You may find yourself bummed when you get Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” stuck in your head. It happens. But here’s something worse, perhaps. Say you’ve actually chosen to listen to “Tik Tok.” (It happens.) And now, what gets stuck in your head isn’t the song itself, but rather some stupid video you saw of World of Warcraft things dancing along to “Tik Tok.” While it may be annoying to get a crappy pop song stuck in your head, I assure you it’s much worse to have some weird Shrek-like automatons dancing around in your head while you’re listening to “Tik Tok.”
Laugh out loud, what? Did people think that because Gasol stunk it up in Round 1 that his penis disappeared?!
The birther situation doesn’t have anything to do with evidence, because to be a birther is to fundamentally reject the notion of evidence. This is a very truncated/shoddy philosophical perspective on why the birther thing happened and why it’s important.
Philosophy has something to do with this. Specifically, the branch called “epistemology,” which roughly means “how we know things.” Back in the day, the way we thought we knew things was by
- Having the thing be true.
- Believing the thing to be true.
- And having some good reasons for believing the thing to be true.
This model worked for, like, ever. And it’s still a pretty good model for living in the world. So it’s true that Obama was born in the United States, and people believe it’s true, and they have good reasons for believing it’s true. Right? If you don’t happen to believe he was born in the United States, then you probably have reasons for not believing it.
So you can see, knowing Obama was born in the US hinges on having good reasons for believing he was. This point doesn’t actually depend on whether he was born in the US or not. It’s also the part of knowledge that, to me, is where epistemology starts to veer into ontology (“the study of what is or exists”), which seems a little counterintuitive, since the first point seems to have to do with what is.
But since it seems we’re all in the state of radical subjectivism (as it were), anything goes. The fact of Obama’s birth depends on one’s believing in it because, as my buddy Wittgenstein tried to prove (and yet failed at proving…) the world is as it were subsumed in the system of language used to describe the world. The map—as China will tell you—constitutes the reality of the terrain.
This map-terrain problem just is the whole problem. When you say, “the fact of Obama’s birth in the US is incontrovertible,” you’ve already made it not-incontrovertible. You’re no longer arguing facts; you’re arguing arguments. But why is it an argument?
- Tune Yards has a name that sounds like a Twitter client. But
- Dirty Projectors sounds like birds, and
- They have a bunch of songs about birds.
- It’s a great thing for their career that Tune Yards toured with Dirty Projectors, but
- They don’t compare favorably to them; they do
- Look a lot better on paper than Dirty Projectors, though, since
- D. Longstreth makes me think,
- Charles Ives, LOL, but about birds instead of American Transcendentalists.
- On the other hand, I’m kind of sad
- That M. Garbus seems to have traded in her pick up-ed uke for
- Some maple necked Fenders.
HOW DID I MISS MAKING THIS JOKE (well, “joke”) UNTIL TODAY?!
The song’s first verse conflates a couple of Biblical events. She says she’ll “wash his feet with [her] hair,” alluding to a figure traditionally contrasted with Judas, the woman who washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair (Luke 7:44). She goes on to say she will “forgive him […] even after three times he betrays [her],” which is not a reference to Judas, as it would seem Gaga intended, but rather to another disciple, Peter. On the one hand, she compares herself to a woman forgiven by Jesus for her hospitality, and on the other, to Jesus as betrayed three times by Peter. These comparisons make sense as a sort of imagistic self-portrait of someone with a Jesus-complex, which is born out by the chorus.
“I’m just a holy fool, / Oh baby it’s so cruel, / But I’m still in love with Judas” could again describe Christ-like thinking. After all, in order to redeem humankind, Jesus had to be sacrificed, and Judas was the efficient cause of his sacrifice. The two need each other. Taken this way, “Judas” would be an extremely controversial song. It would describe an illicit love between Jesus and Judas, with Lady Gaga taking on the role of Jesus. It would speak to the paradoxes of Christian faith, wherein Judas is damneded for a predestined act wholly out of his control (he was born that way), and it would even carry an extremely sacrilegious undercurrent of homosexual love. That seems like a hell of a song, but based on the rest of it, it’s not the one Lady Gaga wrote.
The second verse loses its Biblical focus, instead invoking vague imagery: Forgiving prophets, crooked ways, sinking bodies. Jesus was crucified, and Judas died of hanging or being split open.
The half-spoken bridge is perhaps the most direct part of the song in that it relates Lady Gaga herself. Calling herself a “fame hooker” who “vomits her mind” refers directly to the themes of her previous records, The Fame and The Fame Monster. And Gaga touched on the mind vomiting part in “Gagavision 43,” when she said, “The creative process is approximately fifteen minutes of vomiting my creative ideas in the forms of melodies and some sort of a theme.” The rest of the bridge speaks to Gaga’s self-image (if not command of grammar), saying she “speak[s] in future tense,” commanding Judas to kiss her or wear an “ear condom,” which is probably an allusion to the Annunciation, the archangel Gabriel announcing to the Virgin Mary that she would bear Jesus, which has nothing to do with Judas.
In all, “Judas” is a glorious wreck of a song. It’s hard to see the text of the song support Gaga’s assertion that its narrator is Mary Magdalene. With the twin assertion that god sent the song to her, it would seem she’s more like the Virgin Mary—somehow a more blasphemous account.
