What people who suffer psychological distress tend to become aware of is that no matter how much they want to change, no matter how hard they try, no matter what mental gymnastics they put themselves through, their experiences of life stay much the same. This is because there is no such thing as an autonomous individual. What powers we have are acquired from and distributed within our social context, some of them (the most powerful) at unreachable distances from us. The very meaning of our actions is not something that we can autonomously determine, but is made intelligible (or otherwise) by orders of culture (proximal as well as distal) over which we have virtually no control.David Smail, Power, Interest and Psychology: Elements of a Social Materialist Understanding of Distress
George Herbert, “Love (III)”
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
"A guest," I answer’d, "worthy to be here";
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
”Who made the eyes but I?”
"Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
”My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
John Donne, “The Good-Morrow”
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.
And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.
To the generation that discovers these conspiracies on the Internet, “Clear” would be recognized for what it isn’t, something Missy Elliot sampled in 2002 for “Lose Control.” The conceit was simple: Music makes you hallucinate blue Lamborghinis airbrushed by a Ciara chorus. It’s all seizures and tracksuits, boneless and acrylic. “Lose Control” enabled Rik Davis to drive off in a black Corvette C6, paid with sampling dividends, and to be pictured on his old MySpace page along with a photo of Missy in designer combat fatigues. Yet talking to Davis, you immediately sense that “Clear” was everything but the club. It was someone trying to make room inside his head. “‘Clear’ has a military value,” he says. Securing an area of operation could mean slaughtering the village. “Clear our displays,” their actions. Clear is classified, redacted. The human blank. A contradiction that would never admit as much. In itself, a white sky mindfuck.Dave Tompkins, “The Things They Buried: On Cybotron’s Embattled Techno Sci-Fi Masterpiece, ‘Enter’”
The oppressor wants their token artists so they can feel good about themselves. Singular acts of recognition do very little about the systemic harassment we encounter on a daily basis. A singular act of recognition is not a job.
They erase our sharp edges and turn us into pieces that can be moved around on a field of discourse. Rarely do they engage us as equals.
When we put down other marginalized artists, we do the work of the oppressor. It suits them just fine when we cull ourselves, because they have less work to do figuring out which marginalized artists to tokenize.
How do we empower a plurality of art when gatekeeping replicates itself down to the smallest social unit? When we imply, through our insidious, cryptic tests, that art is for the able-bodied. What strength remains to play the social game?
The oppressor’s tactic is to surround themselves with the oppressed that are most willing to dignify their mindless discourse and put down other marginalized artists. The most successful way to be a token is to do the work of the oppressor and let them know you’re doing it.The perfect guilt-free solution to their problem. Laundered oppression.
They encourage the idea of limited resources for marginalized people. Fight for that one female spot on a panel with four men. Fight to be the best woman in your industry. Surely it makes mathematical sense that pushing another woman out of a 10th story window would enhance your position.
These myths of scarcity are harmful and false. We should not punish others for the limited attention of the oppressor, we should make our own attention, our own care, our own power, and demand reforms that are visible on a day to day basis. Because the day to day is where we live. The day to day is where we go insane.
We are responsible for how digestible the machine finds us.
What gives power its hold, what makes it accepted, is quite simply the fact that it does not weigh like a force, which says no, but that it runs through, and produces, things, it induces pleasures, it forms knowledge, it produces discourses; it must be considered as a productive network which runs through the entire social body much more than as a negative instance whose function is repression.Michel Foucault, Power, Truth, Strategy
The Velvets, like Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel who were already doing it* (and it was in the Stones and Airplane and a whole bunch of others then and now, really is all over modern culture), were — however ambivalently — promulgating the idea of dysfunction and self-destruction as a form of social protest against a contaminated and compromised world that had contaminated and compromised the self. A refusal, a denial. Being fucked and making an issue of it as a semi-social-marker, part of a sort of an identity politics of freaks and punks and bohos and ilk. The intersection of social class and conspicuous self-destruction.
Frank Kogan, “Sally’s Week Beats Blue’s Year”
"*Not that the idea is new. Presumably goes back at least to Germany in the mid 1700s. See ‘Romanticism, Age Of.’ I know almost nothing about Gothic novels of the time, but later on it was in Byron and Stendhal and later still all over Hemingway and Faulkner (when I was rereading Absalom, Absalom! for college I’d put “Sister Ray” on in the background). But I don’t know how much it makes it into popular song until the 1960s. Is kinda there as potential in the Delta blues of people like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.”
I’ve decided to compile all my writing on K-pop in one place. Here’s the essay and mix that started me writing about K-pop:
Here are a few more pieces of long-form writing:
And here are the essays I used to write on my favorite new K-pop songs each month, with links to download each song and writing for each:
Not K-pop, but related: A Radical Narrative Disguised as a K-Drama: “Coffee Prince,” Gender, and Sexuality
In a Scene, any Scene, you can go out and find a warm body to touch – for some definition of “touch”, be that fuck, talk, dance, whatever – without a whole lot of set-up cost, but it doesn’t matter; in fact, you may end up being touched in ways that make you feel even more lonely.
In your community, it matters when you touch each other – but, because the members of a given community aren’t interchangeable, if you find yourselves separated from each other by physical or emotional distance, there’s really nothing you can do about the loneliness besides just…ache.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
POP UTOPIANISM: a manifesto /
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT K-POP: a mix
Depression, Melancholia, and Me:
Lars von Trier’s Politics of Displeasure
Masochism, Sadism, and the “Perverse Pleasure
of the Cinema” in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive
A Radical Narrative Disguised as a K-Drama:
“Coffee Prince,” Gender, and Sexuality Subscribe via RSS.