Monday, November 9, 2009

The Future is Here

Um, uh, well, like. . .
I guess, um, since there was so much inarticulate anxiety in my last post on the ability to think the "now", Ron Silliman has stepped in to announce it: it's Tao Lin's Shoplifting From American Apparel. As in the Jay-Z video , all our pure products are now in place. I've spotted at least four well-placed product names in this video, but I'm sure there are many more, and they glide in among the real places mentioned in the lyrics without any sense of their (the streets and buildings of New York) being any different from a product you can go buy (or try to steal) RIGHT NOW. I guess I will ad- (oops, i forgot the last letter of my word) my own critical bumpersticker here:

In the American literature of today, statement has given way to product placement.

Welcome to 1993. Have a good day.


p.s. i'm aware of the blatant irony of my critique--that my blog is, in some measure, just an ad for little scratch pad press, the Alternating Current co-op press in Cambridge, and at another level, in the Richard Thompson video, an advertisement for the Vincent motorcycle company's "Black Lightning". No matter the tiny extent of reach my favored products can have for an audience, or even that a Black Lightning is a very rare and hard-to-find antique, I am in the literary/arts promotion business just as much as I am a writer or critic. Perhaps the ability to recognize a current moment rests simply on the degree to which we understand our own role in the very thing we hope to grasp, or move away from. As Miriam once wrote about photography--we give assent in the very act of recognition. Perhaps being bewildered and inarticulate can, on its furthest side, be a kind of protest against the demands made on our recognition. On the nearest side, though, to be inarticulate is a tragic loss of affect, sympathy and responsibility.

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