I don't talk about personal issues online as I think it's self-indulgent, but let's just say I've been where Mark Fisher has been - well not to the hereafter, obviously.

When I use the term "pop music" I suppose I mean the stuff you'd find in the rock and pop section of a record store (do they still have any of those in WA?).  The word "rock" is sullied by its association with hard rock which post-1975 I generally detest.  So I would include alternative in that grouping, whatever alternative is supposed to mean.  I really can't understand the obsession with placing music into "genres" and "sub-genres", which seems particularly prevalent in the US.  But I do think broad categories -eg classical, jazz, easy listening, folk, country, blues, soul, rock and roll, reggae, African, Latin and so on are probably indispensable in pointing the consumer - and I use the term deliberately - in the right direction.  For myself I have lots of records from all those categories.  I stick to my argument that nearly all the best rock and pop is made by under 40s.  @Ulrich quotes Hugo Race as saying his more recent stuff has a "kind of personal truth in there about reality and being alive".  Well, I don't like personal truths about reality - isn't that what Trump believes in?  There are personal experiences and personal beliefs and personal values, but I'll leave personal truths to Meghan Markle and the like.  Race's old bandmate Nick Cave, for me, now personifies everything I despise about the increasing middle-aged spread in pop music - bland, boring, sentimental, "mature", unthreatening, safe, incurious, self-centred bilge.

The best definition of what I like about pop and rock was given (in relation specifically to surf music) by one Murray Wilson (presumably Murry Wilson, father of several Beach Boys), which I found in some sleevenotes to a compilation I bought years ago.  He said "Surfing music has to sound untrained with a certain rough flavor to appeal to the teenagers.  As in the case of true c & w [country and western], when the music gets too good, and too polished, it isn't considered the real thing."  I must still be a teenager in my 60s.  In post-punk and other types of modern music being a "non-musician" was considered a good thing because it meant you didn't bring any preconceptions about what was right and what was wrong, what was good and what was bad.  The most inspiring blues and soul singers aren't necessarily very good technically and even in jazz Miles Davis couldn't do what the likes of Dizzy Gillespie or Clifford Brown could do in terms of playing fast and intricate solos, but he put more feeling into what he did than most jazz musicians were capable of.

You say you have a scientific background which informs the way you think about and interact in the world, so to lay my cards on the table, I studied social anthropology at university.  Although the realm of ideas and art fascinate me I would always try to look at the social contexts in which those ideas and art forms arise and circulate, without wishing to take a reductionist position.  But whether I could make "truth" claims about my positions I'm not so sure.  I can't really see where "logical" analyses of art would lead.  And I don't see how referring to The Cure's later style as part "slippers-comfortable despair" could be objectively falsifiable.  Surely you can't take it literally to mean Fisher thinks that the band wear slippers?  It's a trope, not a statement of fact.

When you say "Don't most adults blindly follow the basic tenets of their societies without ever seriously questioning the underlying assumptions and noticing the elephants in the room?  Isn't there a vast deficit in imagination and creativity in the everyday lives of people running on their various hamster wheels?" I think that comes across as rather elitist.  It sounds like you are saying that "ordinary" people are all witless drones, unlike us intellectuals and thoughtful types.  How, objectively, do you ascertain how blind and unquestioning people are simply because they have or choose to accept certain conventions and ways of being just to make a living and put food on the table? 

i wouldn't know anything about death being "the truth of sexuality".  I don't give a fig for sex, sexuality or romantic love, although I am attracted to death.  I suppose I must be a card-carrying Goth, even if I don't make my face up like Conrad Veidt in Caligari.  I think Mark Fisher took a lot of his ideas from Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus, which I haven't read, but to quote from Fisher's PhD thesis, 'Flatline Constructs: Gothic Materialism and Cybernetic Theory-fiction':

"Both Deleuze-Guattari and Baudrillard offer theorizations of reproduction, but whereas Baudrillard continues to take sexual reproduction as the paradigm, critiquing simulated-reproduction for its deviation from the sexual model, Deleuze-Guattari oppose all reproduction (sexual or otherwise) to a model of "contagion", a non (or hyper)sexual mode of replication which takes its cue from vampirism, lycanthropy and disease. So where Baudrillard's "negativized Gothic" proceeds by way of identifying an increasing perfection in the techniques of artificial reproduction (leading, in his view, to a triumph of a post-sexual necrotic culture), Deleuze-Guattari follow the Gothic line in identifying modes of replication that cut across organic reproduction altogether."

