Saturday, 31 December 2011
Transmission and playlist available here:
Sunday, 25 December 2011
In the latest issue of Ehe Economist: The Amen Break - Seven seconds of fire: How a short burst of drumming changed the face of music
Friday, 23 December 2011
- OPN’s consonantal chorus of lost voices, the vocabulary of a glossa sans logos, highlighted what Roland Barthes called the “grain” of the voice, the song that comes from the body, not from the speaking subject — the body itself speaking, in a wet, libidinal poetry of consonants — not the speech of the lungs, but of “the tongue, the glottis, the teeth, the mucus membranes, the nose.” Barthes’ posthuman voice of the desirous recording is the same discovered by Lopatin, one that doesn’t come at the level of the word or even the phoneme (not the human, not the cultural level), but at the level of the glottal stop, the fleshy mechanical part of the body. In an interview with Altered Zones, Lopatin explained his interest in this noise that surrounds and comprises signs thusly: “It’s revealing that we’re not in a perfect system though we want to be. We want to believe that we’re efficient and perfect, but things are totally out of control and chaotic, like the way we speak and the way we think.” The human subject becomes a libidinal soundscape just barely contained within our skins, looped air temporarily trapped by the folds of the body, echoing with the consonantal chorus of lost voices, the vocabulary of a glossa sans logos…
- From Ian Latta's review of Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
Check out this hilarious example. She's basically sat in a Weatherspoons with big Z, they jokingly argue over who gets more pleasure from sex, men or women. Zeus/Jove thinks women do, Hera/Juno thinks men do. So they ask Tiresias because he's transgender. Check out Hera's reaction:
Sunday, 18 December 2011
For those currently engaged with this text you may find it somewhat frustrating that the scan obscures some sentences and even overlooks a couple of pages. Particularly if you don't have the original to refer to.
Here's an online edition of the book available to download. It's not beautiful but it is legible.
Saturday, 17 December 2011
I feel this sentiment is the bones of Irigaray's performance - the birth analogies, the uterofication of the cave are, for me, secondary to this, they elucidate the same sentiment.
Thinking back to Echo and Narcissus it's easy to see this dynamic, especially the empirical side. Echo as outwardly expressed is Male. Narcissus reflection is also Male, and Narcissus' love, his introspection is Male, and all of Echo's sentiments, her words are male words, she can only be male, she can only echo, and the love of the story is also a male reflection.
Being a little provocative now. Echo is male, doomed to only being an echo of the male because of another woman, namely Hera. Hera cut Echo's tongue out and cursed her to only echo others words after Echo acted as a distraction for Hera whilst her bo Zeus enjoyed the pleasures of all the other mountain nymphs. I find this aspect of Echo fascinating, she kept Hera talking, gossiping and whispering solely so that Hera was unaware of Zeus' infidelity. Hera ought to have punished Zeus, or the other mountain Nymphs - but she did not, she punished Echo, who merely acted as a distraction, so that her fellow nymphs and the all powerful Zeus could enjoy one another's company. Hera, turned Echo into the Female void, Hera is the cause of why Echo can only hope to be an acoustic reflection, and a male acoustic reflection or a silent void.
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
"As the voice is played, recorded, re-played and re-recorded, the voice and the room blend. By iteratively enhancing the resonant frequencies of the room, Lucier manages to let us hear the sound of how the room listens to the voice. What emerges is a new voice, an extraordinary, literally unheard of ‘mixed body’, the body of the voice as it always anyway, inaudibly is, amid things."
A co-mingling occurs, and "inundated by its own room-tone, the voice ends up ventriloquising the room." I love this thought.
The brown note "is a theoretical infrasonic frequency that would cause humans to lose control of their bowels due to resonance." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_note]. Mythbusters attempted to bust the myth, see below. Watch as Barthe's "stupid organ", the lungs (The Grain of the Voice), get a workout.
Monday, 12 December 2011
♰) Isn't breaking from logos denying language?
