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Art! What Is It Good For? More on The Lives of Others Vis a Vis Clockwork Orange

Posted by Charles Reece, January 10, 2008 09:44pm | Post a Comment
Regarding what I wrote about the the transformative power of music in THE LIVES OF OTHERS being a lie, a pal of mine, K, suggested the possible counter-example of the Nazi being moved by piano music in Polanski's THE PIANIST.  I still haven't seen that film due to its starring Adrian Brody, but I suppose if a digitized giant ape can get me to put aside my aversion for 2 and half hours, the name 'Polanski' ought to, as well, even if it's later Polanski.   So maybe I'll get around to that film at some later date. 

A film that does approach what I was talking about from a truer perspective than Donnersmarck's is Kubrick's CLOCKWORK ORANGE.  The film was based on Burgess's novel, which was a rejection of the panglossian futurism of B. F. Skinner's behaviorism, most notably his sci-fi novel, WALDEN TWO, where the happiness of individuals is derived from the outside-in, every aspect of culture being a stimulus which, if functioning properly, keeps the whole community flowing along in prosperity, promoting the desired actions/"responses" -- the providence of which is defined by the organizers.  Things like art have value insofar as they help shape the "proper" behavior, value being defined top-down.  If that strikes you as totalitarian, that's because it is.  And Kubrick's film is an all-out satirical attack against the reifying tendency of the bureaucratically minded whereby value obtains as a place within the system, never for the thing itself.

Contrary to the story Donnersmarck tells of the incommensurability of violence and art, the love of both happily co-exist in CLOCKWORK ORANGE's protagonist Alex.  As it was with Lenin, he loves smashing heads, but unlike with Lenin, he does so to the accompaniment of Beethoven.  It's not until Alex undergoes reconditioning at the Ludovico lab that Beethoven becomes associated with nonviolence.  Getting a dose of some noxious serum while being forced to watch acts of violence and hearing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony results in just the sort of transformative effect Donnersmarck associates with art.  Donnersmarck might argue that his Stasi Captain gives up his ideology in favor of the intrinsic qualities of the piano piece he hears while spying through headphones, whereas the effects of the Ninth on Alex are due to its extrinsic associations with negative stimuli (via Pavlovian, not Skinnerian, conditioning, but the point remains the same).  This potential distinction, however, rests on the shaky notion that such music has ideological content internal to its nature as art-object, rather than associated with it as a social object.

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Iran in the Local News

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 10, 2008 08:26pm | Post a Comment

I caught a “local news” story the other day on one of the local stations. Under the headline “Desert Wonderland?” they ran footage of snow in Iran and (with those slightly robotic chuckles that all newscasters are able to activate thanks to their Hillary Clinton Brand emotion chips) they talked about what was made out to seem a freak occurrence, or at least a newsworthy event. I mean, weather in Tehran isn't exactly local.


I admit, before I ever watched an Iranian film or visited Tehrangeles, I had only the vaguest notions of what the country and its people looked like. I kind of reckoned that the middle east was one big sandy desert sparsely populated with turbaned Arabs and veiled harem girls. I am, after all, a product of Hollywood stereotypes and American public schools where we prefer to teach about 1000 years of Dark Ages serf rebellions in Europe rather than even mention the developments in math, science, technology, literature and the arts occurring at the same time in the Muslim world which helped jump started the Renaissance.

Our country’s relationship with Iran has been prickly ever since the 1953 CIA-orchestrated Project Ajax, in which their elected (and secular) leader Mohammed Mosaddeq was removed from power after he nationalized Iran’s oil industry, knowing full well that Iran’s oil belonged to England! Perhaps because of this (despite Iran frequently being in the news over the decades since) it has felt like there’s a ban on showing any actual images from the country, lest the American people start to recognize it as an actual country and not the hatred-stirring bogeyman it’s made out to be by politicians and the media when it's time for uniting we the people in mistrust and xenophobia.

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IN CELEBRATION OF THE DRUM: PART THREE, JOHN BONHAM

Posted by Billyjam, January 10, 2008 07:25am | Post a Comment

John Bonham of Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dicjohn bonhamk" drum solo off the 1969 album Led Zeppelin II is considered by many to be the best rock drum solo of all time The track is featured both above and below in two very different versions.

The above clip, taken from The Song Remains The Same DVD, captures the late, great artist (tragically dead at the young age of 32) at his best live -- only problem with the film clip is that it keeps cutting away to non music footage when all you want to see/hear is the drumming.

Meanwhile, below is an audio only (just one still image) YouTube clip of the song but in a completely different, raw version. It is the drum solo as it was originally recorded -- isolated from all other sounds. Reportedly recorded in May 1969 in Los Angeles, this earlier solo (only the drums for whole track) was originally titled "Pat's Delight" and the solo here, as you'll hear, is much longer than the one that later appeared as part of the Led Zep Moby Dick track.

Revisiting this drum solo now -- at a time when Led Zeppelin have surprised the world and reformed after not playing a full concert together as Led Zeppelin since Bonham died in 1980 -- makes it all thled zeppelin iie more fitting and profound, not to mention sad. One can't help but wonder what if John Bonham hadn't died so young in life? What if he were alive and able to join Robert Plant and the newly re-banded Led Zeppelin?

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January 9, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, January 10, 2008 02:22am | Post a Comment

The Employee Interview Part XIV: Jimmy

Posted by Miss Ess, January 9, 2008 10:51pm | Post a Comment
Jimmy
2 years Employment
Cashier/Behind the Scenes/All Around Rad Dude


ME: What music was playing around your house when you were a kid?
pointer sisters
Jimmy: My parents weren't really into music, but I do remember listening to and watching The Wiz a lot. A LOT! I loved it. In my mom's car, it was the Pointer Sisters. In my dad's car it was talk radio, or Metallica's Black Album, which is really psychotic because my dad is hella Catholic, and it was one of the only albums he owned!

Do you remember the moment when you suddenly really really got into music?  What was it that made you GET IT?

patti smith horses cover
As soon as I discovered punk, my life totally changed forever. It wasn't just the music: I began a love affair with extreme politics and aesthetics. It was the high of using art (music, zines) and politics to go somewhere unknown. It's super weird how important music is when you're a teen. Recently, I listened to Patti Smith's Horses again, which I hadn't heard since I was a freshman in high school. I kinda freaked in my head! I remembered listening to this album, thinking I might die like Johnny in the song at any moment and that seemed really normal. Basically everything was so literal then: the music was the same as real life. Anything could happen. ('Cause I was crazy and wasted and only fifteen!)

Yeah, when that intensity of youth starts to die out, it's such a strange feeling because by then you've lived with it for so long. You grew up in Alaska. What was the music scene like in Alaska when you were growing up?  What were people into? Did they form bands? What style of music did they play?  Were there any venues in Anchoramaximum rock n roll magazine cover punkge?

The music scene was very small, only a couple punk bands that would sound like either The Ramones or Crass. (There was an all ages club in Anchorage called, stupidly enough, "Gigs." Bands would sometimes come to Alaska to play and when they did it was a big deal! I mean a total fucking hootenanny!) In high school, I was reading Maximum Rock and Roll religiously so I knew we were way behind the times.

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