Make of that what you will.

I think Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape is meretricious tripe and Alain de Botton has managed to present the bleedin' obvious as though it was "philosophy".  But it's horses for courses.

I hope you'll take all this in the spirit in which it's intended - a robust debate.  I'm going to be busy for a while from now on so I won't have any time for such long posts, but I'm not throwing my toys out the pram if I don't reply in detail.  Perhaps it would be better anyway to go back to the original topic of journalistic approaches to the early works of The Cure.



Ulrich

Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42is worth fifty of that old Blueshirt fascist Yeats... mystical Celtic nonsense
... I think that comes across as rather elitist. 

Will you tone it down a little bit, please?

Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42quotes Hugo Race as saying his more recent stuff has a "kind of personal truth in there about reality and being alive".  Well, I don't like personal truths about reality - isn't that what Trump believes in?

Sounds like you misunderstood him completely here. From what I gathered it was about that particular album, and his inspiration lead him to write about his life right now (something he of course could not write about in his teens, eh?)...

Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42Race's old bandmate Nick Cave, for me, now personifies everything I despise about the increasing middle-aged spread in pop music - bland, boring, sentimental, "mature", unthreatening, safe, incurious, self-centred bilge.

Nick Cave said himself years ago that in the 80s he was a junkie, always looking out for his next shot in the arm...
Hence I gotta admit, I never enjoyed what I heard from The Birthday Party or other "early" stuff. I liked him around '97 to 2003, then I started losing interest again. What I heard from his latest 'Bad Seeds' album, was "nice" but not really to my taste (sounded more like reciting poetry instead of "songs").

Btw, from what I heard the Beach Boys didn't even surf - which is why I never found them really "credible".

Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42In post-punk and other types of modern music being a "non-musician" was considered a good thing because it meant you didn't bring any preconceptions about what was right and what was wrong, what was good and what was bad. 

But even they couldn't help but learn to play their instruments.
Example: The Cure, what sounded minimalistic or naive on "17 Seconds", was way more intricate on "Disintegration".
It doesn't touch me at all...

SueC

OK, number one for me, if a discussion is going to disintegrate into the throwing of abuse at anyone - artists, discussion participants etc, which so often happens on the wider Internet - then I won't be around for more of it - and some of the comments in the last post from @Oneiroman are unfortunately crossing the line (and I know it can be an easy one to cross when we feel strongly about something - but we can also practice expressing ourselves in better ways, and I'm still learning to do that myself).   So I geddit you don't like Yeats, and that's OK, but calling him a fascist, for example, is a bit rich unless you're going to present evidence for your claim (if you consider that necessary to the discussion - and I guess we'd need to consider what we personally think of cancel culture while we're at it).

Incidentally, I also think the journalists we've discussed here, from what I've read of their work, have a repeating pattern of crossing the lines of respectful behaviour, and have become rather self-important about their views (and they're not setting a good example of how to engage in this kind of discussion).  There's a difference between offering up your views and ideas for consideration, and offering up you views and ideas as superior - and that's a problem across a lot of philosophy, wider academia, politics, religion, discussion forums, you name it - pretty much any field of human endeavour, and indeed in many people's own families.  It's a human problem, and the responsibility for that problem rests with each and every adult - it's something everyone needs to grapple with and work on - although often, sadly, the people most in need of it are least inclined to work on it - e.g. sociopaths/narcissists, who seem to lack the empathy to understand their negative impact on other people, or to genuinely care about that - and who ironically often end up in leadership positions foisting their behaviour on the rest of us - just look at recent US politics, and current UK and Australian politics...

Note I'm talking about views and ideas - as distinct from verifiable facts:  I'm not giving equal weight to flat earth theories, young earth theories, anthropogenic climate change denialism, conspiracy theories etc as I am to well-established science with a great deal of testing and evidence behind it.  The shape of the Earth or the number of protons in a carbon nucleus or the existence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus aren't up for debate - those are objective things that are verifiable - and they're vastly different things to our personal opinions on music, or poetry, or the meaning of life, or the best way to deal with your in-laws, or how you should decorate your house etc.