✞) Possibly rope in and align Echo and Narcissus here too, Narcissus was repulsed by Echo's advances not because he loved himself (although he did), not because she morphed and manipulated his language but precisely because there was, arguably, NO DIAlogue - there was no exchange and communication, but pure exo-sonics twisting his own (mono)logue. Could this be an interpretation of his reasons for exclaiming "I'll die before I yield to you"? To be outside of logos, outside of communication (which was Echo's punishment after all for gossiping with Hera (Big Z's wife yo) while Zeus played away) - was too scary, hellish a prospect for him, and even though Narcissus was a selfish (arguably aligning with Apollonian themes) the temptation of one of the nymphs would not be enough for him to abandon logos, language, communication.... For Narcissus was the ultimate anti-dioysian, he was the ultimate Self-loving, self-centered symbol, Dionysism is about the collective, the crowd, the frenzy - Narcissus would be out at the clubs much, he'd be indoors preening himself, adoring his individuality (albeit unbeknown to him), cosy in logos....
ƨ)The dyad, the extimacy could crop up here too.... is this not a scary glimmer of our own internal Dionysian/Apollonian antisyzygy
Hope this isn't too binary and simplistic, but I am getting a little wrapped up in finding threads of sonic applicable relevance between all these dyads, extimacies, syzygies, polemics and struggles....
Saturday, 10 December 2011
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Monday, 5 December 2011
I've just finished reading the Mladen Dolar book A Voice and Nothing More (yup- way late on that I know). Now I have finished it I feel pretty confident in my earlier diagrams and attempts to map Dolar's Lacanian dynamics of the Voice. So that's good.
Going back to the voice as the schism, the Moebius strip of logos and corporeal sound, of the (signifier) absences differential matrix being always locked into the dyad with nature, sound, song and temptation etc (I think I've ranted about this intrinsic relationship enough now, I think it's established) - can we think about the grey areas of this relationship? The grain of the Voice - as Barthes puts it is perhaps one of these but I'd like to focus on another: kissing.
Is a contexturalized kiss a signifier or not? A cough can be a signifer, a deliberate cough especially, but do kisses communicated in a way outside of language (again, I am using language in the broadest of terms here, a cough at an unattended counter is a signifier regardless of 'language') is a kiss more un-signified than signified? Kisses of thanks, of goodbyes, of lust and elation all carry some contexturalization from the differential matrix of logos, a kiss goodbye is mostly signified in the same contrived way that kissing a gold medal or trophy cup is (also see Proskynesis and The Kiss of Peace) - there's loads of examples - but can a naturally embedded exchange occur. The obvious connections (Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape etc) to the mouth as an erogenous zone aside (and the whole heap of metaphors, analogies and developmental relics), I'd like to explore/or ask around the voco-oral (VoC(h)oral) fetishisation. The heavily rhythmic, breath drenched sounds, in Britney Spears shameless single "I'm A Slave 4 U" is a very obvious recent example of, albeit commodified and culturally encoded, Voc(h)oral fetishism.
DJ Screw's dragged out, chopped and screwed plays of Mariah Carey, Brandy and Monica, Nate Dog, R Kelly, Phil Collins etc create swaying worlds of Voc(h)oral fetishism, lungs the size of Cadillacs breath sensuous rushes of air over the listener, any croak or drawl in the delivery is heightened to seismic sonic dimensions - so much so that in the closing seconds of DJ Screws play of Phil Collins "In the Air tonight" Collins' vocal strains sound like the death cries of a man sinking underneath a bass filled abyss - the animal facet of the voice is re-presented and unveiled only by dropping a tone and slowing the tempo:
Another example of breaking the musically logosified voice into the call, into something more biological can be found in ✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞'s track ▇✞ шчԏӊѺυϮ Џ ✞▇:
✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞ - ▇✞ шчԏӊѺυϮ Џ ✞▇ by ✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞
In a paradoxical method of humanizing, or rather animalizing the voice back into something more primal and less tamed and shackled by logos and musical convention - post-production devices and the mechanisms of the turn-tables create an illusion, a crevice of sonic texture that returns the voice to the primal, pre-logos sound we (perhaps) yearn for. But I am digressing here over to more sonic/musical manifestations of animal orality and vocality.
