Scattered thoughts before bed
1.) I had a dream last night that I was reading an article written by my dissertation chair. I don’t remember what it was about, but it was printed in a book of his essays (not the one that actually was published, a different book.) It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve read, heartbreakingly beautiful. As I was about to finish the book, my alarm woke me up.
2.) I’m feeling like a fish out of water. I’m too secular for a lot of Catholics, and I’m too Catholic for a lot of the academics. Case in point: I got a paper approved…for a conference that’s over Easter. I want to decline, but I know my CV needs it. I know the EWTN crowds would say I’m no Catholic if I go to the conference…but the majority of the EWTNites aren’t trying to build an academic career post-Regan. Easter is a big deal. It’s a bigger deal than Christmas. And to be stuck in a conference during Holy Week? Bleh. Might as well be stuck in Ordinary Time. That’s what purgatory is–a never-ending expanse of OT.
3.) Been thinking about pop culture. I don’t necessarily believe that the only thing worthy of serious discussion is “art.” However, I don’t necessarily believe that all pop culture or all culture, for that matter, should be given equal consideration. It’s like what Bruno Nettl wrote in his book, The Study of Ethnomusicology, just because a culture produces it, doesn’t mean that it’s worthy of preservation or study.
If anything, I think pop culture proves Adorno’s point about consumer culture–especially with video games. So long as games are produced according to marketing with an eye to commercial viability, we aren’t going to be seeing what the medium is capable of. Case in point? The game Defcon. It’s brutal and beautiful aesthetically. It’s by far one of the most emotional games I’ve ever played. It would also never be marketed, or even made, were it not done by an independent company. That’s also not to say that art, even of the video game variety, can’t be commercially viable. It can, but I think so long as it’s enslaved by consumerism, it isn’t going to be art.
4.) So what do I mean by “art”? **Heidegger alert** In a work of art, there’s something that isn’t used up. When I was an instrumental musician, I’ve played the hell out of Beethoven’s third symphony. (Picking something everyone’s probably heard.) It’s a warhorse. But no matter how many times I’ve played it in the past, or however many times I’ve had it referenced in a class, there’s something special about it. It’s not used up, and it points to some larger ontology, something that can only be described poetically, and even then some of the experience of it is lost.
Hm. I think I got an idea for the lone seminar paper I still owe my chair. I’ve started that poor paper half a dozen times, so far. Maybe the seventh time is the charm, and it involves a 3-hour work: one of Morton Feldman’s string quartets. (More here to jog my memory.)