Duality aside1 I’m just a little disappointed in some of the writing (my writing, included) that focuses more on the zeitgeisty connotative aspect of music rather than on the music itself. I understand this is a problematic concept for you. There are ways to go about writing about texts that talks about the texts. It can thoughtfully explore an array of meanings inspired by the text. You can write about the marxist implications of ideology in Bleak House without writing about German idealism and Feuerbach because last time I checked, even though everyone in that book has a ridiculous name, none of them are Feuerbach.
There’s a big difference between writing about a song and writing about these ten other blog posts about the group that made the song. For real.
So I guess sometimes people really do just want to be judged by their work and not the falling tide of sentiment on Twitter that one day.
Of course, there’s a lot of post-Cartesian thinking that doesn’t see the frankly ridiculous need to set things in terms of objects and minds, especially when we are actually engaged in the world and a shared form of life with others, which living and life tends to create lived-in meanings that are fluid and resist gross categorization. ↩
Oh I started writing you a long Ask, and then I decided I wasn’t into it. Let me start by addressing this first thing (to my mind) which comes before this, but this comes before mine because I saw it on your Tumblr, but only after I ceased writing my long Ask.
It doesn’t make sense to me to talk in an academic way about the bigger isms with regard to someone like Syd saying “I’m not a feminist” because it comes from an entirely different area of knowledge. It’s like, I imagine, sending someone a letter in Italian when they don’t read Italian. Why talk about one feminism as if there’s one feminism? Well, because that’s why we have words. Otherwise, we’d talk by throwing printed matter at each other—it would be more violent, but would play out very slow like. But there is a large idea of feminism that I think is in the air, not one that everyone shares, but enough of one that when someone says the word, it makes a bit of sense within almost any context. And from there, you can talk it out with them and see where the edges of it are and where its hinges are and you can start to have a meaningful exchange of thoughts and ideas. But saying 1) It doesn’t make any sense at all to talk about a concept called feminism, or 2) you’re not allowed to talk about it until you read all the syllabuses in all the possible worlds is not really something I’m interested in.
There is such a thing as listening to music while you’re running or dancing or at a party, and there are connections you make between yourself and the music and between yourself and the world, which are spurred on by the music. And these non-intellectual connections can be analyzed in various ways. But—
The thing about Kanye West is this: I Do Not Trust Anyone Talking About Kanye West Unless They Talk At Least As Much If Not More About His Music (The Stuff He’s Ostensibly Good At And Famous For) Than How Much They Talk About What They Think “Predominantly White Males” Think About Things.
-Or- Someday I Won’t Find Odd Future Entirely Fascinating (If A Little Tiring To Keep Writing About) -Or- How I Learned To Finally Stop Worrying And Love The Split Infinitive (Working Title?)
Earl released one of the most divisive mixtapes in the Odd Future oeuvre. On the one hand, EARL showed the young rapper to be the group’s most talented on the mic, but his work also sets the ceiling for Odd Future’s much-hyped hyper-violence and misogyny. But a few days before Complex published its Earl story, the group released an early track of Earl’s on their website. Accompanying a download link is a block of text (in Tyler’s All Caps Twitter Style) saying, “Our Soldier, Wolf, Bother And Friend Is Currently Not With Us. Stop Asking Where He Is, We Like To Keep This Private Because It’s Very Personal For Us. And No, He is Not As Some Boarding School And Blah Blah Blah, None Of You People Know Because NONE of You Know Him Personally. Free Earl. ” The song, “Dat Ass,” is thought to have been recorded for a pre-Odd Future mixtape when Earl was probably 15. He’s precocious, with an impressive flow.
Perhaps surprisingly, “Dat Ass” is largely bereft of the violence and misogyny weighing down his “later” work. The track is a sunny excursion into rap self-aggrandizement: “Hypebeasts highly likely to bite me, / And try to high five me, / But I just give ‘em high threes, / Coz y’all don’t get to touch me.” The song displays all of Earl’s strengths—great flow and tricky internal rhymes.
While the two events are clearly not related, they do serve to show Odd Future’s more vulnerable side. The group is often painted as rape-happy nihilists or horrorcore disciples of Eminem, but it seems more true that they’re just a tightknit group of teens and young adults. Like everyone else, some members get the full support of their parent(s), and others get sent away to boot camp. Either way, they’re not exactly a well-coordinated group of professionals but rather young people trying still trying to figure it out.
Earl’s brief career arc can teach us a few things about fame: You can garner a ton of love from your friends and fans without any of them knowing where you are; and you when you do rap, it’s better to be good than to be parent-pleasing. Well, as long as the parents you offend don’t happen to be your own.
“David Foster Wallace,” The Pale King
I am really glad that Wallace (or “Wallace”) makes some of these larger political points that he broached candidly about in interviews (cf, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself), which were fixed almost bromidically in the mid-90s optimism boom, and which by the post-McCain mid 00s landscape seemed almost tame, harmless.1
(An unforseeable benefit of reading The Pale King is that I’ve discovered a practical convention for the capitalization (or not) of parenthetical asides within footnotes, either mid-sentence or post-sentence, note-wise.) ↩
I am not allergic to papayas, and I like them. Sometimes I buy them at the grocery store. I try to get ones that are a little green, and not too Mr Squishee. Anywhoo, whenever I eat the store-bought ones, they burn my mouth and taste terrible.
Now, I have a philosophy. When you see a shit tornado, you just run straight into it rather than away from it. I read a message board about papayas that almost answered my question, but here it is to be confirmed hopefully: Are the papayas you eat supposed to be super ripe, like really soft and falling apart ripe? I suspect that makes them taste less acrid?