I'm happy to have a respectful debate - and for most of this thread that's what it's been.  None of us are perfect - I've had to apologise to people before too, and expect that periodically I will be apologising to people for the rest of my days because like everyone else, I make mistakes, and I can do or say ill-considered things that aren't respectful of other people around me.  This is more likely to happen in relation to subjects we're personally passionate about, and have a lot of emotional investment in.  So that's also why I find personal music journalling (which I do on a couple of other threads here) particularly helpful for figuring out my own stuff, and my relationship with the world around me, while also engaged in something I find really interesting - and why music projects in which people write about their favourite songs, artists, etc switch high school students on to an amazing degree, and really get them thinking, and buzzing!   :)

How do we stay respectful?  Especially in the face of the kind of naughty side I suspect we all have, that makes us laugh at witty take-downs of people and things we don't personally like?  ...because let me give you an example.  Last night I was asking my husband, "So what do you think of when you hear the term 'soft rock'?" ...and he said, "Bryan Adams, who should be burnt with fire, and all his records and alleged instruments with him."  And we rolled around with laughter.  But we'd not post such a thing, unless it was clearly understood amongst the people in the discussion that we knew we were making an exaggerated, outrageous statement we didn't literally mean - more like the fiction-fantasy of our dark sides, than what we would actually advocate - and part of the laughing, for us, is at the idea of actually saying or believing such a thing.  Because we'd obviously not want to burn musicians whose music we don't like or shoot all their records at the moon etc (although the latter part would have vastly amused us as teenagers, as an actual thing to do).  We'd just like to stop hearing their stuff, and we can fix that by not buying any and by taking earplugs when we go where there's radio we can't turn off.   :winking_tongue

Have you ever seen this web page of music jokes?...we nearly ruptured our diaphragms the evening we first came across it.  We had in-laws visiting and things were tense, and by the end of the day my husband and I needed to wind down and de-stress before there was any thought of getting sleep.  So we took the laptop, settled down in bed, and looked for funny things, since as we all know, laughter is an excellent de-stressing technique.  And we found that list of music jokes, which are so outrageous and so mean that the very idea of it is hysterical.  Who would think like this?

The least stressful workplace I was ever in was a team of people who respected each other and everyone's capabilities deeply, but spent large parts of the day saying outrageously insulting things to each other - the dead opposite to what we actually thought and felt.  We were laughing inwardly much of the time, and outwardly at intervals - it was like a stage play.  Sometimes, someone from another part of the workplace would walk through the door and just go pale.   :rofl   I'm sure they thought we were the workspace from hell.

As a high schooler, I sent dreadful things to the local university radio request show for them to read out on air - and they did, which amazed me - but then, part of their request programme was also that you could request for them to smash up certain records, and they at least pretended to do that on air - this is in the days of vinyl, which offers this incomparably pleasing scrunch upon destruction.  One thing I sent was a picture of Michael Jackson cut out from a magazine, in which his hands were in his pants pockets in this slightly distasteful, compromising way, and I'd put on a thought bubble, "OMG, my testicles, where are they?" - and written this mock-narrative of his birth to go with it, from the point of view of his mother, which was equally tasteless and disrespectful and, to a teenager, utterly hilarious.  In a teenager I can excuse it - teenagers are fighting back in a world where they have as yet very little power.  I can see the appeal.  But as an adult I have significant amounts of power over my own life and other people's lives, and therefore wouldn't think it right to be producing that kind of material!  ;)

The "I-statement" is a good start:  Saying how we feel about something, the effect it has on us etc - rather than giving someone or something we don't like an unfair pasting.  "I feel like this when/because..." and not "This person / song is...(abusive epithets)."  And like everyone else, I have to remind myself of the rules of fair engagement on a regular basis.  And if I seem to be crossing the line at any point, or if something I say comes across as disrespectful, then please take it up with me.  We can all look out for one another like this, and help each other do this stuff better.
SueC is time travelling

SueC

I'd like to offer some initial reactions to reading the following link:

http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/004725.html

Some of what's being said here reminds me of death cults who romanticise and kind of present as heroic the idea of depression and suicide.

e.g. "Depression is, after all and above all, a theory about the world, about life...Depression is not sadness, not even a state of mind, it is a (neuro)philosophical (dis)position."

Depression is a mental/emotional problem - is not a healthy thing, any more than a broken leg or appendicitis - it's something that needs care, attention and healing.  A broken leg isn't a philosophical disposition towards gravity, it's a mishap that temporarily interferes with your quality of life - and appendicitis isn't a philosophical disposition towards pathogenic bacteria, it's a serious infection that needs to be treated.  The pain that goes with all of them is nature's alarm system that says, "Something is wrong here and you need to do something, preferably yesterday."

