I suppose I am an old-fashion hypocrite: I admire daring newness and feel heartbroken and awkwardly vindicated when it slides hopelessly into novelty. I am staunchly revolutionary, yet am drawn to retro like a fly hovering around the trashcan, berating myself for the intriguing lure of the dead hissing kitschy design chants while one entire generation is deprived of a truly new cultural language by unemployment as WASP baby-boomers hog up resources and hijack the future.
I suppose the best to way to shock is to disregard expectations with such a vengeful sneer most sense of communication is halted frozen by jammed signals. After 4 decades of macro and micro-revolutions spinning around the collective and uncollective unconscious, the negation of progress through the repetition of half-fulfilled schemes of the negation of progress - and half-materialised plans of the advancement of it - is the speech of some sinister accountancy the Hegelian Geist must be doing. The books have closed and we're off to the inventory, but the backdoor is ajar to inquiring minds with deep pockets wishing to snatch history at bargain price.
An appreciation of kitsch and camp will guide us through the musical flea market and land us a few good deals. An innate sense of communication and recognition will fire off those neurons emitting signals under the "Identity" tag. We are as we are mediated by the mirror of nostalgic misinterpretation and are happy when that mediation is nothing but an amusement game of emotional attachment through what was once political disaffection. It is also sinister to understand the once conservative and anodyne as truly foundational in the construction of ideas of self, as the once revolutionary is now a T-Shirt print.
I am not a Romantic. Music, for me, does not fall from the sky, is not inspired by a supra-sensitive being, creator of the universe with intervening capacities; music is not divine or miraculous, though it can be "miraculous" if you say the word with enough camp appeal and "divine" if you force your wrist to be limp enough. Music is political, because it is done here and now, in a community of people and mostly for people - though music may be made for one's pleasure only or for the pleasure of non-human animals, for the sea or for what is not. Music, whatever its supposed target audience and programmed message, affects and effects, even if merely indifference.
I am mostly astounded by the amount of conservatism injected into culture during the last five years. Surely this started somewhat earlier, during the late 70s/early 80s, but the grinding halt is no longer grinding: it's a full stop. Pop culture now progresses in a perfect 20 year loop no law can break. Late 70s craze for 50s rock is nothing compared to our absolute desertland. Hip hop is no alternative simply because Outkast are mediocre every time I remind myself of "Three Feet High and Rising". And rock is already dust under the grave; I just visit to place flowers on Sundays.
I believe new instruments are needed. The guitar surely needs to be remodelled - or simply forgotten. And new sounds are no longer enough: we need new, fully fledged virtuosistic instruments to charge music with the present which is not merely the past or a pseudo-exotic excursion into PC ethno-land, a cheap holiday in other people's musical talent and financial misery.
High-brow and low-brow Berlin walls undone, the way in seems hard with new tolls all over the entrance, but we can barge in and make it worthwhile for all. If money produced pop and then co-opted Art only to kill it, it might be possible to take it as a whole and accept no naiveté in the stride. Camp, politicised and aware, in favour of a yes that encapsulates history and treats Napoleon like the white trash he was may allow more space and less carbon monoxide.
Trash is oxygen when it pollutes less than routine production. All the signs are at one's disposal, not merely for culture jammers but also for builders and buldozzers, political minds for which mere breathing is already enough a statement, a trigger for un-speech. The issue is not pastiche or retro, but the bank account and the represented-mediatisations it serves.
From monophonic stereotypes to Dolby Surround queens with artillery, music can soundtrack the prints branded on the photograms we inhabit and the printed photograms on our selves. Instead of the baby-boomers messianic narrative of freedom gone bonkers, perhaps something more than (the expected) teasing uncompromises and typically post-modern suggestion list: a crash-party into pigeonholed kampf-kulture and a colour spectrum to rival late-capitalist design.
Earnestness is only half the joke. The other half is fun.