Friday, April 25, 2003

I popped this into the post below.

Sam linked approvingly to a piece in the Times by John Pareles, on the band White Stripes, which gives this description of an interest in such simplicity in popular music:
"The eternal promise of Back to Basics is that it will strip away the layers of self-consciousness and cleverness that get in the way of direct communication." You have to pay for the article now but here it is. Pareles says the White Stripes fail, because they can't escape their ironic detachment. I guess I'll have to throw out my Sex Pistols tapes and Stones records. Once you've left the garden, you can't go back. This leaves us in an ambiguous situation that Americans live with without seeming to know that it exists. Europeans on the other hand take their alienation for granted.

I left off yesterday with a description of a work by Andy Warhol. I've mentioned him in the past partly because I know that his work in its 'insincerity' is something that people who are preoccupied with politics - again, in this country- tend to think of as cheaply ironic and cynical. I suppose at some point he and his work were all three, but not always and his best work isn't cheap (in any way.) I feel strange reminding people that not all art is made to make them feel happier. Sometimes it's meant to remind you that you've felt like shit for years, but give you a new comfort of feeling a little less alone. This is the knowledge every American teenager shares with every middle aged European, but strangely, not with American adults, except those who make a living thinking about such things.

Until we learn to be aware of our own behavior, until we learn some measure of self reflection, we will never be able to have a mature political debate in this country. That Noam Chomsky's utopian positivism should be a argued over -on the left- shocks me. He's the closest thing to a christian saint we have, and as such both a subject of worship and derision. What he's useless for and terrible at is politics.
That's still no excuse for Paul Berman's anxious stupidity or Eric Alterman's jealous rants.

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