tiny mix peaks

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On the eve of the Twin Peaks reboot launch, Will Neibergall published a thoughtful essay at Tiny Mix Tapes about this particular TV-series-as-meme and how it's viewed by millennials (or at least the one writing the article): a failed show that resonates as a fictitious America even less palpable than it was to its original target audience. "One of the many reasons you love Twin Peaks," he writes, "is that its characters feel like people you know in real life, even though everything else in the show feels very unfamiliar. Twin Peaks makes you nostalgic for a time you don’t remember and a place that doesn’t exist."

From this reaction, Neibergall extrapolates how an even-further-removed generation will appreciate the show:

Maybe those viewer-subjects live in a huddled condition, in what philosopher Peter Sloterdijk calls “ecological stress communes,” pressed inland and away from cultural centers now remembered and revered like ancestors, jostled about by resource scarcity, plagued by ridiculous fantasies of aliens and sea people punctuated by actual disaster, war, and collapse. Or maybe these troubles loom on their horizon. In the face of these real nightmares, do they dream of ending up in a place like Twin Peaks, of grappling with its fake demons? Maybe future Twin Peaks viewers see in it a refreshingly provincial vision of encompassing crisis. A town where a yellow light still means “slow down” resonates abstractly with them. They are absorbed by the dark forces stirred out of the brown-gray American forest, by the murder of the cocaine-addicted homecoming queen and secret prostitute. Maybe, naive to the reality of their own circumstances, they feel like Dale Cooper chasing after those elusive and idealized spirits.

Neibergall wonders whether the 2017 version will be any good:

[W]ill Twin Peaks really walk and breathe more freely, as if awoken to a new life, and find something like that original sense of purpose? Or will it lose its way again in the smoke and mirrors of a shoddily constructed model of the public?

Twin Peaks 2017 pressed on with the occult narratives that seemed scatterbrained in 1991, creating actual mythology out of a hairball of modern paranoiac concepts. The atom bomb and its proximity to Roswell. Causality loops controlled by mysterious "lodges" and entities that seem to work at cross-purposes. A red-curtained room with chevron-patterned floor that serves as atrium to those nether-spaces. Human suffering in the form of a creamed corn-like substance that vomits inexplicably out of character's mouths. A parade of unexplained urban "types" having late night conversations in Twin Peaks' impossibly large bar. Audrey Horne's afterlife in a hellish marital scenario. Musical acts that all seemed to have moved to LA to be "Lynchian." A cornucopia of aging and/or mothballed actors, still strutting their stuff.

These elements mesh somehow into a poignant whole that binds the loose ends of the original series and redeems it retroactively. Whether its characters still feel "like people you know in real life" takes back stage in the Lynch/Frost uber-saga, or counter-saga, of supernatural interventions in mixed-up, SNAFU'd America.

Whether any of it will be of value to future eco-stress communards can't be guessed. Judging from current fan involvement on the Twin Peaks Wiki and other sites, the show speaks to the here-and-now. Mythologies begin with cults, and it's not unimaginable that this one might blossom, so that when our descendants ponder when it all went wrong they will know -- when the Woodsmen appeared above the gas station, of course. "This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within." In Bob's name we pray.

It's "just a TV show," but also a kind of poetry of shared repressed nightmares. Including, but not limited to, Wally Brando.

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hitler on art

From William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990 edition), pp. 243-4:

The Germany which had given the world a Duerer and a Cranach had not been pre-eminent in the fine arts in modern times, though German expressionism in painting and the Munich Bauhaus architecture were interesting and original movements and German artists had participated in all the twentieth-century evolutions and eruptions represented by impressionism, cubism and Dadaism.
To Hitler, who considered himself a genuine artist despite his early failures as one in Vienna, all modern art was degenerate and senseless. In Mein Kampf he had delivered a long tirade on the subject, and one of his first acts after coming to power was to “cleanse” Germany of its “decadent” art and to attempt to substitute a new “Germanic” art. Some 6,500 modern paintings—not only the works of Germans such as Kokoschka and Grosz but those of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso and many others—were removed from German museums.
What was to replace them was shown in the summer of 1937 when Hitler formally opened the “House of German Art” in Munich in a drab, pseudoclassic building which he had helped design and which he described as “unparalleled and inimitable” in its architecture. In this first exhibition of Nazi art were crammed some nine hundred works, selected from fifteen thousand submitted, of the worst junk this writer has ever seen in any country. Hitler himself made the final selection and, according to some of the party comrades who were with him at the time, had become so incensed at some of the paintings accepted by the Nazi jury presided over by Adolf Ziegler, a mediocre painter who was president of the Reich Chamber of Art, that he had not only ordered them thrown out but had kicked holes with his jack boot through several of them. “I was always determined,” he said in a long speech inaugurating the exhibition, “if fate ever gave us power, not to discuss these matters [of artistic judgment] but to make decisions.” And he had made them.
In his speech -- it was delivered on July 18, 1937 -- he laid down the Nazi line for “German art”:

Works of art that cannot be understood but need a swollen set of instructions to prove their right to exist and find their way to neurotics who are receptive to such stupid or insolent nonsense will no longer openly reach the German nation. Let no one have illusions! National Socialism has set out to purge the German Reich and our people of all those influences threatening its existence and character… With the opening of this exhibition has come the end of artistic lunacy and with it the artistic pollution of our people…

And yet some Germans at least, especially in the art center of Germany which Munich was, preferred to be artistically polluted. In another part of the city in a ramshackle gallery that had to be reached through a narrow stairway was an exhibition of “degenerate art” which Dr. Goebbels had organized to show the people what Hitler was rescuing them from. It contained a splendid selection of modern paintings—Kokoschka, Chagall and expressionist and impressionist works. The day I visited it, after panting through the sprawling House of German Art, it was crammed, with a long line forming down the creaking stairs and out into the street. In fact, the crowds besieging it became so great that Dr. Goebbels, incensed and embarrassed, soon closed it.

Notes for a Daniel Albright bio

Notes for a biographical sketch on the late Daniel Albright, literary critic, musicologist, and theorist of historical Modernism. Albright's Wikipedia entry has a short bio and publication list. Below is a capsule discussion of his career highlights, from web and printed sources. Some additional documentation is still needed.

[Update: This article has been moved to another place of publication. If parts are edited, eventually this post will be the place for an "author's cut" of the Albright bio]

Additional Reading

Panaesthetics website -- site for Albright's next-to-last published book, Panaesthetics, serves as his personal site, posthumously maintained

Harvard Crimson obituary -- "whimsical English and music teacher" seems like faint praise for an influential thinker.

Remembrance of Albright by Andrew Goldstone, author of the book Fictions of Autonomy, in particular, how Albright inspired Goldstone's research.

overcoming "our" disillusionment

Geert Lovink's latest anti-social media rant starts out well with amusing quips:

“Artificial intelligence is not the answer to organized stupidity”—Johan Sjerpstra.
“Please don’t email me unless you’re going to pay me”—Molly Soda.
“Late capitalism is like your love life: it looks a lot less bleak through an Instagram filter”—Laurie Penny.
“Wonder how many people going on about the necessity of free speech and rational debate have blocked and muted trolls?”—Nick Srnicek.
“Post-truth is to digital capitalism what pollution is to fossil capitalism—a by-product of operations”— Evgeny Morozov.
“I have seen the troll army and it is us”—Erin Gün Sirer.

But then Lovink switches to first person plural causing me to vomit on the keyboard:

Our disenchantment with the internet is a fact. Yet again, enlightenment does not bring us liberation but depression. The once fabulous aura that surrounded our beloved apps, blogs, and social media has deflated. Swiping, sharing, and liking have begun to feel like soulless routines, empty gestures. We’ve started to unfriend and unfollow, yet we can’t afford to delete our accounts, as this implies social suicide. If “truth is whatever produces most eyeballs,” as Evgeny Morozov states, a general click strike seems like the only option left. But since this is not happening, we feel trapped and console ourselves with memes.

As the old '60s joke goes, "What do you mean we, kemosabe?" Some people didn't sign up for Facebook in 2007 -- because it smelled like a racket. Some people don't carry surveillance devices in their pockets just because everyone else does. Some people have made a good-faith look for alternatives to swiping and sharing, shy of a "general click strike."

Lovink's article appears in e-flux, which recently tried and failed to acquire the .art domain, speaking of the need for general click strikes. A Facebook for art, controlled by well-intentioned do-gooders, was narrowly avoided.

The rest of Lovink's article discusses positive uses of memes, or something. I haven't read it all. It was hard to get past that first paragraph. Will update if there is anything worth passing along.

a purpose for collecting

Robert Nickas, from his essay on the Affidavit website titled "A 12-Step Program for 'Collectors'":

To collect is to draw things towards ourselves over time, to study and learn from them, to see what they elicit, one from another, not to engage in a continuous and expedient dispersal.

Well said. The essay is a collection of Benjamin Franklin wisdom or Tom Paine common sense aimed at flippers of artwork. None of it should need to be said except this is the era of a $2.9 million Peter Doig (a terrible painter) and a $110.5 million Basquiat that, according to Nickas, "may not be among Basquiat’s very best."