Message 285: Now that you feel it, you don’t


Pulk-Pull* has reopened. I closed it not long ago after some difficulties that included:

  • changing host setups (from a shared hosting environment to a VPS and back again)
  • an SQL dump that was larger than the new shared environment could upload (global variables set at max of 8mb when I had 25mb)
  • someone hacked into the site’s new WordPress installation before I could finish setting it up (sometime within a 24hr period)
  • I moved
  • I got a new job
  • the new album from Radiohead seemed to defy description or interpretation
  • updates had become intermittent and uninteresting
  • my ideas of interpretation were changing (stuck between Eco’s notion of over-interpretation and Rilke’s description of criticism as “happy misunderstandings”)
  • Bush was still in office
  • et cetera, et cetera / fads for whatever

During all this hubbub, I lost several posts. Several meaning 3-5 or more or less, I wasn’t counting. One, I think, is still in electronic format elsewhere.

Why “happy misunderstandings” since 2000? What does the phrase even mean?

With nothing can one approach a work of art so little as with critical words: they always come down to more or less happy misunderstandings. Things are not all so comprehensible and expressible as one would have us believe; most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered, and more inexpressible than all else are works of art, mysterious existences, the life of which, while ours passes away, endures.

-Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet.

Rilke here gets at what I felt after hearing In Rainbows for the first time. Listening to “15 Step” just after midnight Pacific time. No words I wrote down could capture that moment–and I realized I was trying to capture a moment in words, not explain how the song fit into a larger critique of capitalism and so on and so forth. And if anyone has read the site over the last eight years, you’ll know that side-stepping this “critique of capitalism” was a departure, one I barely knew I was making until it was made. The way Radiohead released this album was on everyone’s mind; how “pay what you want, no really” was going to reshape the dying music industry. But all I could think about was how fucking cool it was of them to start a song with glitchy, electronic, staticy-rhythm that mimicked The Eraser that segued with a shear drop into Phil Selway’s powerful drumming and a Smiths-like guitar layered over a bass-line backed by clapping … a song whose parts would never be greater than its whole, a whole that was both very much a Radiohead song, but also so different that I was laughing outloud while listening to children scream and trying to follow the beat on my friend’s desk and fumbling around for a volume knob. And and and. And Radiohead has … funk? Funk so wide you can’t get around it. This, ladies and gentlemen, was and is: a rock album. And as Alex Ross wrote, how rock-and-roll is it to write about rock-and-roll?

And that’s where I am, where I think some other people are too. I don’t think, anymore, you stop moving in the face of movement. So, I’ve decided, instead of thinking I need to stop, realizing it was the skin I’d put me in and I don’t need to wait for someone’s hand up my ass to move my mouth.

Blink: 1 for yes, 2 for no.

It's Gone

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