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Message 13: Ice age coming

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.”

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Message 12: ctrl-alt-del

http://www.ctrlaltdel.org/

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Message 11: Theater Des Todes

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.

This untitled booklet (Theater Des Todes?) includes Stanley Donwood’s largely narrative-resistant artwork, complete with test specimens juxtaposed with de-contextualized, fragmentary phrases.

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Message 10: Liffey

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.

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Message 9: Dots

Floaters. Visual computer art. New sights.

This site no longer exists. –JT 1/4/03

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Message 8: Principium Individuationis

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. < em >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 < em >principium individuationis verbalized, and perhaps, never realized.

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Message 7: Winslow Homer

Morning Bell is a painting (c. 1870) by Winslow Homer.


Correction, Jan 1 2021: The above link no longer works. Instead you can view The Morning Bell at the Yale University Art Gallery.

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Message 6: A Distorted Figuration

“…our faulty representations of some immense communicational and computer network are themselves but a distorted figuration of something even deeper, namely, the whole world system of a present-day multinational capitalism. The technology of contemporary society is therefore mesmerizing and fascinating not so much in its own right but because it seems to offer some privileged representational shorthand for grasping a network of power and control even more difficult for our minds and imaginations to grasp: the whole new decentered global network of the third stage of capital itself. This is a figural process presently best observed in a whole mode of contemporary entertainment literature…” (37-8).

Jameson, Frederic. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP, 1991.

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Message 5: Plastic

Green Plastic Radiohead.

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Message 4: Objet A

Jacques Lacan’s analysis of objet a may illuminate the “a” of Kid A. According to James P. McDaniel, “For Lacan, the objet a fails to signify in the symbolic economy of intersubjective relations, i.e., it is ‘shit.’ So it is that the objet a is closely linked with anality.”