Where does this need come from? During moments of intimacy it's odd how much a familiar voice is transformed, the transformation is partly due to passion and the physiological effects of activity but also due to proximity, I've often been struck by the loud, sharp almost uncomfortable white noise of breath, or by the bass driven vibrations of a voice re-toned (down tuned) through proximity (under similar sonic mechanics as a Doctor using a stephoscope) - are these sonic phenomena unique to physical intimacy slowly being re-created for commodification? Is this Voc(h)oral fetishism - feigning a sonic trait of animality/intimacy in order to conjure some emotion between a pair of Sennheisers?
SO back to the kiss. Voc(h)oral fetishism is, perhaps, a consequence of remembering such experiences, of hoping to re-create a similar sensation - and this is key. The sensation, a physical sensation is tied into the sonic phenomena emerging from such proximity. When a cheek is pecked in gratitude there are unique sonics that correlate with the physical exchange, the sonic aspects of such are transient and undefinable. The warmth of another's cheek, the down tuning of their voice as they reply whilst withdrawing from your kiss whilst the sound is morphed in relation (or rather in correlation) to these sensations is a large part of the dynamic I am trying to explore here. Voc(h)oral fetishism will never 'copy' the sonics of intimacy because these are mediated by sensations and, on a sensory level, orchestrated by such sensations of heat or cold, degree's of vibration, smell etc. The Voc(h)oral fetishism in the videos above is akin to Rachmaninov played on a Casio - whole chunks of the composition, of the experience are jettisoned (hence why no one is excited by Britney Spears - amongst other reasons). Again I am digressing from the purely sonic aspects the kiss and straying on to the associated poly-sensory phenomena.
Could it be that any noise emitted whilst engaged in an oral-centric practice of affection is, a-logos, the mouth, the lips and tongue are engaged in purely physical exchanges, any noise is more likely to emanate from the lungs as sound rather than 'words', as a bodily resonance rather than any formed phonic oration - is it closer to our natural (animalistic) sound before the mutilation of the oratory speaking mouth forces the vibrations and air into words. Is this why the proximity to such sounds is emotional rather than cerebral (I know there is not one without the other but for the sake of this sonic schism this explanation of responses will suffice). Is the proximity warped sound of another's stifled gasp the closest (metaphorically and physically) we will get to another's voice before the oral mechanism, originally intended for masticating, mutilates the sound in signifiers, language and code? Is the sound from such proximity closer to the sound of ourselves? The sound we hear inside our head, when we cough, shout or cry out. In short, can this be read as an ironic reversal of the Echo and Narcissus dynamic? Narcissus withdrew in horror at the otherness of his own voice spoken by Echo, if Narcissus was not narcissistic would he feel a pang of empathy and love for another's voice, being so close to the pre-logos sound of another human? Feeling Echo's original sound (not too dissimilar to his own, with the same human qualities) rather than understanding her orated words and being repulsed at the otherness.
Thursday, 1 December 2011
Thought I'd post up this recording of Charles Panzera to go with the Roland Barthes essay 'The Grain of the Voice'. Also worth noting the dog (Nipper) and the gramophone, the His Masters Voice piece by Francis Barraud which, according to Dolar around page 75 pretty much sums up the voice and our relationship to it: machine and animal and no source of sound.
Then I wound up here
Sunday, 27 November 2011
This is pure musically coded communication, both instruments are fretted I think, there is a call and response part too - quite obvious.
However when this code is broken, or an un-coded sound dominates (shofar springs to mind here, alongside fender squalls, and football chants) we may feel uneasy, over excited, angry or worse - politically motivated. The history of classical music riots is worth recalling here, as is The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to which Autechre infamously responded... Music is littered with spontaneous reactions to the uncoded, the ghostly remainder.