Depression is rather more complicated to treat than a broken leg or appendicitis, and has far more complicated causes - it goes right back to how we choose to run our economic systems, societies, communities, workplaces, families etc (and even Internet discussions) - in which I agree with the author.  It's not primarily about some defect or susceptibility in the people who get it - although some of us are more susceptible than others (just as we vary in our susceptibilities to flu, broken bones etc, and that's partly genetic, partly environmental, including partly where we are in our life spans) - it's about the experiences we've had in the world, and with other people, and our beliefs about our own place in it, etc.

I've heard PTSD, which is another kind of trauma reaction, described as "a sane reaction to insane circumstances" - and I think that's a far better summing up than saying, "We throw these people into the firing line, a proportion of them comes out OK, and the less resilient end up with PTSD."  Because people who don't care about injustice, atrocity and how other people feel are also less likely to get PTSD - but would you call that resilience?  Would you consider that healthy and functional?  And strong?

So when people acquire depression, PTSD etc, they're not to blame for that - what caused that is the circumstances with which these people initially had to deal (just like you can get ill from a virus).  But - and this is an important distinction - we're all of us responsible for henceforth dealing with whatever hand we've been dealt constructively, and making the best of it.  (Just as when we get a virus, we need to take constructive actions to minimise its impact on us and other people, and to hopefully get back to good health ASAP.)

Spending the rest of your life as a sort of professional victim and martyr (and I know people like this, both in my family of origin and out in the public arena) is not a good example of how to handle your depression, PTSD, or any other life problem constructively.  At the opposite and equally unhealthy end of the spectrum, you could gloss it over and pretend there's nothing to see here and there never was.

Constructive engagement means you go on a journey from victim to survivor and to learning to thrive - you don't stand by and let this thing define or limit who you are.  Yes, some things will never be the same - but that doesn't mean things in general are doomed forever after, or that life can't be beautiful - in some respects I think it can actually be more beautiful, and I think Khalil Gibran summed up well how this can be, through his fictitious wise man:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
   
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.


This describes really well how these things have been for me personally - which of course doesn't mean everyone will experience it like this.  I've managed to fight my way out of the corner life put me in at the outset, and the next corner, and the one after that, etc, but sadly that doesn't mean everyone will be able to do it - I've had such great luck with various people who were in my life and setting warm and positive examples to counter the effects of a terrible home life behind closed doors when I was growing up, and with books and music and art that came my way and showed me different ways to be.  I've got a reasonable brain and found opportunities and periodic help along the way - including from other people going through this kind of stuff sharing their own stories - and I've grown up without the usual Western divorce from nature and the Earth (and I think that's a massive part of it).  But one thing I could never do is to lie down in it and just accept it, it would certainly have killed me - and it's total anathema to me that anyone would want to surrender to, or even glorify, their own victimhood, or call that a philosophy.

Since none of us can overcome adversity on our own, I think it's our ethical duty to be decent to other people and to be aware that even small acts of kindness and a smile across a crowd can mean more to people than you'll ever know.  I think mental/emotional health isn't something that you can fix like a leaky tap or like taking a broken car to be repaired - it's something that the whole community is going to have to engage with, and that we all have to be the village that brings up the child, or that helps heal the adult - in the face of the broken people and institutions that hurt children and adults (not to mention are destroying the biosphere), to be the little bits of light that together make a difference that lets someone out there fight their way out of the corner. ♥

None of which will be seen as cool, and I don't care - that's not important to me.  But turning depression and suffering into a badge of coolness and a life philosophy is a dangerous thing, not just for yourself, but for the many other people who are in this boat.  It sabotages possibilities for finding joy and healing, which are actual and real things, and for turning this entire Titanic that we're each and every one of us on around, which I personally think is a long shot, but we can't get there if we don't try, and even if we fail, that doesn't mean the trying, and the journey, were meaningless.
SueC is time travelling

SueC

...and a couple of other points:

Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42You like "butterflies and sunsets" but I like abandoned buildings and wildernesses (both environmental and of the soul ).

