NEW music video work, Derrida, A haunted GAZE...

"[T]he world [is] suspended by some unique tear … reflecting disappearance itself: the world, the whole world, the world itself, for death takes from us not only some particular life within the world, some moment that belongs to us, but, each time, without limit, someone through whom the world, and first of all our own world, will have opened up….”  - Jacques Derrida


Those who know me doubtlesly appreciate my ongoing fascination with the writings of the late Mark Fisher; one of the great champions of Jacques Derrida.

Fisher's books "Capitalist Realism - Is There No Alternative?" and "Ghosts of My Life" give eloquent shape to the sense of existential "future loss" so many of us feel, swimming in a digital culture defined by 'cultural re-treads' of once radiant fictions.

From widescreen remakes of "Wonderwoman" or "Friends", to a fascination with analogue recording technology, vintage synths (and the recreations thereof) and 'relicked' guitars, the implication persists that a new post-millenial 'authenticity' is measured by ghostly,  nostalgic signifiers, forever locked in the amber of an imagined past few actually experienced.

If "the medium is the message", what then is the message, when the medium resembles an opaque replica (plugin, filter, artificial noise-floor) of an older medium, originally designed for 'transparency'?

We are viewing 'through a glass darkly', only this time intentionally, literally.

Reflections of reflections.

Grafton Tanner's excellent "Babbling Corpse" expands further on notions of 'hauntology' examined by both Fisher and Derrida, examining musical forms like Vaporwave through this lens of the uncanny. It's vital reading, well written and engaging.

As part of of my own teaching and composition work, I've just completed the sketch below - a video response to a piece I composed as part of a previous EP, itself something of an exercise in unwitting hauntology. The video itself is composed entirely of youtube clips, most of which are digitisations of kids' toy advertisements from the 50s to 70s -  including a number for products for "mothers". I'm fascinated by the maternal gaze here, and that of the 'child' - the lines between volition and passivity which the camera imbues both with, and how these parlay with each other, dependent on product and circumstance.

You may well recognise the brief segments I've culled from the Johnson & Johnsons 'Language of Love' commercial(s) - unlikely examples of prescient hauntology in the 80s advertising cannon. We are as disconcerted by this advertisement's unanswered questions, moved by its exaggerated emotional caricature,  framed as voyeurs in an intimately uneasy emotional discourse,

In an era of rampant 'oversharing' on Facebook and Instagram, pre-internet commercials like 1987's "The Language Of Love" are eerily prescient, sitting at a hinge-point between 2nd and 3rd wave Feminism. Prototypical legitimacy via contrived confessional.

Who is this (wealthy?) young mother, so palpably alone in her ward after childbirth?
Where is her partner, family?
Why has her child been taken from her, set to be returned whilst she anxiously waits in psychic limbo?
What is this deep distress which haunts here?
What future awaits which she is so noticeably anxious about?

The dominant tone here is one of deep loneliness, and perhaps a loss of 'self' - an advertisement which speaks to a sudden erasure of one future and the giddy adrenal aftershock of a strange new kind of love.

It struck me enough to create (something of) a video response to.

"The lie is the future, one may venture to say [...]. To tell the truth is, on the contrary, to say what is or what will have been and it would instead prefer the past." - Jacques Derrida

Nostalgia, Transactive Memory, Gladwell & Herndon...

I recently stumbled across Malcolm Gladwell's brilliant Revisionist History Podcast, which I've been consuming voraciously on slow sojourns across London. As a social anthropologist-cum-critical theorist, I've become even more enamored since hearing his lucid reflections committed to audio format. Its' vital, pertinent listening - and a finessed exercise in discourse which directly challenges the reductionist rhetoric of the newsfeed.

Amid the incredible material on offer, one episode struck me as personally resonant, in which Gladwell touches on the idea of transactive memory, or the notion that individuals in a collective / relationship effectively act as storehouses or portals of a kind of collective memory system - at once holding and forming a more complex memory system. I'm new to the concept, but it feels fascinating to me - a notion which dovetails into my studies into 'hauntology' and nostalgia.

Here's Malcolm Gladwell speaking a little more about this....

And some further reflections on the notion of nostalgia, from Holly Herndon, who's work I find wonderfully populist in the very best of ways.

How do transactive memory systems serve to invent orthodoxies in arts practice? There's so much to unpack here - more questions than answered. Gladwell's reflections on transactive memory and Winston Churchill are fascinating..

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

Nostalgia can also lead into certain kinds of orthodoxy within genre, and I think that gets really dangerous. Once you create this entire rule structure of what something’s supposed to be like, that’s when I get completely bored and turn off. I’m more interested when things are mixed up and mashed up and people are able to experiment outside of orthodoxy. I’m not completely anti-nostalgia, but it’s not really a sensibility that I strongly play into. I think we can find new forms and new paradigms.
— Holly Herndon