So whilst Dolar traces our 'problem' of dealing with the Exo-remnant in Voice, the endless shackling of the voice to logos, the feminization, the sexualization of this sonic 'other' (resembling mirroring our literal repression of women over histories), or on the other hand the thunderingly masculine sounds of the shofar or gods voice etc.... I wonder if there are similar enquiries or studies into the history of music, stepping outside of logos, of the irreducible a-logos facet of song?
There must be. See Sirens, Mermaids, Pan, Orpheus, Plato's dislike of the flute (the un-coded instrument, the instrument that is most open to sound, the flute Plato refers to would be a small free sliding 'scale' wind instrument), The Puritans organ burning. Infact, to kick up a rather corny pop culture relic - The Beatles. After Lennon made his infamous 'bigger than Christ' comment a good old fashioned furore of burning The Beatles record broke out across some southern American states.
OK, so whilst the The Beatles records themselves are not stritchly a-logos, they are not totally uncoded, I feel it's fair to say the 'X-factor', the special appeal (sonically) may have been the anomalous sonic remnant outside of musical codification - perhaps their live shows had that extra zing that erects goosebumps, the je ne sais quoi, that special something - but lots of fantastic musicians have this, this something is not exactly ubiquitous but there are certainly a lot of sublime and inspiring musicians and performers for every generation.
I'll speculate that the catalyst for such a wax inferno was Lennon's comment. Or rather, the sonic-logos implications behind the comment. To strictly juxtapose The Beatles with Christ created an unnerving dichotomy. The uncoded sonic of The Beatles appeal, something they had and could culturally surf, against or opposed to the word, logos, the book, the Bible. One was living, moving, globe trotting and inspiring and communicated on levels that were, arguably, unbeknown previously, the pandemonium of live music, the fandom of the record etc. The charming, charismatic liverpudlians had something the good book didn't, they were alive and touching people through music, emotionally in a way that a bunch of dead symbols never would, and never will do.
This brief dominance of musicality (along with it's a-logos appendage) over logos/the good word coupled with Lennons ill founded comments about being bigger than jesus maybe made the more logosphilial people in southern american states uneasy, some to such a degree they felt compelled to burn their own Beatles records.
I accept that a large proportion of the outrage was due to Lennon criticising Christianity. However I do wonder, even though we'll never be able to gather an empirical basis for this sequence of events and myriad subjective agendas, metaphysical, political, peer led or other (quite fittingly considering the phenomena in question), I wonder if there is not a reasonable basis for the assumption that the mixture of theological criticism, music, hysteria and uncoded a-logosonic aspects of The Beatles songs was a large part of the reason why such events occurred.
"A change to a new type of music is something to beware of as a hazard to all our fotunes. The modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling the most fundamental political and social conventions. It is here, then, I said, that our guardians must build their guardhouse and post of watch. It is certain, he said, that this is the kind of lawlessness that easily insinuates itself unobserved.
Yes, said I, because it is supposed to be only a form of play and to work no harm.
Nor does it work any, he said, except that by gradual infiltration it softly overflows upon the characters and pursuits of men and from these issues forth grown greater to attach their business dealings, and from these relations it proceeds against the laws and the constitution with wanton license, Socrates, till it finally overthrows all things public and private."(Plato, Republic IV)
"Bacchic frenzy and all similar emotions are most suitably expressed by the flute" (Aristotle, Politics VIII)
Is there anything for the uptight logos lover to fear today? As soon as something is deemed 'new', it is absorbed into capitalism and commodified. There are economic problems now, and subsequently political problems and music feels boring and coded like never before. Is it because I am no longer a wide eyed teen reliant solely on HMV for music? Or is it because torrent sites have spoilt me and ipods jaded me? Is there anything exciting to come? Musophobia as relic - I fear.