To turn a little illustration about butterflies and sunsets into this kind of summing up is an over-extension.  I like wilderness too - immensely so - and as a matter of fact, butterflies and sunsets are just two aspects of that - along with thousands of other things.  I like lots of other stuff too.  The point of the original illustration was that the capacity to enjoy the allegedly simple things - like butterflies and sunsets - had been increased by the adversity I've experienced in my life.


Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42I don't talk about personal issues online as I think it's self-indulgent, but let's just say I've been where Mark Fisher has been - well not to the hereafter, obviously.

I'm very sorry to hear you've been to that place.  :'(

And personally I obviously do talk about personal issues online, and read other people's writing about such stuff, and I think if it's done well it can be helpful all around - one of the most helpful things for me when dealing with the complex PTSD coming out in my life was to read actual accounts from other people who were dealing with similar stuff in a positive way.  It's not for everyone, but people who don't like it can just leave it be.



Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42In post-punk and other types of modern music being a "non-musician" was considered a good thing because it meant you didn't bring any preconceptions about what was right and what was wrong, what was good and what was bad.  The most inspiring blues and soul singers aren't necessarily very good technically and even in jazz Miles Davis couldn't do what the likes of Dizzy Gillespie or Clifford Brown could do in terms of playing fast and intricate solos, but he put more feeling into what he did than most jazz musicians were capable of.

This - and actually quite a few other things - I can agree with you on.  But there's also other ways of making great music, and even people who have studied music formally have been responsible for making wonderful music, including music that doesn't pander to preconceived ideas.  Musical accomplishment doesn't necessarily preclude inventiveness and fresh approaches, and it doesn't take away a person's ability to be passionate, or to feel, or to think.  And just because you've read the rulebook doesn't mean you can't decide to throw it out, either...


Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42And I don't see how referring to The Cure's later style as part "slippers-comfortable despair" could be objectively falsifiable.  Surely you can't take it literally to mean Fisher thinks that the band wear slippers?

No, I don't.  What I mean is that this trope, and the other ones he used, doesn't even begin to sum up The Cure post your and his favourite albums from them - it's a cheap shot.  Just like "butterflies and sunsets" doesn't begin to sum up what I think is beautiful in life.  And you can objectively show that there is so much more to the music or the people than what those expressions intend to caricature.

"Slippers-comfortable despair" furthermore seems to me to be intended to ridicule The Cure's darker songs after the three-album period the critic personally approved of, and seems to imply that there is some strange kind of standard of despair which they are now failing to meet - that they no longer belong to the Elite Club of Despair and Suffering, if you like.  Which is kind of weird, when you consider that all of us go through the human condition - and that all of us have to find ways to deal with despair and suffering.  It's not a competitive Olympics, and it's not a fine arts contest, it's just a fact, and something people could help each other with rather than making jibes like this.

Reading some of the links, I was thinking about death cults etc, as previously discussed.


Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42When you say "Don't most adults blindly follow the basic tenets of their societies without ever seriously questioning the underlying assumptions and noticing the elephants in the room?  Isn't there a vast deficit in imagination and creativity in the everyday lives of people running on their various hamster wheels?" I think that comes across as rather elitist.  It sounds like you are saying that "ordinary" people are all witless drones, unlike us intellectuals and thoughtful types.

What, like Aristotle did?  (I'm pretty sure it was him, and it shocked me how he went on about cows blah blah.  It was a long time ago I read it.)

That wasn't the intention.  I was actually thinking about adults as opposed to teenagers when I wrote this.  It's teenagers who often question all that underlying stuff, and then for some reason a lot of that tones down in adulthood.  It's teenagers who're really rocking the boat about climate change at the moment, and it's adults voting in the neoliberals time and again.

And intellectuals aren't any more immune from this than anyone else, I think.  But as to the questions - which is what they were - I'm inviting people to think about this - isn't it true?  Do you think it's true?  Most - statistically - means anywhere over half.  Being an intellectual doesn't give a person immunity from idiocy, by the way.  It actually opens up another boutique form of idiocy - the "specialty area idiot" - from the German word for it, "Fachidiot" - a person who is very good at their chosen thing but woeful outside of their particular academic area.  Intelligence and wisdom, too, are completely different things.

If over half the population (intellectual or otherwise - I'm not making any distinctions) was aware of the elephants in the room, didn't just take things for granted, would we have a better chance at not trashing the planet and each other?  And not letting the powers that be do what they do?

