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Re: Who the hell etc etc

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  • Tom Ewing
    ... Eshun s book was badly served by that review, I thought. The reviewer summarised his arguments fairly well, so plainly it wasn t that difficult to
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 6, 1998
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      ScottRussell wrote:

      > > but no one will ever be
      > > able to wade through that "tome" to find out. If ever a book deserved
      > > the
      > > epithet "tome" this is it. Turgid. Turgid & Tedious...Life's too
      > > short...
      > >
      > Too true. Unfortunately I paid money to find that out. I have a
      > horrible suspicion that Kwodo Eshun's book will be more of the same. In
      > fact a recent review in The Independent suggested that these guys may
      > well have somethinbg to say but it's so buried in their self
      > referential, hermetic language that they don't want anyone to understand
      > it. Pretty much sums it up I think.

      Eshun's book was badly served by that review, I thought. The reviewer
      summarised his arguments fairly well, so plainly it wasn't that difficult
      to understand, but at the same time he missed the point of Eshun's
      reliance on neologisms (not jargon, which is the difference between "More
      Brilliant Than The Sun" and Watson's book*). Eshun claims that most
      writing on electronic and futuristic music acts as a conceptual shock
      absorber, working (even if unconsciously) to assimilate the new music
      into pre-existing critical histories and concepts. What he's trying to do
      in his writing is accelerate the shock of the new, hopefully adding to
      the reader's appreciation of the music. I got a lot of kicks from the
      book just as a text, but anyway that's a different thing from being
      deliberately obfuscatory.

      There's a general paranoia about music criticism that tries to be as
      ambitious as the music it writes about, and I think Eshun's been victim
      to some of it.** Give "More Brilliant...." a go - I found it rewarding
      and enormously entertaining.

      *which I haven't read so can't comment on. It didn't look promising but I
      wouldn't presume to judge a book on a flick-through.

      **epitomised by that dread word "pretentious". Most of us would be
      annoyed and rightly so to see the music of Autechre or Tony Conrad or
      Meredith Monk or Fushitsusha or Diamanda Galas or Derek Bailey described
      as "pretentious" by somebody whose taste stretched no further than
      NME-approved alt.pop. Why should our attitudes to writing about music be
      any different?

      Cheers,
      Tom.
    • ScottRussell
      ... Actually that was an aspect of it which attracted me too, initially. I enjoy the way Eshun manages to wring extended sci-fi metaphors from the music even
      Message 2 of 7 , Jul 6, 1998
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        > Eshun's book was badly served by that review, I thought. The reviewer
        > summarised his arguments fairly well, so plainly it wasn't that
        > difficult
        > to understand, but at the same time he missed the point of Eshun's
        > reliance on neologisms (not jargon, which is the difference between
        > "More
        > Brilliant Than The Sun" and Watson's book*). Eshun claims that most
        > writing on electronic and futuristic music acts as a conceptual shock
        > absorber, working (even if unconsciously) to assimilate the new music
        > into pre-existing critical histories and concepts. What he's trying to
        > do
        > in his writing is accelerate the shock of the new, hopefully adding to
        >
        > the reader's appreciation of the music. I got a lot of kicks from the
        > book just as a text, but anyway that's a different thing from being
        > deliberately obfuscatory.
        >
        Actually that was an aspect of it which attracted me too, initially. I
        enjoy the way Eshun manages to wring extended sci-fi metaphors from the
        music even if I don't always agree with his opinions -witness his review
        of the Techno Animal double which he fairly goes supernova about,
        launching off into a series of mind bending, virtuosic eulogies based
        upon which I bought the album, only to be dissapointed by it's endless
        sameness. Maybe I missed the point?

        > There's a general paranoia about music criticism that tries to be as
        > ambitious as the music it writes about, and I think Eshun's been
        > victim
        > to some of it.** Give "More Brilliant...." a go - I found it rewarding
        >
        > and enormously entertaining.
        >
        I would argue that Watson can also be as ambitious as the music he
        writes about (Poodle Play had every type of Zappa excess) but it's also
        often weighed down by impenetrable rhetoric. I will certainly
        reconssider reading it, if I ever find a copy...

        > *which I haven't read so can't comment on. It didn't look promising
        > but I
        > wouldn't presume to judge a book on a flick-through.
        >
        Well, if you fancy taking the plunge, my copy ain't doing much...

        > **epitomised by that dread word "pretentious". Most of us would be
        > annoyed and rightly so to see the music of Autechre or Tony Conrad or
        > Meredith Monk or Fushitsusha or Diamanda Galas or Derek Bailey
        > described
        > as "pretentious" by somebody whose taste stretched no further than
        > NME-approved alt.pop. Why should our attitudes to writing about music
        > be
        > any different?
        >
        You are quite correct however there's a difference between
        getting to the heart of the subject and attempting to bring out it's
        wider meanings and hitching your bandwagon of half baked theories and
        academic obtuseness to it...

        Cheers

        Scott

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