Voyou Désœuvré

@voyou My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Taylor Swift (30), Jessie Ware (19) & Inner City (2) http://bit.ly/c92RWg 31 Oct 14 Reply Retweet Favorite

Grand Budapest Hotel Perfume

In the essay “Utopia as Replication”, Jameson suggests we consider Walmart as an example of how “the most noxious phenomena can serve as the repository and hiding place for all kinds of unsuspected wish-fulfilments and utopian fantasies”. Jameson intends this as a bit of a provocation, but I wonder if Walmart isn’t actually too easy a choice for the “paradoxical affirmation” of “what is most exploitative and dehumanizing in the working life of capitalism”. Walmart’s vastness of scale and remorselessness give it an aesthetic alibi, allying it with a tradition of modernist creative destruction which is likely to be attractive, at least to the sort of people who read Jameson. To really follow through Jameson’s project of unearthing the “utopian impulse”, we need to consider an aspect of capitalism that is not just exploitative but also in bad taste; for a certain strand of contemporary opinion, that would be “twee”, the kind of cutesily-retro faux-petit-bourgeois capitalism of cupcake shops and Cath Kidston. Read more↴


  • Setting the basic income at anything less than a million pounds is a slap in the face of the working class March 31, 2014

    I haven’t paid much attention to Left Unity, because TBH a group organised around the electoral road to social democracy seems more like an Old Labour re-enactment society than a viable political trajectory. Apparently, at their recent conference they decided not to adopt a basic income as a policy, which some have taken as a […]

  • Tolerance and the city February 6, 2014

    I like The Carrie Diaries, the prequel to Sex and the City on the teen-focussed CW network, a lot. It’s a fun show, but there’s an underlying issue-of-the-week earnestness to it which differentiates it from Gossip Girl (with which it shares a production team) and which I like to think is a period detail, harking back to 1980s […]

  • You want full communism? You better sublate work, bitch October 24, 2013

    Britney’s new song has been widely condemned as pure ideology; this piece in the Guardian is typical, arguing that the song reflects a contemporary, “religious” commitment to the value of work. That’s not what the song sounds like to me; it’s not so much capitalist ideology as capitalist id. While the official capitalist ethic proposes the necessity of hard work as the ground of equality, the capitalist id glories in the reality that you have to work while (indeed, because), capital doesn’t.

  • 8tracks mixtape themes I can’t think of eight tracks for August 17, 2013

    Walmart as Utopia. Obviously there are lots of songs about conspicuous consumption, but most of them are about a fantasy level of consumption which is unattainable (probably, for the artist; certainly, for most of their audience). I think Jay-Z has actually produced the Adornian nec plus ultra of this genre with “Picasso Baby.” How do you […]

  • Communism equals soviet power plus amazon.com July 20, 2013

    I don’t get this idea that figuring out communist logistics is somehow a uniquely pressing political task. — Voyou Désœuvré (@voyou) May 13, 2013 I may have been a bit disingenuous when I tweeted the above; I don’t “get” the turn to communist logistics in the sense of finding it an appealing position, but I […]


  • God Only Knows


    It’s also, of course, got a long heritage as a generalist broadcaster, though this has shifted from the reportage of Top Of The Pops (if people buy it, it’s in) to the ‘curator’ approach of Jools Holland and the Glastonbury coverage.

    Picking out this sentence from a much longer piece because I want to think some more about the idea of a shift in understanding of breadth from what you might call “market populism” (or majoritarianism) to an idea of curation. Lots of our language for talking about pop draws on terms from Fordism - images of mass produced pop, a pop assembly line. This is, for me, part of the political importance of pop, because there is a sort of democracy bound up with this kind of mass production. Think of Andy Warhol’s line about how even the president doesn’t get to drink a better Coke than you do. Coke has diversified its brand in a way that makes its uniformity less striking today, and anyway I assume Obama would only drink Coke as a populist gesture, and in private drinks small-batch kombucha or something.

    To go full Marxist economic reductionist for a second, the shift from populism to curation seems analogous to the movement from mass factory production to networks of smaller producers called “flexible specialisation”. Some Marxists have seen flexible specialisation (and other post-Fordist forms of economic organisation) as involving a form of work that is less directly alienated than mass production, and so having some kind of positive potential within it. I’m not convinced - a more flexible alienation seems like it might be a more durable, and hence worse, alienation - and I’m even less convinced that there’s a positive side to the shift to a elite curation mode of pop culture. Can any of you see a utopian potential buried deep within Jools Holland?

    Original post↴

  • Shakespeare’s Genius Is Nonsense - Issue 18: Genius - Nautilus

More snippets