And that being on a hamster wheel takes away imagination and creativity is just a fact of life.  Yet sadly, how many have to be on hamster wheels just to get by?  Which is one of the structural problems that's imposed on the majority of us at some point at least, if not most of our lives - especially if we go along with it.


Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42I hope you'll take all this in the spirit in which it's intended - a robust debate.

On the whole, yes, I have, and thank you.  I appreciate a good debate on interesting things, but the problem is they can snowball - many years ago I participated in a serious scientific discussion about the question:  What colour is an orange in the dark?  It ended up going on for dozens of pages (and in that discussion, I wasn't one of the major writers  :angel) and was totally fascinating, and ended up exploring theories of mind and the nature of matter and quantum mechanics, etc etc. Colour, by the way, is a co-production between light, the innate characteristics of a surface, the receptors in the retina, the way the software in the brain interprets the electrical information coming in from the retinas, and a couple of other things... like many things that we ask questions about, far more complex than we first think...


Quote from: Oneiroman on May 10, 2021, 21:00:42I'm going to be busy for a while from now on so I won't have any time for such long posts, but I'm not throwing my toys out the pram if I don't reply in detail.  Perhaps it would be better anyway to go back to the original topic of journalistic approaches to the early works of The Cure.

No worries.  As to where it goes from here, I'll leave that up to yourself and anyone else who wants to participate.  I think I've taken up my quota for the next month or two!  But I'll still be around if anyone wants my input from henceforth.
SueC is time travelling

Oneiroman

@SueC I am a little mystified at your request for me to "tone it down" and your statement that I have "crossed a line".  It is a matter of record that Yeats had fascist sympathies as a quick search on a search engine including the words "Yeats" and "fascism" would have informed you.  It is not a word I bandy around as a puerile insult.

For example in George Orwell's essay on W B Yeats (1943) he says:

"Translated into political terms, Yeats's tendency is Fascist. Throughout most of his life, and long before Fascism was ever heard of, he had had the outlook of those who reach Fascism by the aristocratic route. He is a great hater of democracy, of the modern world, science, machinery, the concept of progress--above all, of the idea of human equality."

"How do Yeats's political ideas link up with his leaning towards occultism?

[. . .] To begin with, the theory that civilisation moves in recurring cycles is one way out for people who hate the concept of human equality. If it is true that "all this," or something like it, "has happened before," then science and the modern world are debunked at one stroke and progress becomes for ever impossible. [. . .] Secondly, the very concept of occultism carries with it the idea that knowledge must be a secret thing, limited to a small circle of initiates. But the same idea is integral to Fascism. Those who dread the prospect of universal suffrage, popular education, freedom of thought, emancipation of women, will start off with a predilection towards secret cults. There is another link between Fascism and magic in the profound hostility of both to the Christian ethical code."

I hadn't read this before I made my comments but this is exactly what I was referring to when I said "Celtic mystical nonsense".  It is the reason I have no truck with the whole "neofolk" scene which arose in the 1980s in the UK from the ashes of punk.  Oh well, I suppose now one has to apologise for being a democrat.

Under the circumstances I hesitate to mention Baudelaire again, but are you aware that Robert Smith is a fan?  Indeed the Cure song 'How Beautiful You Are' is closely based on a poem by Baudelaire, 'The Eyes of The Poor'.  To quote from the Songfacts website:

"Vocalist Robert Smith reflected on the songwriting process and the influence of a book of Baudelaire poems in a 1987 interview with Promotional 12": "I read through them all and one just really struck me, because I'd actually written a song like that... about how you think that you really know someone, and you really love someone, and suddenly discover that they can react to something you find very important, and they react in a totally different way, and you can't believe that it's the same person. I had a set of words that had that sort of idea in it."

He added: "Once I'd read it I thought it's really a good idea actually having it so that you take it down to one incident. I tried doing it into a very general sense of not understanding someone, but then I thought I should actually take one particular incident and write a song - that was about the most difficult song to write because I wanted to get it just right, so that it sounded like a song rather than just a literary exercise.""

I had used some discretion in not originally commenting on your choice of a Yeats poem but was forced to respond after your reply to my offering of a couple of Baudelaire's pieces, which made me feel as though I had committed some dreadful faux-pas.  Perhaps a little self-awareness might help before you lay into other people for expressing their own beliefs and preferences? 

SueC

G'day, @Oneiroman.  I hope you're having a decent day!  :smth023

@Ulrich asked you to tone it down, not me!  He's the moderator here.

