Meeting People is Easy, Grant Gee’s 1998 documentary, records the peculiarly postmodern array of identity problems confronting Radiohead following the unexpected critical acclaim of their third album, OK Computer. Less about the band than the intimidating commercial machine that created its success, the video (never released as a film) is a fragmented chronicle built from original and scavenged television broadcasts, color and black and white film, time-lapse photography, security camera video and other still and moving images from various visual media. Gee synthesizes an eclectic range of interviews and concert performances, both alternately compelling and monotonous, with eerie glimpses of post-industrial existence among the first world’s mundane and graying suburbs.
“[…] we find in texts only what we put into them […]”
Merleau-Ponty, M. Phenomenology of Perception. 1962. Trans. Colin Smith. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.
Radiohead’s fifth album, due out this coming June, will be entitled Amnesiac. The title may derive from Memoirs of an Amnesiac by French musical composer Erik Satie. This connection is likely given the indirect influence of John Cage’s work on Radiohead. Before Cage, few musicians were aware of Satie’s music.
A two-line refrain in “Idioteque” reads: “Ice age coming / Ice age coming.” Obliquely, these lines likely allude to The Clash’s “London Calling,” where the coming of an ice age is announced in the chorus: “The ice age is coming / The sun is zooming in.”
Kid A foregrounds the technologies of reproduction at the level of packaging. A limited amount of CDs contain a supplementary text secluded beneath the jewel case’s high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) tray. Rarely would a listener be asked to dismantle the packaging that commodifies and conveys a performer’s presence uniformly for portable consumption. The evident fragility of the jewel case is analogous to the performer’s image-identity, an identity rendered brittle by the commercial packaging that makes it available via mass-manufactured reproductions.
A line from “How to Disappear Completely” reads: “I float down the Liffey.” The River Liffey (live image) runs eastward through Dublin, Ireland. It follows a tortuously curved 50-mile course, save for the portion in Dublin which is heavily canalized and bordered with numerous quays.
Floaters. Visual computer art. New sights.
This site no longer exists. –JT 1/4/03
Nietzsche quoting Schopenhauer on being lost at sea: “And so in one sense, we might apply […] the words Schopenhauer when he speaks of the man wrapped in the veil of [illusion] (Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, I, p. 416): ‘Just as in a stormy sea, that unbounded in all directions, raises and drops mountainous waves, howling, a sailor sits in a boat and trusts in his frail bark: so in the midst of a world of torments the individual human being sits quietly, supported by and trusting in the principium individuationis.'”
Nietzsche, Frederic. The Birth of Tragedy and the Case of Wagner. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Random House, 1967.
In the song “In Limbo,” the speaker is “lost at sea” and presumably in limbo, as the title overtly suggests. To be in limbo is to inhabit interstitial space, a place between: Lundy, Fastnet, Irishsea. The water, sea between Ireland and England, England and Ireland. The closing recitation of the desire for release might be the principium individuationis verbalized, and perhaps, never realized.