EDIT - I'm tuggin at something here, not sure what, if it reads like i'm wringing my hands and mincing my feet to and fro it maybe because it's late and the post has drifted onto more questions than answers. I'd really like someone to recommend me some nice music analysis text around the subject I'm scraping (clumsily) at... Maybe it's just because i'm bitter that Shackleton (who programs each individual beat, so the tracks sound lifelike and organic - I wanted to work this into one of my theories) has released an eponymous LP with Pinch and it is the most anaesthetizingly dull record I've heard for some time now.
Friday, 25 November 2011
At first I felt the logos bubble should be much larger than the exo/remnant side, dwarfing it like an eclipse to reflect the metaphysical history Dolar runs through, but as this Logos voice is only granted authority by the remnant, and the remnant is key to allowing Logos becoming act etc... I felt I'll leave them at similar sizes - maybe through a historical perspective (if we could add a depth/history vector to the drawing - shifting from 2d to 3d) then a colossal exo remnant could lurk on the horizon but appear historically as lesser in size than the Logos realm?
The section on Hegel in Derrida's essay feels very very similar to this Object Voice notion just an anatropic, or inside out, version leaning on auto-affection? - Maybe that's just me.
EDIT - ok, I just finished the Derrida essay, I cannot see much difference (no pun, lets not go there) regarding voice between the two to be honest, Dolar twists the Exo into a helix supporting the Logos, Derrida calls on Heidegger's 'being' before showing how being cannot be outside of logos essentially.... I also feel I have been a touch harsh on Jacques, and Dolar couldn't have enjoyed such critical leverage had he quoted the line afterwards..... I can't outline this without re-hashing and transcribing whole chunks of each text....
Anyway, here is one part of Derrida's essay that sticks out like a sore thumb (concerning the similarities between Derrida's voice and Lacan/Dolar's Object Voice) - my italics....
"It is thus that, after evoking the "voice of being" Heidegger recalls that it is silent, mute, insonorous, wordless, originally a-phonic (...) The voice of the sources is not heard. A rupture between the ordinary meaning of being and the word, between meaning and the voice, between "the voice of being" and the "phone", between the "call of being" and articulated sound; such a rupture, which at once confirms a fundamental metaphor, and renders it suspect by accentuating its metaphoric discrepancy, translates the ambiguity of the Heideggerian situation with respect to the metaphysics of presence and logocentrism. It is at once contained within it and transgresses it. But it is impossible to separate the two."
P.22, - From Jacques Derrida, "The End of the Book and the Beginning of writing", from Of Grammatology
If I'm totally mis-reading this please chime in (or email me).
Thursday, 24 November 2011
This Metropolis M interview is great, I meant to mention it in the presentation but I guess I forgot, what with all the talk of Narcissus and Echo.... Dolar talks of a missing chapter that he decided not include in the book, about "the ethics, metaphysics, physics, politics of the voice".
I am still mulling over the dynamic of the Exo irreducible remnant holding not just the ultimate animating power for the Logos side of voice to be taken as an act, to grant it weight and authority, but also as an ultimate force for totally warping meaning. Like the Echo and Narcissus story, when Narcissus calls out, the exo-echo deliberately (she loves him, she's besotted with him and know she can only use his words to woo him - "she longed to come to him with winning words") warps and reconfigures the meaning of his own voice, of his own intent.
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
2) Think of the male/female then logos/remnant positions of the voice that is at once presence and absence interior and exterior – can we use Derrida’s Pharmakos (remedy and poison) or Derrida’s Hymen notion (the inbetween that prevents but also consummates) – not to be too phallocentric but I think this analogy, this strategy has legs…
3) What do people enjoy about the voice and music (now we accept music is essentially a language – cue micro tone problems).. Think jimi Hendrix missing notes, think Florence at Glastonbury avoiding most notes etc etc
4) How can we read the massive rise in echo and reverb in modern pop music? Think witch house, drag, hauntological stuff, Maria Minerva!?!?! Is this echo effect abuse a strategy to bring the voice further into alterity and void of signification? Or a burgeoning form of voco-narcissism?
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Here is Lacan's Graph of Desire, I thought the version with the key might be helpful - so it's up here whilst the discussion is still fresh in our minds.