I agreed however that boundaries were crossed, and explained why - so I'm surprised you're still mystified.

It's good that you have now provided some evidence for your claim that Yeats was a fascist, thanks for that - remembering this is a public forum with silent readers as well as participants, and that people who just encounter his poetry and don't make specific studies into his background wouldn't be aware of this (and many people just look at art without necessarily studying the lives of all the artists behind it).  Which brings us to the curly question of cancel culture, which I raised previously:  Are we always obliged to abhor the artistic works of a person because they offend against the current political-correctness doctrine in some way?  Or because they're not on the same page as us politically or differ from our perceptions of what's good and what isn't in some really important ways?

Because if that was the case, I'd not be listening to very much music or reading much poetry or literature at all.  Most of the people who produce works of art in the West have anthropocentric philosophies (because that's encultured in the West); my own philosophy is biocentric.  But, I don't make it into an "us vs them" issue when I'm talking to people, or trying to find common ground - and I generally don't let it dissuade me from enjoying works of art which I don't have any issues with at face value.  What usually has me enjoying or not enjoying a work of art is the actual work of art itself.

Having said that, I cheered loudly when I saw the slave trader statue go into Bristol harbour last year.  :smth023  :smth023  :smth023  I had a problem with the artwork itself, and what it stood for.

And Trump is so obviously nasty on a personal level and across so many criteria that I'm no fan of his in any way, shape or form.  Yeats, however, wasn't Trump, and in my opinion has redeeming features the other seems to be largely lacking.

We're each going to draw our lines differently here, and that's OK.  You can go on despising Yeats and his works both, and I can go on really enjoying much of his poetry while being aware that he was probably politically misguided - and who knows, perhaps he wasn't kind to cats either, and offended in significant other ways - like actually, most of humanity does, on close examination.

Likewise, you don't need my leave to continue to enjoy Baudelaire, and I don't need yours to not enjoy his works, and to find them vastly at odds with how I think about the world and life.  That Robert Smith is a fan is neither here nor there to me - I don't have to like everything that an artist I value likes, nor do I have to abhor what they abhor.  And for the record, and I've open-journalled about this a while back, I never enjoyed How Beautiful You Are, and disagreed with some of its fundamental ideas about relationships and the world, well before I became aware that it was based on a Baudelaire poem (@MAtT pointed it out to me).  That discovery changed nothing - I was responding to the text and it didn't matter whose ideas they were, or in what esteem they are held by various people, branches of academia, etc etc.  I don't believe that any individual has "the answers" - I think we're each responsible for carving out our own world views and that this is preferable to cut-and-pasting other people's world views into a blank space in our heads (which, dear @Oneiroman, is not a comment aimed at you, it's just a general comment on things I'm sure we've all seen).


Quote from: undefinedPerhaps a little self-awareness might help before you lay into other people for expressing their own beliefs and preferences?

For the record - and you can look this over - I've laid into nobody in this discussion for expressing their own beliefs and preferences - feel free to express away (within the boundaries of fair engagement, if you want me to be part of this discussion).  I'm not trying to change your mind - I was expressing my own, clearly quite different, beliefs and preferences, and saying, "each to their own".

But have a look at the things @Ulrich quoted from you in his response post, and then apply your own statement above to that.

Apart from that kind of stuff, I for one have really valued your input into this forum and I thank you for it, and hope to see you doing more posts on various topics.  We can all learn from each other, and it's generally good fun to engage from our various parts of the planet in online discussions, even if we disagree on some matters - and even if we disagree on matters that are clearly close to our own hearts.  :)
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: Oneiroman on May 18, 2021, 01:10:25I hadn't read this before I made my comments ...

Ridiculous! So what were your comments based on?

Quote from: SueC on May 18, 2021, 04:12:39Are we always obliged to abhor the artistic works of a person because they offend against the current political-correctness doctrine in some way?  Or because they're not on the same page as us politically or differ from our perceptions of what's good and what isn't in some really important ways?

Nowadays it's easy to find something about anyone whose poetry you just don't like.

Example: look what I found about Baudelaire:

"Baudelaire came into his inheritance in April 1842 and rapidly proceeded to dissipate it on the lifestyle of a dandified man of letters, spending freely on clothes, books, paintings, expensive food and wines, and, not least, hashish and opium"

"His themes of sex, death, lesbianism, metamorphosis, depression, urban corruption, lost innocence and alcohol not only gained him loyal followers, but also garnered controversy. "

Not someone we must like, eh?

