All posts for May 2016

Music: Aoi no Ue (Jōji Yuasa)

The first of a series of records by Edition Omega Point that explores the undeservedly unheard Japanese avant-garde.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/05/30 06:00
Buy at Amazon

I'm drawn to specific record labels the way some people are drawn to specific cuisines or specific neighborhoods. If you say the words "Stax" or "Motown", you can communicate with those single words a whole flavor of music. Japan's long been a hotbed of indie labels catering to amazingly specific and narrow tastes -- e.g., Hideo Ike'ezumi's P.S.F. label, immortal forever for having brought us the likes of Keiji Haino and Fushitsusha.

Now I'm delving -- slowly -- into the treasure trove that is Edition Omega Point, a label all but unknown in the West but deserving of wider appreciation thanks to its mission: to document the amazing electronic, experimental, and avant-garde music found in Japan's underground and academic circles. Catnip for an ecletic like me; the sheer unheard-ness of this music automatically makes it an object of fascination. Like many tiny labels, EOP presses few copies of each title -- often no more than a few hundred -- but that still makes those discs easier to track down than the original issues of that music. Assuming there was ever one to begin with, that is.

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Tags: Edition Omega Point Japan Joji Yuasa electronic music music review İlhan Mimaroǧlu

Push My Envelope Dept.

"Transgressive" isn't what it used to be. Maybe it never was.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/05/24 06:00

Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember? - The New York Times

... the definition of “transgressive” is shifting. It’s no longer appropriate to dismiss disco as superficial. More and more, we recognize how disco latently pushed gay, urban culture into white suburbia, which is a more meaningful transgression than going on a British TV talk show and swearing at the host.

My take is that "transgressive" is always relative to what you're pushing against, and even then it's a moving target, because we're moving targets.

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Tags: Jean Genet John Rechy Kathy Acker Peter Sotos Tackhead William S. Burroughs art culture music society writers writing

Outside The Cocoon Dept.

"In this cocoon, the working class is something to make money from..."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/05/20 10:00

In re a comment about the new Clooney/Roberts/Foster flick Money Monster:

Three Sentences About the Cocoon | Mother Jones

Back in the day, plenty of screenwriters and film directors came from working-class backgrounds. Today they all have degrees from the USC film school and live in Silver Lake. They get their news from Variety and the LA Times, not drive-time radio and People. In this cocoon, the working class is something to make money from via transparently condescending TV shows, not real people with real problems.

That business about "bringing what you have into where you go" is something I've touched on before, and I used Hollywood as my original go-to example. When Tinseltown was brand spanking new, so new they didn't even have color or sound, people came into it from pretty much wherever, not just vaudeville and the stage. The idea of going to school to study any aspect of filmmaking wasn't something that would be invented for decades.

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Tags: books creativity creators literature publishing writers writing

Bigger Fish To Fry Dept.

"My problems are bigger than yours" is always a bad argument.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/05/19 10:00

It's generally a bad idea to tell someone their choice of struggle is a waste of time, and that they should do something More Important. By way of Orac:

John Horgan is “skeptical of skeptics,” or: Homeopathy and bigfoot versus cancer and the quest for world peace – Respectful Insolence

... there will always be issues more important or more impactful than what any of us does, with rare exceptions. Pointing to them and using them to denigrate someone’s efforts as pointless, which, make no mistake, is what Hogan [sic] comes across as doing, is not constructive. Rather, it is a very old strategy to denigrate that which you consider unimportant.

I came across Horgan's piece by way of Peter Woit's blog, and I am not happy to report that Woit, whom I normally consider wise, wrote approvingly of Horgan's porridge of nonsense. I suspect it's a case of Woit seeing some things he agreed with on face value and then letting Horgan do the rest of the thinking for him (a phenomenon I'm all too familiar with on my own). The article is depressing for a lot of reasons, but mostly because its central argument boils down to wagging a finger at some population and saying: Why aren't you doing what I like?

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Tags: morality philosophy science skepticism sociology

Kill 'Em All And Let George Sort 'Em Out Dept.

On GRRM's dead pool (lower case, haha).

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/05/18 10:00

Game of Thrones author says not killing off major characters is 'cheating' | Polygon

"We've all read this story a million times when a bunch of heroes set out on adventure and it's the hero and his best friend and his girlfriend and they go through amazing hair-raising adventures and none of them die," Martin told the magazine. "The only ones who die are extras."

My objection here is to the way GRRM doesn't seem to think framing or selection matters in storytelling, or that it's naïve, or something to that effect. His answer to the romanticism of fantasy (something that had actually been pretty heavily deconstructed by the time he came along) was to make it impossible to invest ourselves emotionally in anyone in the story, because it's even odds that anyone could get killed at some point. At that point you don't have drama; you have soap opera at best, and a dead pool (lowercase, haha) at worst.

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Tags: Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin fantasy writing

You Are Not Your F***ing Khakis Dept.

And you're not your desires, either.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/05/10 10:00

Meditation for Success? | Hardcore Zen

Selling meditation as a key to success destroys meditation. If your meditation is directed at achieving goals, you’re only strengthening that part of you which is forever unsatisfied, forever seeking outside approval, forever chasing after money and power. You’ve discovered an even more effective way to ensure that you’ll never be happy, never be balanced, never have any kind of peace.

Brad is specifically chafed about the way meditation is now being sold as yet another Think And Grow Rich. I always felt like the audience for such things consists of two kinds of people: those who already have everything most people could ever want and yet it isn't enough, and those who want to be in the first category.

The only thing meditation can teach you, from what I've experienced, is that you are not what's in your head, that you are not the sum total of your desires, and that you need constant maintenance (read: meditation) to keep that in perspective.

Your desires are lying to you. That's their job. Your job is to not let them delude you, because your real business is elsewhere. Your desires are part of that elsewhere, but they're not the whole of it. Not even close.

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Tags: Brad Warner Buddhism Zen meditation psychology

Solo Act Dept.

Having a larger audience helps, but not at the cost of creative latitude.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/05/05 10:00

First off: I had no idea Bookslut was closing its doors. Second off:

RIP Bookslut, 2002-2016 -- Vulture

I see young writers all the time who are overwhelmed by the need to brand themselves, to get their career going, to build up to respectability. I don’t think that’s healthy. ... There’s always space to do whatever you want. You won’t get as much attention, but fuck attention. Fight for integrity. ... This weird conformity just takes over as soon as the possibility of money or access or respectability comes up. That’s disappointing.

I feel weird talking about this -- am I going to jinx myself? that kind of thing -- but here goes. I've been trying to find representation for the last book I wrote, but I'm also attempting to not take the process very seriously. In other words, it's nice if it does happen, but I'm not going to make a concerted effort to recenter my entire career (such as I have one) around it if that's the case.

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Tags: creativity publishing writers writing

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