Friday, 20 May 2011
It's as if Adam Curtis was at the lecture and used it as the inspiration for this new documentary of his, "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace":
Hey, kids! Do you like violence?
Eminem's appeal seemed solely male, a sort of musical accompaniment to the first-person-shooter game, each track repeating, in explicit and gory detail, a series of assaults and overdoses (See, for instance, "Brain Damage"). It was their outlandishness, their absurdity, that made them OK to us, and this appetite for the fantastic may have been Eminem's way of refusing the compulsion to prove his "street cred"--the stories, like those of Slick Rick, were often so entertaining that nobody cared to ask if they were true or not. At the same time, though, there were stories about his relationship with Kim that made people hope they weren't true. One of the moments in Eminem that I loved the most was his hook on the track "Role Model":
I came to the club drunk with a fake ID
Don't you wanna grow up to be just like me!
I've been with 10 women who got HIV
Now don't you wanna grow up to be just like me!
I got genital warts and it burns when I pee
Don't you wanna grow up to be just like me!
I tie a rope around my penis and jump from a tree
You probably wanna grow up to be just like me!!!
His joy at the prospect of his own imaginary castration set him far apart from other hip hop artists, even Dre himself, for whom the mention of one's own penis could only be a metaphoric reference to size and power. Eminem's antics were all in the service of the overarching philosophical journey towards "just not giving a fuck".
I would not, then, have guessed that Eminem's career would proceed the way it has, although, looking back, I really can't imagine how else it could have gone. Nowadays, his tracks are inevitably put together by superstar producers and played almost as a kind of "urban easy listening," that is to say, everywhere that plays hip hop music--malls, convenience stores, salons. His new ("post-addiction-metamorphosis") tracks lack the utter Dionysian destructiveness of his early ones, but are no less angry or violent. Nowadays, he yells like a middle-aged alcoholic, his voice devoid of the mischief and humor of the bleached-blonde days. His tracks have always, since "My Name Is," been mainstream, but now they occupy a different mainstream, one which includes middle-aged people, black people, and women. That's not to say that black people never listened to Eminem at the beginning, but I remember the moment when D12 came out as a turning point, at which a black kid I knew told me he thought the early stuff wasn't very good, but this new stuff was better. At the beginning he really was Elvis to many people, the white guy stealing the art form and making a lot of money off of it. Now he's just another abusive dad, his anger completely uncontroversial, the pitched rage of his voice used to "balance out" the soulful harmonies of the female singer he accompanies. I don't mean to suggest that his anger was more controversial when he directed his vitriol toward Christina Aguilera, Fred Durst, Insane Clown Posse, and Mariah Carey. But in those days it fooled people for whom the entire world consisted of MTV into thinking that he really was rocking the boat. Nowadays he's another jealous, over-the-hill lover, yelling at Rihanna: "I'ma tie you to the bed and set this house on fire!!"
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
"Generation Gaga doesn’t identify with powerful vocal styles because their own voices have atrophied"
Lady Gaga and the death of sex
Camille Paglia / Published: 12 September 2010
An erotic breaker of taboos or an asexual copycat? Camille Paglia, America's foremost cultural critic, demolishes an icon.
Lady Gaga is the first major star of the digital age. Since her rise, she has remained almost continually on tour. Hence, she is a moving target who has escaped serious scrutiny. She is often pictured tottering down the street in some outlandish get-up and fright wig. Most of what she has said about herself has not been independently corroborated… “Music is a lie”, “Art is a lie”, “Gaga is a lie”, and “I profusely lie” have been among Gaga’s pronouncements, but her fans swallow her line whole…
She constantly touts her symbiotic bond with her fans, the “little monsters”, who she inspires to “love themselves” as if they are damaged goods in need of her therapeutic repair. “You’re a superstar, no matter who you are!” She earnestly tells them from the stage, while their cash ends up in her pockets. She told a magazine with messianic fervour: “I love my fans more than any artist who has ever lived.” She claims to have changed the lives of the disabled, thrilled by her jewelled parody crutches in the Paparazzi video.