Quote from: SueC on May 18, 2021, 04:12:39I don't have to like everything that an artist I value likes, nor do I have to abhor what they abhor. 

Exactly.
It doesn't touch me at all...

SueC

Quote from: MeltingMan on May 18, 2021, 12:13:28Perhaps I should mention that this year marks / celebrates the author's bicentenary. 😳

Are you blushing?  You've got a right to like what art you like, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it!  :smth023  I hope you enjoy what you enjoy, whether or not I or anyone else enjoys it!   :cool

I'm very happy for other people to enjoy dishes with pineapple in them too, even if I don't like most of these... or for other people not to like mozzarella, even though I love the stuff and the majority of cheeses in existence... (maybe not Andechser though!  :winking_tongue)

My husband, on the other hand, often says he would ban bananas were he the Emperor of the World.  So it's a good thing this is unlikely to happen!
SueC is time travelling

word_on_a_wing

I really didn't want to get involved, but what the heck, I'm going to chime in...

I really liked the poem Oneiroman quoted at the start of the thread, and I was surprised by the response from Sue that she found it "repulsive". In my work I see a lot of people who have different interests and perspectives to myself, but if I responded like that it wouldn't go down well.  The other person would likely either walk away (as I tend to do) or may respond to your prickly response with some prickles of their own.  ...my guess is that's kinda what happened here.

Also, I don't think Oneiroman said anything that was particularly out of line, but I think the way you both pounced on him was pretty intense.  ...at the end it kinda felt like a schoolyard dynamic where Sue and Ulrich need to remain at the 'top of the castle' and not the 'dirty rascal'.

This post may provoke some backlash (perhaps I'm now the 'dirty rascal?) ...That's ok, it really doesn't bother me.
"Where the flesh meets the spirit world,
Where the traffic is thin..."

SueC

Well, you're free to see it like that, @word_on_a_wing, but my personal feelings about something are what they are, just as yours are - have you read some of Baudelaire's stuff that's not been reproduced on this forum (which part of my response was about)?   I remember when you thought it was a bit out of line when a song on the Currently Listening here was about a middle-aged man going off with a barely mature female - and you've got a right to feel that way, ditto the way you feel about The Only One, and others have a right to feel differently about it.  Those two examples, by the way, IMO are far more tasteful than some of the stuff Baudelaire wrote - and the standard reply from fans of the poet to that, that I've seen, is to call people who are repulsed by it boring, bourgeois, etc etc (i.e. to respond by personally denigrating - which has been part of the issue in this discussion as well - and by considering themselves superior in tastes to the people who don't like these poems).

It's not prickly or insulting to say you're repulsed by something - it's honest.  You were repulsed by The Only One, I'm repulsed by much of Baudelaire's poetry.  Even the more low-key, pastoral stuff that was quoted on this thread has that effect on me to an extent (and by itself, without reference to those other poems in the poet's repertoire).  I didn't say it was bad poetry, or personally insult the author, or the poster, or take pot-shots at them.  I just said how I felt about it, and that others could obviously feel differently.

PS: Here's a link to a review of a crime thriller where the murderer is a Baudelaire devotee - I read this novel last year, just by coincidence, after I'd already found I thought very differently to this poet - and the reviewer likes Baudelaire, but even she says she's "disgusted" by his poetry, as well as mesmerised (in her case).  She makes a nice case for why she personally likes the poems, but also says:

QuoteI think some readers will find themselves hating his poetry that appears in this book, and that is a completely valid reaction.

She likes the poems, I don't, we both liked this book, which was an excellent whodunnit but also asked interesting questions about the responsibility, if any, that artists have for what their art may inspire other people to do.


(By the way, the start of this discussion, before bits of it were moved, can be found here:  http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=9424)
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: word_on_a_wing on May 18, 2021, 13:31:58at the start of the thread

This wasn't really the start, I moved these posts because they were "off topic". (Sorry; I should have made a remark in the 1st post.)

Quote from: word_on_a_wing on May 18, 2021, 13:31:58Also, I don't think Oneiroman said anything that was particularly out of line

See post #4, I quoted what was way out of line there!  :pouting-face

Feel free to disagree, but go and ask any of your (online or offline) friends what they think of such quotes.
It doesn't touch me at all...