Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

Despite the terrible cover

And the mediocrity of Sexy/Back (like a disappointingly restrained knock-off of “Maneater”); FutureSex/LoveSounds really is heartbreakingly good. “My Love” is a great example of cold pop, a sort of wierd ghost-rave (but not at all hauntalogical; more hammer horror, or Scooby Doo).

Christina Aguillera is "The Black Dahlia" k-punk is great on the Christina Aguillera album. He’s particularly right about the charm of the perfect anachronism of a number of tracks. The simulacra World War 2 of “Candyman” is the perfect soundtrack for the War on Terror, it’s actually painful to listen to. Which is also a useful reminder that the Iraq War is all fucking Spielberg’s fault. Or rather, of all that rather bloated WWII nostalgia. You want to shake Christopher Hitchens and tell him to get over his Oedipus complex (he’s not fooling anyone by sublimating it into an Orwell complex). This explains why Peter Hitchens is much more congenial than his brother: Peter is a nice healthy reactionary (with charming ruddy cheeks), he doesn’t bottle it all up like poor Christopher. I worry that that last sentence makes me sound like a character out of a Dorothy L Sayers story.

Ultraleft reformists

The curious thing about communism is how blandly realistic it is. It’s a straightforward reformist demand: “yes, go ahead and reform capitalism, but the only conceivable change at this point is towards communism.” Consider the demands for a social wage: it’s the only form of payment that makes any kind of sense given the contemporary structure of capitalism. Capitalism needs some form of wage to carry on exploiting labor; but the more socially-dispersed production is, the more socialized the wage has to be. And yet, if you look at neoliberalism, becase of its need for control, it can’t possibly allow a living social wage (hence welfare reform doesn’t quite eliminate support, but tries to substitute as much of the social wage as possible with more direct forms of control).

It’s odd that people like Negri know this, but always present the reformist side of the social wage, forgetting to mention that this reform will destroy capitalism (and we will have to do that destroying). Negri could have written Empire in the same style he wrote Domination and Sabotage (“every time I pull on the ski-mask, I feel envelopped in the intergalactic Zapatista community,” or whatever it is); aside from not wanting to go back to prison, one wonders why he didn’t.

Bumping in the back room

There are few things more attractive than Girls Aloud looking bored on a bus. I loved the new Girls Aloud track when I first heard a terrible quality radio rip. I was actually a little disappointed when I heard a proper quality version; it turns out my imagination had inserted a storming gay bassline (not that the real version doesn’t have a moderately storming bassline, though). Luckily, the promo comes with a full complement of generic dance remixes; of which I particularly like the sort-of-almost dubstep Co-stars mix. There’s a fine trance version, too, which plays the old trick of transposing the bass chord progression into the minor, making the vocals seem to float in some kind of noumenal heaven above the melancholy of the day-to-day world.

Which reminds me of a number of interesting posts from &catherine, about a particular affective coldness in pop music. What interest me are those songs where apparent melancholy is somehow undercut precisely by the process of transforming emotion into music. The key example for me here is happy hardcore, which manages to preserve a sense of yearning like a specimen caught in amber, against a musical context that seems to expunge any possibility of emotion. I’m reminded of Spinoza’s claim that melancholy is always evil, but anguish can be good to the extent that it checks enthusiasm. Or, Nietzsche’s idea of a pessimism of strength: a cold pop music seems to begin from the essential painful nature of the world, but recognizes the worthlessness of raising this pain as a simple complaint. Instead (and I think happy hardcore is a particularly sharp example again here), there’s an odd combination of desperation and parody, an identification (over-identification?) with horror which works to create some kind of distance from it.