Although she presents herself as the clarion voice of all the freaks and misfits of life, there is little evidence that she ever was one. Her upbringing was comfortable and eventually affluent, and she attended the same upscale Manhattan private school as Paris and Nicky Hilton. There is a monumental disconnect between Gaga’s melodramatic self-portrayal as a lonely, rebellious, marginalised artist and the powerful corporate apparatus that bankrolled her makeover and has steamrollered her songs into heavy rotation on radio stations everywhere.
Lady Gaga is a manufactured personality, and a recent one at that. Photos of Stefani Germanotta just a few years ago show a bubbly brunette with a glowing complexion. The Gaga of world fame, however, with her heavy wigs and giant sunglasses (rudely worn during interviews) looks either simperingly doll-like or ghoulish, without a trace of spontaneity. Every public appearance, even absurdly at airports where most celebrities want to pass incognito, has been lavishly scripted in advance with a flamboyant outfit and bizarre hairdo assembled by an invisible company of elves.
Furthermore, despite showing acres of pallid flesh in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all – she’s like a gangly marionette or plasticised android. How could a figure so calculated and artificial, so clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism have become the icon of her generation? Can it be that Gaga represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution? In Gaga’s manic miming of persona after persona, over-conceptualised and claustrophobic, we may have reached the limit of an era…
Gaga has borrowed so heavily from Madonna (as in her latest video-Alejandro) that it must be asked, at what point does homage become theft? However, the main point is that the young Madonna was on fire. She was indeed the imperious Marlene Dietrich’s true heir. For Gaga, sex is mainly decor and surface; she’s like a laminated piece of ersatz rococo furniture. Alarmingly, Generation Gaga can’t tell the difference. Is it the death of sex? Perhaps the symbolic status that sex had for a century has gone kaput; that blazing trajectory is over…
Gaga seems comet-like, a stimulating burst of novelty, even though she is a ruthless recycler of other people’s work. She is the diva of déjà vu. Gaga has glibly appropriated from performers like Cher, Jane Fonda as Barbarella, Gwen Stefani and Pink, as well as from fashion muses like Isabella Blow and Daphne Guinness. Drag queens, whom Gaga professes to admire, are usually far sexier in many of her over-the-top outfits than she is.
Peeping dourly through all that tat is Gaga’s limited range of facial expressions. Her videos repeatedly thrust that blank, lugubrious face at the camera and us; it’s creepy and coercive. Marlene and Madonna gave the impression, true or false, of being pansexual. Gaga, for all her writhing and posturing, is asexual. Going off to the gym in broad daylight, as Gaga recently did, dressed in a black bustier, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels isn’t sexy – it’s sexually dysfunctional.
Compare Gaga’s insipid songs, with their nursery-rhyme nonsense syllables, to the title and hypnotic refrain of the first Madonna song and video to bring her attention on MTV, Burning Up, with its elemental fire imagery and its then-shocking offer of fellatio. In place of Madonna’s valiant life force, what we find in Gaga is a disturbing trend towards mutilation and death…
Gaga is in way over her head with her avant-garde pretensions… She wants to have it both ways – to be hip and avant-garde and yet popular and universal, a practitioner of gung-ho “show biz”. Most of her worshippers seem to have had little or no contact with such powerful performers as Tina Turner or Janis Joplin, with their huge personalities and deep wells of passion.
Generation Gaga doesn’t identify with powerful vocal styles because their own voices have atrophied: they communicate mutely via a constant stream of atomised, telegraphic text messages. Gaga’s flat affect doesn’t bother them because they’re not attuned to facial expressions.
Gaga's fans are marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty. Borderlines have been blurred between public and private: reality TV shows multiply, cell phone conversations blare everywhere; secrets are heedlessly blabbed on Facebook and Twitter. Hence, Gaga gratuitously natters on about her vagina…