Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Well, unlike Stuart Hall, who, according to Kembrew speaks in eerily complete sentences dense with complex and well reasoned thought even during supposedly normal conversation, I do give a damn about popular culture. But not enough to post about it very often here these days. I do have thoughts brewing, like how to pay tribute at the passing of the very top of the order of my favorite rock guitarists, Ron Asheton, while not sweeping his old habit of, wearing Nazi uniforms onstage entirely under the rug and still capturing the fact that he was, by all accounts, a really nice guy and neither a fascist nor a white supremacist. Or,how about this: The Drive by Truckers and the North Mississippi AllStars as representatives of respectively textual and embodied histories of what should be called simply southern rock but likely needs a new name since Skynard, or god forbid Molly Hatchet explains that one for most people. Or maybe I should just finish the goddamn bibliographic essay.

Oh, by the way, the North Mississippi All Stars have a new CD out, It's called Do It Like We Used To Do: Live 96-08. it's a fine, fine thing, and with 2 CDs & a DVD for regular single disc price, and a host of family and friends showing up throughout, I think it passes event he most stringent VFM requirements.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

“Popular culture is one of the sites where the struggle for and against a culture of the powerful is to be engaged: it is also the stake to be won or lost in that struggle. It is the arena of consent and resistance. It is partly where hegemony arises and where it is secured. It is not a sphere where socialism, a socialist culture—already fully formed—might be simply expressed. But it is one of the places where socialism might be constituted. That is why popular culture matters. Otherwise, to tell you the truth, I don’t give a damn about it.”

Stuart Hall: Notes on Deconstructing the Popular, 1981.

Friday, January 2, 2009

What is up? (instant transcript)

What is up with the boomers’ tense relationship with property rights, and their love/lust dynamic regarding consumerism/freedom? There is a tremendous distrust of the republic and a commensurate flight into the private sector, a kind of religious (in the dogmatic, scared sense) of the innate evil and unjust nature of taxation. It’s very passionate, and the sense of hurt is real. The suspicion and skepticism of a government that is actually much friendlier to them than to the people that they buy guns to defend themselves from runs deeper than ideology, or at least to the things that give ideologies depth.

I wonder if some of this does come in the wake of the civil rights revolution: a sense of fear that a government that could, with some success, change a whole people’s status in society. Many of these people feel like, in fact understand that their own relationship to capital, as something that dominates them rather than that they dominate, means that they are likely to lose out in any kind of rearrangement. Of course they also believe (reasonably based on experience) that someone has to lose out, and since this situation also reveals that their racial relationship to capital can be intervened in, unlike the more purely instrumental relationship to capital of other white people who happen to be rich, they are pissed off about it.

I wonder if there is something there in the 50s (and afterwards) that’s helping to reproduce this reaction to civil rights gains? Something that makes the flight into the private sphere that comes out of racial politics a strongly felt and somewhat painful state to be in? Whatever it is it isn't unrelated to the bubble of anti-commercial utopianism in the late 1960s, nor to the explicitly (and differentially) commercial nature of the distribution schemes for those Utopian visions.